GET TO GRIPS

 

At first, most beginners will not even consider how better players hold their racket. Their hand goes onto the grip in what seems and feels most comfortable and natural. They will often fail to consider their future playing needs, which arise as they improve. So, if you are a beginner, use the advice and information in this section, even if it is hard work to start with, and makes life difficult on court. I say this because the technique adopted in squash is quit particular and is incompatible with a wrong grip. Hitting your first shots with a technically correct grip may not feel good at first, but the rewards soon pay off.

 

 

HOW SHOULD I HOLD MY RACKET?

 

As illustrated, hold your racket with the other hand, almost horizontally in front of you. Now turn it very slightly as to have the racket face tilted (photo below left). Bring in the hand as if to shake hands with a person and then wrap your fingers around the grip with the index finger slightly spread in front(photo below right). Donít tighten the fist and keep your hand loose and sensitive.

 

 

The racket face should be tilted very slightly upwards in the direction shown here.

 

The V shape produced by the index finger and thumb, rests on the top left border of the racket handle.

 

 

There is also what I call the X / O points of contact, to teach my students the correct grip. Point X on the playerís hand must rest on top of point O indicated in the photo above. An important consideration in order to guaranty the right position.

 

 

 

 

The correct position of the wrist should allow the racket head to remain slightly higher than the hand.

 

The wrist position in this photo is incorrect, but, from this angle, a rear view of a correct hand position can be seen.

 

The index finger has a vital role in keeping the racket head under control without using much force. Try this little experiment to explain the idea better. While holding the racket correctly, use the other hand to force the racket head up and down. Now change to adopt a hammer like grip, and try again. You will notice that with the wrong grip, there is a lot of play between hand and racket, while with the correct grip, the racketís movement is very much contained and the tip of the racket is under control. This is of vital importance in order to time racket movement during the execution of shots, and developing excellent ball control.

 

It is generally considered incorrectto change grip from forehand to backhand as in tennis, but in squash the grip must not be totally rigid and fixed. The racket grip is held more by the fingers rather than deeply placed in the palm. This method permits the player to slightly change the angle of the racket face in order to slice the ball well on both forehand and backhand. This is of special importance insituations where the ball goes slightly past the player.

 

Without adopting this versatile grip, these situations would put added pressure on a player and force a loose shot or an error.

 

You may notice that some players hold the racket higher up (short grip), or very low at the bottom (long grip). The short grip provides a little more control while the long grip gives some added power. My advice is to analyse where you are lacking most and adopt the necessary position without exaggerating. For an even better solution - time permitting - work on technique and power to correct the weakness and adopt a standard grip or intermediate position.

 

 

GRIP COMFORT AND THICKNESS

 

One would take it for granted that the racket handle and special material used on it, provides a lot of grip. Unfortunately that is not always the case. How often has sweat hindered our efforts to play at our best? Too often, right?

 

 

Just to emphasise the point, I personally have found my footwork and co-ordination ruined by a slippery grip. Sounds absurd, but when you consider that a large part of our speed and agility derives from believing to have everything under control, including the racket (an extremely important object to have ready well before striking the ball), then this argument begins to sound more logical. If you are still not convinced, try putting some really slippery stuff on an old grip and try hard to win a serious match. You will find that the anxiety and discomfort of not hitting the ball well will probably make you tense and angry (unless you are Bjorn Borg). This in turn will make you slow. The lack of control during racket preparation will make you take-off late and incorrectly, and will consequently disturb your co-ordinated movements, all of which would lead to more frustration and greater effort to move.

 

Grip comfort is also important to consider. When holding a racket, feedback is transmitted to the player through specific points of contact between the hand and grip. A comfortable, consistent grip (not varying in quality or thickness), allows a sensitive player greater control. These pressure points of contact on the playerís hand permit him/her to feel the exact position and speed of the racket, as well as the quality of impact with the ball. A grip, which is uncomfortable or of irregular quality or thickness would hinder a player. He/she could find it very hard to find the desired control and power. A player should therefore, never neglect this important end of the racket if he/she wants to consistently play at his/her best.†††

 

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