How to ​Play Squash Strategically and Beat Your Opponents!​

​How do you ​play squash and win?  How do you beat someone that you've never been able to beat before?  A lot of it depends on playing a solid basic squash game, and building off of it to win those key points at key moments.  I'll also cover the squash rules that you'll need to know.

​The ​most effective squash strategies are:

  1. Controlling the "T"
  2. Hitting good length
  3. Hitting good width
  4. ​Drives tight to the side wall
  5. Knowing when to attack
  6. Lob to get out of trouble

​Master these basic strategies and tactics, and you'll find yourself in control, and winning!

​Squash Court Lines and Controlling the T

The “T” is the area on the squash court where the red court lines meet in the middle, and form a T.  The ideal position to be in is slightly back from where the red court lines intersect, seen in the image below.

control the T positioning

The player who controls the T will usually win the squash match.  Why is this?  It’s the dominant position of the court, where you can:

  • Intercept and volley your opponent’s straight drives
  • Intercept and volley your opponent’s crosscourts
  • Get to the back court in 2-3 steps to retrieve a deep drive
  • Get to the front court in 3-4 steps to retrieve a drop shot or boast

You want to position yourself on the T as often as possible, but most importantly:

  1. After you serve – only a couple of steps to the T
  2. After you hit a shot – sometimes you may not be able to get all the way back before your opponent hits the ball, but get as close as you can
  3. When your opponent is hitting their shot - you want to be solidly on the T at this point, or as close as possible

Not only does good T position put pressure on your opponent, but it puts you in the best position to hit your next shot.  You’ll find yourself able to hit better drives, better attacking shots (volleys, drops), and doing less running than your opponent.

In any squash match, you’ll usually see the stronger player squarely and solidly positioned on the T, and the weaker player running to all 4 corners of the court, retrieving like crazy.

Squash Rules - Let, No Let, Stroke

Many of the basic rules of squash are based around serving.  To see my full page on the squash serve click here.

During play, most rules in squash are based on Lets, No-Lets, and Strokes.  These resulting in points being awarded to either you or your opponent, or sometimes replaying the point.

​Rule

​Situations

​Result

​Let

  • ​You or your opponent get in each other's way, accidentally blocking the path to the ball.  The player's swing is NOT affected, and would have realistically reached the ball if there was no blocking.  (​Lets can happen often in the confined space of a squash court)
  • ​For safety, called a "Safety Let"​​​.  This is when there is a patch of sweat on the floor that is dangerous, or if a wide ​crosscourt comes around the back of the court and you would hit your opponent with your shot
  • ​A player is hit with the follow-through of ​their opponent's shot.  This could be due to an exaggerated swing or bad court positioning

​The point is replayed

​No Let

  • ​A player asks for a let due to ​interference, but they realistically would NOT have reached the ball​, since the shot was too good.
  • A player asks for a Let due to very minimal interference, that should have been played through.  They try to manufacture a Let, or exaggerate the interference

​A No Let is given to the player who asked, and the opponent wins the point

​Stroke

  • ​A player hits the squash ball back at themselves, and is in the way of their opponent's backswing (NOT follow-through)
  • A player is blocking access ​to their opponent to hit the front wall with the ball, ie not clearing a path for their opponent's shot. This is applicable in every situation, except a wide crosscourt that comes around the back of the court.  

​A Stroke is given, and the player unable to play their shot wins the point

Squash ​Scoring ​and Number of Points in a Game

​The scoring of a squash game is usually done 1 of 3 ways:

  • First player to reach 11 points wins the game, ​point per rally (professional or high-level club squash with longer rallies)
  • First player to reach 15 points wins the game, point per rally (lower-level club squash with shorter rallies
  • First player to 9 points, point scored when serving only (older scoring before point per rally was introduced)

​Squash matches are a best of 5 games, so the first player to win 3 games wins the match.

​Hitting Good Length to the Back Corners

Good length is the foundation of any good squash player’s game.  It’s also the way to construct rallies to get weak shots from your opponent that you can attack.  When your shots consistently land in the back corners, it forces your opponent to dig them out, and deal with the back wall and side wall affecting their shots.

hit good length back court

Good length is the foundation of any good squash player’s game.  It’s also the way to construct rallies to get weak shots from your opponent that you can attack.  When your shots consistently land in the back corners, it forces your opponent to dig them out, and deal with the back wall and side wall affecting their shots.

The image above shows the ideal area to hit in the back court.  Hitting the ball here accomplishes a few things:

  • Gets your opponent off the T, and to the back court to retrieve
  • Gives you time to get back to the T – bad length will be intercepted, and put you under pressure
  • Keeps you in the dominant position in rallies, saving energy

​Hitting Tight Shots to the Side Walls

“Tight” shots in squash, are straight drives, straight drop shots, or straight volleys that run close along the side wall.  The ideal straight drive, drop, or volley is as close to the side wall as possible, and doesn’t spray outwards into the middle of the court.

This limits your opponent’s options, as they have to deal with their racket scraping the side wall.  A very tight shot can’t be hit crosscourt, since there’s not enough room between the ball and the side wall.  This gives you a HUGE advantage, since your know the ball can only be returned straight; or even better, your opponent’s shot will spray off the side wall, giving you a stroke or an easy shot to attack.

Every one of your straight drives, straight drop shots, or straight volleys should be as tight as possible to the side wall.  Sometimes you can even get outright winners with very tight shots!

​Hitting Good Width

When hitting crosscourts, good “width” is hitting the ball wide enough so your opponent can’t intercept it.  Poor width will usually result in your opponent hitting a volley drop attack, or volleying it back to length, putting you under pressure.

It’s usually more difficult to hit good width than hitting tight straight drives.  Poor width also gives more angles for your opponent to work with, whereas poor straight drives still limit many angles.  For this reason, straight drives are viewed safer, more conservative shots than crosscourts.

​When to Attack & When not to Attack

Attacking in squash is almost an art.  By attacking from the wrong parts of the court, and at the wrong times, your opponent will have an easier time retrieving and turning the rally in their favor.  In squash, it’s amazing how quickly a rally can turn around, and make the attacking player switch into defensive mode.

This mostly happens because of poor attacking shots.  Poor attacks won’t have the desired effect of being a winning shot, or gaining the upper hand in a rally.  Instead, they give your opponent the chance to get back in a rally, and put you into defensive mode.

The correct times to attack are:

  • You’ve hit a good length drive, drop or volley, that is tight to the side wall.  Your opponent sprays the ball off the side wall, giving you an easy shot to attack
  • Your opponent hits a poor width, giving you a chance to intercept and attack
  • Your opponent hits a weak attack, such as a loose drop shot.  This gives you the chance to counter attack with a drop shot, trickle boast, or drive

The wrong times to attack are:

  • You’re in the back court, usually after your opponent has hit a good length straight drive, or a good width crosscourt.  Sometimes you can surprise your opponent with a drop shot from the back court, but it’s a risky shot.  It’s better to accept your opponent hit a good shot, and hit the ball back to length
  • You’re reaching for the squash ball; whether it’s moving forward to retrieve a drop shot, reaching high to volley a high shot, or reaching low for a hard crosscourt.  These are defensive positions, and trying to attack is very risky
  • The ball is tight to the side walls.  Your racket will likely scrape the side wall, making it difficult to attack accurately.  It’s better to scrape the squash ball high and back to length than attempt an attack

​Lob to Get Out of Trouble

The lob is popularly known as “the most underrated shot in squash”.  It involves flicking the ball high and at a steep angle, ideally with the ball dying in the back court.  However, a lob doesn’t have to be perfect to be effective.

Lobs are best hit when you’re under pressure (such as retrieving a drop shot, or a low hard crosscourt), or want to change the pace of the rally.  The main benefits are:

  • The high ball trajectory gives you time to get positioned back on the T
  • Your opponent has to volley the ball above their shoulders to intercept it, which is a tough shot, and will probably result in a weak return that you can attack
  • You don’t have to hit it perfectly to get the benefits above!