US SQUASH has nice “Doubles 101” poster (pdf) that explains the basics about playing doubles squash. If you want to learn even more about the game, check out this presentation that was made to the World Squash Federation.
According to Smith College coach Tim Bacon, the key tactics include “hit into the open space, attack the weaker player, communication, base your tactics on individual player strengths.” Read more from Tim how you can work on your doubles tactics without a doubles court.
This is from Peter Briggs as seen on “The Squashist” blog.
1. The most important and critical decision in playing winning doubles is to pick a good partner and to practice with him or her regularly so you know what they do under pressure and what shots they like to hit, so you can position yourself accordingly for the opponents’ counter-shot.
2. There are four corners in the court and only two people on a team. The simple goal is to split the team on the diagonal and hit to one of the open quadrants.
3. Always hit deep before you shoot short.
4a. Attack cross court to open up the court.
4b. Move laterally on the red line, not in a box step, when rotating with your opponent so you don’t get blocked out.
5. Center your attack on the weaker player on the team and be relentless.
6. There are three attack and strike zones that correlate with the three red lines on the front wall. Front-court attack zone, focusing on the lower red line just above the tin. All of these shots should be executed with an elliptical spin to lay the ball down (i.e., hit the inside or outside of the ball to make it spin elliptically). a) Straight drops b) Reverses c) Roll corners d) Three-wall nick Mid-court neutral zone, aimed at the middle red line on the front wall and hit from the middle red line on the floor. a) Hard rail b) Hard cross-court c) Three-wall nick Back-court defensive zone, aimed at the upper red line on the front wall. a) High rail b) Cross-court lob c) Skid boast
7. The number-one attacking shot is the reverse corner because the opposition usually has to play the ball back cross-court to your partner and they should be ready to attack on the volley. They can’t go down the line because they risk a stroke call.
8. Volley every ball you can touch!! This is the Golden Rule of Winning Doubles. If the opposition’s strategy is to push you to the back wall, don’t go willingly. Volley! Visualize the ball walking at you and cut the legs off the ball with an open racket face, thereby assuring a margin for error on the tin.
9. When you pass the opposition on a cross-court don’t try to hit the ball through the opposition. Instead, hit the ball high, hard and wide on the side wall and make one of the opponents go to the door; then either play a backhand or forehand from the back-court. Look at your cross-court opponent as having four targets. Vary your shot selection and don’t hit the same shot or angle all the time. Remember that the attacking angle on an opponent will change according to how deep or shallow in the court your opponent stands. Aim your cross-court drives at your opponent’s right or left shoulder or break the ball off the side wall at their right or left knee.
10. When defending, cover the shot that beats you, not just the shot that continues play.
11. Attack down the middle sometimes!!
12. Vary height and direction.
13. When defending a ball hit hard at you just block the ball with a fore-swing, do not take a back swing or full swing. If you do you will hit the ball out of the court or miss altogether.
14. Drop your back foot when digging balls out of the back corner.
Serve and Return
1. There are four different attacking serves. Practice all four serves before the match to get a feel for the temperature of the court and how high on the front wall you must hit the ball:
a) Lob to corner b) Crisscross serve for a sharp angle c) Chip serve to the side wall looking for a nick d) Hard serve straight to the back-wall nick.
2. To return serve, stand one step’s reach to the side wall.
3. Volley all service returns.
4. Rotate the back shoulder to opposite diagonal on cross-court returns of serve to assure good width.
5. Any returns of serve hit down the wall should be hit really low or really high so the opponent cannot block you out and attack the front corners.
6. Always have the racket up and stand with your weight on your toes and with knees flexed. That way, gravity helps you go to the front wall with a quick first step.
Preparation, Warm-up and Communication
1. Beforehand, do active stretching, speed volleys, and practice serves.
2. Talk with your partner. Decide what each of you will hit when covering for each other—usually a high lob down the rail.
3. Always have a plan.
4. Move on the court in sympathy with your partner. Always follow your opponent to the front wall and stay positioned on their outside hip because there you can cover more of their shot choices.
5. Always roll corner when the opposition hits a three-wall.
6. When deciding to hit a short shot to the front or a reverse take the pressure off your stroke production and just aim for the corner or intersection; then, either shot will be effective if the opponent is vulnerable — front-side or side-front.
7. Motivate yourself by the thrill of winning rather than the fear of losing. Create your fate by your own hand. Take risk when there is a reward!
8. Visualize yourself volleying and attacking.
9. Play at least five length balls before going short.
10. Breathe on all your short finesse shots and exhale as you stroke; it will relax your forearms.
11. Good squash shot-making is enabled by the threat of the shot you didn’t hit.
If you want to see how the game is played at a high level, Gary Waite and Jonathon Power take on Willie Hosey and Shahier Razik in this Squash Canada Showcase match for the World Squash Federation. If you want to see the entire match, visit this page.