Women’s Squash Week is currently under way, where women around the world are being encouraged to jump on court and give squash a go!
The initiative is a worldwide celebration of women who play squash and aims to motivate women to get on court in order to reap both the fitness and social benefits of the sport.
If you want to have a go and improve your game, here’s some advice from England No.1 Laura Massaro, courtesy of SquashSkills.
Massaro also sat down with SquashXtra, the official publication of the PSA World Tour, earlier this year to discuss one of her favourite shots – the forehand boast.
With the 2013 World Championship and 2013 British Open amongst over a dozen senior PSA World Tour titles to her name – not to mention a plethora of junior national titles – Massaro is unquestionably one of the greatest players in English squash history.
Physically strong and a master of pressure play, Massaro’s success has been forged on the back of an unyielding mental strength that has made her a daunting challenge for many of her opponents.
But when it comes to match time Massaro’s mental tenacity is matched by her on-court repertoire and she has one weapon that she regularly deploys with devastating effect – the forehand boast. Whether digging herself out of trouble in a rally that has gone awry or utilising a killer boast to end a point after dragging the air from her opponents lungs, Massaro is one of the most proficient boast-players on tour.
We caught up with the Lancastrian to break down the keys to executing this often-overlooked yet incredibly effective shot.
WHY I LIKE IT
“The forehand boast is one of my favourite shots because it’s one that can really swing the momentum of a rally and one that can give you an edge when properly executed. It’s not a shot I ever really thought about but over the years it’s one that has won me a lot of important points and one that suits my style of play – it’s relatively risk-free but effective. With the women’s tin height being lowered it’s a shot that plays even more into my hands this year and at the social level it’s a shot that can generate lots of winners.”
KEY POINT 1
Early preparation of your body and your swing is essential to execute a good boast. You’re looking to get your body into a position where the ball can be just in front of your feet – because this gives you options, whether to play the boast or hit a straight drive instead – and leaves your opponent ‘blind’ to the shot.
Laura Massaro takes on Nicol David
KEY POINT 2
With your body positioned you’re looking to hit the ball just after the top of the bounce. That millisecond extra allows you to utilise an effective hold that causes a hesitation in your opponent. When you’re shaping for the shot you still have the option to hit a drive if your opponent tries to second guess you and comes forward from the ‘T’.
KEY POINT 3
You need to keep your racket head speed up and use the strength of wrist to generate the power you lose due to hitting the ball slightly lower in its natural arc. A boast that’s hit too ‘soft’ increases the risk of hitting the tin whereas a boast hit too ‘hard’ will still be in play – keeping your chances of winning the rally alive.
KEY POINT 4
Don’t think about the front wall! Trying to position the ball perfectly on the front wall will cause you more difficulty in the long term – it’s important to focus on a solid contact point on the side- wall. If you hit the correct spot on the side-wall a boast that isn’t an outright winner will still put you in a great position to hit an outright winner on the next shot.
KEY POINT 5
Don’t forget the importance of your follow through. You want to cover the movement of the ball and the court – getting yourself back to the ‘T’ in one fluid movement to set you up perfectly for the next shot.
'Laura Massaro: The Forehand Boast' as it appears in SquashXtra Issue 06
The new issue of SquashXtra is out now and you can find exclusive interviews with the likes of Ramy Ashour and Nouran Gohar, coaching tips from the legendary Jonah Barrington, comprehensive ball reviews, a glimpse at what goes on behind the scenes at SQUASHTV and much, much more.