I’m a big boxing fan make no mistake about it! I love nothing more than to watch a ‘big fight’ involving two great champions. I don’t claim to be a boxing expert but I do believe I have a sound understanding about the noble art.
Orthodox fighters, that is generally right handed fighters, stand with their left foot first and as a consequence lead with their left hand; their most important punch is a good stiff left jab. It’s generally the most used punch in a boxer’s repertoire. It’s main purpose is to create openings for attacking but can also be used effectively, as a defensive weapon, to stave of an advancing opponent.
Ok let’s get back to squash.
I liken the straight drive in squash to that of the left jab in boxing. It’s the single most important shot in the game. It sets everything up in a rally; from creating an opportunity to attack, to taking the sting out of a rally and controlling the pace.
So why is the straight drive the most important shot?
The perfect straight drive; clings to the side wall, travels with venom, bounces towards the back of the service box and dies away into the back wall after reaching the top of the bounce. Make a note of the three key points in the previous sentence; tightness, depth and pace! The major key point that separates a straight drive from a cross court drive is tightness. A cross court can NEVER be tight.
Think about it – the ‘sweet spot’ is approximately 15cm from the top of your racket head. Now imagine you strike a straight drive that runs parallel within 15cm from the side wall. This prevents your opponent from making contact with the ball in the ‘sweet spot’ regardless of where and when he chooses to strike the ball. The closer the ball is to the side wall, the greater the probability his next shot will be loose.
Depth is also key! The straight drive ends up deep in the court. This creates ‘time’ for you. The ball will be a long way from the front wall so if your opponent chooses to attack, you will have plenty of ‘time’ to react.
Develop a really good consistent ‘left jab’ – one that runs tight and deep into the back court. It’s the most important fundamental to playing great squash!