Are you a new squash player learning the foundations of the game? Or, are you maybe quite experienced but looking for new ways to improve? One way to make sure you are reaching your best level is by understanding the squash forehand technique. This article will help you understand the basics of the forehand so you can hit the ground running and only go upward with your squash game.
What is the squash forehand technique? The squash forehand is played off a lunging leg base for maximum balance. The backswing is high to low. On contact with the ball, have your wrist cocked, and keep the racquet head aiming towards the target through the hitting zone.
The squash forehand technique requires the utilization of various arm muscle groups such as the shoulders, upper arm, and forearm. Good technique requires multiple aspects. These include the balance and positioning of the body, the grip of the racket, and the swing path, and we will take a look in detail at all of these features.
Despite the forehand being the favorite shot of many players for its ability to let players hit the ball extremely hard and the fact that it is easier to see the ball on the forehand side, it is actually the harder shot to learn.
Players can garner a lot of power on the forehand side, but it is a bit more difficult to execute shots requiring more finesse, such as drop shots or flicks.
Additionally, It can also be harder to be completely accurate on the forehand side, because the natural swing path will not remain the same when used for either fast, powerful shots, or slower shots which require more subtlety.
It is important that players learn the differences in their forehand swing when they choose to hit an all-out power shot versus when they are looking to implement more touch in their game.
Diversity on the forehand side is key to improvement because it mixes up a player’s arsenal, making it harder for their opponent to guess which shot they will hit next.
Likewise, a player should try to refrain from only hitting their forehand with power because they might over swing too often, which can cause arm injury, and it can waste precious energy needed for other areas of the squash point.
To get the best version of your forehand you need to make sure all the little details are paid attention to, and you are lining them up well to execute.
Contrary to popular belief, you cannot just have a good forehand by swinging the racket hard and fast.
First, your body positioning must be as accurate as possible before setting up to hit the ball.
Then, your grip needs to be in the exact correct position for the type of forehand you are looking to execute.
Finally, your swing path needs to be set up for success before you actually swing at the ball, meaning your shoulder, arm and wrist positioning need to be prepared and aligned before you drop the racket to swing.
The swing itself needs to be pristine in terms of the path of the ball and the impact in which the player hits the ball. All of these steps must be put together at the exact right time to create an accurate flow to the shot.
Unfortunately, this is hard to do and it players can really only get better at this with lots of practice and match experience. Do not expect to get all of these tips on the first try, and be patient with yourself when learning these various techniques.
The important thing to remember is that it is worth putting in the extra time and effort to make sure you learn the correct technique as you are starting out. It is tempting to play with what feels good and natural, because players are eager to reach the top. However, if things feel a bit uncomfortable, that normally means you are learning the correct technique.
If you rush too much when it comes to learning this the squash forehand technique you might hinder yourself in the long run because you might not have the technique which will allow you to achieve the highest level. This is the most important thing to remember in your learning process. Putting in the proper, harder work now will pay off the most in the long run. Have grace with yourself and enjoy the process!
Grip Hand Positioning
In squash, unlike tennis, all shots are performed with the same grip.
It is important to check you are using the correct grip; using an unorthodox grip will have big repercussion on the mechanics of your forehand swing, and in the accuracy you can impart into the shot.
Have a look at your grip, and check to make sure you are ticking off the next several points.
- Form a “V” along the side edge of your grip by rotating your grip slightly to the left, until your thumb comes across the front of the handle.
- The side of your thumb should wrap around the handle of the racket to touch your middle finger
- Your other three fingers- the pinky, the ring finger, and the middle finger – should form the solid base of your grip. These should stay sturdy as you hit the ball, and this is where your power is generated.
- Your index finger wraps higher above the grip, and should be separated from the rest of the base of the grip, not touching the other fingers. It will almost look like you are forming a hook with your hand. This will allow you to control other finesse-based shots such as drops and flicks.
Before anything else, it is important to get the body positioned where it needs to be before you can set up any other aspect of the shot.
The positioning is literally the foundation of the shot. Many people think that the power from your forehand or any shot for that matter comes from the swing itself. This is false, because the base of the power comes from the trunk of the body via the muscle strength of the bent legs of the player combined with the trunk rotation throughout the shot.
The arm swing is just an extension of the power that comes from the rest of the lower body.
To begin, the players should think of the shot from the feet upwards. This promotes the best balance for the player. The player will face the side wall with their left foot forward and their right foot planted behind their left, with the swing path prepared.
This is for right-handers. For left-handers, the player should face the side wall with their right foot forward and their left foot planted behind their right foot, with their respective swing path prepared.
The players’ knees should be slightly bent on each leg, and the step taken with the opposite foot should be short so that the player does not spread themselves too far that they lose their balance before swinging.
Upon taking the racket back to swing at the ball, the right shoulder should be higher up than the left, with the left arm held out at a natural position in front of the player to counter balance the other motion and level up to swing to the ball.
Keep in mind, if the left hand is placed out in front of someone with a dominant right hand, then the right hand should be placed out in front of someone with a dominant left hand. Once the player has positioned themselves for their forehand in this position, they are set and ready to actually go through with the swing motion of the ball.
When the player is not hitting a shot in match play and is looking to prepare for the next one, regardless of whether or not it is a forehand or backhand, they should get into a habit of putting themselves in the “ready position”. This is when the player’s feet are facing towards the wall. Their racket should be held out from their body with both hands gripping it at a 45-degree angle. The lower to the ground, the easier it is for the player to cover more court, so their knees should be bent and their feet should be about shoulder width apart.
Now that all of the above details are taken care of, it’s time for the fun. Let’s give the actual swing a go! As fun as it is to hit the ball hard upon impact, and believe us when we say, it can be a great stress reliever, there are still a lot of small details in the swing that must flow together naturally to allow you to even reach the point of impact.
To start, your right elbow (or your left elbow) should be slightly bent. The bent elbow will begin to move forward towards the position of the ball as the right shoulder follows and moves lower while your trunk rotates.
The player’s head should remain perfectly still as they make eye contact with the ball. The arm will move the racket forward to make contact with the ball. Once the arm is straightened out, the wrist will then take over, bringing the racket to make contact with the ball. The strings will then strike the ball.
The racket face will remain open as the player strikes the ball, but upon impact, the ball is brought forward in from of the body at full extension. The racket should be perpendicular to the side wall to send the ball parallel to the racket as well.
During all phases of the swing, the racket handle should always remain lower than the racket head. Upon impact, the ball should be beyond the front knee, in line with the arm, and the racket must be perpendicular to the side wall in order to send the ball parallel to the latter.
Do not be fooled, the swing is far from over after hitting the ball. In fact, the follow through is actually what will end up giving your squash forehand the shape you so desire.
After the strings strike the ball, the racket will be in line with the ball and the side of the body. The entire motion will bring your shoulders around as your trunk rotates, with the racket coming all the way over your shoulder upon follow through.
The rotation of the shoulders is pivotal after striking the ball. It allows the right arm to continue accelerating through the shot for the longest amount of time possible, and the body will naturally let it gradually decelerate.
Of course, it is important to guide the racket in the direction of the shot executed while the racket head circles around the body. In terms of shots like the drop shots, the importance of the follow through changes and enhances the accuracy as well.
The nice thing about the squash forehand is that the body works in unison to make the shot happen.
Once you can piece together these various small motions into one fluid motion, that’s when the magic happens. Your body will begin to go on autopilot to execute the shot, and eventually it will have a mind of its own. Again, this comes with lots of experience and match play so be patient with yourself!
The Back Swing
Essentially, the back swing is the inverse of the forward swing mentioned above, and the same relationship should be maintained between the racket head, the grip, the elbow, the shoulders, and the trunk and legs.
During the actual forward swing, the racket head lagged behind and was the last to catch up. During the back swing, the tip of the racket must be the first to move, by using the wrist, elbow, and shoulders to make it move.
For timing purposes, a good suggestion would be to hold the racket still for a second or two at the peak of the back-swing, and to try to feel the exact position of the racket and all parts of the body before dropping the grip and the head to swing through the ball.
Sometimes, it is helpful to break down the swing into numbered steps in your head. While you’re learning the technique, this can help you build a rhythm which will help during the consistency process of learning.
Put It All Together
Now, it’s time for you to put it all together! Easier said than done, right? Remember, never be afraid to ask a professional for help, as they will make sure you are hitting the key points in the learning process of your new forehand technique. It takes a lot of time and practice to get it just right, so enjoy the process of learning and you will surely reap the benefits in the long-term.
The squash forehand can be real weapon. It is the most powerful shot in the game, and if used well can be one of the best ways of tiring out and stretching your opponent.
However, you need a level of accuracy in the shot, and that will only come as a result of having a solid technique.