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Solo Drills

Published: 05 Oct 2006 - 16:21 by stevo

Updated: 24 Sep 2008 - 14:59

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Solo drills were mentioned in another posting. I have never really done any structured solo drills (any solo court work has normally been done waiting for an opponent to turn up) so I decided to give it a go.

I booked a 30 minute session and decided to start off with straight drives. After a couple of minutes I thought my arm was going to drop off! I think I managed about 20 odd in a row, then the arm got weaker and weaker eventually my forearm was almost cramping.

I guess I want to know if this is normal for a first session? When doing straight drive routines with a partner it is normally the lungs or the legs that go. Are there any exercises to build up the forearms strength and stamina or it is just more solo work?

Anyway, with short breaks in between sets I managed to do some straight volleys as well as straight drives, some figure of 8's and some volley drop practice. However I could only manage about 15-20 in a row max.

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From nickhitter - 12 Oct 2006 - 21:23

Thanks again everyone.

The problem is definitely the backhand side. In fact my backhand in general has suffered a setback: The reason is that over the years without me knowing I developed a bad habit where I would compensate for incorrect forearm action by adjusting my grip on the backhand side more to the left. It was only when I was trying to improve my volley drop that I realized i changed it! So having discussed this with a coach he said the best thing to do was to learn the correct technique and live with the regression for however long it takes. And what a regression! I feel Like I'm learning how to play squash all over again.

All the pointers seem to make sense and I have a match tonight so I'll warm up giving it a try again. Does anyone know of any video links to a close up of a pro player doing 8's? I've only ever seem a few guys at the club do it and Anthony Ricketts do it at the english open. I couldn't believe how fast he did it! incredible. and like you said, rippa rit, he never moved his feet at all.

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From stevo - 12 Oct 2006 - 21:23

I learned the fig 8 by first allowing the ball to bounce once. It helps you find the right angle to hit the ball and you have a little more time between shots. You can then lift the ball a little bit higher on the wall and start trying to volley it, hitting the ball softly and progressing to a fast figure of 8 routine.

After that it is just a matter of stamina in the forearm (well for me anyway).

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From rippa rit - 12 Oct 2006 - 20:00

By the way I have never really seen a player do the fig. 8 by moving their feet (and I mean skillful players).  The flexing of the shoulders and hips is to compensate for the lack of footwork as there is no time to "pussy foot" about as the ball comes off the wall too quickly.
If you have to move your feet (maybe a slight adjustment) that is a sign that there is a lack of control in the racketwork/swing.

If you are all over the place with your racket work/swing go back to straight volleys, firstly from about shoulder height, and graduate to above head height, and then try the fig. 8 again and see how it goes.

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From BizarreCo - 12 Oct 2006 - 18:39


Rippas reply gives you some great pointers on getting your hips, shoulders and knees (hense feet!) into the correct position to play the shot. But it is also worth working on your racket positioning at the same time. Personally in your position I'd opt to play to play the ball through the same height as my shoulder. That way you can turn your arm to give you a more open (or closed) racket face which will definately help you with the height problem.

From my experience, one of the hardest things for people to come to terms with when it comes to vollies, is dealing with different heights. Some people love overhead shots, some people like to volley at their own knee height, but everyone has one position where they feel most comfortable and confident to play the ball. It may be that your "comfort-height" isn't what you need to do the figure-8s. If that's the case then you're really going to have to practise hard to get these shots right. But please trust me when I say that with patience and practise (of the right things!), you'll see massive improvements in your volleying game.


Good luck and keep us posted!


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From rippa rit - 12 Oct 2006 - 07:24

A few suggestions about getting the angle for the fig. 8.
If it is the backhand that you are having trouble with start off with the backhand shot when commencing the series.
There are a few check points to get the correct spot on the wall:
  •   When you do a good shot, go and mark  the wall target to assist with the next hit.
  • If you hit the ball too early it will go further into the corner of the court (side wall/front wall).
  • Check that you are actually flexing your hips to drop the shoulder/point the shoulder to the target area, for both the forehand and backhand shots.
  • Try to flex the knees and hips in a relaxed way when getting ready to swing as there is a fair amount of timing in this routine to get the fluent movement.
  • Slow down the routine so you have more time to prepare for the swing.
  • Go through the routine one by one until you groove in the action.

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From nickhitter - 12 Oct 2006 - 00:14

Thanks all who replied.

I'm not the tallest player (5' 9") and find that the biggest problem is the geometry on the backhand side. my highest score is only 10 so far. I find I'm hitting the backhand a little too wide and it's going right into the corner and coming out in front of me rather than to my forehand. also I'm finding it hard to recover if I play one than drops a little. In fact one of the problems is the ball seems to be always dropping from the moment I start the drill! I'll just have to keep on at it I guess. how long did it take you guys to master?

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From rippa rit - 09 Oct 2006 - 14:24

Daren - you will need to be patient, and have very good ball control (racket control) to hit the figure of 8 consistently and accurately.  It is an advanced skill and as Biz said "a pain"!.

Biz says start off slowly, and patiently. Keep remembering that tip!.

By hitting about halfway between the cut line and outline on the front wall, the ball will be slower coming to you and give you more time to prepare for the next hit.  As you get more control of the angle, and the swing, you can increase the speed and therefore aim a little lower.

Maybe, to get the gist of the angle of the figure of 8 routine, just drive the ball low into the lefthand corner then the righthand corner and once you can get, say, 6 in a row, graduate to the volley.  Even taking the next step to an underarm volley aiming halfway between the tin and the cutline.  As you master each level, move higher up the front wall adjusting the height and speed of the hit and swing accordingly.

The lob volley figure of 8 will assist your return of serve heaps too.

Let's know on a scale of 0/10 how you are going?

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From BizarreCo - 08 Oct 2006 - 19:10

Figure 8's can be a pain to master, but I guess the first key is to take your time when you start out.

Some geometry that suits me is:

  1. Stand about 1 and a half foot in front of the T
  2. Play the ball with a forehand swing onto the backhand side of the court, so that the ball strikes the front wall approximately 1 foot from the side wall and about 1 foot above your head.
  3. This will cause the ball to rebound off the side wall and back towards you. If you have the correct power level, the ball should drop in height to around your shoulder/upper arm height.
  4. Strike the ball with a backhand swing, guiding the ball to around the same place on the forehand side of the court (see point 2 for placements).
  5. When the ball rebounds, repeat steps 2 to 4.
  6. Once you build up skill at keeping the pace going, try to vary the speed at which you play the ball (you'll have to vary the height to!)


Like I said, these dimensions suit me (6ft tall with a 75 inch reach), but I know different heighted people need to move slightly forward/backward to where they feel comfortable.


Hope that helps


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From Daren - 08 Oct 2006 - 17:05

"Anyone got any tips on doing figure 8's?"

stand just in front of the T, aim for the cutline (service line) is easiest. Higher volleys are harder.

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From missing_record1 - 07 Oct 2006 - 04:31

A few feet in front of the T. I find it very relaxing to do -- like juggling or jumping rope -- a great thing to do before a match to calm the nerves or to focus yourself between games. I probably make contact with the ball around chest height and the ball hits the front wall a few feet higher than that. If you think of your follow through for one hit as the backswing for the next, then you will have an easier time getting started (of course the strokes should be compact). If you think of each stroke as a separate shot you'll never get into a rythm.

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From nickhitter - 07 Oct 2006 - 03:44

Anyone got any tips on doing figure 8's?

I do most of the other solo drills ok, like hitting good tight length for ten minutes, short hitting, side to side boasting etc but this one just shows me up. Where is the best place to stand? right on the 'T'  or just in front? Is it best to hit at shoulder height or waist height? I really want to learn this one. looks like a lot of fun.

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From Daren - 06 Oct 2006 - 16:40

"Has anyone noticed the difference in Jonathon Powers forearms!"

Yeah! Another one is Rafael Nadal in tennis, his left arm is humongous  compared to his right.


keep yo' pimphand strong..

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From drop-shot - 06 Oct 2006 - 03:20   -   Updated: 06 Oct 2006 - 03:20

Keep on rockin' man

"Slavic, what you described is pretty much what I did for the 30 minutes. Its good to know I am on the right track. I suppose now it is just making sure I do it regularly."

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From BizarreCo - 06 Oct 2006 - 01:43


Sadly my highest is a mere 11437, but I'm happy with that for now!

Sadly I have to disagree with Slavic on the squash vs weights thing. One of the fastest and best methods for building both endurance and power is through selective weight training and muscle conditioning (do not confuse the two!). Slavi I think you need to look at some photos of Jansher again! His muscle conditioning was some of the best in the history of squash, combining low weight with dense muscle mass to produce a near perfect combination of power and endurance (a must for any higher level player). If you look at mid-shot photos of any of the worlds top players the muscle definition in their arms (esp. forearms) is fantastic.

BUT basic muscles can only take you so far and the rest you have to do on court. The tips I gave below were a quick start guide to get some serious wrist and forearm strength, but this on its own is pretty useless. You really have to put the time in on court.

Just keep the solo-sessions going for a few weeks (but remember to drink plenty and rest well between sessions!). You'll find your endurance growing quite quickly!



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From stevo - 06 Oct 2006 - 00:56

Thanks for the replies everyone (especially ADZ, very comprehensive!). I will try some of these suggestions out but I guess the main thing is to do more solo work!

ADZ says:
try to find yourself a "Powerball Original 250Hz Pro".
Yes, some guys at my work have one of these and the whiteboard has the top scores on it (over 12000!). I haven't had a shot of it as I am scared of arm fatigue prior to playing.

ADZ says:
One thing to always remember is to work both arms! Otherwise you'll end up imbalanced.
Yes, this is true. Has anyone noticed the difference in Jonathon Powers forearms!

Daren says:
20 in a row only?
I did get more the first few routines but it settled about that. I could hit more but there was no feeling in the arm. Perhaps I am gripping too tight, I will try a looser grip.

Slavic, what you described is pretty much what I did for the 30 minutes. Its good to know I am on the right track. I suppose now it is just making sure I do it regularly.

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From drop-shot - 05 Oct 2006 - 23:52   -   Updated: 05 Oct 2006 - 23:52

Wow, such a nice topic, Thanks to previous post from Viper I think.

Well, regarding your arm dropping off. First thing you should know as the squashplayer is:
open the racket face. This will direct the ball on the front wall much higher and it will come back to the backcourt. Who told you to use power in squash? Have you seen Jansher Jhan? No muscles at all and how did he play? Huh? Do not mistake squash with weightlifting.

Then - regarding solo practice.

According to my experience man can spend minimum 20 - maximum 90 minutes with solo practice training. Start with straight drives to the service box. Controll the wrist, open the racket face and relax, RELAX. Bend your knees, transfer the body weight, swing from the top etc... If you will manage to do 20 in a row (but the ball bounces in the service box), proceed to the other side of the court.

Next – straight overdrive. Go behind the ball, open the racket face, keep the wrist firm, have a nice swing. and RELAX. Do not let anything distract you. Make 20, but with the limit – three wooden panels wide from the sidewall - now you are talking... How does that sound? Man, squash is aboput finesee and precise shots. so master your basic skills and forget about tricks :-)

Next - go to the centre line and chop 20 volleys. Forehand and Backhand. 20 consecutive shots...
Next - go to the centre of the court and perform butterfly...
Next – volley kills
Next – drop shots. Yes, you can practice dropshots feeding yourself with the balls.

After 1200 hours spent on court I discovered I prefer to come to the court alone than to "play" with my friends. Now I do solo practice at least twice per week.

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From Daren - 05 Oct 2006 - 22:13

20 in a row only? I geuss its normal as you said it was your first session but it shows you need to build that upper body strentgh   I think you will notice it get better with practice and I think the routines you're doing are fine(drives, figure 8s , volleys), add in some kills too.


Check you're not choking the racquet too hard to fatigue your forearm


if you've got a brickwall at home, get a ball and practice volleys, its free 

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From BizarreCo - 05 Oct 2006 - 19:02


Glad to hear you're getting indepth with your training. Don't worry about the arm fatigue, it's perfectly normal the first few times that you do it. You might find that your arm will be very sore for the next day or two, but that's perfectly normal as well. The soreness and fatigue are because the muscles in your arm are either not used to the exercise or they have been pushed to their limit during the training. This soreness will fade gradually over time (if you repeat the exercise on a regular interval - more on this below!), and the fatigue point will extend to a longer period of time.

The fatigue point will appear to make huge jumps forward at first, and then begin to slow down and plateau for a bit before settling into gradual gains in time and endurance. The soreness should also disappear over time.

Always try to give yourself a days rest between training sessions of this kind, if your aim is to build up strength and edurance in your muscles. I'd probably suggest that you take 2 days rest in between to begin, until the soreness in the muscles dies down sufficiently.


Some conditioning exercises I'd recommend are:

  1. Routines - Performing routines to muscle failure (which you're already doing by the sound of it!)
  2. The broom lift - Holding a broom handle with the head of the broom on the floor and handle straight up. Your thumb should be pointing towards the floor at start point. Now rotate your forearm/wrist so that the broom head comes up in the air and over to the other side of your hand (about a 270 degree rotation). Return to starting point. This will build up rotational forearm and wrist strength. As you get stronger, you can hold further away from the head of the broom (the closer to the head the easier the exercise is).
  3. The chair lift - Take a normal dining room chair (not a heavy antique one, but a normal modern one!). With arm fully outstretched life the chir off the floor by holding at the base of one of the legs. THIS IS HARDER THAN IT SOUND AND TAKES A FAIR AMOUNT OF STRENGTH SO BE CAREFUL THE FIRST TIME! If you can do it easily, then pefrorm multiple raises to fatigue.
  4. The wrist curl - Take a moderately light-weight dumbell and hold in an overgrip position on a flat surface in front of you (suggestions would be around 2kg and on a table in front of you!). Rotate your wrist directly upwards, lifting the weight off the table. This will build strength in your forearm and wrist. Alternate this by using an undergrip to do the same task (e.g undergrip means back of hand next to table, overgrip means knuckles will be next to table).
  5. Using a LIGHT weight, perform "ghost" swings. Naturally the heavier hte weight used, the slower you should swing to avoid injury! But if you want to build up explosive power (very useful for hitting the ball hard), try moving heavy weight quickly. I'd probably suggest you find someone whose done this one before to advise you, or you'll end up injuring yourself by using too much weight! BE CAREFUL WITH THIS ONE!!
  6. You could also get a set of resistance bands (long pieces of elastic / rubber) which you can use to provide a resistance against your arm movements (I've come up with loads of variations using these!)
  7. Finally (although I don't like to "plug" products on here!), try to find yourself a "Powerball Original 250Hz Pro". This is a gyroscope inside a plastic shell that you set spinning and then rotate your wrist to make it spin faster. The faster the spin the harder you have to work to keep it spinning as it tries to go in it's own path. Search for them on Google to see a description and a demonstration. I got mine from (cheapest UK source I could find, but it depends where you're from!).


One thing to always remember is to work both arms! Otherwise you'll end up imbalanced. One tip I was given as a junior player is to keep my squash bag quite heavy in weight and carry it on the opposite shoulder to my playing arm. This gives you a bit of a workout on the otherside without you even realising it! (and by the time I've got 2 pair of shoes, 4 rackets, loads of balls, grips, toiletries, kit etc in my bag, it certainly weights a small ton!)

Hope this helps, and feel free to get back in touch if you want me to go into further detail with any of the training methods above!


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