If you are new to the sport of squash and want to learn where to begin from, this would be a good article to look at. In this piece below we have mentioned a few beginner squash training drills that you could use to get you going.
Viewers get drawn to squash because of the intense nature of the sport and the opportunities it provides to improve one’s fitness. The long rallies, quick movements all over the court and the breathtaking retrieving all add to the allure of the sport.
However, one of the biggest hurdles for beginners wanting to learn to play squash is not knowing how to get initiated into the sport.
For starters, unlike most other racket sports, one can develop upon his/ her game by practicing alone as well. However, the learning process becomes a lot more fun if you have a partner along.
In its simplest form, squash is about “See the ball, hit the ball.”
The elements of utilization of angles, height and width of court, deception among other things are learnt in due course of time as the player spends more time on the court. Through a little bit of solo and combined training mixed with friendly matches, one can see the improvement becoming discernible in a very short span of time.
Once you have found a court and the right equipment for yourself, you can hit the court alone or with your partner. Remember to make a schedule for yourself depending on availability of your squash buddy.
Your practice schedule should be a judicious mix of solo practice, combined practice with other members of the club, friendly matches and of course fitness drills.
What Should a Beginner’s Squash Drill Consist of?
Warm Up Routine (10-15 min)
One of the more vital but ignored elements of playing squash, especially with beginners is being adequately warmed up.
The importance of this cannot be overstated. While warming up can seem tedious at times, it is essential to prevent any injuries that may put you out of action for a long duration.
Try to reach the court slightly before your partner so that you can work on this element of your routine.
Resist the urge to pick up the racket and start hitting the ball right away. Instead spend some time limbering up.
You can start off with stretches and lunges to work on the calf and hamstring muscles, followed by rotation of the arms and the sides.
Skipping to get the increasing the blood flow through the body and for increasing the heart rate is also recommended. If the club has a treadmill or a cycle nearby you can consider spending a few minutes (5-10 minutes) on that as well.
Solo Practice (10 min)
Solo practice should not be something that you undertake because you have reached much earlier than your partner and now have nothing to do.
In fact, it should be a planned part of your routine.
Once you have warmed up adequately, work on hitting the ball repeatedly down the line both on the forehand and backhand side. The idea behind the exercise is achieving control over your racket and body position and accuracy in shots.
For further lessons on this refer to our solo squash practice guide here.
Practice Hitting with Partner (10 min)
Cross Court Drives
Occupy one side of the court, behind the service box and hit cross court shots into the side occupied by your partner.
Aim to achieve accuracy rather than power and speed. Notice the spot that you want to target on the front ball and accordingly aim towards it.
The intention here is to get the ball as far back and as close to the side wall as possible on the opponents side.
Your partner in turn is expected to hit a cross court into your side of the ‘box’. Continue this exercise for a few minutes, ensuring that the ball bounces only once on the floor.
Thereafter, you can exchange places and resume the same routine. This way you can practice on both – the forehand as well as the backhand.
Remember – to get the ball deeper into your opponent’s court, you do not need to it harder, but higher up on the front wall.
In this exercise one player stays on the T, while the partner occupies the back court on one side. Player 2 who is at the back, plays the ball towards the front wall with the intention to make it fall softly ahead of the player 1 who is at the T.
Player 1, steps forward, hits a hard drive straight along the wall and returns back to the T.
Player 2 continues the rally by once again feeding the ball to his partner at the front who hits another drive.
Continue with this session for at least 15-20 times.
Not only will it help you work on your straight drives, but the repeated movement to and away from the T will also make you lose a lot of calories. There after exchange places so that both of you get the chance to work on this aspect of the game.
The two exercises mentioned above enable players to improve their ‘hand-eye’ coordination.
Additionally, they also help in understanding the relationship between the points at which the ball is struck on the front or side walls and its trajectory on the court.
Game Play (20-30 min)
Try to acquaint yourself with the basic rules of squash before you hit the court.
Also read up about the safety precautions one needs to take when playing squash.
During the game, some of the aspects that need special emphasis are:
- Try to gain control of the T position. To achieve this, you have to aim to keep our opponent as far away from the T as possible. This can be achieved by hitting the ball deep into the court, very close to the side walls or playing it short.
- Watch the trajectory of the ball right from the time it hits the front wall, till it strikes the opponent’s racket. This will give you an idea what the opponent’s next shot is likely to be, and you can prepare yourself accordingly.
- You only need to use the side of your eyes for doing this and do not need to turn or face into your partner. A common mistake made by most beginners is staring at the front wall continuously, rather than observing the movements of the ball as well as the opponent.
- Squash is fraught with the risk of injury, especially when there are two beginners on the court. If your partner is blocking your way or is precariously close to you, then do not try to hit the ball, you may end up striking him/ her with the racket or with the ball. Ask for a let. The squash ball may look like an innocuous piece of equipment, but can inflict grievous pain and injury. Safety above everything else.
- While winning matches may give you a high, the idea behind playing the sport should be to continually improve. Aim to keep the ball parallel to the side walls, and as deep as possible.
- Try to retrieve every ball before it makes the second bounce, and make your opponent work to win every point. Try to play longer rallies and do not try to finish off points by attempting improbable winners, these are likely to only end up becoming unforced errors.
Cooling Down (10 min)
After having tired yourself through an intense session of game play, you probably want to change up and head back home for a shower.
But this is when you risk injuring your body the most. It is imperative that adequate amount of cool down sessions is undertaken to once again relax the muscles to their original state.
And just like warm-ups, cooling down is important for most sports including squash. And here’s how you can cool down for your own self.
You can once again consider doing a jog or walk on the treadmill.
Ghosting patterns all over the court is another option that can be exercised. The idea behind ghosting is improving your movement in the court.
Stand at the T – and then try and reach for an imaginary ball in different corners of the court. As an example, standing on the T, run for a ball in the front left corner, return back to the T, and immediately head for an imaginary ball in the ball right corner.
Repeat this exercise till you cover all of the corners of the court multiple times. The tempo of these patterns will depend on an individual’s fitness and stamina.
Do not forget to carry out your standard muscle stretching routine before you leave the court.
Chalk out Your Weekly Schedule
While the routine mentioned above is for a standard ‘game play day’, new learners can work out a weekly squash schedule for themselves.
Considering that you would be hitting the squash court five to six times during the week, allot a day to work only on your fitness and solo practice routines.
Fitness sessions would include working on movement all over the court at varying tempos – follow the ghosting pattern. The objective of solo practice is to work on body posture, racket preparation and striking the ball at the correct angles.
Further advice on solo squash practice can be found here.
Final Words on Squash Drill for Beginners
One of the most fascinating aspects about playing squash is how rapidly you can improve your game once you get an understanding of the basic tenets of the sport.
The fact that these can be worked on not just with a playing partner, but alone as well make it even easier to develop one’s game.
It’s important to be consistent about these drills to build your base around squash. It will hold you in a good stead for months and years of your squash career!