Put It Into Practice: Patterns Of Play & Shot Partnerships With Joel Makin

3rd January 2022

We’re thrilled to have Joel Makin back with us on SquashSkills this week, bringing us an exclusive new playlist looking at patterns of play and shot partnerships.

Joel has cemented himself within the Men’s world top 10 rankings over the past few years, with his tenacity and athleticism marking him out as one of the toughest competitors on the PSA tour. His previous playlist for us back in Autumn on developing attacking opportunities was one of our most popular of 2021, so we’re delighted to be able to bring you this follow up.

In this playlist, Joel takes a look at how to put different shots together to be more effective in your play. It’s very common to see amateur level players who possess the technical ability to hit a variety of good quality shots, but without any deeper understanding of how to construct a rally to make best use of them.

This is something that elite level players obviously do extremely well, with their decision making and shot selection allowing them to work their opponent out of position and win rallies. Winning shots rarely just come out of nowhere at the professional level – more often than not, those exceptional winners will have come within a pattern of play that has been methodically set up.

Next time you’re watching pro squash, try and keep an eye out for the build-up that takes place within a rally before the winning shot occurs. There will always be the odd outright winner played from an unexpected position, but the vast majority of the time there will be shot partnerships that lead up to the execution of that final rally-ending shot.

Of course, at a professional level, there are some highly complex patterns that take place, due to the incredible athleticism and retrieval skills of many of the top plays – showing patience in manoeuvring the ball and making the right decisions at the right times is integral to success at that level. There remains however many more simple patterns that are present at all levels of the game, and it is these that Joel focuses his attention on in this fascinating playlist.

The aim of this blog is to give you some ideas of the best drills and practices you can use to start working on these shot partnerships and help you become more confident and capable in this aspect of the game. Once you start implementing some of the technical and tactical aspects that Joel discusses, you should see swift results in the effectiveness of your play in this area.

We’ve put together a selection of brand new solo and pairs sessions for you to try, built around these main coaching tips that Joel introduces. Watch through the videos from the playlist and then click through the links to the integrated sessions below to check them out, and discover the benefits of resolving to allocate some of your training time into developing these fundamental patterns of play.


Put it into practice

boastSolo session

Try this sample solo session, constructed around some of the themes discussed by Joel in the playlist.


Pairs session

Use this pairs session to practice some of the main elements introduced by Joel, within a more realistic rally specific environment.


Fitness session

Joel’s elite level conditioning is a key part of his on-court success. Check out this tough repeat-sprint endurance workout to help push your fitness to the next level, that’ll help allow you to a keep a clear focus to be able to recognise and implement effective shot partnerships even when locked into a gruelling 5 set match.


Related content

Attacking patterns of play with LJ Anjema

LJ takes us through three attacking patterns of play to set up a winning shot in the rally.


Patterns of play with Lee Drew

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


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

Haven't seen the full series yet?

In this series, Joel Makin analyses shot partnerships and how to play specific shots together

Watch now