I had a chance to discuss racquet preparation with the pro at my squash club today and we went over some things that I knew but were definitely good to have reinforced. Early racquet preparation has some real benefits. It gives you more options as to what shot to hit. It also improves deception making it harder for your opponent to figure out what shot you are playing. Another benefit is it allows you to adjust quicker to a ball that takes an unexpected bounce.
Having the multiple options of what shot to hit is vital. Getting your racquet prepped early helps with this. You can of course hit a drop without any racquet prep but you really can't hit a drive without getting your racquet back. With your racquet back nice and early you can of course hit the drive but you can also drop. You have basically any option of shot you like with good racquet prep.
Having options of what shot to hit is the first component of deception. Having a good hold is important too but it is not nearly as effective if you have limited your shot options. A comparison I just thought of from tennis is the serve. In tennis the player receiving serve will look for signs from the ball toss to pick up what type of serve is coming. Pete Sampras probably the best server of all time had a ball toss that looked nearly identical for every serve. His opponents could not read it and this gave Pete a huge advantage. In squash players are always looking for a tell as to what shot is coming next. An early racquet prep that leaves you plenty of options makes it more difficult for your opponent to figure what type of shot you are going to hit. Just like Sampras' opponents had to wait longer to figure out what serve was coming your opponent will have to wait longer too. Hopefully that will make them late to retrieve your shot.
I am sure we have all had balls take funny bounces on us which have have left us scrambling to get the ball back. Watching the ball carefully is first thing you do limit this but not the only thing. Early racquet prep can help with this too. A good example is a length shot that you believe is going to hit floor first then the back wall. If you misjudge this and it hits back wall first and then the floor the ball will come back to you much faster than you expected. An early racquet prep will give you a much better chance to hit a quality shot. Without having your racquet prepared you will not have enough time to adjust to the ball that has come to you much quicker than you anticipated.
Early racquet preparation is a very important part of playing squash. It gives you more options, better deception and more time to adjust to odd bounces. Try to start getting your racquet back as you are moving to the ball. Getting your racquet ready to hit before the ball gets to you will definitely improve your game and make your opponents life much more difficult!