Squash is a very fast-paced and aggressive game that requires a solid defensive strategy as players can find themselves under pressure from their opponent a lot of the time. In the game of squash whenever a player is under heavy pressure from their opponent, defensive play is essential to both regain control of the rally and to conserve stamina. When in trouble on court there are different shots and strategies that can help a player recover from an undesired situation and get back to an attacking position.
The most common and basic defensive shot is the straight length to the back of the court. This shot is the most played and when used effectively as a defensive shot it gives the player the time necessary to get back to the ‘T’ and regain control of it. A straight length will be used defensively whenever the opponent plays a hard, low, and tight shot down the wall. This is because it is the easiest shot to make in such a situation; any other shot would be hard to make since the ball is really close to the wall. Another great advantage of this shot is the possibility of turning it into an offensive play even though it is being used defensively. The reason being that when played perfectly the ball will stay tight on the wall putting the pressure back on the opponent. Such a shot is a great way to play defensive squash but there are others as well that will help regain control of the game.
Another very common defensive shot is the three wall boast from the back of the court. This should be a player’s last resort when it comes to playing a defensive shot. The reason is that it is a shot that is slow and easy to predict, giving the opponent plenty of time to prepare for an offensive return at the front of the court. Therefore, this shot should be played very carefully since it could lead to even more trouble and thus more running and pressure. However, when played low and aimed at the ‘nick’ (where the side wall and the floor meet) at the opposite front corner of the court, it will put the opponent under slight pressure due to the low and odd bounce on the ball. This will lead to a possible re-control of the rally and a new opportunity to put the pressure back on the opponent. Hence, the three wall boast is not the best choice for a defensive shot but it is the best way to return the ball once a player runs out of options. The next shot is one that is also present at the front court but this time it is a much stronger defensive play.
A very effective yet hard to master defensive shot is the counter drop. Drop shots are a fundamental and necessary part of the game and any player must develop a strong drop game to create winning shots. On that account, having solid counter drops will keep a player out of trouble when it comes to returning a good drop shot. A counter drop is an excellent defensive shot due mainly to two reasons. The first one comes from the opponent’s movement as they move away from the ball after hitting a drop shot; a counter drop shot will force the other player to go from a backwards movement to a forwards movement in a short period of time. The second one is the deception a player can create with their racquet preparation. When the counter drop is played deceptively it is unexpected and, since it is such a soft and low shot, it is very hard to return before it is too late. A counter drop is a great way to catch an opponent off guard; but, if they counter drop back, there is another good defensive shot that will give any player plenty of time to recover.
During a game of squash a player might find themselves under heavy pressure at the front court, and this is where the lob shot comes into play. The lob shot is an amazing way to go from a defensive stance to an offensive one as it gives a lot of time to get back to the ‘T’. When under pressure at the front court a player can play a lob shot over their opponent all the way to the back court thus forcing them to move across most of the court in order to return it. On a court there is a lot of room above and hence this shot is so effective at creating time to move back to the ‘T’ thus giving the player control of the rally once again. However, this is not an easy shot to make under pressure since the ball is very close to the ground so good accuracy on the front wall as well as strength on the wrist are necessary. If mastered, this shot is one of the most effective ways to turn a rally around from defense to offense. Any of these shots, if played correctly, will demonstrate a strong defensive game that will lead to an overall more solid squash game.
Check out the video below where Nick Matthew, former world #1 discusses the lob.
For any squash player it is very clear that great defense is essential since it will help turn the pressure and control of the rally around as well as create opportunities to attack the opponent. Developing a strong defensive game will give any player a huge advantage against other players of their same level. Finally, there are many ways to play defensive squash but these are the main shots used when it comes to getting out of trouble on court.