Today I'm going to talk about time management and in particular how you can maximize your training sessions each week. Think outside the box. Do more, but do it smarter. Manage your time and know what type of training to do and how much to do it. You can train twice per day and not burn yourself out. Keep it fresh and change it up constantly. If you want to be the best solo hit every day, even for just 20 minutes. I know top students at university that are able to train 3 times per day. I heard that Jansher Khan use to train at 6am everyday because he could get in a practice before most people even woke up. I know most people are busy these days, including students, so managing your time and getting into a routine is essential if you wan to be the best you can be.
Everyone has heard about deliberate practice. That it takes about 10,000 to become an expert in a field, including squash. Well some people play that long or longer and never become close to an expert. 10,000 over 10 years is much different than over 20 or 30 years. It's also not just about the quantity of practice time. Quality is always more important. Practicing every day for your entire life with the poor technique will only get you so far. So today's post is not about playing a match and doing drills every day and overtraining with only 10,000 hours as a goal. Today the discussion is how to keep the quality up by being smart and managing your time using a weekly training log.
When I was in university my body could only handle so many tough training sessions per week. Especially when the team went away for the weekend and I'd play 3 or more hard matches. I couldn't just get back and begin my training routine right away. Often I was stuck in a vehicle for half a day coning hime and if I wasn't already sore from my matches I was from the trip back. I learned early on that solo hitting was the way I could protect my body and it was also the fastest way I could improve when my body needed some rest. So I would find time to solo hit at least 3 or 4 times per week. I know some of the top players solo hit every day.
I know you're thinking, I have school or a job, I can't solo hit everyday! Well you may be right. But if you're a top player and really want to improve you can find time. Before work, maybe at lunch or after dinner. If we get into a routine and make time for things we can accomplish more than we may think. This is why I promote the idea of setting up a weekly training log that you can repeat. It's this routine that you will adjust to and as the weeks pile up you will be training more than your competitors and improving faster.
There's a few important points about a weekly training cycle. The first is that you need to incorporate some easier non-physically demanding routines. This can include yoga, solo hitting or swimming. You'll also need to pay more attention to cooling down, stretching and doing some light aerobic activity so you recover faster. Another critical part is that you adjust and spread out your hard training sessions. For example, if you like to spin 1 day per week. Change that spin routine up every week or two. The body adjusts to training very quickly. I believe it's important to change the work to rest ratio, the intensity, duration and even the type of exercise you do. Of course if you're training every day, or even twice per day you need to spread out the really physically demanding sessions. If you do a tough plyometric routine and you really burn your legs, make sure the next session or the next day you aren't overdoing it. Plan a solo hit and maybe some active recovery like swimming or an easy bike ride. Also you could go and focus on your core and upper body if they weren't heavily involved in the plyometrics. When you train like this you are working hard, but not overloading any one part of your body.
So you have your week lined up and you're getting into a good routine. Now you have a tournament coming up this weekend. How do you plan before and after the tournament? You should begin tapering before the start of the event. If the tournament begins on Friday, I wouldn't do any really hard training any later than Tuesday. A match may be fine on Wednesday, this depends on the level, length and intensity. And after the tournament is over it can be difficult getting back into your routine. Your result in the tournament will dictate if you need Monday off or perhaps you didn't make it to Sunday. If you had 5 or 6 matches you may need two rest days after. Rest if often overlooked by the top athletes. If you are in need of some rest, make it active rest not just lying around on the couch. Get up and move around, maybe a solo hit and an easy bike to loosen up the legs.
The really tricky thing around these weekly training logs is when you get back to back tournaments. Obviously this completely disrupts your training cycle, but you should plan for this ahead of time. You won't be able to do much training in-between events. It's mort important here to make sure you're recovered from the previous event and that you're fresh as possible going into the next one. You'll probably have some areas you want to work on, but you won't have much time to do so. This is again when solo hitting or some feeding sessions can be the best. Just because you're a good player it doesn't mean that practice always has to be 100% physically demanding, if your 100% concentrated at the task at hand it will be a beneficial session.
Basically the main point I wanted to make today is that to be the best at anything you need to make sacrifices. You may need to get up earlier and spend time before work or school training or hitting balls. Think about what an average week looks like. How many hours do you spend training on court vs. off court? Where can you sneak in even just 1 more practice? Again this doesn't mean it has to be another physically tough session. I haven't even mentioned psychological skills training. This isn't physically demanding whatsoever, just mental. There are plenty of ways to improve your game by reorganizing your week and managing your time effectively. If you can't handle anymore physically, try some less demanding practices. Solo hitting, imagery, swimming, easy cycling, stretching and yoga can not only allow your body some time to heal but can speed up the recovery process. Even making time to watch pro squash matches or your own games, or reading an insightful squash blog;) can be extremely beneficial and is something you can do to improve your squash game when your body needs some rest.
How many training sessions do you do per week? Would you be better if you added one more? Do you regularly adjust the type of training or intensity you do? Do you have a weekly training log/routine? How many hours do you spend on court vs. off court? How many hours do you solo hit per week? Regardless of your goals or level we have more time than we think if we're motivated to improve our game, lose some weight, get healthier and fitter. Write out your weekly schedule and find where you can improve it. Even just a slight adjustment can make a big difference over the long run.