With the squash season back in full swing (pun intended), I'm sure everybody is back and training harder than ever... and I thought this would be the perfect time to talk a bit about a drill which I believe is hugely beneficial, and maybe sometimes a little underappreciated...
It's pretty simple really, neither player can let the ball hit the back wall, or they concede a point. Obviously you can't just whack it high and hard as no one will benefit from that, but ideally, it means after the first bounce the ball cannot touch the back wall.
It's a great drill to encourage volleying, stepping forward, and taking the ball early.
If you're consistently hitting your targets and keeping your opponent pinned in either back corner, they're going to be under a lot of pressure and will have minimal time to get to the ball before it hits the back wall. If they're struggling just to get to the ball, it's unlikely they will be able to do anything offensive with their shot, which will keep you dominating the rally.
If you're hitting accurate straight lengths, and switching a crosscourt every now and again, your opponents going to be scrambling for time, defending, and lifting the ball, keeping you in the attacking position.
Not getting trapped in the corner
If you're not in the corner, that usually means your opponent is... however, if you're not on the T, that usually means your opponent is, it works both ways. Being trapped in the corner in a regular match is very physically and mentally draining, so there's no better time to practice dominating on the T than during training.
This drill is a great way to practice not getting stuck in the corner, it almost forces you to volley whenever you can, and helps you learn the ability to lift the ball and give yourself some more time if you are stuck in the back!
Improve your shots
The more shots you hit, the better your shots get. Simple but true.
This drill is great for improving your shots, as you have to focus as much as possible on accuracy if you want to win. The pace of the drill is usually very high, and the rallies are long, the best way to win is by selecting the right shot, and aiming for the right spot.
If you're really concentrating on where your shots are going, and what shots you're hitting, you'll be able to notice improvement incredibly fast!
Improve your position
If you take one thing from this drill, I believe your position is one of the most important benefits.
I find when playing a match, it's so easy to get sucked into the length game and stand a couple of steps behind the T, and not taking anything early. If you focus on standing close to the T line, and on stepping forward onto the ball rather, you'll have much more control of the rally, this includes where the balls going, the pace of the ball, and where your opponent is.
An aggressive T position is absolutely key if you want to dictate the game, and this drill teaches you that to maintain the T, YOU HAVE TO TAKE IT EARLY.
Improve your speed
This applies to your speed when getting to the ball, and your speed reacting to where the ball is going.
Beginning with fast reactions, in this drill, your opponent will be hitting the ball pretty hard most likely, and you're going to have to be able to anticipate where the ball is going and react accordingly (especially if you're trying to volley), without being sent the wrong way. Having quick reactions is an awesome skill to have, it helps you out in the majority of other sports as well as squash, and also in everyday life!
Finally, actually getting to the ball fast is absolutely essential if you're going to get to it before it bounces against the back wall. Pushing off the T with a powerful split step and taking minimal steps to get to the ball are both skills that are put to the test in this drill. It's all about pushing yourself so you're opponent is pushed harder.
Extra tip: if you feel like the drill is getting a little old, add some more conditions e.g. 2 points if you win with a volley drop, and 2 points if you hit the back wall, but just 1 point if you win the rally any other way etc... be creative!