Learn how to develop your own patterns of play

1st June 2016

We’ve looked in depth on SquashSkills before at patterns of play in squash. Lee Drew has been going through some common patterns in his recent playlist to help you understand the likely outcome of certain shots to either take advantage of a situation or recover from a difficult position.

Breaking your thought process into either taking advantage or recovering from certain positions is a vital component to help understand patterns of play. Too many players spend the rally just getting through and only reacting to situations. The best players in the world are constantly evaluating and making decisions on shot quality, positioning, time in the match and/or fatigue to decide if they have an opportunity or are trying to recover.


Taking advantage

This is (obviously) my favourite version of utilizing patterns of play to my advantage as who doesn’t like to feel in control and being on top of their opponent! Closing down the alley is to me is the easiest area for all players to learn patterns. If you hit a very good length shot into the back corner, the options for your opponent are limited, with the straight drive or boast being the two most likely outcomes. Move across and look for the volley drop with your weight ready to change direction and immediately head towards the opposite front corner if a boast is hit. Neither the volley drop nor counter drop need to be excessively good, they just have to be taken early and for you to recover to the T, waiting to take advantage again!

Drop, counter drop, cross drive – A favourite of mine, I would use the drop to bring my opponent into the front corner – the drop would be such so that it travels along the sidewall (not looking for the nick). My opponent would just scrape the ball of the wall and then, having stayed slightly in front of the T, I would get onto the ball quickly and hit crosscourt.

Both of my examples above require getting onto the shot quickly and are less technically demanding. Both require an understanding of the situation and early decision making for them to work.



This is what I was known for while I was playing professionally, being in difficult positions and recovering out of them comfortably and potentially also then being in control of the rally thereafter. Retrieving the drop – if I hit a poor shot and there was a simple drop shot available to my opponent, I would move further forward. This would invariably lead to a short shot where I had to move quickly into the front to recover but due to being further up the court, retrievable. From there I would lob the ball crosscourt to take back control of the rally. I would get out of the corner as quickly as possible and set my position up on the T to take advantage of a weak straight volley or, ideally, a boast from my opponent.

Coming out of the back corners – Under extreme pressure in the back corners when you have limited options, try lifting the ball straight and slow along the sidewall. The ball may only get to half court but if you push hard to recover to the T, or to an area close to your opponent, they will feel pressure and likely hit deep again looking to set up the rally again.

The fact you recognized the danger, hit the appropriate shot and moved quickly back to the T, will allow you to get out of trouble more often than not. Shabana is the expert at this, along with almost everything else!!


Good luck!!

Want to learn more about patterns of play?

Check out the series where Lee explains what he means by ‘patterns of play’ and introduces some of the different varieties he’ll be focusing on throughout the series.

Learn more