If you haven’t already heard from your coach, other players or elsewhere, it’s crucial to always keep your eyes on the ball while on the squash court…
…that is, if you want to play your shots with
accuracy and effectiveness.
The most important time when your eyes should be locked on the ball is as it’s hitting your strings in the motion of playing a shot.
Ironically, this is the most common moment when players take their eyes off the ball, as they lift their gaze to where they want the ball to end up on the front wall.
So what can you do about this?
How can you make sure you watch the ball all the way onto your racquet?
How can you take it from being conscious to unconscious?
The Standard Lines
There are a few basic points that are commonly repeated:
- Get your body into position to play the shot as early as possible
- Keep your head still while playing the shot
- Repeat to yourself, “Watch the ball…”
However, to bind these together and give them much more impact you can use a perceptual trick.
Let me explain by telling you about the local club champion in my town around the time I had my first handful of hits of squash, at the age of 7.
Introducing “The Doctor”…
Dr. Ken Mackay was his name but everyone simply called him ‘The Doctor’. He was by far and away the best player around, even though relative to state or national level, the area didn’t have a strong squash scene.
The thing was The Doctor never seemed to miss a shot, that is, unforced errors were rare for him.
My father who was the next strongest player in the competition, asked him once about this. His reply changed my Dad’s perspective of what it means to ‘watch the ball’.
The Doctor’s reply was this: “Watch the yellow dot on the ball.”
Obviously, a squash ball spins as you hit it. Add to that, the dot is very small and only on one little spot, on one side. You can already guess that it’d be quite difficult to ‘watch the yellow dot on the ball’…
…at least it would require or encourage intense concentration.
The Secret To Watching The Ball
What The Doctor meant and what he explained was just try to see the dot on the ball.
With a bit of practice, my father discovered that more often than he had first thought, he could catch glimpses of that little yellow dot!
The by-product of just introducing this new intention was that Dad had begun to watch the whole squash ball (which now seemed much bigger and easier to see) all the way onto the racquet as he played a shot – every shot, in fact – with much more focus & concentration.
Watching the ball was now on auto-pilot!
Unforced errors were massively reduced and his game improved dramatically.
If you let this idea of watching the yellow dot on the ball – this simple intention – creep into your game on the squash court, the other squash basics of getting into position as early as possible and keeping your head still while playing the shot will fall into place.
Instead of repeating to yourself, “Watch the ball, watch the ball, watch the ball…” give the following a go:
“See the yellow dot – see the yellow dot – see the yellow dot!”
Your basic shots will become better directed and your movement will improve so then when you implement a squash fitness training program, it will have much more impact in your match-play.
Have fun & play your own game!
Mick enjoys showing squash players simple, effective exercises to feel stronger, faster and more durable on court to help them play better & win more matches.
He was ranked #2 in Australian juniors and has spent over 20 years training in various martial arts so his background provides a fresh, unique perspective.
You can find his core programs at…