How to Generate Power in Squash - 3 Foundational Ways
Generating power the right way in squash is key to improving your game. It’s important for beginners to learn the proper way from the beginning, in order to avoid bad habits and keep improving in the right ways!
Generating power is a big part of the game I see people doing incorrectly.
Very often I see good players who could be GREAT players, or even play in the PSA if they had better methods of generating power in their shots.
While every player will develop their own little habits and ways of hitting the ball, there are some basics that are common to every good player. Even the professionals each have their own style, but in this guide I’ll cover what they all have in common: the ability to hit the ball hard on both their forehand and backhand!
1. Cocked Wrist
This is the most important basic skill for generating power. “Cocking” the wrist means locking your wrist upwards, so it’s at least at a 45 degree angle.
Why do this? The main reason is because it activates your forearm muscles. Here is a little test: move your wrist up and down, and feel your forearm muscles just before your elbow tense up as your wrist raises. Those same muscles relax when your wrist is limp, or pointed downwards. This is the main muscle used to generate power in squash.
We are not tennis players, so we don’t use big, loopy swings, or complete body rotation to generate power. The best squash players have a compact swing, with power coming from the forearm. Just take a look at players like Gregory Gaultier or Ramy Ashour, and you’ll notice their forearm on their squash arm is HUGE.
Cocking your wrist also opens up the racket face. Just stand with your squash racket in hand, and raise your wrist to a 45 degree angle on both your forehand and backhand. You’ll notice your racket face opens and you can see more of the strings. You need this open racket face to hit height on the ball, and not slam it into the floor or the tin!
2. Height of Racket Preparation
Why do taller players tend to hit the ball harder than shorter ones? Of course there are exceptions to this (like a shorter players with a very strong forearm), but in general the hardest hitters in the professional game are quite tall.
This is because they gather more power as their racket comes down to the ball. They have gravity working in their favor, helping them out. A shorter player will generate the majority of their power in the direction they want to hit the ball, meaning from backward to forward.
A taller player, however, first transfers energy from high to low, and then through the ball. This extra distance the racket travels can result in some very hard hitting from tall players (though this power is often offset by tall players difficulty in lunging low).
This means that if you’re having trouble hitting hard enough length, or getting enough power into your kill shots, you can get your racket higher above your head during the shot preparation. Of course there are limits to this: you don’t want to hold your racket like an Olympic torch, but an extra few inches higher can give that bit of extra needed shot speed. A good metric to go by, is to have the tip of your racket 6-12 inches above your head.
Be sure to keep your wrist cocked though, no matter how high your racket preparation is!
3. Shoulder Position
Your shoulder will be the 3rd primary way that power is generated, and most of it has to do with positioning rather than raw power or strength.
Forehand shoulder position:
Back behind you until you feel a slight pull near your shoulder blades. With your racket position up high, you should feel this pull even more. This is the shoulder muscle used in generating power.
Backhand shoulder position:
Rotate your core and get your shoulder back behind the ball, as shown in the image below. You should feel a pull near the top of your shoulder this time, as opposed to your back with the forehand. By rotating your core back into its normal position, and using this shoulder muscle, you’ll generate a good portion of the power on your backhand. The other component, of course, comes from the cocked wrist.
Summing it Up
By combining these 3 elements, you have the core of how most players generate their power. By doing any of these incorrectly, you’ll usually see players compensating in several different ways:
- Swinging their whole body on their backhand, instead of just their shoulder and core
- A big loopy swing that gets caught in the back corners, especially the back wall
- Broken rackets from hitting the side walls and back wall
- Miss-hits and crazy shots that go through the middle of the court, or out of court
Avoid these embarrassing situations by cocking your wrist, get your racket high, and position your shoulder properly.