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Balance & Weight Transfer


Peter Nicol of squashskills

When I’m thinking about my movement or trying to incorporate a new movement pattern or style into my play, I first always start with understanding my balance and transfer of weight.

The new movement may be the best possible way to get in and out of a shot but if you are slightly off balance or lack the proper transfer, the movement becomes difficult and could potentially be worse than your existing pattern of movement.

I always start with my position on the T, feeling the ground beneath my feet and gently swaying in different directions (without moving feet) to understand where my balance is. This also clears up which is the correct first leg to move off the T with as in different positions within your swaying, different first movements are called for.

Your first movement off the T will define which leg you are using as weight bearing moving into the shot and which leg you actually transfer into the shot and land with.

The transfer is so important not only for the quality of shot but also (and sometimes more importantly in my opinion) your recovery to the T and ability to get in the best possible position between shots.

I had to re-learn and force myself to start using the quickest method to the ball around my mid 20’s. No longer could I turn my hips, shoulders and use the “correct” front leg to land and hit the shot. Sometimes it was just too time consuming and I would be slower onto the ball, forcing a less attacking shot to be played.

To give you a specific example, moving laterally on my forehand to hit the ball on the volley, turning my hips and landing on my front leg was just not practical anymore. I am left-handed so below is based on my movement; if you are right handed, change the feet over.

My old pattern stepping off the T (one step) for a volley:

Judge the ball and split step
Weight transfer onto right leg with a slight left foot movement towards the ball
Begin to push off right leg and transfer most of weight onto my left leg
Start getting my right foot across to land for the ball strike
Turn shoulders so that I was in the classic position to hit my shot
Transfer in and hit the shot
Transfer out and pull my front foot back towards the T
I still don’t think there is anything wrong with this movement and I still use it but to only have this movement limits your options dramatically and slows your pace of play.

My new pattern would go something like this:

Judge the ball and make a split step
Weight transfer onto right leg with a slight left foot movement towards the ball
Keep weight on the right leg as I judge where to land for the ball strike
Turn shoulders and hips so that my upper body is still in a recognizable classic position
Transfer in and land on my left leg and hit the shot
Transfer out and pull my left leg back and shuffle to the T
So with all movements you plan to practice and implement into your game, I urge you to break them down and take a period of time to understand your balance and transfer of weight throughout the process.

Go slowly, walk to start with and get comfortable with the new technique. You can then speed up and really start to feel what it is like to move that way in a real game like scenario.

Eureka moments are when you are playing and without even thinking, you use the new movement pattern and it works perfectly for you.

That is a satisfying feeling. It has also always made me think, “Why didn’t I do this before!!!”

Peter Nicol

Derek Thorpe says "You are going to land on different feet. Practice playing the ball from either foot, as well as smooth movement from the Tee and back".