The key to hitting any shot from anywhere on the court.
The more you learn about squash, the more it seems that it really is all about footwork and positioning.
A lot of people don’t load weight properly due to their footwork when they strike the ball and this can lead to all sorts of problems, some of which are more subtle than others.
If your footwork and weight distribution is right, squash is easy. Hitting the ball is easy. It’s all easy if you know how. Hitting the ball is all about where your weight is. If the ball is behind you, it’s hard to hit because you can only get a limited amount of weight behind it – most likely the weight of your wrist and maybe forearm. If the ball is in front of you, you can transfer a lot of weight through the ball. You can get practically your entire body transferring weight and energy to the ball.
Where’s your centre of gravity?
For best results when you strike the ball, your weight needs to be centred in your legs – typically between the front and back leg – with more weight going towards the front leg so that as you place your foot to hit the ball you are putting your weight through the shot and therefore transferring energy into the ball. By doing this you are harnessing all of your weight and the power of gravity. The most common way of centring weight is to lunge or squat slightly.
This is why it is so difficult to get shots out of the back corners initially, as it’s not easy to get enough weight behind the ball to play a shot. As we discuss in another article, sometimes you might have to put your weight on the back leg in certain situations to give you a fighting chance of returning the ball. There will be many occasions where you can’t get your full body weight behind the ball but you have to adapt as best you can to find ways of transferring as much weight and energy as possible through the ball.
Weight and positioning: If it doesn’t hurt you now, it will hurt your next shots
Loading your weight incorrectly may not necessarily ruin the shot you are playing (although it often does stop it from being as good as it could be!), as many players can still control the ball well in spite of bad weight distribution, but it will impact on your next shot positionally. If your weight is in the wrong place, it will affect your ability to recover the T-Position, which will likely limit the quality of your next shot. You’ll have to do a lot of work to change the direction of your weight in order to get to the next shot. This will of course leave you playing catch up and put you under pressure, which is not the ideal environment you want for playing your shot.
So if you don’t get your weight right, you may find yourself trapped somewhere on the court and leaving a big gap for your opponent to hit the ball into.
Clearing the ball & weight in the upper body
As mentioned above, some people can still control the ball well despite not loading their weight onto their legs properly and stretching in. Often they are very upright when they hit the ball and this means that they aren’t transferring as much weight as is possible, which means that not only is the shot not reaching its full potential but also that they’re not going to be able clear the ball and return to the T-Position easily, as they can’t push back explosively off their front leg. This means it’s a struggle to cover the opponent’s next shot properly, which means their next shot will be weaker. The opponent can then attack the weaker shot and apply pressure, which can lead to even more running if the player can manage to stay in the rally.
Keep an eye on where your weight is when you play the ball. Are you channelling it efficiently through the ball? You’d be amazed what you can do and where you can do it from when you master your weight.