I am watching the Grasshopper Cup 2014 on www.psasquashtv.com currently and am having a good look at Shabana’s forehand. It really is a thing of beauty. He has my favourite forehand on tour. There are several components of it that I really like. His racquet preparation, his hold, how deceptive it is and how consistent it is are what make it so good.
Racquet preparation is really important on either the forehand or the backhand of course. Amr’s racquet preparation is second to none and really sets up the other components of his swing that make it so good. Given any time at all Amr gets his racquet up and back very early. This gets him in position to allow him to hit anything. Very importantly his forehand racquet preparation looks the same for most shots he is going to hit.
The next part of his forehand swing is his consistent hold. After he has gotten his racquet up and back during the preparation stage it stops in that position. He holds in that position forcing his opponent to wait. He holds whether he is going to drive or drop the ball. It is very important that if you are going to add a hold to your swing that you show a variety of shots. Not only do you need to show that you can a hit a variety of shots you need to actually do it as well. If the only time you hold is when you go in to the front corner and hold and then drive the ball as an example your opponent will soon be able to pick that up and the hold will become a tell completing negating any benefit. Shabana’s consistency with the hold on drives or drops is what makes it so effective.
Shabana’s deception is largely in part due to the early and consistent preparation as well as the beautiful hold discussed above. There is more to it though. It is the consistency of the whole swing that makes him so deceptive. If you watch the whole motion is start with the early racquet preparation, his hold, he then drops his hand and either snaps through the ball for a drive or slides the racquet under the ball for a drop. I am sure Amr knows what shot he is going to play but it must be a nightmare for his opponents to pick it up.
Amr Shabana has one of the best, if not the best forehands in squash. It is his racquet preparation, beautiful hold and incredible deception that make it so effective. The preparation gives him options; he uses the hold for all of those options which makes his forehand so deceptive. One of the best ways to learn something is to model someone else who is exceptional at what you want to learn and when it comes to the squash forehand Amr Shabana is an excellent choice.