Another a quick article today, one to hopefully change the way you view short shots. Professionals don't have any emotional likes or dislikes regarding shots. They will play what they are good at and/or what the situations demands. Club players tend to be a little more "emotional" regarding some shots. They are less objective and more subjective regarding shot selection.
Of course, all players, whether they are beginners, improvers, club players, advanced players professionals or world champions, have their favourite shots. But the better you get at squash the less important that favourite shot becomes. Defensive shots are often viewed as weak shots by club players. But the reality is that your opponent will hit some good shots against you and you should realise that the best way to deal with their good shot is to play defensively. It's not a sign of weakness on your part, it's a sign of intelligence!
The counter drop is a drop shot played off your opponents' drop shots. It can be both attacking and defensive. Let's have a quick look at both options.
The Attacking Counter Drop
If your opponent. hits a drop shot or even just a short shot to the front of the court, if can be difficult to play deep drives. Perhaps your options are limited by the time you have available or by the tightness to the wall of their shot. In cases where you have a little time, but perhaps not space, a simple straight counter-drop can be your best option. Your objective is to play the ball as tight to the side wall as possible. The height and speed become secondary to tightness. If the ball comes away from the side wall too much you are giving your opponent the option of a crosscourt and you don't want to do that if you can help it.'
Be clear in your mind that an attacking counter drop is NOT you trying to hit a winner. Don't have that mentality. A winner is a binary shot concept. By that I mean that you either hit a winner or you don't, and the don't is judged badly. By attempting to simply keep the ball tight you open up the possibility of a winner, but also creating a chance for a winning shot on the next shot.
An attacking counter drop is played with a short swing, a swing that moves parallel to the side wall, with a slight upwards angle with the racket level with or slightly under the wall. It's a push more than a swing. Its aim is to rush your opponent and take them further forward. It looks to force an error or a very weak shot from which you can hit a winning shot.'
I mentioned keeping the racket and ball parallel to the side wall, but that only is true if your opponent's shot is close to the side wall. If it is a little away, then your objective is to get it closer - and that's all. Don't think about the nick. Think only about its tightness and how far away from the front wall it bounces.
Remember: Don't aim too low of the front wall. An attacking counter drop is not necessarily a low shot. It's a shot that stays tight to the side wall and gives your opponent little time to position themselves. Practice them by playing the alley game.
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The Defensive Counter Drop
The defensive counter drop is a very different from the attacking version. Any and all defensive shots should take away your opponents' advantage AND give you time to recover to the best position. That often means using the height of the front wall and believe it or not, the defensive counter drop shot is no different. Keeping your disbelief going, you should aim for the service line when playing a defensive counter drop. Yes, that's right the service line, or at least close to it. It has the same objective of keeping the ball tight though.
You are simply trying to give yourself enough time to cover your opponent's shot. It should be played when you have no other option. There's no doubt that if played badly you can be giving them a great opportunity to win the point, but I bet we all have stories of missing easy winners, so don't assume that you will lose the point. If you hit a bad defensive counter drop, keep fighting for the point.
This shot is played similar to the attacking version, but you try to come from under the ball more and aim higher on the front wall. You probably have less time, so keep the swing simple and avoid over-running if you can, otherwise you will be either in the way of your opponent's swing or so far out of position that covering the next shot will be almost impossible.
stay low, take a long final step and don't over-run. Yes, that's easy for me to say and much harder to do, but you need to have a clear idea of what good movement means in this situation. By not staying low, your centre of gravity is high and you will naturally fall forwards into the area where you have hit the ball. By staying low it will be easier to stop yourself. It does require strong legs and back though, so expect to need to do some training.
Don't let your emotions regarding defensive shots limit your options. Play the best shot for each situation, even if your ability is not good enough. Making the right choices is better for your squash in the long term.
Don't get fancy with the swing - the simpler, the better. Keep the ball tight, not low. Don't stop and stare at your shot - get back to a position that allows you to reach their counter drop and cover a drive.
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