Put it into practice: Taking the ball short with Hadrian Stiff

6th July 2020

Elite Squash Head Coach Hadrian Stiff joins us again this week, with an in-depth playlist on the process of taking the ball short. Taking the ball into the front of the court is such a huge part of the game, yet is something that so many amateur players struggle to do with any real control or consistency.

Hadrian has established himself as one of the best-known coaches in the UK, with his Elite Squash base in Bristol having seen a number of the game’s top players pass through – perhaps most famously the Egyptian siblings Mohamed and Marwen El Shorbagy. With an expanding brand and growing network of coaches, Hadrian has done a fantastic job in the growth and development of the sport.

In this brand new playlist, Hadrian has taken a real deep dive into the very foundations of the short ball. Much of the information is delivered in a discussion-based format with SquashSkills CEO and former Welsh international Jethro Binns, and this allows for some fascinating insights into not only the technical elements but also the actual implementation of taking the ball in short.

A big part of the focus in the video series is Hadrian’s views on the true fine mechanics of the short ball, with his take on various common issues that many players experience. There’s a real emphasis on subtleties of the grip, along with detailed enquiry into the most optimal racket preparation and swing pathway needed to execute a successful short shot.

Another important topic that is covered, and one that is frequently not fully considered by many players, is how to link your movement into your shot. With the short ball requiring so much touch and feel, the way that you approach and move into your shot has a huge impact on your racket head control. Hadrian takes this further by also bringing in some of his thoughts on how to address the hidden mental components behind finessing the ball into the front.

The playlist has content appropriate to any level of player, but there is a particular emphasis on key considerations for the amateur player, as well as a video solely on ways to improve your fundamentals. For those looking for something with a slightly higher degree of difficulty, the final video in the series takes a look at the cross-court nick – a shot which is frequently exalted but rarely actually discussed in deeper technical terms. Certainly a great shot to be able to practice, and add to your in-game armoury!

The aim of this blog is to introduce Hadrian’s video series, as well as to point you in the direction of some of the other content we have on the site regarding the drop shot and how to best use the front of the court effectively. We’ve also put together a selection of brand new solo and pairs sessions for you to try, built around the main technical points that Hadrian and Jethro discuss.

Watch through the videos from the playlist and then click through the links to the sessions below to check them out, and discover how developing a better understanding of taking the ball in short can really make a massive difference to your game.


Put it into practice

Solo session

This session consists of a number of solo drills you can practise on court, to help hone the fundamentals of your short shots.


Pairs session

This pairs session contains a selection of pairs drills and conditioned games you can use to help you learn to better utilise the short ball in realistic rally-based situations, as focused on by Hadrian in the playlist.


Fitness session

Try this challenging balance/stability focused physical session, to work on developing the ability to hold a strong and stable position when playing your shot – a big help when playing a delicate ball into the front of the court.


Related content

shortShort variations with Jesse Engelbrecht

In this series, Jesse explains how to add variation into your short game.



shortQuick tips for going short with consistency

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.


Developing your short game with Peter Nicol

In this series Peter discusses developing his short game and gives his top tips for improving your technique in the front corners.


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

Haven't seen the full series yet?

Check out the full series where 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.

Watch now