The Complete Guide to Squash Shots
Squash is a game of hundreds of angles, difficult movements in all directions, and endurance. For anybody that has played the game for even a few months, you’ll know that having a strong arsenal of squash shots to play is important for staying in rallies and ultimately winning them. Regardless of the gear or equipment you own, it’s important to have the proper technique and strategies to own your opponents! Here we’ve compiled some of the best videos of squash shots from a variety of sources, along with our own personal tips and techniques to master these squash shots. These are the top examples we found of each shot, so enjoy! Note that our technique of doing each shot may be different from what some coaches teach, but it’s what’s worked best for us!
The serve in squash is not as important as in tennis or racquetball, but still very importantly to execute properly. If your serve is weak, your opponent get immediately get ahead n the rally by hitting a kill shot or a drop shot off your serve. So it’s important to use the right serve technique!
- On both the forehand and backhand, stand with your shoulders parallel to the side wall
- For a right-handed squash player, serve with your forehand from the left service box, and your backhand from the right service box (left handers should do the opposite). Why? By doing this, the ball will travel closer to the side wall as it approaches your opponent, making it more difficult for them to return the shot. For example, by not respecting this rule, and serving forehand from the right service box, the squash ball will bounce further off the left side wall, giving the other player more opportunity to hit a good return of serve.
- Have your hitting foot stepping out of the service box towards the T as you serve. This assures that right after you serve, you’re already dominating the T
For extra info, check out my full guide on the squash serve.
Forehand Straight Drive
Drives are the most basic shots in squash, and you’ll find yourself using straight ones very often in each rally.
When to use:
- Keep a rally going to the back of the court until your opponent hits a weak shot
- Your opponent hits with the same hand as you and has a weak forehand
- Your opponent hits with the opposite hand and has a weak backhand. The most common situation here is a right-handed player can exploit a left-handed player’s weak backhand with straight forehand drives
- Limit the angles, especially if you’re against a player who plays with a lot of trick shots, flicks, or is good at volleys or volley drops
- Tire out the other player by keeping them in the back of the court
- Recover your stamina and endurance during a difficult rally
- Wrist locked and racket raised & back so the head of the racket is almost entirely above your head, and you feel a slight pull in your back shoulder muscle
- Chest parallel or at a slight angle to the side wall. This is so the natural follow through of your swing causes a straight forehand drive
- Hit off the same foot as your “handedness”, i.e. if you’re right-handed, plant and hit off your right foot.
Note: MANY “textbook” squash coaches and books will tell you to hit off your OTHER foot (ie your left foot if you’re right-handed). This can work, but watch even a few minutes of a professional match, and you’ll see they hit 90% of the time from the same foot as their “handedness”. Why? It’s quicker to step or lunge to the ball, rather than turning your entire body to hit off the other foot. Trust me on this one!
- Racket ready position should be approximately 1 meter (~3 feet) in back of the desired contact point of the squash ball. This is to allow you to hit through the ball, instead of chopping down on it
- Non-hitting arm should be extended outwards to get out of the way of your swing
- Drop the racket head and hit through the ball, snapping the wrist out of the locked position for extra power and accuracy
- Follow through to the front wall to assure your drive goes straight and down the side wall
- Push off your right foot back to the T
Racket head angled drive
Increase the “openness” of the squash racket head to get more lift on the ball. Do this when you’re under pressure and need more time to get back to the T. If you’re playing a tall opponent, this can help you get the ball over their head.
Similarly, decrease the “openness” to get a more flat hit on the squash ball. This will result in lower shots that can increase pressure on slower players.
Varying up the power of your drives is a great way to cause discomfort to other players. They’ll be questioning which type of shot is coming next, which can exhaust many players over the course of a match.
Backhand Straight Drive
This is the most common shot in the game of squash. The backhand is usually the weaker side of any squash player, so people will most often try to exploit this. It’s very common to see long, extended rallies along the backhand side wall during professional matches.
When to use:
Same as the Forehand Straight Drive, and especially if your opponent also has a weak backhand (and hits with the same hand as you). Exposing this weakness can turn a squash match in your favor within a matter of minutes!
- Shoulders turned so your chest is completely parallel to the backhand side wall of the squash court.
- Racket up and wrist locked
- Arm extended back and away from the chest (ie don’t “hug” yourself or your body will get in the way of the swing). Again, feel the pull in the back of your shoulder muscle
- Do not rotate the chest through the swing motion. Stay square to the side wall and let your arm and hand hit through the squash ball.
- Hit off the same foot as your hitting hand. This rule should not be broken on the backhand, as hitting off this foot lets your shoulder turn properly to hit through the squash ball
- Unlike in the Forehand Straight Drive, do not flick the wrist as you impact the ball. Keep the wrist locked in place, which keeps your forearm muscle activated to generate power
- Follow through in the direction of the shot
Same as the Forehand Straight Drive, and can be extra effective if your opponent has a weak backhand !
Forehand and Backhand Crosscourt Drive
After straight drives, crosscourt drives are the most common shot in squash. They bring a variety of angles into play, and can create a lot of openings on the squash court for both you and whoever you’re playing against! This is usually referred to as “opening up the court”, because of all the angles created.
When to use:
- Cause your opponent difficulty in the back corners. The proper crosscourt will have enough width and power to get past the other player, and will force them to dig the squash ball out of the back corners.
- Move the other player around the court, tiring them out. The different angles caused by crosscourt drives will cause a lot of side-to-side movement and lunging which can wear people down, especially the less fit.
- Get out of trouble. If an opponent hits a good shot, especially a drop or kill, sometimes all we can do is lunge and hit a hard crosscourt. Since the ball might be far away, it’s not possible to force it straight.
Same as the straight drives, but since we are hitting the ball crosscourt, the shoulders do not have to be as square to the side wall. The shoulders should be more open to the front wall, and follow-through should be towards the middle of the front wall. This will allow the squash ball to travel wide enough to get past your opponent.
Forehand and Backhand Drop Shot
Drop shots add a whole other dimension to a squash match, forcing the players forward, and then back again to recover to the T. They are an extremely important shot to have in your arsenal in squash, especially for attacking and winning points outright.
When to use:
- You forced a weak shot into the middle of the squash court from your opponent. You have control of the T and they are behind you. A drop shot is a great way to finish the point.
- Get the other player moving back and forth. Drop shots don’t need to be perfect to get your opponent moving and to tire them out. As long as they are tight to the side wall, you can easily force a loose shot and win the rally
- As a counter-drop. This is when your opponent has already played a drop shot to get you to the front of the court. By playing a tight drop shot of your own off of theirs, it immediately puts the pressure back on them. This also prevents them from intercepting any straight or crosscourt drive you might do off their drop shot.
- Racket head up, and wrist locked through the full motion of the swing, no flicking of the wrist
- Using mostly the finger & thumb of the hand to generate power, drop the racket head and “push” the squash ball forward rather than hitting with a full swing
- Follow through in the direction of the corner you’re dropping. This is very important. Since we’re not doing a full swing, the follow-through will be what determines the trajectory of the ball.
- Aim for the ball to hit the front wall, followed by the side wall nick
By cutting more under the ball with your squash racket during your drop shot swing, you can give it backspin, which will cause the ball dip downward immediately after it touches the front wall. This can make a drop shot even more lethal in squash, as it can travel quicker into the nick. However, if your drop shot is too high, it’ll bounce higher off the floor, giving your opponent more opportunity to retrieve it!
Usually used in a counter-drop situation, starting your squash racket low and coming over the ball quickly will give it a topspin. This increases the effectiveness of the drop shot by spinning it back towards the front wall, further from the reach of your opponent. However, this is a very difficult shot to execute! You need to get very low to the ground, and be very stable on the foot that’s planted.
This is a risky shot to play, and is usually played with a quick flick of the wrist. It’s played in the front corners, by aiming the ball at the nick of the opposite front corner. This can be effective if you’ve been playing mostly straight drops during a match, and your opponent is reading you well. However, it’s very risky for 2 reasons:
- It requires a high level of skill to accurately hit the nick from the other side of court. If you miss the shot, the ball comes back out to the middle of the court, and your opponent can hit a simple straight drive winner, as you’ll be out of position
- The extra time the ball spends in the air gives your opponent more time to react to the shot. A straight drop shot will more often be the better choice, since the corner is closer and the other player will have less time to reach the ball
Fading Drop Shot
This squash shot is used when there isn’t enough angle to aim for the side wall nick (ie you’re dropping from a straight angle), or when you want to play things more conservative and not go for an outright nick winner. Instead, aim so the squash ball hits the front wall, and fades to the side wall. As your opponent tries to hit the ball, it should have faded close enough to the side wall as to cause them big problems with hitting it, probably needing to scrape their squash racket on the side wall in the process.
Back Court Drop Shot
Drop shots played from the back court are risky, since there are slow shots that give your opponent ample reaction time. However, you can surprise a player during a rally of, for example, straight drives. By having your racket in a ready position for a straight drive, then taking most of the power off as you strike the ball, you can hit a deceptive straight drop from the back court. This is especially effective if there has been a rhythm of several straight drives before dropping.
The ultimate squash shot for creating angles on the court, the boast hits the side wall first, followed by the front wall, and moves your opponent forward quickly.
When to use:
- Move your opponent forward to tire them and force weak shots. A boast is a fast way to wrong foot the other player, and get them lunging into the front corners. If your boast ends up not being an outright winner, you’ll have worn down the legs of your opponent, and you may get a weak shot to intercept and volley. This is known as an attacking boast.
- Get out of trouble in the back corners. If a player hits a dying length into the back corners, whether from a straight drive, crosscourt drive, or a lob, a boast is a great way (and sometimes the only way) to dig the ball out. This is known as a defensive boast
- Racket ready position as in the drives, wrist up and racket back
- Shoulders should be rotated so the racket follow through is towards the side wall, as this will be the first contact point of the squash ball. Alternatively, shoulders can be pointed to the front wall, and use the wrist at the last second to angle the racket face to the side wall (see “Deceptive Boast” below)
- Height of contact point with the ball should be slightly higher than the height of the tin. This is so the ball travels forward, and gravity naturally dips the ball slightly lower before it hits the front wall. We are aiming to go as close to tin as possible, as this means a lower shot that is harder for your opponent to retrieve.
- Follow through towards the side wall
A regular boast is relatively easy for an opponent to read, especially an advanced player or even an intermediate player. This is because the body is clearly angled with the shoulders pointing towards the side wall. A deceptive boast is when the chest stays parallel to the front wall (forehand), or side wall (backhand), as if we are about to hit a straight drive. At the last second before contact, open the racket face with the wrist to direct the squash ball to the side wall. This shot can be hit from all areas of the squash court.
This is a great attacking shot that is seen very often from players like Nick Matthew, James Willstrop, and David Palmer. It is done in the front corners of the court, after an opponent has hit a weak drop shot or volley drop. With the racket head up, the other player may think a straight drive, crosscourt drive, or counter drop are coming. As in a deceptive boast, open the racket face with the wrist at the last second. Since you’re in the front corners, the squash ball will quickly hit the side wall, then front wall. The only way for the other player to retrieve the shot is to read it, and know that you’re hitting it!
This is a risky shot that requires a lot of wrist action. The goal is to hit the opposite side wall first, followed by the front wall (ie if you’re right-handed, the ball will travel across the court and hit the left side wall before the front wall). Your wrist will need to be locked and ready before contacting the ball, and the power will come 100% from a wrist flick, on both the forehand reverse boast, and the backhand reverse boast. This shot can be played from any part of the court, but a couple of warnings:
- Back court – this has the danger of hitting your opponent with the squash ball, assuming they’re standing on the T. Be very careful and think twice about doing this shot from the back court
- Front court – you’ll be counting on fooling your opponent to get the winner. Why? You’re giving the ball more time in the air by flicking it crosscourt to the opposite side wall, meaning more time for the other player to react and retrieve the shot. A straight drop shot is most often a smarter shot when in the front corners, as they are quicker to die in the nicks and harder to retrieve
A skid boast is a recovery shot that acts almost as a crosscourt lob. It’s done when you find yourself out of position on court, with the ball slightly behind you along a side wall. Hit the ball upwards at full power, at a very slight angle to the side wall. This will cause the ball to “skid” along the wall, giving the ball sidespin. When the shot contacts the front wall, the sidespin and upwards trajectory will let it travel crosscourt and over your opponent, hopefully dying in the opposite back corner. A very difficult shot to execute perfectly!
Back Wall Boast
While not really a “boast”, this is a squash player’s last line of defense during a match! This is used when the ball gets behind you, and the only direction to hit the ball is towards the back wall. Most important is to give the ball an upward trajectory off the back wall, or else it won’t reach the front wall. It’s also best to angle the shot so it’s directed towards one of the front corners (ie we don’t want the squash ball contacting the middle of the front wall).
Volleys are an incredibly important squash shot to learn. A volley is hit before the ball touches the ground even once. They can completely change the pace of a squash match, and give the opportunity to finish a rally in a variety of amazing ways.
When to use:
- Intercept weak straight drives or crosscourt drives. By hitting good length, you give yourself the opportunity to get on the volley when your opponent hits a weak shot.
- Quicken the pace of the match. If you sense the other player is getting into a rhythm, or is starting to tire, volleying can break them down and feel panicked with the new fast pace of the game.
- Finish a rally. Aside from the Drop Shot, a volley is your best opportunity to finish a point. Usually your opponent will be out of position since you’re taking the ball early, making it less likely that they’ll retrieve your shot.
- Squash racket high above the head (higher than drives), shoulders turned
- Wrist locked, and can snap during the forehand volley, but must stay locked during the backhand volley
- Contact point of the ball on the squash racket head will depend on whether you’re hitting a straight volley or a crosscourt volley
- Straight volley – contact point should be in-line with your shoulders on both the forehand and the backhand
- Crosscourt volley – contact point should be slightly in front of your shoulders. The natural motion of your arm swing will force the squash ball crosscourt
- Follow through in the desired direction of the shot, as with drives and drop shots
This is a fantastic squash shot to hit when your opponent hits either:
- A straight drive that is not tight to the side wall
- A crosscourt drive that isn’t high enough or have enough width
Your racket head should already be in the ready position when your opponent hits the ball, with the wrist locked in place. Using mostly your thumb and index finger for racket power and control, guide the ball into the front corners using the same technique as regular drop shots.
Straight Volley Kill
This shot can also be hit off a weak straight drive or crosscourt drive. The purpose of this squash shot is to power the ball into the front corners, hopefully catching the nick and having the ball roll out from the side wall. However, if you don’t catch the nick, a huge benefit of this shot is the ball can still travel tight down the side wall. This means that though you didn’t hit an outright winner, you’ve hit a solid straight volley drive that can still cause difficulty for the other player.
Technique will be the same as a regular volley, but we are going for full power and follow through downward into the front corners. Contact point is in-line with the shoulders to assure the ball travels straight. Also, decrease the squash racket angle so you’re not cutting the ball. We want to hit the ball flat and hard, so the it travels downward and not upward.
Volley Crosscourt Nick (Crosscourt Volley Kill)
The ultimate kill shot in squash! You’ll see a lot of the professional players like Ramy Ashour, Mohamed El Shorbagy, and Gregory Gaultier using this shot. Technique is the same as the Straight Volley Kill, but the contact point is further forward from the body (to cause the crosscourt trajectory), full power, and follow through of the squash racket is down and across your body, to the opposite side front corner. We are aiming just above the tin on the front wall, followed by the side wall nick. This is a great shot to do off of:
- A weak straight drive
- A weak serve
Be careful though, this shot needs to be a winner, or else! It’s all or nothing, because if the ball doesn’t die in the nick, it will pop back out to the middle of the squash court. This will put you out of position, and worst case will be a stroke against you.
This is a tricky shot to play, but can cause all sorts of problems for your opponent. Have the squash racket in the same ready position as a normal volley, but at the last second, you’ll open the racket face more using the wrist, guiding the ball into the side wall first. Depending on the height of the ball when it reaches your racket, you’ll want your follow through to be downwards, so the ball travels down and hits the front wall at a lower height than the side wall.
Volley Reverse Boast
This is probably the trickiest squash shot to play, and many older players use this off of weak serves. This has the same technique of the Reverse Boast, but obviously it is off a volley instead. Contact point is in front of the body, and follow through is down towards the opposite front wall corner. It has a very similar technique to the crosscourt volley nick, as we’re aiming at almost the same area of the squash court. This shot will almost always catch your opponent flat footed, and is best used off of weak serves.
Maybe the most under-valued shot in the game of squash, a good lob shot is a powerful weapon to have on court. The goal is to float the squash ball high enough so it goes above your opponent’s racket, when held over their head (trying to volley your lob). Ideally the ball will then die in one of the back corners.
When to use:
- You need time to get back to the T. If your opponent hits a good drop shot or kill shot, putting you out of position, a lob is a great way to buy yourself time to get back into position. The time the squash ball spends floating through the air will let you get back to the T.
- Your opponent hits weak overhead volleys. This is especially true on the backhand volley, where many players are weak. Exploit this weakness by throwing up lobs during the squash game, and also when serving
- The other player is short. Short players have the advantage of being able to retrieve low shots easier, but lobs will cause them problems. It will be easier for your lob shot to pass them and die in the back corners
- Wrist locked as always, forearm muscle activated
- Plant your hitting foot solidly
- Get under the squash ball with the racket face as the ball is dropping. Depending on the shot that your opponent played previously, you may have to lunge down very low to get your racket under the ball (for example if they’ve hit a low kill or a good drop shot)
- Flick your wrist upward (forehand lob), or quickly rotate your forearm upward (backhand). Note that the squash lob does NOT require a lot of power. This should not be a full swing but simply a quick flick.
- Follow through upwards towards the ceiling of the squash court
- Goal is to have the ball travel high enough and far enough to die in the back corners
Most often, lobs will be done crosscourt during a rally, from the front corners. The trajectory of the ball should be wide enough so your opponent can’t reach it, and so it contacts the side wall just under the service line, dying in the opposite back corner. The target you’re aiming for on the side wall is roughly the same spot as your serve aims for.
This is a recovery shot that is done when the other player has hit a very tight straight drive or straight drop. The squash ball is clinging to the side wall, limiting our options. Since we expect to hit a less-than-perfect shot from this, simply flick the ball upward as you would with a normal lob. The squash racket might scrape the side wall slightly, and the ball might spray off the side wall a bit, towards the middle of the court. However, since we’ve put a lot of height into the shot, it gives time to get out of the way, and the ball will probably still reach the back court.
Back Court Lob
Back court lobs are done from the middle or back of court. They’re used during rallies to slow the pace down, vary the pace, or to exploit the weakness of the other player if they’re weak at overhead volleying. These are less defensive shots in their nature, and can turn the tide of a rally in your favour.
This is more of a trick shot or exhibition shot than anything else, but it does have its place in certain situations. It’s done by hitting the ball upwards with full power, contacting the front wall just next to the front wall / side wall nick. The ball then hits upwards into side wall, causing it to curve over your opponent into the opposite back corner. It’s an extremely difficult shot to do well, and most often it will be intercepted with a volley. Only attempt this shot if the squash ball ends up in the front-middle of the squash court, at about waist level.
Forehand and Backhand Kill Shot
Kill shots, or just “kills”, are low, hard shots that ideally die in the side wall nick, near the front corners. These are used to finish off points when you get a weak shot. They differ from a volley kill because the squash ball has already bounced once.
When to use:
- You get a weak shot and you have a power game. This means you’re better suited to finish off points with a kill shot than a drop shot
- You get a weak shot and you’re in the mid-court or back court area. In these situations, a drop shot isn’t an ideal choice, as the shot is slow and takes too long to reach the front wall, giving your opponent too much time to react. A kill shot is perfect for these rallies in matches
- The other player is tall. Low kill shots work wonders against tall players, even if they are not outright winners. Tall players will need to repeatedly lunge low to retrieve the shots, affecting both their cardiovascular health and their muscles