Put It Into Practice: Leaving The Ball Short With Nick Matthew

17th May 2021

We’re back with one of the greats of the game for our latest playlist, as 3x World Champion and triple Commonwealth Gold Medallist Nick Matthew joins us to share his thoughts on the subject of leaving the ball short.

One of the very finest English players of all time, Nick had an incredible career spent at the very peak of the sport. Now operating an elite coaching programme from his base in Sheffield, he’s created a superb playlist for us providing some fantastic insights for players of all levels.

One of the key themes covered here by Nick is the concept of ‘making the court big for your opponent’. This approach, more so than just trying to hit winners when taking the ball short, is the core behind much of what he discusses – this then allows you to really stretch your opponent out, and drag them deeper into the corners of the court to create bigger pockets of space to follow up on and hit into.

Nick also talks in the playlist about his personal journey of developing this facet within his own game, and how he would typically look to take the ball in with much more pace earlier in his career. Working with his coach he was able to open up a new dimension in his game by learning to use a softer hand on his short balls, better-utilising feel and touch through the hand and utilising the strings more to impart shape and cut on the ball. 

Developing a better understanding of angles, weight of shot, and ball control when leaving the ball short, allows for a wider array of combinations of shot to be introduced into your rally construction. It’s these combos that allow you to build up pressure on your opponent with a more measured approach, rather than playing a low percentage game of just trying to throw in winning shots at random.

The aim of this blog is to introduce Nick’s video series, along with the specific solo and pairs sessions that we’ve created to help you get on court to learn how to put it all into practice. There’s also links included below to some of the related content we have here on the site along similar themes from some of the other elite coaches we’ve previously had featured on the site, to help you gain a more comprehensive understanding of the whole topic of leaving the ball short at the front.

Watch through the videos from the playlist and then click through the links to the sessions below to check them out, and discover the myriad benefits of improving your ability to successfully take the ball in, and better utilising that open space on the court.


Put it into practice

leaving the ball shortSolo session

This solo session is designed to get you started off with some of the basics of leaving the ball short.


leaving the ball shortPairs session

This pairs session works through a series of drills where you can practice your skills within a more natural rally environment, and begin developing the ability to put the ball in short within a more realistic matchplay context.

leaving the ball shortFitness session

Being strong and stable when hitting your short shots will allow for far greater control. Try out this great balance/stability session created by SquashSkills Fitness Director Gary Nisbet.


Related content

defendTaking the ball straight & short with Jesse Engelbrecht

Jesse takes a look at taking the ball straight and short and particularly the ability to get the ball from wall to floor boards as quick as possible purposefully taking the side wall out of play.


The process of taking the ball short with Hadrian Stiff

Hadrian and Jethro discuss play around the front of the court, talking the right technique for the drop, movement efficiency and linking the 2 together.


forehand techniqueQuick tips for going short with consistency with Peter Nicol

In this playlist, Peter analyses amateur player Jamal Callender’s swing and gives quick tips on how to improve his short game, which are applicable to players of all levels.


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, Nick goes into detail on how to make the court as big as possible for your opponent, expands on more technical details and explains how he amended his own short game during his professional career to perfect his shots and soften the ball playing into the front.

Watch now