Pro Tip: Applying pressure with the Volley

As squash players we will sometimes brag to those uninitiated with the sport about how much work we’re doing on the court; but we know it’s not really about how hard we work, but about how hard we make our opponents work!

Author: Manu Dutt is a Level 2 NCCP-certified squash club coach and with experience coaching singles and doubles squash.

The volley is one of – if not the – most important tools to accomplish this! Volleys are crucial to keeping your opponent under pressure. Every time you volley you take away the opponent’s time to get back to the T. You also create much needed time for yourself by avoiding chasing the balls all the way into the corners. Volleys are most effective to play when you are in front of your opponent as this keeps you on the T and them chasing the rally.

Volleys can be used in a variety of ways to different degrees of success. The most basic use of the volley is a deep volley, straight or cross court. The goal is to get the ball high and past your opponent so that you can take control of the T. From there you are in control and can follow up with a short shot – be patient though as going short too early can lead to unnecessary tins!

…(the volley) keeps you on the T and them chasing the rally!

If you are at the T you shouldn’t feel the need to rush. An extra shot to make your opponent run a little more before you drop goes a long way to wearing down their legs. Changing up the pace of your volley can increase the effectiveness of the shots. Most players have a standard shot pace that they feel comfortable hitting, and switching from a hard hit to a slower shot that dies at the back keeps everyone on their toes and invite errors from your opponent as they have to quickly adapt to a different and unexpected shot.

Hitting the Volley:

Racquet Preparation: Get ready as early as you can, that way you’re ready to hit before the ball bounces! Your body should be facing the side wall with your wrist cocked. You should hold your racquet so that the face is open- above and behind the shoulder farthest from the front wall.

Point of contact: You want to hit the ball off of your front shoulder- pay attention to where you are hitting on your forehand side as it is easy to hit off of the wrong shoulder. Hitting off of your front shoulder on both sides will help get your weight moving through the ball for added control!

Swing: Make sure as you swing that you are stepping into the ball. To get it deep make sure that your racquet is going low to high.

Follow Through: The volley follow through is a little bit shorter then your normal swing as you don’t need as much power on the volley. Remember: wherever the racquet points after the follow through is where your ball will go and check where your racquet is pointing! 

Practice: A useful drill to practice your volleys is to start close to the front wall and see how many volleys you can hit in a row. Once you hit your goal – say 5 – take a big step back and repeat. As you get farther back don’t be afraid to let the ball hit the ground if it’s not going to make it far enough. Just step it back up for the next shot.