Solo practice and doing drills is arguably the most important thing you can do to improve your squash. In this article, we go over a great solo squash drill that helps improve not only your shot accuracy but also your movement around the back of the court.
Previously, we have learned the basic solo drill of hitting down the line on either side of the court. This is pretty much hitting a hundred straight drives in a row; first on the forehand side, and then on the back hand side. Some of the stricter coaches say that if you miss even a single shot, you must start all over again from zero.
Revisiting the abovementioned drill was important, because in this solo session, we will mix things up along with the basic straight drive.
How do you practice squash solo?
Squash Solo Drill: Length and Cross
As the name suggests, this drill about hitting straight lengths and crosses from the back of the court.
The concept is simple: One length, one cross, one length, one cross, one length, and so on.
Breaking down the drill:
Just to make it clear, perform the drill as per the following steps:
- Hit one length on the forehand side
- Then hit a cross when the ball comes back to you. By hitting the cross, you would have sent the ball to the back hand side.
- Now get over to the backhand side and hit a straight length.
- Hit a cross to get the ball back over to the forehand side
- Repeat step 1.
Every ball must be returned on one bounce, just like in an actual squash game. And you must try to keep the routine going on for as long as possible to get the most out of the drill.
Watch in the clip below taken from the beyond nothing youtube channel how this length cross drill is performed.
Benefits of the Length Cross Drill
This drill is a super effective solo routine for amateurs, intermediates, and professional players, as it trains us to do the following:
Control the weight of shot
The weight of shot is a fancy term for how hard we hit the ball in order to send it deep into the court. During this drill, we want to hit ball hard into to have it bounce behind the service box and ricochet off the glass wall. The same weight of shot applies to both the straight drives and cross courts. The more consistently we can hit the ball at the depths we want it to go, the more control we will attain on our power an under- or over-hit less frequently.
Practice Hitting Balls of varying lengths, heights, speeds, and angles
This is the second greatest benefit of this drill. When we hit straight drives down one side of the court, we are constantly hitting the same shot from the same position every single time. And the most accurate our shots get, the easier the straight drive route becomes. Nothing hard about that. However, in this drill, it is almost impossible to hit the exact same length and width every single time. Sometimes your cross will be wider, deeper, higher, or come at you at a sharper angle depending on the variations in your shot and how it bounces off different surfaces. This variation in position is what trains us to hit the shot we want regardless of how the ball is behaving. Hitting a variety of shots from a single position is easy, but hitting the same shot from different positions is difficult.
Keeping distance from the ball (Better footwork)
This is the most important benefit of this drill. As amateur players, we have the tendency to follow the ball into the corners, only to have it pop out right back towards us and leave us with no space for our swing to get behind the ball. Our coaches keep yelling at us saying “Get away from the ball, give yourself space, don’t walk into the corners!”. But when they aren’t around, this drill will remind us to keep our distance.
When we hit that angled cross court towards the corner and observe the ball bounce on the floor, side wall, and back wall, in any order, we will be able to better judge our position from where to take our swing. Depending on how we see the ball make its way to the back corners, we can predict whether it will pop out and cause us to stand far away, or whether it will die in the nick and make us lunge towards it.
By doing this drill repeatedly and dealing with different types of angular cross courts, our eyes will become trained to predict the trajectory of the ball and allow us to get into optimum swing position and not take a step too many.
Improve Stamina and Temperament
In contrast to the single position drill of hitting lengths, this solo drill forces you to move around the squash court in many different ways. Some movements are harder than others and require lunging to get to the ball before it dies. Repeatedly doing this drill over a long period will eventually get tiring and put your body into exertion mode, which ultimately raises your stamina. Having to maintain the routine with all its complexities also gets mentally demanding and starts to challenge your focus and discipline.
All these aspects combined will greatly improve your back-court game in terms of movement, distance from the ball, shot control, and ball trajectory prediction. Try to do this routine continuously for 10 minutes at a time before moving on to other squash drills.