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As we wait for Squash and Racketball courts to re-open across the country, Mike Harris, Head Squash and Racketball Coach at Exeter Golf and Country Club is sharing his top squash techniques in a series of Back To Squash coaching articles for beginners through to more experienced squash players.
‘Grip’ is a vital starting place when it comes to improving your game. Read on for Mike’s advice for the perfect squash grip, from the basics of the grip and how slight adjustments to it can make a big difference.
Squash & Racketball Basics 1
How we hold the Squash and Racketball racket is one of the most common problem areas for a lot of players. Even the smallest adjustment to this can make a huge difference in our striking of the ball and the control of our racket. Here are a couple of key pointers that you can look out for and perhaps change to help improve your game at the most basic level:
Problem Area – Having a “Closed” hand hold on the grip, and therefore a “Closed Racket Face”
This method of holding the racket can really limit the amount of touch and feel we have on the shot. (Therefore making it quite difficult to hit the ball softly when playing drop shots / lobs etc.)
As you can see in the picture above, with the fingers and thumb so close together there is very little control over the grip and the racket.
This also means that we have very limited maneuverability up and down the grip during the rally which makes it hard to adapt according to where the ball is. (Sometimes for example you may want to try dropping your hand down to the bottom of the grip to extend maximum reach to get to a far away ball.)
A closed grip also generally leads to the second issue which is a closed (or floor facing) racket face. The issues and adaptations to this will be explored more in the next article, but as a brief note, the more closed your racket face is, the more work you have to do to control the ball and also to get it to go where you want it to. Not ideal then!
Solution – Spread your fingers and loosen your hold! (Check out the pictures below to see what we are looking for)
If you can spread your fingers out a bit more along the grip, particularly your index finger, this will give you much more adaptability and flexibility when holding this racket. This in turn will give you a far better feel for the ball, will help you to take pace out of your shots, and also be able to manipulate your racket better through the hit. (For example, the more free and relaxed your grip on the racket, the more control you have over your wrist use. You can cut down on the ball better or accelerate the racket through the shot with greater severity.)
Have a go at adjusting your grip on the racket as per the pictures below and see how it feels. You are aiming to have the grip sit more in your fingers rather than the “meat” of your hand. The thumb then comes around the grip to secure the hold. The hit of the ball then becomes dictated more by your index or “trigger” finger as it comes through the shot, allowing more control.
The other thing to look out for is the angle that you are holding the racket at. As you can see in the images below, the top inside edge of the racket follows down into the “V” of my hand. This means that as I hit the ball the racket face will stay open through the shot. When moving to hit on the backhand, a slight adjustment of the grip as we move to that side will allow the same positioning. (See the backhand grip image.) More on the open racket face next time, but the grip shape plays a big part in controlling it.
Forehand Grip example of how we would want the grip to sit in the fingers:
These little adjustments can be made before you even step on to a Squash court, meaning that while we are in Squash and Racketball lockdown, it is a great time to have a go at changing things! Hopefully then when you get on court to hit a ball the difficult bit will already have been done. Have a go at holding the racket in this new way and then just bouncing a ball up and down on the strings or against a wall. This will help you get a feel to it and get an idea of the control you can achieve!
As mentioned, next time we will look more into the open racket face and the benefits this can bring to our game!
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