The One Thing

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I am sure you have heard it all before so I will not harp on the fact that in order to improve you need to dedicate some time to training. We, as recreational and amateur players, don’t have the same kind of time to devote to training as the pro’s but there are a few things we can add to our routine that will help advance our games.

Lessons, solo court hitting, ghosting, drills, personal training, yoga, and more match play are all things you can do to elevate your game. If you have time to add all of these in to your weekly routine then you have the gift of time and you will see grand improvements – go for it! If you have limited time and are looking for that one thing to the help take your game to the next level – this is my answer. GET FITTER.

"Superman" Paul CollYes, fitness is the key factor! So many of us play squash to get fit and it is a game that brings great success in that department. This is how many of us started the sport – a fun way to get fit. But now that you are playing at a certain level and are looking for that extra edge, it is now time to “get fit to play squash” instead of playing squash to get fit.

I can’t tell you how many times I have heard players come off court after a loss with the “I ran out of steam” statement. Squash is an extremely physically demanding sport and all players reach a point of fatigue in a match. The person who lasts longer or recovers quicker has the advantage. When fatigue sets in, that is where one’s game falls apart. We get sloppy, slow down and start making rash decisions and mistakes. The goal is to physically outlast our opponent so they are the first to breakdown with fatigue. We can then benefit from their sloppy play and mistakes for the win.

So how do you get fit for squash? Interval workouts are the most helpful for game play. You can do interval workouts on a treadmill, go to HIIT classes (High Intensity Interval Training) /or any class that includes Tabata training. Interval training is set up very much like a squash match. It is all about pushing to your maximum for a short period of time (20 seconds – similar to a rally) with a short recovery period (10 seconds – similar to the service/between rallies) and right back into max effort for a short stint (next rally).

I often get asked, “What do you do to train”. I struggle with the general “workout” as I seem to need a bit of a competitive environment for me to get motivated. I have found that spin classes are perfect in that respect and are exceptionally good at training the body for squash (without the impact). It also strengthens the legs, increases your cardio vascular endurance and with a Tabata structure within the class it trains the body for quick recovery after maximum output. I try to get to spin class 3 times a week, each of which is an hour in duration. These three extra hours a week has provided me with fitness confidence. I know that my fitness will not let me down, and in most situations I have no doubt that I will be able to “out-fit” my opponent.

So if you are looking to add that one thing to your weekly routine that will help take your game to the next level – focus on fitness. If you can get in 2-3 hours of interval training in a week, you will start to notice a difference out there on court. Even if you can dedicate 1 hour a week, your game will benefit from it!

Good luck

Play Squash – Get Fit!
Get Fit – Play Squash!

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