Put it into practice: Backhand return of serve with Jesse Engelbrecht

13th May 2019

Due to popular demand, elite coach Jesse Engelbrecht is back with us on SquashSkills this week with another great playlist. For this brand new series, Jesse takes a look at the bane of many a squash players life – the backhand return of serve!

[Editor’s Note: This article is based on the SquashSkills’ series on the backhand return of serve, presented by Jesse Engelbrecht. Watch the full series: Master The Backhand Return Of Serve – Video Series]

Whatever level of squash you play, a good serve hit onto the backhand side can be a tough shot to deal with. Whilst an ‘ace’ from the serve is a relatively uncommon occurrence in squash, a weak serve return into the middle of the court will likely set your opponent up for an easy winner, and many points in a match can be won and lost as a direct result of this.

In the video series, Jesse drills down into all of the crucial technical points of the backhand serve return – covering elements such as positioning, body shape, racket preparation, contact point, and much more.

Jesse also discusses the different types of serves that you might face, from the high pace blasted power serve, to the crafty lifted lob serve. Whatever the specifics of the kind of serve return it is you struggle with, we’ve got you covered!

To help get you on the right track on your backhand serve return then, watch the video series and then check out our ‘Put it into Practice’ sessions below. Our brand new solo and pairs sessions will help you work on some of the themes and technical points from Jesse’s detailed videos, with a partner or by yourself. We’ve also linked to one of our favourite shoulder mobility sessions, to help ensure you have the appropriate control and range of motion in the shoulder joint to deal with any eventuality high on that backhand volley.

Good luck!

READ MORE: Guide to the perfect backhand

Put it into practice

Solo practice

This session is built around a selection of simple solo drills, designed to help you get more comfortable with using the volley on the backhand side.


Pairs practice

This pairs session works through a series of drill progressions to help you develop the timing, footwork, and positioning to improve your backhand serve return.


Fitness session

Structuring a physical session around improving your squash-specific speed isn’t just about the drills you use, but also the parameters of work duration, rest period length, and amount of sets completed. This session has been specifically designed with this in mind, to help maximise the development of your speed into the front corners of the court.


Related content

The backhand volley with Peter Nicol

Peter starts this playlist on the backhand volley by asking you to think about the purpose of the shot and why you’re playing it. He also begins to delve into the common technical faults associated with the backhand volley.

The backhand return of serve with Paul Carter

Paul introduces the return of serve and highlights how beginner or amateur players often struggle with the high backhand volley return.


The backhand return of serve with Jethro Binns

Jethro introduces the backhand return of serve and talks through the key technical teaching points he’ll focus on throughout the series.


Find out more about the Stingray ball machine.

Let us know how you get on with the sessions, we’d love to hear your feedback!

Haven't seen the full playlist yet?

Backhand return of serve is a crucial part of the game that needs focus in order to give yourself the best chance of starting the rally on a positive footing.

Watch the playlist in full