The Squash Shot

You see an opponent drive Djokovic way off the deuce court; but somehow, he slides (on a hard court!), splits, and hits an offensive “squash shot” back cross court.  Can senior hackers do something like that?

The Old is New

Back 50 years ago, when most pro players used the Continental grip for their forehand, the “squash shot” was just a normal stroke.  But when most players switched to the Eastern or Western forehand grip, that shot seemed to go away; and, now it is back.

When To Hit It

According to well-known Naples pro Spike Gonzales (a former semi-pro squash player!), “When having to retrieve a groundstroke on a ball that has slightly passed you, switching to a continental grip allows you to reach behind or around the ball for contact.  This contact allows you to “angle” the ball back into the court or to even get the ball cross-court to take the angle away from your opponent.”

How To Hit It

Spike continues,  “To optimally hit the ball with a heavy underspin, you can further create a squash shot by taking a high backswing and coming down into the back of the ball, almost as if you’re “throwing” the racquet into the ground.  This underspin can create depth to your shot to an opponent who is still in the back court, or makes for a much more challenging volley if your opponent has gotten to the net.” 

“Unfortunately for us old guys we cannot retrieve the ball off a back wall, as we did in squash!”

How about YOU… can you/do you hit the squash shot?

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11 thoughts on “The Squash Shot

  1. YES! One of my favorite shots. One thing to remember when hitting it is to make sure to aim at the top of the net and no higher. The tremendous amount of underspin will cause the ball to rise (like throwing a frisbee) so hitting it at a typical height over the net will make it sail long.

    Steve (Sunday First Responder!), good advice (why didn’t Spike tell us?!) 🙂 George

  2. Happy to see that Spike understands what’s going on with the shot. Have done a ton of “freeze-framing” with slo-mo video online, and that exaggerated high to low thing seems to be less than well understood – along with what the angle of the racquet face is at contact. The physics of these under-spin shots is the same with both forehands and backhands, but what the racquet face does *after* contact is far different, primarily due to human anatomy.

    Have been amazed at the percentage of teaching folks whose mental picture of the face angle at contact is so far off – when a couple of minutes of observation and stop-action with slow motion video shows it clearly. 🙂

    Kevin, Spike knows his stuff! thanks, george

  3. I normally use a two hand forehand, but when my opponent hits the ball wide I use the squash shot, often to great advantage. It is actually the only shot I can manage when extended far to my right side.

    Michael, or, you could choose not to run for it and say, “Nice shot!” 🙂 george

  4. i love this shot.
    i first started hitting this shot (only with the forehand) when i was around 45/50 and i found myself getting to balls but unable to put any pace on them. when hitting the squash shot, you dont have to get your weight forward to get the ball back quickly. the squash shot allowed me to neutralize an offense shot (to the forehand) and hold my court position. i found it to be a very effective shot.
    of course, now i have to hit it sometimes playing the forehand in doubles!

    Joe, Time Marches On. thanks, george

  5. The squash shot forehand has certainly been around for many years. I remember reading about Fred Perry, who also being a world champion in table tennis, adopted those skills into his tennis game to help him develop a “running forehand shot”. By using his arm and wrist, he imparted slice with power, using a continental grip. It became a favorite weapon for him in winning three consecutive Wimbledon Championships. He became known as “the man with the ping pong forehand “. For me, the “squash shot ” can be a savior defensively, as a desperation shot to slice the ball back when pulled wide out of balance. I’m hoping to buy time to reset for the next shot. Sometimes, the effort does catch my opponent by surprise when watching me and not the ball, resulting in a worthy point for me.

    Glenn, great Fred Perry story! thanks, george

  6. I decided I should learn this shot a few years ago when I started playing tournaments. It took me about six months to be comfortable with it, but I think it helped that I have a decent slice backhand. I wish I had thought to learn it before my hip replacements because it would have helped extend my reach at that point in my life. Oh well. The only problem I have is I have become so comfortable hitting it that I sometime default to it when I could have hit something else. Interestingly, learning it has also helped with my forehand volley.

    Jim, especially with a new hip (like me) the shot helps extend the reach. Thanks. George

  7. George, Spike, and others,

    Please, please stop calling a type of Forehand Slice a `Squash Shot’. It may have some similarities to a squash forehand, but that’s true for ping pong, and a few other racquet sports. Calling a forehand slice hit on the run a `squash shot’ makes no sense because it’s almost the same as a backhand slice hit on the run. No one calls the backhand slice a Squash Shot which is also similar to a squash ping pong backhand slice.

    To me calling a forehand slice on the run a `Squash Shot’ is demeaning and downgrades the advantage of having a complete arsenal of shots at our disposal–please read Bill Tilden’s Match Play and the Spin of the Ball. I have spent all of my playing and teaching life promoting, playing, and teaching all types of spin on both sides. I believe the `Squash Shot’ term is used because:

    1. Few players have a forehand slice and even fewer practice it.

    2. Few tennis professionals teach a forehand slice. And if they do they spend no time on it during a lesson.

    3. Because the topspin forehand is so dominant in our game (a shot I have also been teaching and promoting for 50 years), people ignore or even `make fun of a forehand slice’. I’ve had many players poke fun at my forehand slice and often say it’s so weird. I of course love hearing that comment because it’s so motivational!

    4. The fact is that 90% of all players and tennis pros have no clue of the potential benefit of a strong Forehand Slice, and don’t know how to teach it. This is quite weird because the stroke is so similar to an effective backhand slice, but understandable since so few people ever use the term `forehand slice’.

    I agree with Spike and most of the comments made about the advantages of a forehand slice hit on the run, but for heavens sake please give the Forehand Slice the credit it deserves and consider making an effort to see if in fact the value of a strong forehand slice is indeed underrated and misunderstood.

    Let’s hear it for the power of the Forehand Slice!!

    Laury Hammel

    PS I recently saw a video of Frankie Parker, a world class player in the forties and fifties and his forehand slice was a huge asset to his game, and probably his biggest weapon.

    Laury, don’t blame us for the name… talk to the tv commentators! And, “a rose by any other name…”. P.S. coincidentally, talked yesterday with someone who watched Parker play in Chicago.

  8. Having played squash in college and beyond, I believe, when using it in tennis, that it’s strictly a defensive shot….there’s no way that it should be considered an offensive shot. it’s reserved for when the ball gets behind you.

    John, for most of us… but not Mr. Djoko! thanks, george

  9. Spike beat me TWICE with that squash shot this past Monday at Wilderness…I’m NOT happy! Stay safe! Scoot

  10. the ‘squash” shot can be used offensively when it bounces high and wide. it is hit
    almost like a serve. you can really put pace on it.

    Joe, raquet head speed can make this shot very effective! thanks, george

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