What Are The Basic Shots In Squash Called?

Like all sports, squash has terms and names related just to itself. Knowing those names won’t make you a better squash player, but will make it easier to understand what you see and read about squash.

11 May 2022 / 3-Min Read / Translate↗

In this short article I am going to explain the basic terms used when talking about squash shots. In the future, I will write another article that talks about more advanced terms.

Two players at the front of the squash court

Serve & Service Return: The serve is the first shot in a rally and is hit by the server. The “Service Return” is hit by the “Receiver”. The “Server” won the last point, the “Receiver” lost it, except at the beginning of a match when the Server is chosen by a random event, most often by spinning a racket, but it could also be a coin toss, i.e. heads or tails.

Drive: The drive is a shot played after the ball has bounced and is hit to the back of the court. The purpose of the drive is to put the opponent into the corners, and either get a winner or more likely force them to hit a weak shot, from which you will try to hit a spectacular winner!

Straight Drive: A “Straight Drive” goes into the same corner as the side you hit it on.

Crosscourt Drive: A “Crosscourt Drive”, sometimes written as Xcourt, goes across the court (see why?!) to the other corner.

Boasts: A boast is when the ball is hit against the side wall first and on purpose! I say on purpose because sometimes you try to hit a straight drive but it hits the side wall first and comes into the middle of the court. There are a few variations of the boast, but I will only talk about the three main types of boast in this article.

Two-Wall Boast: The two-wall boast, also called the working boast, is generally played from the back or middle of the court and hits the side wall, then the front wall and should bounce twice BEFORE it hits the opposite side wall. Its purpose is to move the opponent forward and hopefully force a weak return. The second bounce should be as close to the opposite side wall as possible.

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Three-Wall Boast: The three-wall boast is a more attacking shot and often results in the end of a rally, either because it is itself a winner or because your opponent hits a winner from it. As you probably have guessed from its name, the three-wall boast hits all three walls (one side wall, front wall and the other side wall) BEFORE it bounces on the floor.

Trickle-Boast: The trickle boast is played from the front of the court and is a very attacking shot. You hit the ball against the side wall close to the front wall, hoping your opponent thinks you are going to hit it to the back. Used occasionally, the trickle boast can really fool your opponent.

Volley: The volley is a shot that is hit BEFORE the ball has bounced. So, a serve and often a service return are also volleys. Volleys can be hit hard or slow, to the front or the back and even against the side wall. They rush the opponent, but must be chosen carefully or you will hit a weak shot. Most volleys use a shorter swing than a drive.

Drop: The drop shot is a soft shot played to the front of the court. As the name suggest, the ball should DROP onto the front wall. Most times they should be played FROM the front of the court. Short swings and a simple pushing motion work best for beginners and improvers. Club players can add disguise and other aspects to make them more effective.

Lob: The lob is a shot played very high. Its purpose is to defend and give the striker (the player who hits the ball) time to recover and get back into position. They can be hit from any part of the court, and you can often see professionals use them very effectively from the front of the court.

Two squash players hitting a squash ball

Kill: The kill is the umbrella term for trying to win the point with that shot. Often hit hard, the ball could be aimed at the front, middle or back of the court, depending on the situation.

Nick: The nick is the join between the floor and the wall (mostly the side walls, but also the back wall). You can hit a nick when you try to kill the ball, but it is also possible to hit one from a deep shot, especially a really good crosscourt drive.

As I mentioned at the beginning, there are more shots in squash than those listed here, but they are progressions and evolution of these main shots.

If you can play all of the above shots with some degree of consistency and control, you are well on your way to becoming a better squash player.

Final Thoughts

Remember, knowing the names of shots helps your understanding of the fundamentals of squash, which provides a strong base from which to improve.

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I am a squash coach with nearly 40 years experience, teaching complete beginners through to professionals.

Currently, I call myself an "online squash coach" as I rarely coach on court.

I enjoy working with club players and strive to present information in an entertaining and engaging way.

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