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Hitting with an open face

Published: 25 Nov 2008 - 11:05 by mlongobard

Updated: 26 Nov 2008 - 07:44

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I've read countless times here about the importance of hitting the ball with an "open face," but I've never fully grasped the concept. If you have an open face at the point of contact, it seems there are two possible results:

-- you follow straight through and send the ball on an upward trajectory.

-- you hit the ball with cut (aka slice).

Am I missing something? Is saying "hit with an open face" tantamount to saying "hit with cut"?

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From rippa rit - 26 Nov 2008 - 07:37   -   Updated: 26 Nov 2008 - 07:44

Under the Relevant Content (on the lefthand column when logged in), there are some good discussions and articles, namely this one, an Open Face is a Winner.

Our backswing always has an open face, no matter what, so each shot preparation looks the same. The grip is the most important thing in handling the open face effectively.  If the backswing starts out as flat, and then a swing is taken at the ball the racket cannot help but become closed.  If the backswing starts out as flat, and the ball is pushed (frying pan style hit), the ball will go into the tin or low on the front wall and probably lack power. If the racket face is flat or closed on contact with the ball the majority of low shots, as the opponent moves you from front to back of the court, will hit the tin or land too short in the court.  The racket face must get under the ball to gain height and length.

In summary,

  • the lob - needs bent knees, low base of support for balance, and open racket, and lift on the ball to place it high on the front wall (usually the ball is low making the lob, boast, or drop the ideal shot).
  • the boast - needs bent knees, and a long low stride helps, an open racket face resembling a knife blade, to get under the ball and lift it high enough so to get the carry onto the front wall.
  • the drop - needs bent knees and a long stride helps,has an open racket as the ball is usually below the tin height, and it is a good idea to impart some undercut to get the ball to sit down when it hits the floor.
  • the drive - has an open face in the backswing, and requires the pronation/supination of the forearm as shown in those videos from u-tube. 

Check out the Squash Library for a more technical description of the strokes.  Check out Tactics for a description on the use of the strokes.

If this is double-dutch to you, come back to it as you gain more experience, and it should gradually make more sense to you. 

Good luck with your training.

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From mlongobard - 26 Nov 2008 - 04:33   -   Updated: 26 Nov 2008 - 04:34

Thanks for the feedback. Mike, you're comments about pushing the ball are particularly interesting -- I feel like I know what you're talking about, even though it's not something I've been making a conscious effort to do.

The discussion made me think of a couple of Shabana videos I've seen where I recall him really digging under the ball with each stroke. Are these good examples of "open face" technique? Seems very pronounced on his forehand.


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From daveamour - 25 Nov 2008 - 17:47

You can play both shots and should play both if you appreciate the difference.

A closed face will give more power and the ball will return off the wall in a fairly straight line.  With an open face you can still get lots of power but the ball generally will return off the wall in a more upward arch and will die better at the back.  Its quite difficult to explain the differences but much easier to see them for yourself.  Practice on your own for hitting the ball up and down and try both shots.  To get a really exagerated open face try swinging with the raquet face actually horizontal - your natural arm movement will turn the face as you play your shot.  So you can go from this extreme to a toally closed face.  You should appreciate the differences, through practice, and know when you play one over the other.  For a kill for example I would favour a closed face as you get more power and the ball doesn'r arc upwards off the wall.

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From rippa rit - 25 Nov 2008 - 12:47

The Relevant Content tag is on the lefthand column for your reference to previous articles on this topic.

The Squash Library/Strokes Movement is a good reference point also.

It is worth spending time on understanding the basic swing as that is the basics.

Good luck.

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From mike - 25 Nov 2008 - 11:45

I think what happens is that with an open face the ball spends more time in contact with the strings, and so the direction of the swing as a whole determines where the ball goes. The swing pushes the ball to the target.

With a closed face the ball bounces off more quickly and so the direction of the racquet face will determine where the shot goes. This makes it harder to control, because getting your racquet face to point exactly the right way exactly at the point of impact is difficult (higher error rate).

Not to mention that it's more awkward to get a closed face to point above the tin when returning a low shot without stressing your wrist.

There is a certain amount of cut, but usually not highly visible spin. It's not the same has having a short, downward chop that you might use when trying to impart a lot of cut.

It seems illogical, but when you practice think of the whole swing as pushing the ball to your front wall target with ample follow through.

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