Hit at 80% your Maximum Power during Matches

Hit at 80% your Maximum Power during Matches

Set aside at least 2 minutes every solo or group training session to hit the ball as hard as you can for as long as you can.

During the match, you will probably be hitting the ball at 80% you maximum most of the time. The rest will obviously be either faster (less often) or slower (more often).

What’s important is building up your power but a power that can be sustained for all of the match.

But power alone is useless without control and that’s why you should be hitting at 80% most of the time because that power level allows you to still control the ball.

With your practise sessions of hard hitting, over time you will be able to hit the ball harder WITH control.

That 80% might eventually be more powerful than your current 100%.

2 minutes might not sound long but I guarantee that you WILL be tired.

Over time increase that to 3 then 4 minutes etc.

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Take skipping to the next level.

Take skipping to the next level.

I hate to admit it, but I am a terrible skipper. I practice almost everyday but I never seem to get much better.

The actual activity is so good for squash players that it is worth doing. If you are like me and have two left feet, worry not, there are alternatives.

The first one is possibly the best and most realistic for squash players in terms of movement.

Standing with your feet slightly wider than shoulder width apart, start to jump but try to keep your knees straight. The objective is to use your calf muscles to do the work. I find that if I try to make as much noise as possible with your feet hitting the floor, it has the desired effect.

As you are jumping or tapping, move you feet wider apart. Going from the starting position to almost as wide as you can should take about 6 seconds. You are NOT trying to go from narrow to wide as quickly as possible. You are trying make as many taps as possible though.

Go narrow and wide a few times and take a break. If you have done it properly, you will really feel the burn in your calf muscles.

This is stage 1. Do this for as long as you can or want and as many times a week as you can or want.

When you feel comfortable doing this, it is time for stage 2.

The basic movement is the same but instead of remaining in one place and orientation, you are going to try to move is a circle with one foot remaining in the same same spot but still jumping. Go clockwise for one revolution and then counter-clockwise. Don’t forget, the foot that remains in the same spot is still jumping.

Now swap feet and keep the other foot in the same spot and go clockwise and counter-clockwise.

As with stage one do this as many times as you can or want in each training session and for as many training sessions as you want.

Stage 3 uses the same basic jumping motion but instead of going in a circle, you now must try to move forwards, backwards and sideways. Essentially, you jump up and down but move yourself to various parts of the court.

The great thing about the above exercises is that they can be done anywhere without worrying about timing of jumps and ropes etc.

One last thing, with a skipping rope the area you need is larger than without. You have to consider the height of the room and you can’t get too close to other people. With these exercises you can get over ten people on one court if you wanted to.

Be like a Wizard.

What Gandalf and Nicole David Have In Common And How You Can Learn From Them.

“A wizard is neither early nor late, he arrives exactly when he meant to”, so said Gandalf to one of the Hobbits in one of the Lord of the Rings books.

And that is how a great mover on a squash court is.

Getting to the ball too early is almost as bad as getting there too late – almost.

Have you ever seen those skinny, featherweight squash players who seem to be able to hit the ball so hard? Back in my day, there used to be quite a few players from Pakistan like that.

And then there are those other squash players build like a stevedore on steroids that can’t seem to put ony of the potential power into the ball?

Well, welcome to the world of physics! In particular, timing and momentum.

This means using your body weight in that process.

Ideally, you should be taking your last step just before you make contact with the ball. This means you transfer as much of your bodyweight INTO the shot as possible.

However, you need to be strong enough to control your momentum and not continue to move forward after hitting the ball. This takes leg and core body strength and must be practiced. ANY movement forward after you hit the ball is essentially wasted.

The reality on most squash courts around the world is much different. Players either get to the ball too early and have lost a significant amount of potential power or they get there a fraction of a second late and the momentum is not transfered to the ball.

This is one of the things that can be practiced when doing pairs routines. The smooth motion of movement towards where the ball will be when you want to hit it, the swing as you take the final lunge and return to the T.

Start to pay much more attention to your final step. Make it count.

Equipment Spotlight: Massage Sticks

I have previously written about foam rollers and how useful they can be, but today I want to talk about a piece of equipment that I think is even better.

The massage stick.

The massage stick is just over an arm’s length long and has two handles at the end. In between them are pieces of plastic that rotate independently of each other and the main rod connected to the handles.

It can be used alone on your legs but requires somebody else to use it on your arms, back and neck.

To use it, you hold the handles and press down quite firmly and “roll” it across your thighs, quads and calfs.

Because I control the pressure, I find it better than foam rollers. I can vary the angle easily and quickly change from left leg to right leg. In fact, I often use it when I am watching TV.

The sticks are about the same price and weight as foam rollers, so they can easily be carried in your squash bag.

For me, massaging my legs after a tough cycling session is way more important than my arms or back, but I recognize that having and using both is the best option.

One quick word of warning. Just like foam rollers come in different styles, so do massage sticks. I recommend the smooth ones not the rough ones – they can really hurt when you use them.

Hopefully, you are now curious enough to check websites and videos to learn more and I highly recommend you or your training group buys one.

Forget The Score

Forget The Score

One of the best times I have every played was when I completely forgot the score. In fact, I specifically remember winning a rally and picking the ball up to serve and watching my opponent walk off court.

I looked at the ref and heard him say “Game to Herga” (In those days you used the name of the club not the player).

Should we play differently because of the score?

In general, I don’t think so. If it is the right time to attack, then it is the right time, irrespective of whether you are 10 – 0 up or 0 – 10 down.

You could easily argue that you need to play defensively when you are close to losing a game, but perhaps that attitude got you down in the first place!

The actual score certainly makes a difference to motivation and drive but for most club players the score should be a secondary result.

Your first objective is to choose the right shot. Well, actually, it’s to watch the ball hit your strings, but you know what I mean.

Mental Imagery Exercise 4: Simple Drives

Mental Imagery Exercise 4: Simple Drives

This is the fourth in a series of mental imagery exercises.

Ideally, you would have completed all the previous exercises before attempting this one. Not because you need to know anything from the previous ones but because it is a gradual process.

Just the same as you wouldn’t start with trying to run a marathon your first day of training. You would increase the distance slowly. It’s the same here but with a focus on details rather than distance.

Allow me to review.

Firstly, let’s quickly define what Mental Imagery is.

Mental Imagery is the action of visualizing events in your mind. The benefits include greater confidence, ability to deal with adverse situations, better control of emotions and commitment to sticking to your gameplan.

A guided exercise is where somebody, perhaps your coach, sits down with you and talks you through the event and you, the player, imagines it happening.

This is a semi-guided exercise because you will read it first and then do it on your own.

For this exercise I want you to imagine everything from the first person – that is through your own eyes.

It may sound like the science-fiction idea of learning in your sleep but it really works.

The objective of this exercise is:
1. To begin to notice the exact movements and feelings of hitting a ball.

This article is part of a series that will ultimately allow you to visualize yourself playing a tough match.

You should do this exercise at least 5 times before moving onto the next in the series.

Let’s get started. Please read the whole exercise slowly and carefully and when you are ready start begin.

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This exercise actually requires you to do the real activity BEFORE you perform the mental imagery exercise. In the first three exercises we have just spent time in our club or centre surroundings. There has been some interaction with the environment but this exercise is a little different.

Firstly get on court alone. Make sure you have performed a short warm up. I want you to stand near either service box and hit about 10 drives along the wall. Don’t let the ball bounce off the back wall.

Now close your eyes and try to visualize exactly what happened in your mind. I don’t mean the ball has to bounce exactly where it did in real life, just the feeling of the swing and the sounds of the ball hitting your racket and the wall.

Repeat this process at least 5 times. Each time your mental process should be clearer and more detailed. The more you do this, the better.

Now more over to the other side of the court and do the same.

I fully understand this is a bit strange and you might get some funny looks, but be strong. This WILL make your mental imagery exercises better and therefore your improvement faster.

Is a Bad Gameplan Better Than No Gameplan?

Is a Bad Gameplan Better Than No Gameplan?

I believe so.

Knowing what you are going to hit a long time before you hit it, can keep your mind clear and that process of avoiding distraction can make that shot better.

Deciding what to hit moments before hitting a ball leaves you open to making crazy decisions.

Having a gameplan allows you to focus on that. It might not be the best gameplan against that particular player but that’s not the important part.

Having or developing self-control can be the difference between winning and losing.

Every now and again, pick a gameplan and use it in a match. Keep with it until the end of the match.

That last part is important. It builds mental strength.

I remember a student of mine playing a club match, she was the number 1 string and hers was the last match. She lost the first two games and we changed the gameplan to something that we thought would work.

She won the next two game, making it 2-2.

In the final break, she said she was going back to playing her way because she thought she could win. I tried to convince to stick to the gameplan.

She changed the gameplan and lost.

Maybe she would have lost even if she hadn’t changed the gameplan but I don’t believe so.

Once you have decided on a gameplan KEEP USING IT.

You might not win each match with a particular gameplan but by trying to plan each point as it happens will be worse.