Todays topic is well timed as I am about to go on vacation. Today I am going to talk about rest. Rest and time away from sport is something that sounds so simple but is quite challenging for many of us. Often our rest times come because we are injured or sick. How often do you intentionally plan not just a rest day but a full week? The toll that sport, especially squash puts on our body and mind is very high. I believe that rest is more important for the mind than our body. When to plan rest and how much time to take is really up to the individual. Here are a few of my philosophies about rest.
Tapering before tournaments: taking a day off or having a light training day prior to competition is important and is much better then having a hard training day. We don't want to be training too hard right before important competitions or we won't fully recover by the start of it. I should also note that you will feel better quicker from workouts if you have an effective recovery routine (stretching, light aerobic activity, rehydrate and refuel properly, and maybe even have an ice bath). You can cut your recovery time in half if you have an effective post match routine.
After tournaments: be careful of what you do on Monday. If you play 4 or 5 hard matches maybe you should take Monday off (or at least keep it very light). If you planned on taking Monday off but didn't play on Sunday maybe you'll train especially since you are motivated to make it to Sunday next time.
Between back to back tournaments: how much you do the week between 2 competitions depends on how many matches and how you worked in the first one. Sometimes begin fresh and having a couple of lighter sessions is better in these scenarios. In these situations I would practice whatever I thought wasn't quite up to par in the first tournament and then maybe have 1 match and do a couple of solo hits.
Take at least 1 day a week off: maybe even another light day (just a solo hit). Our body needs time to recover after tough workouts and you are more prone to injury if you consistently overtrain.
Take at least 1 full week off per year: I suggest 2 or 3 weeks per year, especially for kids. Sometimes we feel like we are losing our fitness and worry about digressing. This may be true for 1 or 2 practices back after a week off, but it is better for you in the long run. Getting good at squash isn't a sprint, it's a journey. Plan your weeks off in the off months and try and limit your physical activity during these weeks as well. At least no hard training sessions.
Rest should be restful: rest days or weeks doesn't mean you need to or should be completely inactive, but I do feel the need to say that a rest week from squash should not be filled with intense training for another sport or to climb some mountain or run or bike a race. You should come back from your rest feeling rejuvenated and raring to go, not in need of another rest week!
Taking too much time off: we all know the consequences of this. And most people worry about taking a week or two off. Especially as kids this is not a problem. If you take of longer you will probably need equal that amount of time to get back to where you were. I think as we get older this actually doubles. If I miss a month it would take me about two to get back to where I was. This is why when I was younger I would try and play at least once a week even if I was doing off court training, I wanted to keep my squash fitness traits and ability up (even though they wouldn't really be improving playing just once per week). When taking a significant amount of time off it is very important to ease your way back into training and squash. I know that this can be difficult to do, but I also know this is when injuries occur. You want to make up for lost time and do too much. Nothing is worse than that happening and then getting injured once again and having to miss more time. So when you're coming back from a layoff set small goals and build yourself back up to the point that you were prior to your break. Use my rule or however much time you missed is how long it will take you to get back to the level. If you're older remember that this timeframe may be double.
Listen to your body: when something is sore or not feeling right, take some time off. I use this as a sign to focus on a different part of my game or training. If my legs are sore, well time to work on my core and maybe do a solo hit. f my wrist is hurting me then I'll work on my cardio and my legs. If my mind is fatigued maybe I need a day off to go golfing or to go for a float.
Rest plays an important role in injury prevention. Although we can't prevent injuries completely we can prevent some by listening to our bodies. And don't feel guilty for having a day or two off. Especially if you've worked hard all you week, you deserve the break. Know that rest is a part of your training programme and is necessary for you to play your best and maintain a high level of play throughout the year.
As I'm about to go on vacation and enjoy some of my own rest time. I will likely not be posting too often while I'm away. I do have a number of topics I want to write about upon my return. Here are a few you can expect. 1) A list of different warm up drills (yes, besides boast drive!) 2) How to train for a unilateral sport 3) Fitness testing 4) Technical testing and 5) Setting goals for the upcoming season. If there is another topic you'd like to hear about I'm always open to suggestions.
Before I go on my break I want to thank everyone that has read my and given me supportive feedback. I've enjoyed writing these and feel that they keep me thinking more about my coaching and the game. As I've said before the main purpose of my blog was for my students to have some more material at their disposal. To anyone else that has stumbled upon this blog I hope you have enjoyed it and will continue to learn more about your squash game.