THE SIDE-WALL BOAST

 

Some beginners will find this shot quite natural, but will have the tendency to hit the ball at a sharp angle against the side wall, sending it into the front opposite corner, too close to the side wall. Such a trajectory would cause the ball to bounce towards the T. On the other hand, others may have a fairly good technique when hitting down the wall, but find themselves positioning their bodies awkwardly and doing strange things with the arm when it comes to playing the boast.

 

This section will guide beginners to learn the shot and help better players improve even more. The tips included will also help coaches resolve any difficulties that they may have encountered in the past.

 

Before proceeding, please remember this rule. “Never boast when you have to boast”. In other words, the sidewall boast is not for digging shots out of the back corners, but rather, to make your opponent work. It is true that some exceptionally tight shots could only be recovered with the help of the sidewall. However, if you find yourself doing it too often, you should be working a lot on your technique, position, and use of the wrist in the back corners. Click here to find the relevant section.

 

There are two types of sidewall boast. The first, and more important, is that which lands around the middle of the front wall, just centimetres above the tin, making its second bounce in the nick. The other type goes into the opposite corner, as low as possible over the tin, and lands into the nick on the first bounce. This diagram, illustrating the lines traced by the ball, has been borrowed from the Shot Squash 2000 training program. For more details on this system and the targets used, go to www.shotsquash.com  

 

 

 

Beginners find the latter easier to execute, even though the ball doesn’t necessarily land in the nick. However, at their level, their shot ending up in the corner is usually difficult enough to put the other player under pressure. There are three reasons I would advise beginners not to insist on this shot. The first being that, taking this shortcut and getting used to this angle on the sidewall, makes it very difficult to learn and perfect the other boast. Secondly, to play this shot, the striker must turn slightly towards the back corner, rendering the shot predictable for the retriever.

 

 

 

The position adopted to send the ball into the nick offers clear signals to the opponent.

 

 

The above position for the boast is the same when driving straight down the wall.

 

The video clip, which can be viewed here, demonstrates the different body positions just mentioned. Note that in the first part of the clip, the shot executed was that making the second bounce in the nick. You will have noticed that the player's position relative to the ball is identical to that when driving down the wall. On the contrary, the second shot was sent into the nick. The different body to ball relationship signals the player’s intentions to the opponent. (The player is slightly turned towards the back corner and swings at the ball when it lies between him and the back corner, rather than between him and the sidewall.) Now view this clip for the backhand. Can you identify which of the two shots was going towards the nick?

 

 

Finally, as mentioned before, if this shot does not land in the nick, life is made very easy for the other player (unless he is a beginner), leaving the striker exposed to being attacked.

 

Therefore, let us begin with fundamentals, and the more important. This type of boast is more difficult for the opponent to read. The striker assumes a position very similar to that adopted for the drive. The ball making the second bounce in the nick, is always moving away from the retriever. When played accurately and at the right moment, at best, could be even a winning shot. If not, the opponent is forced to stretch for the ball and finds his racket very low close to the sidewall. He has been made to work, and from this position, would do best to defend rather than attack.

 

The boast, could therefore, be primarily used to keep the opponent “honest” and return to the T, instead of hanging back or standing off centre during long, back court rallies. Clicking on the links takes you to the relevant areas in the section on tactics.

 

The photo sequences take us through the shot.

 

THE FOREHAND BOAST

 

Played off the back wall       obw

 

Click here to see how the shot is played. It is fundamental to bend the knees well, in order to attain good balance. Bending the knees also allows the player to wait until the ball comes out of the back corner and reach the desired height, for a perfect point of impact. If the player hits the ball at knee height and sends it parallel to the floor, he should achieve a shot that goes just above the tin. When practising the boast, make sure you make a smooth, quick exit from the back corner only after the ball has been struck. Do not move out too early and ruin your shot, or hang back and remain vulnerable to a counter-drop.

 

The sidewall boast off the back wall is most accurate when struck at knee height and sent parallel to the floor. This is indicated by the red line in the photo.  Imagination is important when playing this shot. The ball should not be struck hard against the sidewall but rather made to deflect off it. If the ball does not reach the front wall when hit softly, indications are that the angle of deflection should be made greater by sending the ball against the sidewall further up the court.

 

 

 

 

Played before the back wall     bbw

 

This is a much more difficult shot to play, for a number reasons. View the video clip of the shot first. The first part of the clip demonstrates how the shot should be initially practised from a still position.

 

 

 

The basic position used to practise the boast is fairly static to familiarise the player with the timing and angle of the ball's trajectory. 

 

 

The ball is struck at knee height and parallel to the floor.

 

When played within a rally, the timing of this shot is a little more difficult than when played off the back wall. Often this shot is played when the ball is still high and the player has little time to attain good balance.

 

The second part of the video clip above, demonstrates how the player moves from the T to play the shot. The precious knee height rule often cannot be applied. Do not be tempted to send the ball downwards though. This common error will send the ball into the tin. Again, the ball should be hit parallel to the ground but softly. The impact on the sidewall will take away the balls speed and send it lower, just above the tin.

 

 

 

The shot played in a dynamic situation is not easy. The racket must be firm and the upper body must be slightly inclined towards the ball.

 

 

The player must quickly find his balance. At this point there is no time to fine-tune his position. Correct body posture must be attained before moving onto the ball.

 

Note how he turns his shoulder well as he executes the follow-through. This is most important, as not to snatch at the ball, and guarantees good weight transfer to move smoothly back to the T. When practising this shot, work on your balance before swinging at the ball. Remember, you must be able to hold your position almost effortlessly.

 

 

 

The ball should not be struck downwards.

 

 

Quick exit is necessary

 

 

The Forehand Boast Played off the Other Foot

 

Quick entry and exit, plus good balance are very important when playing the boast before the back wall. The video clip viewed here, provides a good illustration. This shot is best executed when the player can move onto the ball, passing in front of a opponent who is making a slow exit from the back corner. Or, when played quickly, catching the adversary off guard. The use of the other foot facilitates all the above requirements.

 

 

 

Quick footwork moves the player promptly.

 

 

Instant positioning gives him an advantage over his rival.

 

 

 

He finds his balance

 

 

  …. And strikes the ball

 

 

 

A complete follow-through facilitated by the use of the right foot

 

 

   …… assures an easy exit

 

 

The Forehand Boast Played into the Nick       bpn

 

As mentioned before, this shot should be played at a sharper angle against the sidewall. This position dictates the shot, so the player must be ready to make an even quicker exit from the back corner and be on the T, well before the opponent is on the ball. The boast into the nick should be played with more slice and must be practised to perfection before using it in a match situation.

 

Often, when I have found myself in a defensive situation and forced to boast, the shot in the nick has earned me the rally. It is strange, but when a player is focused on the only choice he/she has, the resulting shot is often perfect.