What is it?
The straight drive is the single most important shot in squash. It’s a ball that’s hit to run parallel along the side wall and land in the back corner. Your movement on and off of the ball is a key part of hitting your shots with consistency.
Why do we use it?
It’s an essential shot because it ties your opponent up in the back corner, often limiting their swing due to the fact there are two walls running in opposite directions. It’s a shot that gives you the opportunity to get in front of your opponent and take control of the middle of the court.
It can’t be emphasized enough how important it is that you develop the ability to consistently hit the ball straight down the wall. The wall offers you protection and will often force a weak shot from your opponent that you can look to attack.
As we discussed in the last article, it’s imperative that you look to link your movement to your swing. It means you are able to generate effortless pace and power and will bring consistency into your ball striking.
Watch this video to understand the technique behind the straight drive.
Watch this video to understand the tactics behind the straight drive.
Watch this video to learn how to link your movement to your swing.
How to practice
Once you get to a certain level, practising your straight drives during solo sessions should become relatively easy. However, during the very early stages of your playing career hitting the ball with enough power and accuracy to get the ball bouncing off the back wall can be very tough. Try this beginner solo session to get you started, and then progress on to this more advanced solo session as your skills improve.
It is worth trying to practice with other players or coaches as well if you can so that you can work on consistently hitting the ball from the same spot in more of a ‘live’ environment, and begin to better groove the shot and the technique. Here’s a good pairs session that you can use to practice with, before progressing onto this more advanced pairs session here.
It’s also a good idea to practice your lunging and basic movement in isolation, away from any hitting based exercises. Getting on and spending time developing your lunge strength and stability will be a big help to your game, while ghosting exercises carried out without a ball are the best way to improve your efficiency and fluidity on the court.
Additional useful content
If your looking for an in-depth understanding about the biomechanics of the backhand swing then check out this series featuring amateur player Paul Miles & SquashSkills Founder, Jethro Binns.
This is a fantastic series from Jesse that explains when to hit different types of drives and how to execute them.
In this playlist, Nick Matthew explains what different types of lengths he tries to hit from different situations.
Common Amateur faults and self-diagnosis
- Dragging the ball into the middle: If you find yourself giving strokes away or pulling the ball into the middle of the court, then it’s possible you may be over-rotating at the end of your swing or letting your follow through come too far around your body.
- Hitting the side wall: It’s likely that if your drives are hitting the side wall, then you could be getting too close to the ball. Focus on staying away from the ball and getting into the locked out position, whilst also paying attention to your contact point.
- Not generating enough power: It’s likely that you are not linking your movement to your shot, and not generating enough rotation at the beginning of your backswing.
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