To the average club squash player with a few years of court experience under his belt this could come as a bit of a blow (as with the "you've got no base game" statement). However, when the all-seeing coach picked this one out, it came as no great surprise… my dropshots were indeed abysmal. To be truthful a colourful selection of adjectives would also have aptly described this part of my game, but since it's a family site, we'll just settle for the original description.

Lesson statement made, we moved on to an exercise to allow me to show just how poor my dropshots really were. We used the boast and drive exercise with yours truly at the front of the court, but before playing the straight drive to the back of the court, I had to play a straight dropshot. Needless to say, I didn't disappoint - putting the ball in the middle of the tin or redline with quite incredible consistency.

So, having clearly identified the problem the coach set about making the corrections:

Fault 1

Having too big a swing. My start point for the dropshot was the same as for a drive played from the back of the court. This generated the further error of needing to slow right down before striking the ball, resulting in a poke at the ball rather than a smooth stroke. Moving the racket such a large distance and needing to slow it down to achieve a good dropshot with both well controlled pace and direction was very difficult to achieve - and was even more difficult when under the pressure of a match situation. I had further complicated matters by adding a shed load of cut on the shot to further take pace off the dropshot - the pace of course coming from my huge start swing. With all these factors compounding it seems amazing that I was even able to put the ball in the tin consistently.

Remedy 1

Shorten the swing - genius, from my coach. Start the swing for the dropshot with little more than a half swing.

The racket head then has much less distance to travel and becomes much easier to simply nudge the ball in a controlled fashion at the desired spot on the front wall. By simply shortening the swing, the pace is taken off the ball by slowing the swing, throughout the now smooth stroke - this removes the need to pile on the slice in the shot. This may make it more obvious to an opponent that a dropshot is likely, but the dropshot should be used as a working shot to move the opponent rather than expecting a winner every time…

Fault 2

Playing the shot off the wrong foot. On the forehand side I was stepping into the shot with the right foot, and on the backhand I was playing the shot of the left foot. Given the fact that I was struggling to get the ball above the red line, I thought was being a tad pernickety until I got the explanation. By playing off the wrong foot the natural shot becomes the crosscourt, which, if that's the only option available, allows the opposition to pile on the pressure by playing the ball to the opposite back corner with an easy straight drive. Additionally, approaching the shot from this stance only really allows a weak push to the side for the straight drop, this is significantly weaker than where there is the opportunity to play a full stroke.

Remedy 2

Make a conscious effort with footwork when moving to the front of the court for dropshots. On the forehand side play off the left foot and on the backhand side play of the right foot. This will allow you choose the shot that you wish to play, no longer will you be forced to play the easy and predictable cross court or the weak drop shot, instead the straight drive can be mixed in to keep the opponent guessing where the ball is going (the crosscourt lob was also suggested for a bit of variety).

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