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Shoulder to the target

Shoulder to the target

Shoulder to the target

Published: 07 Jan 2005 - 08:11 by rippa rit

Updated: 14 Jan 2010 - 10:19

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Shoulder to the target is such a simple rule, often used in physical education to teach the kids to aim for the target.  If you are having trouble with direction and hitting the front wall target, think, "shoulder to the target" and it works, and it is a simple rule to follow.
After reading the recent forum articles about open v closed stance again, it is hard to beat the concept of balance and rhythm/flow.

Keeping shoulder pointing towards the target with the body in alignment sure helps this idea.
It is hard to get your shoulder to the target with the "opposite" foot forward (particularly in a closed stance situation), while the hips are scrunched up and you are off balance.

I recommend only resorting to that footwork if you are desperate, or maybe want to deceive your opponent. Besides, if you carry any excess weight, it is nearly impossible to twist like this, so getting the shoulder to the target would be out of the question!! Oops!

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From raystrach - 14 Jan 2010 - 10:17   -   Updated: 14 Jan 2010 - 10:19

happy new year arthur

  • imagine standing on a squash court facing the side wall with your feet apart. slightly wider than shoulder width
  • now putt 90%of your weight on the back foot (the foot closest to the back wall)
  • now put your weight onto the front foot (closest to the front wall)
  • this is simple weight transfer
    • you can accentuate this by driving forward (towards the front wall) with the back foot (which i sometimes call the power foot) and extending the position of the front foot (which i sometimes call the control foot) towards the front wall - this is a more dynamic form of weight transfer and is the sort of action that, in a perfect world, is desirable on most shots
    • the front foot can be positioned either closer to or further away from the side wall as a way of controlling how far away from the ball you end up
    • this motion is obviously timed to coincide with your swing
    • it is not always possible of course (eg at the very back of the court) but is excellent for helping to generate power (it also has other benefits which i won't go into here)
  • it does require a different approach to the ball

the other thing that i did not mention, which is more in relation to power rather than control, is that starting with the racket face more open (in the prep phase) allows more forearm rotation which is a key factor in generating controlled power - take a look at the pros- their prep is nearly always open

35 years ago rita was coaching the closed stance method at least to some extent although she did use an o-pen stance in some circumstances . i spent hundreds of hours practicing this method in all sorts of drills and routines. i coached this method myself up till about 15 years ago, but we must change with the times when new and better techniques expose themselves.

since about 1990, i have been gradually ridding it from my game (in the last 10 years in particular)

there are times when it needs to be used simply because there it is the best way to reach the ball (usually on the backhand), but for the most part, using an open stance is better in every way

have fun!

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From aprice1985 - 14 Jan 2010 - 00:49

A long time later i finally reply!  Yes ray this guy suggests a closed stance, this is very much what I have been brought up with and what i am used to, i find it much easier than the open stance, except for off the volley.  I personanlly would normally get my torso facing the side wall, stretch/lunge in to move my front foot to the ball and keeping my body fairly straight (and so i hope leading shoulder towards the front wall) then using my arm for the swing more than my body unless i really want power out of the shot.  I am not a particularily powerful hitter, so could you explain more about the weight transfer and where it comes from?

Hopefully at some point i will take up my e-coaching once i find someone who can video me doing some practice or in a friendly

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From rippa rit - 10 Dec 2008 - 07:18

arthur - this library video shows a backhand drive down the wall from the back corner - take a look at the feet positioning too, and that will also have something to do with your body positioning.

This video shows a slightly different approach to the ball as the ball travels from the back wall along the side wall before being struck.

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From raystrach - 09 Dec 2008 - 15:18

hi arthur

i try to stay out of a lot of these things, but i just cannot help myself on this one. you did not say, but he may well be also advocating you put a foot towards the wall as well (closed stance).

Whilst you may get more power out of this approach, his advice is wrong on two counts as far as accuracy goes.

  1. The more moving parts there are, the harder it is to get accuracy. the more you move all those moving parts, the harder it makes it
  2. when you swivel everything so much, the swing itself tends to be more circular. the more circular the swing, the more precise you need to be when you hit the ball, because any arror in timing will mean that the ball goes off on the wrong tangent. when you are aiming for a point maybe 8 metres away, only a small error can result in the ball hitting the side wall and coming out in the middle

in an ideal world, the feet and shoulders will form a line parallel to the side wall and the hand will move reaasonably parallel to the side wall as well, whilst your body weight is transferred towards the front wall (in the direction of the hit).

whislt the racket head takes a more circuitous path, by the time it hits the ball it too should be travelling more or less in the direction of the hit (reasonably straight.) this means you have a far greater margin for error resulting in greater accuracy.

sure, there are times you will introduce some shoulder turn and movement of the torso, and there will always be an element of shoulder turn as you prepare on the backhand,  but it should not be an end in itself.

if you can, use the weight transfer to increase the power rather than shoulder turn.

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From rippa rit - 09 Dec 2008 - 09:35

aprice - that photo above shows the key points quite well.

This video of a backhand drive down the line from the front of the court shows the approach to the ball, and in the slow motion you can see the preparation (notice the shoulder position) and then the hip rotation as the backswing is taken further back to get more power into the shot/backswing.

Sure, if the ball had beaten the player going towards the back wall, it would be necessary to turn the body/shoulder around further to be able to get the ball down the wall, or boast depending on the feet positioning at the time of contact. 

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From aprice1985 - 09 Dec 2008 - 07:37

One of my coaches has been saying that you should have your lead shoulder facing the side wall, almost twisting the body round to face the backwall for straight drives on the backhand side, to enable the hips/core muscles to do more of the work and also apparently guide the ball straight better.  any thoughts?

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From rippa rit - 16 Jun 2007 - 16:35   -   Updated: 16 Jun 2007 - 16:37

Yes, that is what I mean the front wall target .
"If you are having trouble with direction and hitting the front wall target, think, "shoulder to the target"  the point on the wall which you are aiming for......."

It is the wall target that actually makes the ball go where you want it.  If you do not aim right the ball will not go right.  That actually applies for all shots, including lob and boast.

Yes, we do need to do some more work on the targets, and that is also on the list of things for squashgame to do..

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From fatness - 16 Jun 2007 - 11:30

Hello Rita,

What do you mean "shoulder to the target"? Is the target the ball or do you mean a point on the front wall?



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