How the Pros Train

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Some of the most frequent questions people ask about life as a squash player (other than “How much money do you make?”) have to do with day-to-day training routines. After all, the main reason top pros are so good is the years of dedicated, methodical training they have done.  Most squash fans know that the average pro is doing two or three sessions a day five days a week, so without discussing the obvious I will try to give some insight into what myself and my training partners do in a given week.

Since the National Squash Academy opened last year, training for players based in Toronto has become centralized. Obviously this is a big step forward for Canadian squash. Any day of the week, you can find 6-10 of the best players in Canada and the odd international guest on court at the NSA. There are two sessions per day most days. One of them is either match play (three times a week) or drills involving lots of movement and options. The other one is usually a “closed” session, with the purpose of improving technique, accuracy and consistency. The more intense sessions are a great time to implement new skills being perfected in the closed sessions. Total time on court each day is usually around four hours, and there is always work to be done in the gym afterwards. Due to each player having different tournament schedules, it is rare to have everyone on the exact same program for a day. The core values of each session remain the same, and it is up to the players to tailor their training around tournaments as they see fit. This is a whole science of its own and often takes years to master.

Training full-time is a huge mental battle and there are ups and downs within each month, week and day. On the one hand, you have to put 100% effort mentally and physically into every session in order to see results. On the other, showing up to the courts every morning with weary legs and doing boast-drive for the thousandth time can leave anyone struggling for motivation. In my few months of being dedicate full-time I have started to understand two major points: 1) you absolutely cannot get caught-up in micro-frustrations. On a given day you might be a bit tired, a bit slow, or a bit inaccurate. This obviously happens to everyone, but letting bad days undermine your confidence and limit your enjoyment will only turn squash into a chore rather than a passion. 2) you can’t train with an insane intensity every day without burning out at some point. It can be tempting to exhaust yourself to satisfaction on a Monday or Tuesday, but the rest of the week will be compromised. Five days at 85% are better than one day all out. I’m always looking to derive new lessons from my training experiences. Hopefully they will pay off some day!

 

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3 Responses to How the Pros Train

  1. tokyosquash says:

    hi. tks for the post. i’d like to hear a little more about your routine in the gym. what is your typical workout? how do you vary your routine? other than squats and lunges, what weight training routines have you found most helpful? how much time to you devote to cardio?

    • Jeff says:

      Thanks for commenting on Mike’s first post! I will ask him to post a reply here for you. Thanks! Jeff

    • mike says:

      Lots of core exercises. Things like planks, rotational exercises and medicine ball tosses are great for balance and improve strength without aggravating your knees and back like some weight training can.
      Plyometric training like box jumps will improve explosiveness and the power of your first step off the T.
      For cardio, I’ve always found the bike to be the most practical. One minute sprints with 30 seconds rest, repeated for half a hour accurately simulate the fitness needed for squash.

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