Learn to play the perfect squash dropshot.



THE DROPSHOT

For a long, long time my dropshot - forehand and backhand, but particularly backhand, have been the achilles heel of my squash game. I can run, hit decent length and scramble great pickups with the best of them (albeit the best of them at my level!) but having done the work and forced a weak boast from my opposition I did have a tendency to awkwardly slot my dropshot attempt in the middle of the tin (occassionally even floor first then tin. As my bottle would crash in a match I would find myself reverting to hacking my way out of trouble, too scared to go short for fear of handing the point to my opposition - result, long, long, dull matches. With a heavy dose of coaching and hours of practice I've now got a reasonably robust dropshot on both sides... at last I can use the front of the court with a modicum of confidence.

I've gone through the key coaching points that were relevant to me in learning this shot - there are a lot of points to cover, I had that much wrong in my drop shot execution, I hope I'm able to provide a comprehensive listing of what you need to do for success.

1. Watch the ball - this might sound straight forward, but I was invariably watching the front wall when making contact with the ball. If you watch the ball it makes a massive difference in the accurate execution of the dropshot - it is simply a case of trusting that you know how high the tin is and that you dont need to be looking at it to get the shot right. Watch any pro playing the bulk of their shots and see how much they watch the ball on every shot.

2. Make space to play the shot - the temptation is to charge with wild abandon to the front corners and end up on top of the shot with no room to play it. Give yourself space to play the shot comfortably and swing your racket.

3. Get down to the ball - the drop shot is much easier to play if you get down to play it, rather than being upright... it just is the most natural way to get a better end result as you are then hitting through or slightly under the ball and hence lifting it, rather than coming down on to it.

4. Set yourself - it is a delicate shot, so if possible make space, get low and set yourself steadily to give a good base. You shouldn't be moving as you play the ball - my issue was I was almost too keen to return back to the T I was moving off the shot before it was completed.

5. Keep the wrist set/cocked - the racket head should stay high, at many amatuer levels you will see players dropping their wrist as they play a dropshot, putting lots of cut on the shot - whilst this may work beautifully sometimes, when under pressure it's not a sufficiently robust stroke to ensure consistent results when it matters. Also, this point ties in with getting low to the ball, as it's only when you are low can you easily play the ball keeping the racket head high relative to the wrist.

6. Keep the swing short - it's a delicate shot, you do need to play through the ball, but you dont need a full swing as if you are driving a length, shorten the swing and if you like move up the racket grip a little to get the best possible control.

7. Play off the correct foot - with years of established movement habits it is difficult to change if you do tend to go into the front corners on the "wrong foot". However going into front right with your left foot forward and front left with your right foot forward makes playing an accurate dropshot much easier - it brings your shoulders to be square with the side wall and helps set the correct base for accurate execution of the shot.

8. Grip the racket lightly - or conversely dont hold the racket tightly, a simple but important point - if you're a bit tense about playing the dropshot it is natural to tense and tighten up - this makes your whole arm, wrist and body stiffer and more robotic on a shot that requires maximum feel for a good end result. Conciously lightenning your grip on the racket will allow you to feel the ball on the strings and allow you to accurately guide it to your target point on the front wall.

9. Practice - reading the above 8 points and expecting the shot to work next time you're on court is never going to happen. To gain confidence in playing this shot (any shot in squash!) it's essential to go on court and solo practice hitting dropshots off boasts and loose half court drives at a variety of paces... only in this way can you expect success when it matters in matches.


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