THE CROSS-COURT

 

The cross-court seems to be the easiest shot in squash. That is probably because many players at club level think of it as sending the ball from one side of the court to the other. Of-course this is not quite right. When a player cross-courts, he risks hitting the ball right onto his opponent’s racket. He must therefore hit the ball at a good width as to let the ball pass the T, out of his opponent’s reach. However, if he sends the ball too wide, it will end up landing onto the sidewall and bouncing short. Again, making life easy for his opponent who hardly has to give up the T.

 

 

 

The two images above demonstrate how easy it is to send the ball onto the opponent's racket when playing the cross-court. In the example on the left, the ball was sent too wide. Rebounding off the sidewall, the opponent has to take one step to reach the ball. Even worse, on the right the player has hit the ball through the middle of the court onto the opponent's racket.

 

 

Now it is clear how precise the cross-court shot has to be. Players who cross-court too much are probably avoiding the straight drive, which they fear to hit towards themselves. This easy-way-out approach will only land them into more trouble. Therefore, it is most important to have a good straight shot down the walls in order to make your cross-courts more effective. That is, your cross-court shot will be more effective when accurate, but most effective when your opponent is not waiting for it.

 

To start with, the position adopted does not disguise the shot, but that shall be addressed later. When learning technique to execute the cross-court, beginners, and coaches teaching beginners, are advised to adopt the position shown, (photo right) as opposed to that used for the straight drive. The player's feet and knees are no longer perpendicular to the side wall, but rather slightly turned towards the front wall (at an angle of around 20 to 25 degrees)

 

 

 

This video clip demonstrates the difference between the two positions. The first position would send the ball down the wall, while the second would take the ball to the opposite side of the court. The player is advised to impact the ball when it is in line with the front foot, (video) and use the same technique as for the drive. Everything is exactly the same except for the direction of the body and point of impact. The player must understand that no added movement of the shoulder, elbow, or wrist is required to send the ball to the other side of the court. video

 

Hence beginners must avoid these two most common errors when learning to play the cross-court. Often they believe that a major effort is required to pull the ball to the other side and may use the whole body as seen here, (photo below left) or hook the ball with the arm as demonstrated in this clip. (photo below right)

 

 

 

When the cross-court is played from the back of the court, the player should aim for the exact middle of the front wall at the height of the service line. He must not think about where he would like to see the ball bounce on the floor, but rather, concentrate on hitting the right spot on the front wall. He should then observe where the ball hits the front wall and where it bounces. If he is unable to hit hard enough and the ball bounces short, he should try aiming 50cm higher at a time until the bounce is right.

 

When playing the cross-court off the back wall, the player should delay his shot, allowing the ball to come out of the back corner and producing the correct position relative to the body. It is important to note that as the shot is delayed, the ball will also drop closer to the floor. Hence bending the knees well is most important. play video Another option would be to use the wrist even more, in order to hit the ball at a right angle. However, this should be done by more expert players.

 

Cross-courting from the frontcourt is a bit more complicated. There is no exact spot on the front wall. It all depends on where exactly the player is standing at the front, and the height of the ball off the floor during impact. Remember that a low ball that is hit upwards has a completely different trajectory compared to a high ball that is hit downwards. To solve this, it is best to hit parallel to the floor when the ball is knee high or slightly above.

 

 

 

 

If the ball is lower than the tin, it should be hit very slightly upwards in order to clear the line, but not struck too hard, as this shot may go all the way round and out of the back corner, leaving the player out of position. (photo right)

 

A very high bouncing ball will have to be hit slightly downwards. For this shot the player will have to experiment with different angles and speed of shot.

 

 

 

The important angle to learn, and fortunately remains almost the same, is that shown in the photo to the right. This photo demonstrates that as long as the player is in the front corner, even with slight changes in the point of impact, the same angle will produce great accuracy. The red lines trace the trajectory of various shots, which strike the front wall in different spots. The angle- marked by the blue arrow- is the one reference that all the shot have in common.

 

 

Sending the ball in this correct direction would guaranty a precise bounce at the backcourt. This video clip demonstrates how a player moves in to hit the cross-court from the front forehand side.

 

On the backhand side, it is very important to avoid this most common error shown in the photo (right). The player makes the error of finishing the shot with a wrong low follow-through. This means that the wrist was not used correctly. The resulting shot does not acquire sufficient width. Also, if the wrist is not used correctly, playing a cross-court off an opponent’s tight drop shot would be impossible.

In contrast, correct technique requires the racket head  ending up well above the hand. play video

 

 

 

Going back to talking about technique, it is important to recognize that advanced players must adopt more sophisticated methods. If an expert player uses the same technique as that indicated for a beginner, his opponent would find it very easy to read his game. A better player would have to develop the ability to use the wrist accurately in order to position himself for a drive down the wall, then play the cross court instead. This way the player on the receiving end would be kept guessing and not find life so simple. See the section on deception.

 

Not only does the cross court have to be accurate, but also played at the right time. If your opponent has pressured you into a certain position, and predicts your choice to cross-court, you are then in trouble. See the section on tactics explaining this point.

 

Advanced players must also note that the  cross-court target on The Shot Squash Court is quite long. That is not just to give the player a slight margin of error, but also rather to emphasise a point. A cross court shot which bounces at the front end of the target (right behind the service box) would be very difficult to volley), hence, thwart the efforts of an opponent who is very keen to attack. On the other hand, the cross-court shot, which lands at the back end of the target, bounces very deep and could be a winner. Return to tactics.   

 

 

 

The cross court played on the volley has the same advantages as the volley drive. Return to volley drive if you wish to recap. The technique used for the normal cross-court applies hear too. See the photo sequences and video clips in the volley section for both the beginner and advanced player.

 

Finally, a word to explain two other landing spots for the cross court. The first being in the corner of the service box indicated in the photo (right). This shot is safest when played from the frontcourt or played on the volley. Go to tactics and find out why. click here  The second is a cross-court, which lands very low on the sidewall, just behind the service box. I would leave this shot only to very advanced players.   play video  The shot must go round the opponent, but must not bounce out of the back corner. The later would occur if it were sent too high onto the sidewall. On the other hand, if it bounces too low, around the nick area, the opponent would take just one step to be promptly onto the ball.  play video