Many beginners ask the same sort of questions when they are starting out. One of the most common of these is wanting to know about whether you can hit the ball on the full, or does it have to bounce before every shot.
So, does the ball have to bounce in squash? No, the ball does not need to bounce before the player can hit it in squash. Every shot, including the return of serve, can be volleyed before the ball hits the floor. Volleys are actually recommended as effective shots to play whenever possible.
I have done some research into the reasons why volleys are not only allowed, but are actually a really good thing to play in many situations. I want to share that information with you here.
You Can Volley Every Shot
Every single shot from the serve to the last shot of the rally can be hit on the full in a squash game.
If you watch a pro game, you will see that the majority of shots do bounce, but that is because they are being played into the back corners of the court. Professionals will normally spring on any chance to volley the ball, and seize the advantage in terms of position and time on the ball.
Many beginners are often eager to let the ball bounce before hitting it. They also often try to let the ball bounce off the back wall before they hit it. There are some advantages in doing this when you start out, but as your game progresses this is something to avoid.
The advantage of letting the ball bounce and come off the back wall when you start, is that you are allowing the ball to have all its pace taken off it. You are essentially hitting the ball when it is at its slowest, and so the shot is in some ways at its simplest.
However, the problem of doing this is you are always going to be playing shots from the back of the court. Your opponent will always be in front of you, and any loose shots can be killed or dropped at the front of the court, and you are left with a sprint to try and save the day to that part of the court.
Much better is to try to volley any ball that you are able. This of course takes practice, and you have to have some level of confidence in your volleying ability before you try this out.
By volleying, though, you are the one in front of your opponent, and that is always an advantage in squash.
Does The Ball Need To Hit The Ground Before You Serve?
Another common question amongst beginners to squash is does the ball need to bounce once before you hit it when you serve.
This question comes about because this is the rule in racquetball – the ball bounces once before the server hits it.
This is not the case in squash. The ball is normally thrown gently out of the hand and struck in mid air (yet another volley).
Volley The Return Of Serve
Another common question is can you volley the return of serve.
Yes you can, and indeeed you should always attempt to volley the serve if that is possible. Volleying the serve will help you to:
- Get back to the T position quicker
- Help you use the pace on the serve to just deflect the ball back rather than having to hit it hard
- Rush your opponent for time, as they may not have got back to the T
- Because you will be hitting the ball when you are further forward than if you waited for it bounce, many more shots are possible. You could try to drop it, or do a trickle boast or a low kill.
Always volley the serve if you can. The only times that you may not want to volley the serve are:
- When the serve hits the wall in front of you
- A lob serve is too high above you to volley
- The serve is going to bounce a long way off the back wall. In this case it is a good idea to let it hit the back wall and then punish it when it bounces out near the middle of the court
The Advantages Of Volleying
Not only is volleying allowed in the rules for every shot, but it is also strongly recommended whenever possible.
There are many advantages to volleying. The old adage is always volley if you can. Here are some of the benefits:
- The more you volley the more you keep your opponent moving. This will start to tire them out as the match goes on. They have no time to recuperate on the T – they are continually chasing your shots.
- By volleying you give yourself many more attacking options. You can drop, boast, kill or play long. This is not the case from the back of the court
- You can intercept and kill loose shots from your opponent
- You will usually only have a very short distance to make it back to the T. This helps conserve your energy whilst keeping your opponent running
The Types Of Volleys
There are many ways of volleying and different types of shots that you can try. As always, a bit of variation is a good thing and you want to keep your opponent guessing.
However, having said that a large proportion of your volleys should probably just go towards the back corners. Hitting good length with your volleys is just as important as hitting the same with your ground strokes.
Keep it simple. If it is a backhand volley, then try to play it deep to the back left-hand corner (assuming you are right-handed). If it is a forehand play it down the right-hand wall. Play these two shots well and consistently and you will be in control of many rallies.
However, there are many other options when it comes to volleying, and it is good to try to practise all of these:
- Volley drop – Using a similar backswing as you would for a normal volley to the back of the court, gently deflect the ball towards a target area above the tin near the sidewall. The perfect volley drop would hit just above the tin and then hit the sidewall nick. Of course this is very difficult to achieve, but that is what you are roughly aiming for
- Volley boast – This can often be an attacking trickle boast. Angle your racket at the point of contact and deflect the ball quite gently towards the sidewall. Ideally you want the ball to hit the front wall just above the tin, and bounce twice before reaching the sidewall
- Volley lob – Using height from lobs can be a bit tricky. The thing to try to avoid is hitting the ball out of court by mistake. However, if played well these are excellent shots that get your opponent tight in the back of the court. Try to deflect the ball to point high on the sidewall rather than hitting the ball too hard.
- Volley kill – These are hit hard and low with the target area being just above the tin near the sidewall. The ball is aiming to die somewhere near the sideall
How To Practise Your Volleys
Volleys are quite a simple thing to practise either alone or with a partner.
To practise them in solo play, there are several drills you can attempt:
- Stand about five yards from the front wall, and simply try to volley the ball back and forwards to yourself. Keep your racket up, and try to keep side on at the moment of impact. Push the racket head towards the target area on the wall
- A slightly harder variation of this is to start right next to the wall and play very short volleys to yourself. Then start walking slowly backwards whilst continuing to volley. The aim is to get all the way to the backwall whilst still volleying, and then walk slowly back to the front wall, hitting the ball on the full all the time.
- Figure of 8s. These are very hard for beginners, but worth a go for intermediate players upwards. Stand on the T. Hit the ball towards the very side of the front wall, so that it just hits the front before bouncing back off the sidewall. As the ball returns to the middle, volley it the identical point on the other side of the front wall. Repeat. To begin with it is much easier to the let the ball bounce before volleying it.
Volleying can also be practised with a partner.
Your partner will feed a certain shot, for example a cross court. Practise returning this shot using different types of volleys, for example drops and drives back down the line.
Can you volley a return in squash?
Yes, you can volley the return in squash. It is a good idea to do so whenever possible as it rushes your opponent for time, as well as it gives you a shorter distance to travel to get back to the T to wait for the next shot.
Can a serve hit the side wall?
The serve must first hit the front wall. It cannot hit any other wall first. However, after it has hit the front wall it can theen hit any number of walls as long as its first bounce is inside the back box of your opponent’s side of the court.
What happens if the ball hits the red line in squash?
If the ball hits the red line during a squash match, then it is called out. That is the same whether it hits it full-on or just clips the very edge. The line is always out.