There are many shots in squash that are similar to those played in other racquet-sports. However, there is one that is completely unique to the sport, and that is the boast. The boast is a crucial shot in that it can be both defensive or attacking. It can be played from the back or front of the court.
To start with what is a boast in squash? A boast is a squash shot that is played into the sidewall first. The most common boast is the defensive two-wall boast. There are also volley boasts, or attacking boasts which are usually played towards the front of the court.
The boast is a really important shot to help get you out of trouble on the squash court. Find out how to play it, and some drills to help you practice and improve.
The Boast Shots
There are many types of boast. The main ones are the trickle boast, the reverse boast, the back-wall boast, the volley boast and the volley reverse boast.
Let’s have a look at the different types, and what they all mean.
This is probably among the most difficult and most ill-advised boast shots to play. Being in the position to play the back-wall boast would suggest that you are already on the back foot.
Countering that level of adversity with a back-wall boast is an enormous undertaking. You need balance, stability, some ingenuity and power just to keep yourself in the contest. The back-wall boast should really be a last resort.
There are several things to avoid when trying to eventually play the back-wall boast – including the back-wall boast itself.
However, chief among the things that need to be avoided is hitting the ball up the middle of the court and worse still close to the T-line. Doing either of those is to render yourself a lamb to the slaughter.
As difficult as this stroke can be, there are a couple of things that you can focus your attention on when trying to execute it.
Firstly, try focus on hitting the ball as low as possible. That, in itself, requires power.
Secondly, try and focus on hitting the stroke as close to the sidewall as possible. Try and direct the ball towards the furthermost sidewall from your opponent.
Anything you can do to buy some much-needed time will be welcomed when executing this stroke.
This shot looks fancy but don’t even try it at home.
Equally as complicated for the average player is something called the reverse boast. Traditionally, you would hit the boast off the closest wall, probably for a number of reasons.
The reverse boast is a shot directed at the furthest possible wall on the squash court.
However, it takes a tremendous amount of testicular fortitude to venture into the realm of the reverse boast.
Stability, a lot of ingenuity and genuine power are absolute musts when attempting this stroke. You have to get your head around the fact that there is so much ground which needs to be covered with the shot.
Unlike the back-wall boast, the reverse boast is actually a very attacking shot and one that is likely to yield more positive results if executed well.
There is also the element of surprise with this shot, that needs to be taken into account.
Now, the drop shot is an effective weapon in squash. Great for securing cheap points.
It is so frequently used that it can become predictable though. An alternative to it is always welcome. In this context, that alternative is the trickle boast.
As the name suggests, when executed well, the ball tends to trickle off the wall. Retrieving the ball can be exceedingly difficult. At the heart of this shot is getting the ball to ricochet off the side wall, close to the front corner of the court.
If that is achieved, it then stands to reason that the ball will also hit the front wall close to the corner of the court.
The key to mastering this stroke is mastering the art of deception. Hitting the trickle boast low is one thing but hitting it slowly adds the critical dimension to this. When there is no pace on the ball, it just fades. This is a squash ball after all.
One of the key skills required to master this stroke is that of the swing used to pull it off. The experts call it the high to low swing, which effectively looks like a cut shot.
If you require a visual, it would perhaps be prudent to think about using an axe to chop down a tree.
That is the kind of angle you are looking to get with your racket and the racket face.
Depending on the nature and quality of your strings, you should be able to get some bite on the ball when executing the trickle boast. Frankly, that is the whole point.
The volley boast does not feature that prominently in squash, which is why it is actually a valuable skill set to have in the tool box.
If executed well, it tends to catch the opponent somewhat off guard. That is why it can be so effective.
What we have come to expect of the volley boast is that it actually hits multiple walls before dying.
Each time it hits a wall, more pace is taken off the ball. Then there is the small matter of tracking the ball off those multiple walls. People have been known to get dizzy doing less.
The fact that the stroke has been taken off the volley or on the fly means that the opponent will likely already be struggling for time.
That is complicated by the fact that most volley boasts are hit with tremendous speed and tend to hit all of the respective walls low.
If you are competing against a player who has mastered this stroke, you could find yourself on a hiding to nothing.
VOLLEY REVERSE BOAST
This is a variation of the traditional reverse boast and if done well tends to be more effective than the reverse boast. Like the reverse boast, this stroke is also played with the view to ricocheting off the furthest wall.
We have already established just how brilliant a volley boast can be. The reverse volley boast can be lethal….a game changer.
Now you know all about the types of drills available to you, here are some drills you can try to improve your boasts and make it a major weapon in your armory.
The player at the back will open the rally by playing a straight drive to himself – and follow that up with either a boast or a drop shot.
We are now giving the player at the back more options and the player at the front a tad more to think about.
The player at the front plays a drop shot and he himself has an opportunity at deception off the second shot, which means that the player at the back also has something extra to think about.
Because there is a little more deception involved in this drill, the player at the front will see his court positioning alter a touch.
Ordinarily in drills like this, the player at the front of the court finds himself close to the front wall most of the time.
With this drill, he often finds himself closer to the T-line, to give himself some room to manoeuvre.
The level of difficulty for this drill is medium to high. The first element of the drill is the boast, which is then followed up by the cross court shot before being finished off with a straight drive.
The drill, as is the case with most boast drills, will involve a three-player rotation.
The players will rotate clockwise. The real goal for this drill will be to improve your cross court hitting, your volley straight drives and your capacity to move in three different directions.
Depending on how seriously you take it, all three of those objectives will be realised.
Each rotation should be ten minutes at the very least, supplemented by a one-minute break in between all of that.
So, here is the deal.
PLAYER ONE hits the boast.
PLAYER TWO – normally stationed just in front of the T-line then moves across to hit the cross court. PLAYER ONE then waits in the back right corner to hit a straight drive.
PLAYER THREE – who was waiting behind PLAYER TWO – the moves forward and waits for the next boast.
That next boast will be hit by PLAYER TWO, who moved to the back right corner of the court to retrieve the straight drive. PLAYER TWO effectively restarts the rotation by hitting the next boast and so the cycle continues.
This might feel like a lot of information to absorb but ultimately once you get your head around it, it can be an outstanding workout and good practice.
The level of the difficulty for this drill is rated as high. So, it is suggested for the intermediate and advanced players.
PLAYER ONE will stay at the back of the court throughout and his job will only be to play the straight drive.
PLAYER TWO will plant himself in the middle of the court and just behind the T-line. His job will always be to hit a series of volleys. This player has meaningful options at his disposal. He could hit the straight drop volley or hit a boast.
That keeps PLAYER THREE, who is the furthest forward, guessing. So his decision making under pressure will come under meaningful if not severe scrutiny. This is exactly how it should be.
PLAYER TWO then gets ready to collect whatever shot PLAYER THREE comes up with and ensures that PLAYER ONE does not fall asleep at the back of the court. Once you can get your head around that, see how long you can maintain the cycle.
As the drill continues, the three players can then rotate positions or roles on the court.
PLAYER THREE – or the player at the front – probably benefits the most from this drill. He gets to improve his footwork at the front corners of the court.
PLAYER TWO gets to work on touch and feel, mastering the art of the short volley to the front of the court.
A five minute rotation for this drill is healthy. If you are feeling saucy, you can keep going for ten minutes.
PLAYER ONE, as we alluded to earlier, just needs to focus on staying awake at the back of the court.
This drill is for the more aggressive personalities, who want to develop their killer instincts. PLAYER ONE is stationed at the front of the court and it is he who sets up the drill with a crosscourt shot.
PLAYER TWO will be stationed in the middle of the court, where he will make the interception and kill the ball in the front corner. He then makes the retrieval himself and hits a straight drive to the back of the court.
PLAYER THREE, as uncomplicated as his life has been through these drills, then hits a straight back.
PLAYER TWO then gets drawn back into the action and follows that up with a volley boast to PLAYER ONE.
Once again, it is the man in the middle who gets to lift the weights, by stepping up early and going for the kill. He also gets to master the fine art of manipulating the racket accordingly. The other two players are just helping him realise his objectives.
The three amigos are at it again. PLAYER ONE will be stationed at the back of the court. PLAYER TWO finds himself in the middle yet again and PLAYER THREE will operate from the front of the court again.
The gentleman at the back will do the least work yet again, focusing on hitting the straight drive only.
The man in the middle returns the straight drive with a volley drop or a boast. The man in the front will then make a return cross court. PLAYER TWO then gets called back into action again, by intercepting the cross court with a volley that heads back to PLAYER ONE.
Once you manage to get your head around that, which you likely will, you can start the rotation again. Much like the other drills…a ten minute rotation should be sufficient.
This time, it is the players at the front and the middle who will do the heavy lifting together. The gentleman at the back of the court just needs to stay awake.
The player at the front is provided with an important litmus test for his footwork in the front corners of the court. The player in the middle gets to work on that volley yet again.
This drill involves a considerable amount of running too. There is a boast, a drop, a crosscourt drive, a volley intercept drive, followed by two drives.
PLAYER ONE starts the rotation by hitting a boast from the back right corner of the court. PLAYER TWO retrieves that boast and plays a drop shot.
PLAYER ONE then runs to the front of the court – in fact he started running shortly after hitting the boast – retrieves the drop shot and hits a cross court drive.
PLAYER THREE, stationed on the right hand side of the court then hits a drive volley. PLAYER ONE then shuffles across the front of the court to play a straight drive to the back of the court.
PLAYER TWO, now stationed at the back of the court, will then play a drive of his own. PLAYER ONE then backtracks, retrieves the drive and plays the boast, starting the rotation all over again.
It is a tremendous amount to follow but once you get your head around the drill it can be fun and tremendously rewarding…physically and mentally. Situational awareness comes under the microscope during this drill.
Quite frankly, if you have good situational awareness you should emerge from this entire episode unscathed.