Monday, October 6, 2014

How To Use Your Phone For Improving Your Squash Game

Today I'm going to talk about my new phone. Yes, I got an iPhone 6 a couple of weeks back. There are a lot of apps that are very helpful for coaching and training. I currently have the following apps on my phone that I use for coaching/training: Easytag (Dartfish app), Running+ (Nike app), Beep Test and Chain Timer that I use for timing work to rest ratios in workouts routines. I know many people have apps linked up to their heart rate monitoring equipment. I haven't gotten to this yet, but I can see how this would be interesting and useful for training and monitoring. Another essential tool on any phone is the calendar. Here you can keep your daily training log. You can also follow this up by using the notes section as a mini journal; use this for setting goals and making notes about your game plans and training. If there are any other good apps I'm missing let me know. There's just so much you can do. No wonder people are always on their phone these days!

Of course one of the best tools on the new iPhone is the camera. I've only started playing around with it, but the quality and accessibility make the old video cameras pointless. In my post about a month back about the biomechanics of a deceptive backhand crosscourt, the pictures I posted I took from a recording slow motion video on a camera. This was very labour intensive back when I did it. I had to set up the cameras on the court, film the footage, download it to a computer, and then open it up on a special program to watch and break it down in slow motion. Of course there is more I could do once I got the video on a computer, but this isn't really practical for coaching these days. It was a helpful tool, but I think I could have gotten the same quality of feedback with much less work.

The iPhone 6 camera has a slow motion filming option which is easy to use. I don't know exactly how many frames per seconds it records but it can slow a swing down so you can break it apart quite nicely. I did this last week in one of my lessons. The person was breaking their wrist on their backhand so I set up a ball machine to record him hitting some balls. We then watched the replay (I guess this is one of the good aspects for having a larger screen!) on slow motion and he went back and hit some more to get the feeling of what he was supposed to be doing. It's important to not just film again right away, but allow the person to hit a number of balls to allow for correction first. Once this is accomplished, then I filmed again in slow motion again. We then watch the before and after videos to see the changes. I would post the videos to demonstrate what I saw and how it worked, but I'd have to ask for permission from the athlete first. This method worked very well and is such a great tool for squash. The swing happens quite fast and although it's often easy to pick up that something just isn't quite right, it helps filming it and watching it in slow motion. It's definitely a new coaching tool that I'll use more frequently.

If you have a new iPhone try filming in slow motion and watch your swing. Do this for a variety of shots; drives, drops, lobs, boasts, volleys, serves, and return of serves. I also think this is an effective way for seeing if your shots are deceptive. Maybe you feel they are, but something in slow motion will tell you a different story. This is a great way to learn to couple your shots and how to be deceptive. Is your racquet up early enough? What's your spacing like? Is your head still as you're striking the ball? Are your shoulders squared up when driving out of the back corners? Are you moving before your opponent hits the ball? I think it's best to know what you want to film when recording in slow motion. I haven't tried filming a rally or game like this. I think with slow motion you want to get up close and this means for optimal recording you wouldn't get the whole court. So pick an area you are interested in or want to improve and record it and watch it in slow motion. You may just learn a few things. If you experiment with slow motion recording let me know how it goes. As I continue using mine more I'll do the same.


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