By Graham Bassett, US Squash Victor Elmaleh Director of Doubles
Squash provides the unique experience of being able to achieve meaning practice on court by yourself. Can you imagine trying to practice water polo by yourself? You’d hop in the pool, tread water for a while and throw the ball to the other end of the pool. Then you’d swim over to go get it. That does not sound like a lot of fun to me.
Squash, on the other hand, is a great solo-practice sport. You can practice all the shots you might hit in a match—in almost the exact same conditions and at the same pace and energy you’d normally hit them.
For hardball doubles, there is a common misconception that you always need four players to get a good game. However, there is a lot you can do on your own. Solo practice is a critical part of improving your singles game. The same holds true for doubles.
So, you have no opponent: we’ve all been there. You’ve texted every number on your phone. Even the lower level players and the ones you hate to play are unavailable. You even emailed the guy who just goes for winners off the serve and hits every third ball in to the back of somebody’s leg. Not to worry. Here are some solo drill suggestions for doubles:
- Volleying Drill: Position yourself at the T and try hitting volleys to yourself. Aim high above the service line, and hit soft enough so the ball comes back to you at shoulder height. Try both straight and crosscourt volleys.
- Feed & Shot: Start off just in front of the short line. Feed a ball to yourself just above the service line, then hit a reverse corner to the opposite front corner. The ball should hit the side wall then front wall just above the tin. If you hit it right, the ball should roll or bounce back close to you. Feed again and repeat. Also, try the same exercise hitting the front wall first and aiming for the nick (where the floor meets the side wall).
- Feed & Boast: Start off in the back corner of your normal side. Hit a deep drive that bounces off the ground just in front of the back wall. Hit a three wall boast (side wall close to you, front wall in opposite front corner, and then hopefully close to the nick). Again, the ball should roll back close to you and repeat.
- Straight Drives Try hitting straight deep drives to yourself on your regular wall. Aim for the back nick. It’s harder than you might think. Mix in a few low kill drives as well (keep the ball tight to the wall and bounce it twice before the short line.)
For all your doubles solo drills, perform them on both the forehand and backhand—even if you normally only play matches on one wall. It will balance your game and help prevent overuse injuries from always doing the same thing; and you never know when you’ll be asked to fill in on the other side.