By Graham Bassett, Victor Elmaleh US Squash Director of Doubles and Professional Squash
While nothing beats a full game of four-person doubles, some of the best and most fun practice can be achieved with fewer players.
Perhaps you and your partner are just too good and everybody is scared of you. No problem. There is plenty the two of you can achieve anyway:
- Volleying Exercise: Start on your regular wall. Hit a high volley crosscourt to your partner and he or she does the same back to you. Start by feeding each other to get a rhythm, but then try to hit increasingly better crosscourts, breaking the ball high off the side wall.
- Deep Game: Now that you’ve warmed up with some volleys, play a deep game. Just like you would in singles, serve and play rallies, but every shot must bounce behind the short line. This is a great practice for movement and ball control.
- Full-Court Game: The doubles court is about twice the size of a singles court, so a true full-court game might be tough. However, if you add the rule that every shot must be played above the service line, you can practice good movement and your defensive shots.
- Feed & Shot: Work on your attacking shots. Hit an easy ball to your partner on the other wall. They shoot for the reverse corner or front wall-sidewall nick. The ball should come back to them, allowing them to feed the next shot to you.
- Crosscourt Game: This is possible the most common—and productive—doubles practice available. Draw an imaginary line down the middle of the court separating you and your partner. Serve and play rallies where both players must hit to the other side of the court. This is a great chance to practice your attacking shots into the front corners as well as boasts and defensive crosscourts. Play at least one game on the opposite wall from that which you normally play.
- Half-Court Game: Similar to the crosscourt game, you’ll still draw an imaginary line up the center of the court, but this time you’ll play on the same side as your partner. Start with a normal serve and only play shots that land on the side of the court you select. This is a good chance to work on your reverses, defensive lobs and straight kills.
- Note: Each player should practice on both sides of the court. You’ll need to be comfortable on the other side when you are forced to cover for your partner during a match.
Perhaps the flaky player in your foursome has let you down again by not showing up. Again, no problem. The three remaining players can still get a great workout in while practicing their skills:
- King of the Court: Exactly the same as the crosscourt game mentioned above, except the third player will now stand at the middle of the back wall and stay out of the way. The winner of the rally serves from the side of their choice, and the loser swaps places with the player on the back. This is a great way to practice both sides in a close simulation to real doubles.
- 2 v. 1: Play points as you normally would between two teams, however, the single player doesn’t have a partner. This is good pressure practice for the one, and a good tactical exercise for the pair. The pair should try to avoid errors and move the ball around the court to keep the single under maximum pressure. The single player stays single until they lose a rally, and then rotates positions. Make sure to have all players practice both walls.
- Half-Court Game with a Crosscourt: Played like the Half-Court Game mentioned in the two-player section, with one player waiting on the opposite side. Either of the two players playing the rally can hit a crosscourt, which the other then retrieves and begins rallying with the player who was previously waiting.