Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Don't Drop The Nachos

It's a fact that most club level squash players are not gym rats. Most club players play squash because they hate going to the gym. For this very reason most players have terrible hitting posture which results in poor technique. Right now most of us have a LOT of extra time. How can you make the most of this time? Get into some good habits which will improve your hitting posture and make you a better squash player. Let's start off by quickly discussing what is the correct hitting posture and why most people are unable to get into it.

One key technical pointer is when the ball is low you are supposed to get low too. Most people do 1 of 2 things, they either break their wrist and drop the racquet head down to get the ball or they 'teapot.' Teapotting is a term for when people get low without using their lower body and their head, if it were a teapot would pour out. When someone teapots they are basically just collapsing their core and are not in a strong or stable position to hit the ball. I've also had students try and imagine that they are wearing a nacho hat and if they teapot the nachos go all over the floor.

(Even though he was able to hold up his nachos at the football game if he played squash he would definitely be a teapotter)

People drop their racquet to the ball and teapot because of 2 key factors. It is mainly because they don't have the proper mobility or strength. You need a sufficient amount of mobility in your entire lower body. You also need a sufficient amount of strength in your lower body and core. A lot of people have very tight hamstrings and are unable to even touch their toes. Most people cannot do a proper lunge, squat or a plank for a significant length of time. You can probably tell what exercises I'll be recommending today. That's right you don't even need and in fact you should not be using any weights when you're starting off doing these types of exercises. If you can set aside 20-30 minutes per day to do some prolonged stretching and body weight strength exercises you'll be a better player when you get back on the court.

How much stretching and how much strength work should you be doing. You should stretch everyday for 10-20 minutes (or try some yoga) and eventually you will start to feel better and notice improvements in your mobility. This week in Squash Shots I demonstrated some of my favourite mobility stretching exercises. Too much sitting and lying around is not good for us. Here's the episode if you'd like to see my favourite hamstring and hip stretches.

Squash Shots Episode 46: Mobility + Core Challenge

At the end of episode 46 I do a 5 minute plank with a variety of variations. All of our sitting is not good for our core and our back health and planks are an effective way to improve both. You could do a short plank and some stretches at least every second day. For the strength portion I would recommend every 3rd or 4th day depending on how much you do and what you're used to doing. Start slow and focus on the proper technique for squats and lunges. I also recommend 1 leg deadlifts. Here's a YouTube video I've found which demonstrates and explains the basics behind it and for the record you don't need the kettlebell or any weight when you're just learning this exercise. it's excellent for improving your balance as well as strengthening your glutes and hamstrings. 

Demonstrating the 2 legged deadlift

Next week for Squash Shots I'm going to be looking at 35 of my favourite kettlebell exercise. If you happen to have a kettlebell lying around at home you can get in some amazing workouts with very little space and no other equipment. For now start off with some lunges, squats, 1 leg deadlifts, planks and of course don't forget your stretching. This may not be the most enjoyable part of squash, but if you want to play competitively consider these essential things that must be done on a consistent basis.

Right now most of us have a lot of free time and are spending it playing online poker, video games or watching hours upon hours of Netflix. Try and make sure you come out of this healthier and fitter by setting aside as little as 20 minutes per day for some mobility work and a few strength exercises.

I hope all of you are staying safe and are healthy. I have 1 more week in quarantine at my brothers place. In Canada for that that were overseas you have to spend 2 weeks in quarantine so I'm half way there. I've been doing lots of stretching, rolling and exercising with a few kettlebells my brother has lying around. We also did a 1 minute pushup challenge the other day and got 39 and 41. Not too bad for a couple of middle aged guys.

That's all for this week. Please do not underestimate how vital this topic is. You don't need to turn into a gym rat, but you do need to take care of your body if you want to play your best squash and continue playing and moving well for the decades to come.

Where else can you find Serious Squash?
Squash Shots is a weekly exclusive coaching video which I release every Monday. Next week is episode 47. You can subscribe for as little as $3/month at Patreon.com/SeriousSquash

Serious Squash is also on YouTube at Youtube.com/SeriousSquash and at Facebook.com/SeriousSquash and on Instagram @SeriousSquash

Lastly there is an online store where you can purchase instructional films, video analysis and the Serious Squash custom racquet. Check it out SeriousSquashShop.com

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