Learn to take the good with the bad.

Everybody loses sometime.

Everybody has an off day.

Everybody gets injured at some point.

Everybody gets ill.

Learn to accept those days, events and situations with grace.

That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t keep trying to win all the time, play your best every match, avoid getting injured and trying to stay health.

It just means that we are human.

Learn and grow from each experience and you will be a better person and player because of them.

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Train With A Partner But Not All The Time

Train With A Partner But Not All The Time

For this article, I am writing about fitness work, not playing practice.

Training with a partner is one of the easiest ways to increase your fitness level.

It helps in 3 main ways:

Consistency – Not missing sessions because somebody is waiting for you.

Work Level – You always work harder when somebody is next to you doing the same thing, or shouting at you to do one more rep!

Quality – Having somebody watch what you are doing, even if they are doing it themselves means they can sometimes see any incorrect technique.

I advocate training partners but not all the time.

At least some of your training should be alone.

Squash is a solitary sport. We have our opponent to play against and that drives us to greater heights but when it comes down to it we are alone on court.

Alone, but with the training behind us.

However, if we only ever train with somebody, when we are about to give up during a match we become accustomed to expecting a “push from our partner” but it won’t come.

Yes, we might hear them from the balcony but like boxers we are alone in the ring/court.

Training alone is tough but it make us mentally stronger.

That slight reduction in work load compared to training with a partner is worth it in my eyes for the extra grit you develop.

You Have To Be Your Own Coach 90% Of The Time

I was recently asked to discuss making sure than when players are not with their coach, they do the right thing.

This goes back to my previous article entitled “Really Understand The Objective Of Any Routine You Do” but it also goes deeper and wider.

It’s your coach’s responsibility to ensure that you know what you should be working on and the elements to focus on.

However, ultimate responsibility of your improvement lies with you. You are the one who actually has to do the hard work and put in the hours of training – and yes, they will be hours.

Ideally, you should work WITH your coach in ensuring your training without him or her is beneficial.

If necessary, ask him or her for at least one, preferably two and at most three things that you should be paying attention to when you are playing, pairs/group practicing or doing solo routines.

Then make sure you report back. If he or she doesn’t ask, tell your coach what happened and discuss ways to improve your next sessions without him or her.

Consistency Rules!

Consistency Rules!

One of the differences between ordinary and good players is consistency.

It’s a boring sounding word with a big effect.

Let’s look at few different kinds of consistency.

Just a quick warning, this article is longer than usual.

FITNESS
You probably know that your body adapts to change. Start doing exercise and your body says “WOAH! What the heck is that? I better make changes so that I can do that faster/longer/more efficiently next time.” It’s how we get fitter.

I have always preferred my students to work at 80% their maximum (in a general sense, not heart rate or anything specific) over a longer period of weeks than for them to train at the classic but impossible 110% you hear so often on the TV.

Remember, I am not talking about professional players but competitive club players who have busy lives outside of their squash.

Too often players train too hard and then either get injured or have to rest. Yes, rest is incredibly important, but more on that another time.

Getting 4 sessions a week at 80% for 3 months is a really good start to a long-term training program. Training a couple of times a week too hard and then having to take a break because you got injured helps nobody.

A sensible amount, more often builds a foundation on which to train harder but doing high quality fitness work consistently is better than on and off super hard sessions.

COMPETITIVENESS
Winning a few matches you probably should have lost and then losing a few matches you probably should have won is quite common at club level. One of the criticisms leveled at squash is that there are not enough upsets in major tournaments. There are some but less that sports like tennis for example.

For me, that is a reflection of the sport itself and is a positive thing. Luck plays less of a role and the mental aspect is so important.

Playing to the same high standard each match is difficult and requires a mental fortitude that must be developed over time if it is not part of your natural make up.

Being so close to your opponent in a confined space adds to that feeling and physical contact is inevitable.

Learning to play well each and every week means you must control as much about your preparation as you can and links to the previous section on fitness.

ACCURACY
The last aspect I want to talk about is accuracy. Hitting the ball to the right place on the court at the right time CONSISTENTLY is what wins points, games and matches.

It’s very similar to the fitness aspect. Being able to hit the odd amazing shot with mediocre shots in between is far less effective than being able to hit good quality shots all through the match.

This way there is a constant build up of pressure during the match. Your opponent knows that they won’t get many easy points and they also know that as each point goes on you are less likely to make silly mistakes.

That’s why you see close matches until the fifth game when the pressure becomes too much.

To recap.

Doing things well for longer periods is better than a few highs and a few lows.

Strive for consistency in your training and it will translate into your match play.

Two Good Rackets Are Better Than One Great One

Two Good Rackets Are Better Than One Great One

We are all looking for that one quick thing that can suddenly improve our game and rackets are often believed to be that thing.

Sure, getting a shiny new racket can make you feel good, but do you honestly think a few grams less are going to turn you into a winner?

I hope not, because being a winner is all about attitude, not equipment.

If somebody has a 100 Pounds/Dollars/Euros to spend, I would often suggest buying two 50 Pound/Dollar/Euro rackets, both exactly the same.

I believe that having the right equipment is very important but having two rackets feels better prepared to me.

Having two rackets that are the same weight and balance and strung with the same string at the right tension for you is way more important that having just one expensive racket.

As with the shoes I wrote about previously, switching between both rackets occasionally will ensure you are prepared when a string breaks, and it will break, there’s no doubt about that.

Feel At Home

Feel At Home

If you play in club team matches or tournaments, try to visit any new locations before the actual match or if that is not possible, go as early as you can.

Visiting a new places sets up a particular frame of mind – a frame of mind where you know you are new and feel at a slight disadvantage.

By desensitizing yourself to the new surroundings you will be removing or reducing one potential worry from your list.

Knowing where the changing rooms, toilets, best places to warm up/cool down are will help you relax.

Learning to deal with new situations and places is all part of playing club team squash and those better able to feel at home will perform better.

One Month Off From Squash Each Year

One Month Off From Squash Each Year.

I recommend each and every player to stay away from a squash court for one complete month a year.

Ideally during the Summer but it has to fit your lifestyle and schedule.

I’m not saying do nothing, although that is not a bad thing, I’m just saying keep away from a squash court.

You need to recharge your batteries, both physical and mental, and staying away from the court will help do that.

You will feel a renewed enthusiasm for playing and training.