Fundamentals Of Deception

30th March 2022

Deception is a very fun, and highly effective, part of the game of squash. Deception tends to happen when a player has got their basic game to a high level and now needs to add in some other areas and options to put the work into the opponent’s legs and look to win more points. The more you work on deception the more it becomes a natural part of your game and ultimately your swing. This blog will look at some of the fundamentals when looking to add some layers of deception to your game.

Racket preparation

When looking to create deception, one of the easiest ways to do this and get a lot of early success is by having a very similar racket preparation for all shots. If you can work on getting the racket up early, and in what is a comfortable and neutral position for you, then hold it there for long periods, this will give your swing a very natural deception and buy you a split second of time. The longer you can hold it still and not show the shot you are going to hit until the last second the more deception you will build. You will also be able to play a range of shots from the same position making it difficult for your opponent to anticipate.


Movement onto the ball

Link your movement to deception and the way to do this is by using your first step to get onto the ball quickly. The earlier you can get on the ball the more options you have to either take it early to apply pressure, or just wait and pause a second to stop your opponent’s movement and make them freeze. Try and get on the ball as early as you can but then play it as late as you can. Keep adding this up over the course of a match and you will really get into your opponent’s legs and make them pause again and again and again. This accumulates a lot of hard work in the legs


Deception v Delay

You should try and understand that there is a subtle difference between deception and delay. Deception is more about using the wrist and showing a drop and then maybe flicking a shot across the court. Another way to say this is to show one shot and then play another. It can be quite easy (and adds a lot of risk to your shot) to read when a player is using too much wrist. It may be better and more useful to use your final step to hide your intentions as then you will not give your opponent the tell-tale signs too soon.


Racket head speed

A key element of deception is racket head speed and especially so about getting the racket head speed through the ball. The key to this is being able to have racket head speed no matter the size of your swing. You will naturally get more racket head speed from a bigger swing (but may not have a great amount of deception). How deception can work really well is by combining a slow and short swing with a quick racket head speed through and past the contact point. If you can time this and get this right real damage can be done as the initial slow movement of the swing draws your opponent forwards and makes them stop slightly. Linking this to the last step will also be fundamental and as discussed above.



It is very easy for your follow-through to stop and get a bit sticky and jerky when looking to use deception. You need your follow-through to be contributing to the pace of the ball (alongside the final step and the racket head speed). Be sure to not let your follow-through let you down and be mindful of this and relax the wrist to make it still happen and be a part of the swing. Having attention to detail in the follow-through will mean it will be sent through to the back to the area you want it to go


Tactics of deception

You can be the most deceptive player on an individual shot. But are you linking this to the overall game of squash and using it in conjunction with shots that you have played before? You need to have the threat and options of other shots. Not only this but also being tactically smart when to use your deception. If you have not used a certain shot and it’s at a big point, this may be the time to use a bit of deception and play a shot you have not sued yet. You need to be sure the risk is not too high for you and that you give yourself a margin for error. You need to zoom out and look at the big picture and play that game of chess. This is hard to do and takes practice and many mistakes but building on the idea of when to sue depiction is as key as to how to use deception


In summary, the above tips and tools should really help you develop the art of deception in your game. As mentioned, when practised and honed over time it can become a natural part of your game and not just a thing to be used now and then. Be sure to run lots of little experiments in training and match-play and be mindful of the technical and tactical aspects of deception. And overall, you need to have fun and enjoy using it. It is a fun part of the game and mentally you need to have this in your mind. Enjoy!


Jesse Engelbrecht

Want to learn more about deception?

Then check out the series where Nick Matthew teaches you how to develop your deceptive abilities. He offers tips and tricks that he learned and developed over the course of his illustrious career.

Watch now