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Back to the T.

Published: 28 Apr 2006 - 02:37 by JJSOOTY

Updated: 24 Sep 2008 - 12:37

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I think that my largest technical fault in squash at the moment is the fact that I don't 'retreat' from the ball quick enough to get back to the T.  Don't get me wrong, I usually get back to the T quick enough but I seem to have this habit of watching the ball hit the wall before moving back towards to the T.  It's not a long delay which as why at the moment it doesn't cause me any real problems but at a higher level it probably would.  Everytime I try to rectify this problem I seem to mistime my shot through thinking to much about getting back to the T and not actually concentrating on timing the shot. It's very annoying so I decided to put it to the experts in here and see what you all say!

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From rippa rit - 04 May 2006 - 07:00

JJ - Here is the link to the "Ten Fundamentals".
Click around a bit while you are there too.

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From BizarreCo - 03 May 2006 - 23:25   -   Updated: 03 May 2006 - 23:25

Glad to hear you like my mentality of play! But controlling that region is far harder than it sounds! The better player that I described in an earlier post has certainly taken my teaching on board and is now dominating the center of the court like no one I've ever seen. It's so frustrating to play against because unless you keep the ball incredibly tight all the time, you get punished very badly!


This principle works best when added to what could be called the basics of squash. I'm sure some of the more experienced players could add to these (but hopefully not argue against them):

  1. Control the central region of the court. Attack from inside and defend from outside.
  2. As your skills improve, learn to expand the central region further.
  3. When retrieving under pressure "height is right!" Give yourself time to recover by lobbing high
  4. When attacking the opponent width and height are everything - Tight, low drives that are difficult to get off the wall, or high, tight lobs that are difficult to volley are excellant to attack with. You aim is to drag your opponent out of your region and put them under pressure to retrieve.
  5. Change your pace randomly - Keep your opponent guessing about your shot selection. Is it going to be a cross-court lob? A dropshot? A boast? A tight drive? High or Low? Hard or Soft? Picking up the pace to stop them from returning to the T is very useful to keep them off balance.
  6. Use your strengths and protect your weaknesses - So you can volley a rolling nick on the forehand? Push your opponent into different regions of the court. Where do they play right into your hands from? Keep them there!! Where are they strong? Keep them away from there!!


Well those little pearls of wisdom are a very shortened version of all the things I've learnt in the last 4 years. Now I'm working on the next stage - 3 shot squash!

1) I serve

2) They return

3) I kill it!!!

This is the ideal, but maybe you have:

1) I serve

2) They return

3) I put them under pressure



x) They return weakly

y) I kill it!!!!


All ralleys should be an odd number of shot when YOU serve and an even number when they serve. That way you can't lose!!!!

Of course this little target would be the answer to every squash player's dreams. It's kind of like my Holy Grail of Squash!

 But I can dream!


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From JJSOOTY - 01 May 2006 - 01:05

Well I feel better now that I know I'm not the only one who has difficulty!!  Trying to take the 3 seperate motions of move to ball, strike ball, move back to T and changing them into one fluid movement has been my problem and I like the bungee chord idea.  However I think I'll give BizarreCo's idea of controlling the T rather then just using it as a starting point of a shot a go.  I've never really thought of the T in this way and I think it should help my game.  Cheers for the suggestions! 

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From pug505man - 30 Apr 2006 - 02:47

Sounds to me like there is an inertia issue and a focus issue involved here.

I, too have trouble returning to the T briskly.
Due to a confluence of various injuries which stacked themselves together I am no longer the lithe fit demon of yesteryear. Ok ok I'm too fat n a total gimp some days.
So what happens is I hit a shot, n then sit there, brain screaming 'GO FOOL' n fiiiiiinally I am able to thrust off n regain the T (I use a floating T depending on the rallys' structure, as I see others here do too). I am working hard in the gym to gain leg strength , hence better thrust and to lose weight to decrease inertia. The results are good if slow.

The focus issue, I think, is rather easily remedied. Stop lifting your head to LOOK at where the ball is going! After all YOU hit it you should know where it is going! Keep your head down through the stroke and make it, as part of your practice, a rule to finish each shot stepping back toward the T (in this sense that first initial movement away from the shot - not the entire series of steps to the actual T), without looking up until youve made that movement. Exaggerate it. Then youll find in a game you will move in, hit, and move out immediately. So it would go "move towards/ shufflefootwork/stroke head down/as your racket starts to enter the followthrough step away/ look up to regather the ball" which sounds complicated but really isnt. The key is you HAVE to drill it in practice. one stroke at a time. You have to exaggerate the key aspects, in practice, so it will flow nicely in a match. We tend to sit and admire a nice shot during practice and I think focus-wise this leads to the same thing in a match.
As I have been terribly slack in this particular aspect myself I shall at the earliest instance be incorporating this into my solo practice. It is like everything else - you have to practice it to be able to DO it.

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From rippa rit - 29 Apr 2006 - 09:06   -   Updated: 29 Apr 2006 - 09:11

There are a mixture of answers here and all have good points.  The skill then is to be able to position yourself according to the position of your shots with relation to your opponent, and to know if the shots played have in fact given sufficient time to get into position.

Remember, only hit the ball as fast as you can run (move into position). The more out of position you are, and the harder you hit the return, the less time it gives for recovery unless you hit an outright WINNER.  If you are in position you can do whatever you like with the ball, and hit it as hard as you like since you do not have to move anywhere!

Of course, if you hit a lousy shot, it is not possible to stand at the T, and as Vitty said you move accordingly, to take up the best position according to the ball placement. 
Lousy placement means lousy court positioning, or risk a hit in the chops
Really the phrase "back to the T" is sometimes misunderstood, when in fact it really means "take up the best court position" which is dictated by the accuracy of the if you cannot get to the centre position, you either hit the ball to hard (not enough time), or hit a badly placed return (move out of the way, and then run as fast as you can, and try to get into position with this next shot).

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From shuaib - 29 Apr 2006 - 08:14

The VISUALISATION idea of evil_flouder's sounds like a good one and I think I'll try it out at the next opportunity to see if it can improve my game:

"You will laugh but I visualize myself tied to a bungee cord that is connected to the T. So when I move off the T there is a force that is pulling me back there.  I try to make my move to the ball, ball strike, and move back to the T all one motion instead of three separate ones. In other words approaching the ball for me is part of my backswing and moving back to the T is part of my follow-through. It might take some getting used to, but you can practice it for hours by yourself with star or ghosting drills. When you get into the rythm it feels great"

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From BizarreCo - 29 Apr 2006 - 02:25

Obviously I do. But I have to also add the I can't disagree when people say "Get on the T", I just add the word "Normally" or "Usually" in front! I was teaching the concept to one of my juniors last night. He's a big lad, about 6'4". Nice volley control, but he loses ground to easily, and once I'm in front of him on court he just get's to pick the ball up and say "Good Shot" or "I didn't een see that!".


I'm trying to teach him to control the box. Make it his space and keep his opponents out of it! His reach is wide enough to reach the rail shots. He's tall enough to reach all poor lobs, and he can volley pretty well. His movement and positioning on court is letting him down massively. He get's dragged out of position (out of the box), then run all over the court, then beaten with something that he finally can't reach! He instantly saw the benefits last night and started to control the box (or the T region if that name is preferred!) after about an hour of me pointing out the subtleties of the flaws in his game.

"Where exactly did you start to lose that point?"

"When you rolled it out of the nick!"

"Nope, it was when I lobbed your loose boast into the backhand corner"

"But that was at the beginning of the point!"

"And after that lob, when exactly did you regain control of the box"

"Ah - Good point!"


He's learning! But it's a difficult road with this one!!


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From vitty - 29 Apr 2006 - 02:15

I agree, it doesn´t make any sense to occupy the tee EVERYTIME.

For example: if my opponent is retrieving dropshot to left front corner, I move about 1,5m forward and 0,5m to the left. I have to do this, otherwise I won´t have any chance to retrieve his (her) counter-dropshot.

Second example: You´ve played nice lenght and your opponent is stuck in the back corner. If you aren´t playing David Palmer, for 90% the response will be - a boast. So you can move 1-1,5m forward to the opposite front corner in advance and wait for the boast coming from the back.

All agree ?

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From BizarreCo - 28 Apr 2006 - 21:41

HA HA!! Just to be controversial.......

I don't believe that being EXACTLY on the T is a good thing. Stop thinking of the T as a small 2 inch squash point and start thinking of it as a meter and a half square in the middle of the court. Concentrate on moving into the REGION not onto the point.


An excellant practise routine is a "star burst" ghost routine. Number the corners 1 (front left), 2(front right), 3(left service box), 4 (right service box), 5(rear left), 6(rear right). Now move to each of the points in order as though you were moving in a PERFECT match situation:

T to 1 to T - Forwards to one. Backwards to the T.

T to 2 to T to 3 - Forwards to two. Backwards to the T. Turn and move to your left to play a ghost shot at three.

3 to T to 4 - The natural racket swing should have caused your weight to move from back foot to front foot at point three - DON'T STOP! Keep the weight moving to turn your body back to facing the front. Now side-step through the T onto point four. Do the same final steps as you did when arriving at three. Follwo through to turn your body.

4 to T to 5 - As you have just completed your follow through, your body will want to turn to face the front - GO WITH IT - come back through the T (as you did for three to four). This time as you pass through the T with your side steps, turn your body to continue side stepping towards point five. Only your last but one step into position five, pivot on your back leg to turn your body into shot position. Use the follow through from 3 and 4 to turn back towards the T after playing the shot.

5 to T to 6 to T - Use the momentum of your swing to turn back into side-step move and arch through the T and out again the sixth and final point. Repeat the method used for step five. When returning from 6 to the T, go all the way through and back to point one where you start again!

The aim is to do 4 sets of 4 stars. A better description can be found on


Ok, this will work the movement to be better, but what about the match positioning?

The reason I started this with the "think of the T as a region" comment is because getting onto that one spot on the T is NOT always the best idea for squash! Some shot's can't be reached from this position - especially a tight drop shot. Sometimes using the T like a small region allows you freedom to better position yourself NEARBY to maximise your recovery / attacking shot potential.


As a junior, myself and another player from a club were taught two different methods:

He was given a chair on the T, which he had to return to and sit on EVERY time he played the ball in a training session. Result - He has great recovery and lovely movement through the T on court. I can't fault the principle as it worked!

I was given the T as a region. Be in it. Control it. Think of it as a large square (in recent years I've expanded my square from the back corner of one service-box to the other and mapped out infront of the T). In this square I am god (no I don't have a complex - it's just an example!). If you want to beat me, you have to pull me out of my square. I taught the other player this method of play, and he lapped it up. He went from a good player to one of the best in the county in around 3 months.

The moral: Getting back to the T is very useful, and in the figurative sense is a good instruction. But don't take it TOO LITERALLY! What's more important it to dominate your little box in the middle, then start to expand it piece by piece. Push the borders of your box and push the limits of your squash, that way people will know that anything they put in your box is waiting for them to get beaten with!

Watch some of the top players in close matches........ they move to protect the region, not the spot!

Apologies if this goes against some of the more traditional advice (the "stand on the T at every opportunity" stuff), but this is something which could make a huge differnce in your game.

 I hope!


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From dmennie - 28 Apr 2006 - 11:10

Hi JJ,

Two of the big rules in squash are

1.Raquet must be up when your opponents ball hits the front wall.....and...

2.You must be on the T and well balanced when your opponent is striking the ball.

To add to Ritas points ....have the raquet up prior leaving the T.....and the movement must be as recomended like a rubber band or bungee; but how do you train for this. The best drill for training movement and centre control is 120's. This basically gives you three steps to the front of the court and 2 steps to return and does away with the shuffling backwards that makes you slow. 120's after a while can be modifyed to give ghosting to specific areas of the court. The drill is tooo hard to explain you will need to be taught it. Find someone who knows it. There may be detail on the web.

All the best

David M.

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From rippa rit - 28 Apr 2006 - 08:16

JJ - once again I visualise all  these movements and mannerisms we have been discussing in the forum this week.
  • Anyway, a bit of ghosting on the court or at home, will help sort out the feet.
  • Developing the smooth transfer of weight from a forward thrust to a recovery weight transfer is just part of the knack of moving on court.
  • I will try to take you through it:
    • Move from the T to a side on position to hit the ball (just by taking your right foot and right shoulder around in one movement).
    • Footwork well balanced, facing the side wall, as if to run to the front and recover a backhand.
    • Relatively wide and comfortable centre of gravity, with knees flexed.
    • By taking the right shoulder and right foot around the backswing has also moved into position.
    • Next, flex the hips and drop the right shoulder and the backswing will wrap around your body (keep  the elbow away from the body).
    • Racket will be open (knuckles on top of the grip).
    • Now unwind the swing (forearm rotation/supination)
    • Weight will now be on the front foot.
    • Momentum will now help you bring the foot back towards the T.
    • NEVER bring you feet together.
  • Practice moving around the court as though you are dancing, never bringing your feet together (as that will rise the centre of gravity and cause this jerky movement on court).
  • Yeah, so now you feel a goose doing this.  Just persevere with the weight transfer from forward to backwards and it will slowly improve.  Trust me !

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From missing_record1 - 28 Apr 2006 - 05:57

You will laugh but I visualize myself tied to a bungee cord that is connected to the T. So when I move off the T there is a force that is pulling me back there.  I try to make my move to the ball, ball strike, and move back to the T all one motion instead of three separate ones. In other words approaching the ball for me is part of my backswing and moving back to the T is part of my follow-through. It might take some getting used to, but you can practice it for hours by yourself with star or ghosting drills. When you get into the rythm it feels great!

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