Alright, I'm back after a busy start to the season. I know that some people play and train all season while others haven't touched a racquet in months. If you're the latter group, this post is for you. If you trained and played all summer, then you're probably already feeling fit and playing at a high standard and you can come back and read this post for after you have a long break.
Over my years of playing squash I've played year round, and I've also taken a few months off. As we get older taking time off makes it tougher to get back. When I was a kid I could miss a month and within a week be back to where I left off. Nowadays I think it's more about doubles the time I miss to get back to where I was. When I was in my early 20's and didn't play for the summer it would take me 3 or 4 months to feel like I was back playing well and fit again. This is why I learned to always keep playing over the summer, even if it's just once a week.
If you're one of those people that have take the summer off and are all ready and set to get back into full swing I have a few tips for you. (and no, that picture above is not me, lol)
1) Ease your way back into t - almost all of us will overdo it and this can lead to injuries.
2) Don't play a hard match your first time back on court.
3) When you play your first match, make the next day an easy one.
4) A cool down/stretch can save you a lot of pain the first few times back on the court.
5) Have realistic expectations. Don't expect to be right back where you were when you stopped playing. Sure, some people you were close to before may be ahead of you now. Just focus on yourself and the long term goals. Write them out and set time lines.
6) Don't play any tournaments until you've been back for at least a month or your asking for trouble. At least if you play at a high level.
7) Use your first 2 or 3 tournaments of the season as training tools. Have lower expectations and just go see where your game and fitness is, while remembering that your bigger goals are focused on more important tournaments later in the season.
8) Remember that especially in these situations, less is more!
If you follow these steps you are more likely to get back to where you left off and stay healthy. Sometimes the hardest step to take is the first one after a layoff. This is why I suggest not getting right back into matchplay.
Squash is such a tough sport if you've taken a layoff. You'll likely get squash butt and hurt in places you haven't felt in months or years! That's why it's important to ease your way back into it. Maybe you start with a solo hit, some easy drills; a few days later maybe get up to a single game at the end of your drill session. You can also do some ghosting or movement drills to get your body prepared for the squash specific movements that your body will about to endure.
Easing back into squash is extremely difficult. We want to work hard and get back to where we think we should be and often do too much too soon. Knowing when to say enough is enough for right now and I'm not quite ready for that is key. Normally we never want to admit we can't do something or that we're too exhausted, especially to do well in squash. Give yourself some slack the first month 2 back and you're body will thank you for it later in the season!