30 December 2022 / 3-Min Read / Translate↗
If you watch enough professional squash, have coaching, watch coaching videos and read squash books, you will find variation in swing technique. There are some fundamental aspects that every successful player has, but they are not clones. It's the same in other racket sports; fundamentals are followed, but individual interpretations are used too. Those interpretations change over time, and some things a trendy and return to prominence over time.
I feel that the new technology used in modern rackets allows more individuality regarding swing technique, mostly due to their lightness, but maybe due to other aspects too.
Visit any coach around the world and they will have their way of teaching, but also a swing technique they feel works best, and I'm no different. What I do believe is that how the technique is taught is almost important as the technique itself. You only need to read about coaches who produce a string of successful players to know that their commitment to their swing is one of the things that make those coaches successful.
For this article, I want to focus on two aspects of swing technique that I feel club players could focus on and see significant improvement.
Telling players to prepare early is a tricky thing. By early, I don't mean that the racket has to be up, stationary, and waiting for the ball, but it never should rush. That is not a physical thing, it's a "mental observation" thing. Club players are slower to see where a shot will land and how that will affect their swing. A good example is a crosscourt that will hit the side wall quite low. In those cases, the ball will need to be hit sooner than if it hit higher on the side wall. Better players recognise that need earlier and consequently start their swing sooner. When club players don't see that need, they often have to boast a shot that a better player would have been able to return straight or even crosscourt.
But having your racket up and stationary, can be an incredibly useful thing to do. It can allow you to delay the forward part of the swing and cause your opponent doubt and therefore hesitation - even a fraction of a second can mean the difference between reaching the ball and not reaching the ball. For shots in the back corner when rallying up and down the wall, as well as shots from the front when you have time. Having your racket up and still, shows you have plenty of time and allows you to focus on other aspects of the shot.
Try getting your racket up earlier and holding it still for a fraction of a second. It may suit your swing or it may not, but you will only know by trying.
Without doubt, at least for me!, one of the biggest difference between very advanced players and average club players is the consistency of their preparation and swing. By that I mean if you were to take a photograph of a hundred forehand drives, the advanced player's swing would look almost identical in each photo, whereas the average club player's swing would have much more variation.
That's not something that simply by recognising it can suddenly be improved, but recognising the need for consistency is the first step in achieving it. By trying to make each swing the same, you are beginning the process of control. A gadget like the Racketware Sensor is absolutely perfect for this, but not everybody has the inclination nor money to use something like that, so how else can you make your swing more consistent? Well, you could video yourself. Most people's phone are good enough to place on a small tripod and record your swing from different angles. Do it when solo drilling for the most consistent results regarding the swing and the ability to record.
But a simpler way is to have a few cues that you use to notice how consistently you are swinging. For example, thinking very clearly about cocking your wrist during the early prepar, or the point of contact with the ball and finally where the followthrough finishes. Notice that I am not telling you where or how those things have to be. They just have to be consistent. YES, I want you to have a good technical swing, but you also need to have your own style.
I don't want you to be a clone of me or anybody else. I want you to have the fundamentals right, but then do what works for you. The key with this article is to get the early prep and consistency working within YOUR swing. How do you get the fundamentals right? Ideally, by visiting a coach in person, but failing that watch a few videos and try what they suggest and see if it works for you.
As I mentioned earlier, each coach has their own style they teach, and that's fine. You can see plenty of squash articles telling you to do this and do that with your swing. Some I agree with, some I don't, but if it works for you then that's all that matters. But doing it consistently is key.