Which Ball Should You Use When Solo Drilling?

Using the right squash ball at the right time is essential to ensure you maximise your time on a squash court AND make sure you have as much fun as possible.

16 April 2024 / 3-Min Read / Translate↗

I often get asked that question. I get asked it a lot because it's a good question. The issue arises for two reasons; firstly because a player can't perform a particular drill with their usual ball and feels that changing the ball will improve their practice. or, and this drives me crazy, because, often old, "experts" say that if the matches are played with a double yellow dot then all practices should be with a double yellow dot. That's hogwash, balderdash, poppycock, twaddle and bunk. In that order.

Training is about manipulating, adapting and adjusting "reality" to allow players to improve. For example, hitting straight drives to yourself never happens in a match, so if you follow the "experts" advice of only doing what happens in a match, then you should never do this in training. Clearly, that's not true.

Nick Matthew knows a thing or two about using the right squash ball when practicing.  Original photo by Petteri Repo.  Used with permission.

Adjust The Difficulty

Sometimes we manipulate circumstances to make life harder, condition games are a good example. This is where we restrict or limit the shot selection options to force players to focus on certain shots. Limiting choices forces players to get better at those shots. In some cases, for this to work well, a bouncier ball should be sued until players become more proficient at the tasks - which in some ways is a contradiction: less choice/easier ball.

Other times, we manipulate circumstances to make life easier. If you have trouble getting the ball out of the back corners, then a bouncier ball will allow you to develop a proper swing, which over time becomes more and more comfortable, until you can begin to use a less bouncy ball and recreate real match situations. If you had stayed with the less bouncy ball, you might never develop that proper swing. The difference here is that you are just focused on the swing mechanics, whereas in the previous example, it was swing AND shot selection.

Small Steps - This means making small changes that challenge the player, but still allows them to perform an action with some level of proficiency. Over time, we make other small changes can be made that help us improve a particular aspect of our squash.

Specifically Solo Drilling

Can you get a double yellow dot squash ball (DYD) very very hot when performing the hard hitting drills? If you can, then a DYD ball is probably fine. If you can't then try a single yellow dot.

Also consider switching around your routine so that you alternate between hard hitting drills and softer ones. That way you can benefit from using the same ball, but also keep it hot. For example, do some side-to-side drills followed by some serves with a red dot ball that you have been holding in your hand.

Talking about red dot squash balls, every now and again, I have found it useful for club players to use it for a variety of solo squash drills to improve their ability to deal with hard hitters, as well as getting used to hot courts. It allows players the chance to adapt to unusual circumstances, which is itself a good thing. Try it, you might enjoy it. I always carry two red dots in my squash bag.

Squash Ball Snobbery

There's too much ball snobbery in squash. In this context, snobbery is when players who use double yellow dot squash balls feel superiority over those that don't. For those people, it's like a "badge of honour". They say "Oh yes, I use a double yellow dot", as if that means they have reached a certain level of skill. Often times, their rallies are less than 4 shots and not much fun to play against.

Use the type of ball that makes squash the most fun. It doesn't matter if it's solo practice, pairs or group drills, practice matches or serious matches. Of course, in tournaments or competitions, the type of ball is often fixed by the organisers and there is definitely benefit from using this ball for a few weeks before those important matches. However, you do that to accustom yourself to the ball, not to improve.

Don't think it is an "either or situation". Using a single yellow dot for some drills doesn't mean you have to use that ball for all of them. Feel absolutely free to use whichever ball works best for you in each drill or situation. Of course, using a blue dot, a red dot, a single yellow and a double yellow within the same session is probably not a good idea.

Remember, the choice of ball is partly to do with the temperature of the court as well as the standard of the players. For a comprehensive explanation of balls, please see my Right Ball guide.

Final Thoughts

To summarise, use the ball that helps you improve and/or makes squash the most fun to play. Don't be bullied by Ball Snobs who think that the double yellow dot is the only ball to use if you want to be a "serious" player. Don't let them gatekeep you.

If you are not sure which ball to sue, start with the bouncier one and keep using it if you feel benefit, or move to a less bouncy ball when you feel more capable and confident.

As always, if you have any doubts, comments or questions, just send me an email and I'll respond.



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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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