Squash deception is all about applying additional pressure on your opponent by hopefully sending them in the opposite direction to where you are playing the ball or by wrong footing them by keeping your opponent guessing as to where you are going to play the ball right up until the last second.
To deceive your opponent in this way you have to set yourself up so that you look like you are playing one shot but then you actually play a different shot entirely.
Use Your Wrist
Squash deception is an advanced skill as it often requires your body to be in a position not suited for the shot you are about to play. The use of the wrist often has to come into action so as to pull the shot off – this can result in a potentially weak or poor shot.
(Photo Credit: Jo Christian Oterhals)
Don’t Over Use It
The trick with deception is not to over use it. If you are known to play the same shot over and over again your opponents will become aware of it.
Below is a video of Brett Martin in action. Brett was known as a master of deception…
Cross Court or Straight Drive?
A great deception shot is to move your body so that it is facing the front wall making it look like you’re about to play a cross court and then use your wrist to pull out a straight drive. Clever players also use their head to look in the direction of the cross court. This makes the shot a tad more difficult but adds that extra layer of deception if you can pull it off.
Boast or Straight Drive?
From the back of the court you can try and deceive your opponent by facing your body towards the back wall to make it look like you are going to play a boast off of the side wall and then again using your wrist pull out a straight drive.
Closely related to squash deception is squash disguise which is all about setting yourself up so that it looks to your opponent that you are going to play a particular shot when in fact you actually play another.
For me one of the first disguise shots that I learnt was a short back swing to look like you are about to play a drop shot and then at the last minute flick the wrist upwards to lob the ball over your opponent to the back of the court. Try and hold off playing this shot long enough until you sense your opponent moving forward.
A slight variation on the above shot is to again show a drop shot and use a flick of your wrist to play a cross court drive.
Disguise is used often by top level players – you will often see them preparing early and then holding the shot as long as they as they can before striking the ball at the last possible moment. Holding off from playing your shot as long as possible can result in your opponent committing to move in a particular direction too early. Holding the shot is all about good racket preparation – so when practicing make sure that you have your racket up and ready.
One great tip I was told to make all your disguise and deception shots stronger is to only look at the ball for the moment before and at the time you strike the ball. After you have struck the ball have the confidence to know the ball is going where you wanted it to go. Don’t give your opponent any more clues by watching the ball immediately after it leaves your racket.
Also use squash deception sparingly – if you continue to use the same shot over and over again then your opponent will become wise and be more prepared.