Monday, November 21, 2011

Paying Coaches for Olympic Medals

Not that it effects squash coaches (at least not yet!), but this is interesting..not sure what I make of it. $10,000 for the coach of a gold medalist..what about the hockey teams, does that coach get the bonus for each player? And there is rarely (if ever) a single coach that helps an athlete win an olympic medal.
here's the link

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Controlling the 'T'

In my opinion this is the most important part of controlling and winning squash..It sounds so easy..stay near and control the 'T'. If you can do this you will likely be successful.

How do top players make it look so easy? But when they play someone just a little better everything changes..clearly the pace of play, quality of shots (especially length), volleying ability, anticipation and you need to be pretty fit to maintain it for a full match. There is a lot that goes into controlling the middle part of the court.

It can be difficult to get an opponent who volleys well off the 'T' and difficult to stay near it against someone who hits the ball hard or has tight length. But the real question we all want to know is how can we improve our ability to control the 'T'? It can help a lot by just watching yourself play on video. How often did you let balls go to the back that you could have volleyed? You don't need to attack the ball just because you are volleying it. A lot of players also have trouble timing a volley meaning that they tend to avoid trying to play the shot altogether. But nobody gets better by not trying. So my first bit of advice would be to not worry about the result of the volley, just that you are volleying.

It takes a lot of practice to play a delicate volley drop shot. Make sure your racquet is prepared early and keep going got them. If you lose confidence in the drop you can always try a volley boast. If you aren't going short on the volley then your opponent will not feel worried when you volley the ball right back to them or cross-court.

Outside of games, focus on volleying everything when you're doing drills and practice your volleys with a ball machine or while solo hitting.

Not only does controlling the 'T' mean less running for you, but it takes time away from your opponent. Keep fine tuning these shots and one day you will notice that you rarely visit a back corner..until you play a stronger player..and then try to figure out how they're doing this better than you.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Warming Up and Cooling Down

Everyone has heard and been told to warm up before a match. And yet still many squash players do not prepare themselves properly. So what exactly does warming up do? In an article i recently read (A Functional Approach to Warm-up and Flexibility, Swanson 2006) it listed some of the physiological reasons why an athlete should warmup. The reasons they listed are;
'An active warm-up that increases the athlete's core temperature will improve performance by improving range of motion, producing a higher oxygen uptake, lowering lactate accumulations, increasing muscle pH, improving the speed and force of muscle contractions, and increasing the speed of transmission of nerve impulses.'

So for anyone who needed some valid reasons to make warming up a part of their routine, they now have it. And these are just the physiological reasons. When warming up an athlete can also prepare psychologically for the game. It would be a good idea to focus and review your strategy for the match and some athletes like to use imagery as well. A warmup needs to be rehearsed and is specific to the individual. A lot of this is accomplished from trial and error and will depend on the facility you are at, how much time you have, etc. But for anyone that wants to perform to the best of their ability on a consistent basis should be making a warm-up a part of their routine (for both practice and competition).

Lastly, when warming up there is little current research that says stretching is an effective way to warm-up and prevent injuries. I recommend biking, jogging, ghosting or even some light hitting followed by some dynamic stretches. How long and at what intensity is up to the individual. I like to have a light sweat and a good warm-up for me takes about 20-25 minutes. For a playing professional they might be spending much longer getting physically and psychologically prepared.

Cool Down
So the match/practice is over. Sometimes you get stuck reffing, you might have lost and not care about recovering quickly, or maybe you don't see the benefit of a proper cool down. To increase the recovery rate from training or any exercise, light aerobic activity is recommended. Again, I like to spend about 10 minutes on the bike and then do some static stretching. I also try and rehydrate as soon as possible. Light aerobic exercise increases blood flow and can cut your recovery time in half!

Now you need to ask yourself a couple of questions. If you are serious about your squash game and want to be the best you can be, recover faster, perform better, be able to practice and train more often then ask yourself the following questions. Do you warm-up and cool down properly? Before and after competition and practice? Could you improve your routine? How so? How do you make sure you stick to your new routine?