By Richard Millman, Director of Squash, Kiawah Island Club
You didn’t know? Well there is one. Really. Actually it’s more of a “magic” three feet.
When I first came to the US in 1993 and worked with a great (at that time) over 30 player named Terence Tchen, one of the things we worked on the most was height. Fairly quickly Terence cottoned onto the value of using the full height of the front wall. He was a great student and actually reached the finals of the Nationals in San Francisco.
So what is so magical and where is it? Well here’s a little experiment you can conduct for yourself: Stand on the Short line and with a warm ball, hit a firm drive—striking the front wall mid-way between the Service line and the Tin. Note where the ball bounces.
Next, from the same position, hit a shot with approximately half the power of the first shot—striking the front wall mid-way between the Service line and the Out line. Note where the ball bounces. Finally, again standing on the Short line with a warm ball, hit a shot that strikes the front wall within three feet of the Out line with about half of the power of the second shot. Note where the ball bounces. With a quarter of the effort of the original shot, you have produced a full and dying length, that gives your opponent nothing to hit! You have discovered ‘the Magic spot on the front wall!’
Perform the same shot on the volley with a minimal swing and you will find you can dominate the center of the court with little physical effort and negligible time spent on execution of the shot. This simple tip can devastate opponents that you have hitherto struggled with, by giving them nothing to hit and no time to do it in. Of course you must practice to become consistent. But I guarantee that if you adopt this use of ‘the Magic spot on the front wall’ and persistently apply it, your game will noticeably improve.
Good luck—truly, it’s a kind of Magic!
Next month: Ghosting and Star drills—how to really get the most out of them.
Skill Level Tips
Simple practice tips for 3.0, 4.0 and 5.0 players
As in the LessonCourt article, use the top three feet of the front wall for your serve and return of serve. Minimize your swing size and use your legs to brace your weight against the impact of the ball. Focus on placement, not power.
To improve your height try this drill: Working with a partner play a cooperative/competitive rally where, after the serve, you both have to volley every ball above the Service line and over the Short line. Try to move each other without letting the rally break down.
Once you have enough control to consistently use ‘the Magic spot on the front wall’ (the top three feet) try this tactic: In a practice match against a quality opponent, just play lifted/floated balls when building your rallies for 20 minutes. Don’t go short (before your opponent does) until after 20 minutes. When the 20 minutes are up, start mixing in an attacking boast every third or fourth opportunity instead of the lift/float. Don’t worry if they attack your floats in the first 20 minutes—just flop it up again each time—they’re doing the work.