By David Heath


Tactics can be very subjective elements in any game. However to give us a good basis upon which to build some general tactical ideas in squash, I think it's a good idea to take a "helicopter view" of the court. The court can be split roughly into two sides - forehand and backhand - and into front, middle and back. This gives us a good idea of depth and width. The element of height is the other physical property to consider. The idea of any player should be to maximise shots played in areas of strength for him/her and concentrate on playing shots into areas where the opponent will experience difficulties.


During a squash rally a player may find him/herself in any of the areas mentioned, in various states of comfort or discomfort. This could be considered to be a state of attack or defense. Shots played from a position of defense should be intended to enable the player to regain a position of attack. These shots could be referred to as "crossover" shots. Good players will play rallies that may have long exchanges of crossover between defense and attack before the point is won.

Generally speaking, most defending is done at the back and in the front of the court, while most attacking is done from the middle and the front.


Let's take the back corners first. If the ball is fairly low and/or tight to the side wall, the player could be considered to be in a defensive position. In such a position, to keep the ball straight, deep and tight is normally the most effective option. The aim of a length from a defensive position should be to strike the back wall after the bounce. This will limit the opponent's chances to volley and provide time to re-claim good position on the "T". Crosses should be played very infrequently in such a position as most reasonable club players will be able to punish all but very good shots. The defensive 3-wall boast is another option to use occasionally here, but it must be played well or more trouble will soon follow. In the front corners the straight drop, looping straight drive or cross lob are probably the best of the options from a defensive position.


As soon as a player realises that the opponent is in a defensive position(s)he should be looking to seize the moment and cover any loose returns. Any ball that comes within a step and a stretch of the "T" should be punished with an attacking, dying straight drive or cross to one of the back corners, or an attacking kill, drop or boast attempt to the front. The idea should be to patrol the short line to punish any loose lengths or crosses with volleys, and to move quickly to the front to cover short balls. The position taken by the player on the "T" will be dependent upon his/her perceived level of advantage at the given stage of the rally. Speed of preparation of racquet and movement technique is paramount to effective attacking play. Poise is a vital quality for me in helping the player gain advantage in the rally. It suggests good balance, awareness and readiness to seize the opportunity to gain the upper hand when it presents itself. Good poise will enable the player to increase pressure through taking the ball early and/or increase time for shot selection, with consideration of the aspects of delay and deception.


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