Equipment Spotlight: Medicine Balls

Equipment Spotlight: Medicine Balls

If when you imagine medicine balls, you visualize dusty old boxing gyms, with faded posters on the wall and a few 100 watt bulbs spotting the place, then it’s time to bring you up to the present.

Forget those huge old leather medicine balls (although you can still get them), think small plastic versions.

I bought a 3kg one about 4 years ago and it was not much bigger than a melon.

Hard wearing and versatile, a modern medicine ball can be used for a variety of exercises, working not only for your core workouts but also your legs and shoulders.

The best place to look for exercises and routines is, of course, the Internet.

Start with a few simple exercises and increase the amount over time. I also recommend starting with a 2 or 3 kg ball until you feel much stronger. Unlike traditional weights, you will be throwing this around and 2 kg can have a lot of momentum.

All you need to do now is start singing the Rocky theme!

Go get’em Tiger!

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.

Equipment Spotlight: Balance Board

Equipment Spotlight: Balance Board

It’s just a piece of board with a point or semi-sphere underneath. It’s a pretty simple idea when you think about it but so useful.

Balance boards or wobble boards as they are also known come in a few varieties. My favourite is the circular board with a semi-sphere underneath.

Personally I recommend buying a better quality one than the very cheap models – they will last longer and you will be more likely to use it if you paid good money for it.

If you don’t want to buy one yourself, get one for your training group and share the cost.

Now, there are hundreds of videos online showing you how to use it, so I won’t repeat that here.

What I will suggest is that once you get fairly good at balancing, put a squash racket between your feet, flat on the board and then add a squash ball.

Now try and roll the ball around the frame – not too fast but make sure it touches the sides. A really old wooden racket is good for this as the head tends to be round.

Once you have mastered one direction, rotate it the other.