Eliminate the overswing and success will follow, says Jonathan Kemp
By JONATHAN KEMP – SQUASH MAD COLUMNIST
THE backhand drop should be one of the most effective shots in your arsenal. Executed confidently and several points can be won without dispelling too much energy.
Unfortunately, many amateur players seem afraid of the perceived ‘risks’ attached to the shot. As a result, their swing suffers and unforced errors quickly build up. The root cause of the problem is often directly linked to their bodies moving at the point of impact.
That is why I always advise a lot of my pupils to reduce their swing length and to try and create a stable base at the point of contact.
People often forget that you don’t need to do anything amazing with the shot to win a point; especially at amateur level.
As long as the shot is executed well, the likelihood is that the return will be weak, if it comes back at all. At the start though, just try and focus where you are aiming the ball and keeping the racket face slightly open.
Don’t be afraid to play around with different styles until you feel comfortable; after which you could even start experimenting with a closed racket face which is far more difficult to master but can give you a little extra reach at full stretch.
There is no ‘set way’ to practice the drop, however repetition is key. Solo practice or coaching sessions are ideal as they will allow you to hit many more drops than during a match. Routines such as ‘drive-boast-drop’ or ‘drive-drive-drop’ are also good ways to practice under more pressure.
THREE TIPS TO REMEMBER:
1. Keep them guessing: Deception is key to any shot. Your racket head should be positioned above the height of the ball enabling you to use more cut and also allowing for more racket head speed should you change your mind and decide to hit to length.
2. Timing is everything: You should be looking to hit the ball at exactly the same point as the front foot hitting the ground (James Willstrop is a great example, see left). It is a fine balance to achieve success but with practice, mishits will be a thing of the past.
3. Maintain momentum: It’s important that the racket head follows the target line for added control and momentum.The swing should finish almost immediately after the point of contact with the arm fully extended.
Good luck and let me know how you get on!
Pictures by Michael Catling