How To Use The Knock Up Effectively In Squash

The “knock up” is the moment that you go onto court and start hitting the ball in preparation for a friendly or competitive match. Simply hitting the ball to get it hot is NOT the main objective. You have three objectives when knocking up.

29 May 2022 / 3-Min Read / Translate↗

ONE: To see how well you are hitting the ball. Every day you play is a different day. Some days you play forehands well, other days the backhand. Some days your boasts are great, other days they suck. This knock up is a chance for you to see what is working and what is not. This will affect your tactics. However, I am not saying that if you bad boasts in the knock up you shouldn’t play them at all in the match – just be aware that they need extra attention and more careful execution.

Thierry Lincou reaches for a short ball

TWO: To briefly assess your opponent. This might not be important if you have played them a few times before, but if you have never played this person, this knock up could help identify their strengths and weaknesses. However, I have to say that over the years, I have paid less and less attention to my opponent in the knock up because it encouraged me to make snap judgments that occasionally lost me matches or caused over-confidence.

THREE: To become accustomed to the court as quickly as possible. Courts vary so much, even in the same club and having some information about how bouncy the court is or how slippery the walls are can help. Remember, it’s always easy to play at home, so the sooner you feel comfortable on new courts, the better.

Video Analysis

It's not about having the best shots, it's about using the ones you have more effectively.


What's Next?'

Right, we have our 4 objectives (You, Them, Court, Ball), what next? Well, you have to ensure that just like your “Heat Up” (You did perform a proper heat up, didn’t you?), you go through a fixed routine of hitting. Some prefer to start with volleys, others prefer drives, but what is important is that you play all the shots: straight drives, crosscourt drives, straight volleys, crosscourt volleys, volley kills, drop shots, boasts, lobs etc.

You definitely don’t want your first volley or drop in a match to be your first volley or drop that day!

Try different routines as you play matches to see what works for you. I want to emphasis the importance of moving around the court during the knock up. Don’t be scared to play a few boasts from the middle of the court and move forward and hit a straight drive to your opponent. One last point about etiquette. In general, don’t hit more than 3 shots to yourself consecutively. There’s no need and it’s a little selfish. I have seen this happen more and more with juniors and I don’t feel it’s necessary. You may disagree, I don’t know?

Final Thoughts

The “Knock Up” has four objectives: You, Them, Court, Ball. Make sure you address them all.

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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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