Sunday, 1 September 2013
The third most important shot in Squash
Third most important shot in Squash ... the Mid-High Crosscourt
Okay, so we've previously discussed our belief that the second most important shot in squash is the high cross court lob hit from the front court. As we noted in that article post, the high cross court lob is most prevalent at the higher levels of play, and not so commonly seen at lower levels and even intermediate levels of play. It is a shot that is very very useful in the pro game, and certainly would be an advantageous option to have in one's repertoire at any other level.
Now, it's time to venture a bit further out on the limb and offer up what we consider the next important shot to have in one's overall game: The Mid-High Crosscourt.
First, when we say 'Mid-High', what we mean to say is a shot that is hit to the front wall at or very near the service line. Typically this would mean that a backhand would be hit somewhat above the frontwall service line, and the forehand may be hit on the service line or possibly a bit under it, depending on the player's strength of shot.
At lower levels of play, meaning beginning, all the way up to high intermediate, it is common to see players in a slashing, dashing, speed game of lots of drives, and in particular low crosscourt drives.
The propensity for these low hard crosscourt drives probably comes from seeing the occasionally spectacular crosscourt drive that whistles by the opponent who's stuck somewhere around the T, unable to react, or not in reach of the ball. But, that's all this is, an occasional winner. Generally, when you meet a player who is regularly getting back to the T area, and is ready for the next shot, a low crosscourt is not a very effective way to attack.
If your opponent is in decent position and ready, it often does not take anything more than one step and reaching out to block the ball, and you are left scrambling from the back corner to run diagonally to the front to pick up the drop shot that the opponent has comfortably sent into that front corner.
And this is more often the scenario, hitting the low crosscourt, and then rushing to the diagonal front corner, rather than that of the outright winner.
So my advice to players is to simply stop trying to hit winners like that. The occasional, one out of ten winners, does not compensate for giving up outright winning drop shots or handing dominant court and rally control to the opponent the other nine times.
The reason we need a crosscourt, is because most, if not all opponents know that the number one shot in a rally is the long drive. Knowing this, as players become accustomed to the game, they will start to edge over towards the near side and try to intercept these long drives, either by volley, half volley, or at least getting an early step towards the back corner.
To counter the opponent's 'encroachment' upon the near side, to prevent them from starting to feed on our long drives, we need the crosscourt option.... to keep the opponent 'honest'.
This is where the Mid-High Crosscourt comes into play. When we hit a Mid-High cross, aiming for the front wall service line, and hitting relatively close to the center of the front wall (midway between the two side walls), we're hitting a shot that will very often go past the opponent and force them into the back opposite corner.
The Mid-High cross is a difficult shot for opponents to intercept because they're focused on the near side wall, and when the cross is hit near the front wall's center, the ball will travel towards the back corner, often hitting the side wall near the back of the service box, or even behind it. This means that the ball will get to the back, and stay on that side of the court.
Hitting the Mid-High cross will force your opponent to the back, force them to deal with a ball that's probably going to hit the side wall, bounce on the floor, and quite possibly hit the back wall, before they can get their racket on it. All this, while you may comfortably make your way back to a central position in the T area.
Please understand, this Mid-High cross is not a desperation shot, or used to get out of trouble. It is used when the rally is equal , or near equal, and we're in a position to get our racket around the outside of the ball, so as to hit a good cross. The shot is used to shift the rally, preventing the opponent from anticipating and poaching a straight shot.
Against some players one might find that this change of direction gives the opponent a lot of trouble with the turning and twisting that they need to do, in order to position effectively for the ball now in the back opposite corner. At the intermediate and higher levels this won't be so common, as the opponent's movement is more capable. But the value is still there as you're preventing the opponent from raising the pressure on your 'straight game'.
If you're in deep trouble, a desperate position, the best option is to go high on the front wall...... but that's a conversation for another time......