Many people underestimate the importance of the serve, when in fact, it sets up the WHOLE rally! Essentially a good serve can put you in an attacking position from the outset...Have you ever felt pressure at the very start of a rally and wondered why? Chances are your opponent has an excellent serve and you felt limited with what you could do with the ball.
Here is a simple checklist to go through next time you serve:
- Check where your opponent is standing and how they are standing (overall body language)
- Decide where you want to serve to and how to obtain that goal (height on the front wall, angle towards the side wall)
- Follow up your serve: most people forget to still move rapidly across to the T to follow up their good serve. Take advantage of the opportunity to stay as the attacker in the rally!
Generally, a good target for any serve would be to hit the sidewall, if nothing else. That way, your opponent is forced to either take the ball early, which requires moving quickly and early preparation, or to let the ball hit the side wall and/or bounce, which buys you time and puts them in a defensive position. This is a common target where most serves are hit and this simple thought alone could change your serve and how you begin any squash rally.
There are simple ways to practice your serve, besides just standing in the box, serving, and retrieving (or having someone else return). Maybe try adding a serve to the start of a drill like rotating drives to add a layer of practice to your session for the day.
Need some more focused practice? Grab a bucket of balls and serve until the bucket is empty. Play around with the heights on the front wall, the angles, your feet position, and your body position to understand what needs to come together to make your serve GREAT!
To get a more in depth understanding and more intensive practice, sign up for the 2-hour Serve and Return of Serve 101 Clinic.