The drop shot is the most important attacking shot in squash. For some players it is their most potent shot, and the way in which they win the majority of their points.
A squash drop shot is a shot that is played gently to the front of the court, and is designed to die near the front wall. The perfect drop shot will hit the front wall just above the tin, and then land in the nick of the side-wall, killing it more or less dead. Most drop shots will not hit the nick, but will hopefully land somewhere near it, and the ball will die near the sidewall.
There are many different types of drop shots, and I will be looking at them all in this post. I will also be giving some general advice about how to play the perfect drop shot.
Squash Drop Shots
Quite often a drop shot will be a form of defence. Also you will often find that the drop shot brings with it many attacking options. If you are particularly clinical when playing the drop shot, it can prove to be a swashing blow to an opponent – a killer stroke as it were.
There are two key components to the drop shot. The first is the capacity to manipulate the speed of the ball and the second is mastering the art of deception or manipulating the movement of your opponent.
The prospects of executing the point successfully are heightened by your capacity to do both. You will also usually find that one does not go without the other. The mastery of your own movement on the court will likely contribute a meaningful amount to your capacity to counter the opponent.
If you are a conventional mover on a squash court, it might be in your best interests to spend some time learning to hit shots while pressing off your wrong foot and also spend some time mastering the art of hitting the ball from a square position.
Doing both of the above well assists a considerable amount with deception on the squash court.
Drop Shots – The Advantages
Drop shots come with multiple advantages. These include:
- They make your opponent do extra running. These shots make your opponent run to the front of the court and then have to go backwards in order to control the “T” again.
- Winning quick points.
- Turning defence into attack
- Keeping control of the T
- Keeping the ball at a colder temperature if this suits your game
- The ability to outplay an older or less mobile player
- The ability to keep your opponent continually guessing and not sure of what is coming next.
Let’s look at the different types of drop shot available
Drop Shot Types
This is played usually when you are in front of your opponent to a ball that is not too far back in the court.
For the standard drop you will be aiming to hit the ball gently towards the side of the front wall nearest to you. For example, if you are on the backhand side of the court, you will be aiming for left hand corner of the front wall.
Gently hit the shot so that it strikes the wall just above the tin. If you are not sure of your accuracy, it is better to be safe than sorry. Aim at least six inches above the tin. Aiming just an inch above can often result in the shot hitting the tin which is worth avoiding.
The ideal drop shot will hit the front wall and land in the ‘nick’ (the intersection between the floor and sidewall). Realistically this will not happen often. As long as the ball is dying somewhere near the sidewall, the shot is a good one.
The counter drop is quite simply a drop shot played in response to another drop shot. Your opponent has dropped you, and you simply play the ball straight back into the same corner.
This shot is used quite a lot in the pro game, and you sometimes see mini rallies of this happening.
Realistically in the amateur game, the counter drop can be a lethal shot as it is very hard for a player to play a drop, return to the T and then get back to play a further drop shot. A very useful shot to have in your armory!
Backspin Drop Shot
This variation on the Drop Shot makes it go much quicker, but it has a cost to pay. The cost is that if you mess up the height of the drop shot, it will bounce much higher due to the increased velocity, which will give your opponent an easy opportunity to do a return.
In order to do the Backspin Drop, you must do a normal Drop Shot but more so hit under the ball when you connect. This makes the ball go downwards as soon as it touches the front wall, which gives your opponent less time to react.
Topspin Drop Shot
If you are in a situation where you have to Counter-Drop, you may want to use a topspin drop shot. This will make the ball spin as it moves to the wall in front, making reacting extremely awkward and even a bit confusing for your opponent. But like with most things that give you great benefit, there is a high cost. In this case, the cost is that this move is very hard to learn.
If you want to learn it, then you will need to have your body be low. Bend your knees to be closer to the ground as you play the shot. In addition, try and keep a firm base to maintain balance.
The topspin drop shot is only normally attempted when the ball is tight to the side wall. The topspin action makes it slightly easier to make contact with the ball.
Crosscourt Drop Shot
This shot has a huge element of risk to it, and should only be used as a variation. From somewhere near the front of the court, you simply play a drop to the opposite side of the court. Your opponent will probably struggle to adapt if you’ve been playing straight drops and serves up to this point, as a diagonal move will seem out of left field.
But the element of chance can really hurt you. You need a lot of skill to get the ball into the nick of a corner from across the court. On the chance you miss where you are aiming, the ball will most likely go to the middle of the court, which means your opponent will have an easy opportunity to return and the position you are in will make it very hard to return their move. The other problem is that when you do the shot, the ball will also be in the air longer than usual. This means your opponent gets more time to react to the shot.
Fading Drop Shot
This squash shot is used to make the ball ‘fade’ against the side wall, meaning it scrapes against the wall instead of just instantly bouncing, making it hard for your opponent to react. In order to do this, you simply need to aim for the front wall at an angle where it is going to also have a good chance of hitting the side wall (think of making the ball go to the front wall at a diagonal angle). For your opponent, they are going to find it very hard to hit the ball if you do it right. They may even have to bash their racket against the side wall to hit it before it can drop to the ground.
Back Court Drop Shot
The vast majority of the drop shots that you play will be from the back of the court. The time to play a back court drop shot is if you are literally on the back foot in the point and struggling for momentum. The most critical concept to understand in these circumstances is that of time.
Time will essentially be against you and the onus will be on you to try and find a way to buy that time back. You buy that time by changing the pace of the rally and depending on how well you do that, possibly even the pace of the game.
One of the aces you should have up your sleeve is the back court drop shot. There is an element of surprise to the drop shot played from the back of the court too. The natural instinct for any player would be to not just retrieve the ball but to also hit it back with a meaningful sense of purpose.
It then stands to reason that your opponent will also be expecting you to hit the drive or even a boast if there is enough room to manoeuvre. So, the fact that you are playing the drop shot is deception in itself.
However, persuasive body language can add to that deception.
Now, you will likely be facing the back of the court when you are preparing to retrieve. It is nevertheless important to get a decent read on where tour opponent is standing and where he plans to move.
If you find that he is hanging back, which is often the case, which will be the perfect opportunity for you to lure him forward. If there is a lot of driving between both of you on the squash court, where both of you are playing from deep in the court, the drop shot can actually present an opportunity for you to knock it in short – not just to change the pace of the rally but purely as an attacking option.
Drop Shot Technique
There are a few steps to do for a Drop Shot:
- Full Motion With No Flicking. You want to have the head of the racket standing up and keep your wrist straight through the swing. The swing needs to be done in full, but you need to be careful how it connects (see the next step).
- Disguise Your Backswing. You want it to look like it could be a drive or boast.
- Pushing Forward Instead of Hitting With Power. The fingers and thumb of your hand should be what you use to create power as you drop the head of the racket downwards. The shot is meant to push the ball forward instead of trying to use a complete swing for power.
- Aim Near The Corner. As you follow through with the racket, you want to be aiming towards the corner you are planning to drop the ball into. Remember that you are not aiming for a complete swing and so the follow-through of the racket swing is what is going to decide how the ball moves and at what speed.
- Connecting With The Front, Tapping The Side. You want the ball to connect with the wall in front, then bounce off and tap the side wall.
Beginner Drop Shot Practice Drills
The simplest way to start practising the drop shot is by a set of easy solo practices. The simplest is just hitting dropping the ball to yourself again and again near the front wall.
Practice on both the forehand and the backhand side.
For a more in depth array of drop shot drills, you really should read my post on Drop Shot Drills – 9 Ideas To Improve Your Game.
The drop shot is the most important attacking shot in squash, and the one that some players use as their primary weapon. It is worthwhile to understand the many different types of drop shot and when they should be used. Keep practising your drop shots, and you will start to improve and know when to play them in a match.