Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Solo Hitting And Easing Back Into Squash

Now that some squash clubs have reopened and the rumour of this happening sometime soon here in Ontario I thought it would be prevalent to discuss solo hitting. In most of the phase 1's of reopening it's being recommended that people can only solo hit or practice with people from the same household. I'm lucky in the fact that I'm currently living with my brother so we can have some good sessions when the club opens, but not everyone is in this same situation so let's see how can best ease our way back into squash.

Start With Some Easy Mid-court Shots

A few weeks ago I posted the instructional video, 'The Secrets Of Solo Hitting' on the Serious Squash Youtube channel. I've posted the link here below if you're looking for some solo drills to do when your local club opens up. To maximize the limited time you get on court I recommend going in with a plan about what you want to practice. The simpler the drill at the beginning the better. If the drills in the below film are too advanced try some sidewall drives or even a bit of short hitting.

The Secrets Of Solo Hitting

I know for me it's been over 2 months since I've been on court and my calluses are slowly disappearing. When I get back on court it may actually hurt to hold the racquet again. This happened to me once when I travel for 5 weeks and then got back on court. Luckily now I've been using kettlebells a lot for training so I still have a few calluses which will make my transition a little easier than it would have otherwise been. 

If you haven't been doing any training you will also want to make sure you do at least a light warmup before solo hitting. Think about trying to warmup your arm before solo hitting. Doing some arm swings or throwing a ball nice and easy or using a workout band can ensure you don't injure anything when you first get back on court. You don't see pitchers come out of the bullpen with no warmup and you shouldn't either. 

When you get back on court I also suggest adding in some physical training. If our goal is to get back to drills end eventually matches we have to be working on our strength, mobility and cardio. As I mentioned in my interview on The In Squash Podcast last week, most people need to improve their core and lower body strength so they can get into the correct hitting posture. Fyi the episode is set to come out later this week (episode 143 I believe) so make sure to subscribe to the podcast and you should find it there soon. 

When you're on court doing your solo hitting try adding in some lunges and possibly even some ghosting. You don't need to be on court to do some of the other important exercises like planks, squats or 1 leg deadlifts. If you make the time to implement these types of exercises into your training you will see a benefit when we can get finally get back into regular matches. Not only will your game improve, but you will be less likely to get injured during this transition phase. I too will have to ease my way back into. Remember that squash is a very explosive and intense sport therefore our risks of injury after a long layoff will be substantially elevated. 

If you're looking for a video on some of the exercises mentioned above you can find them here: 

6 Squash Specific Home Exercises

If you have already been keeping up with your basic movement exercises and you'd like to have some workout ideas checkout the Serious Squash Youtube playlist which I have been updating with a new session each week: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLzYXhBuUol3Tx4MV2l0nfoJ-5mRN853iB These are all exercises that will help you get fitter, stronger and play better squash. I record them live each Friday at 1pm eastern time on the London Squash Instagram account (come join in on the sessions!).

It's clearly evident that as a coach I'm concerned on reducing the risk of injury when we get back on court. I know most squash players only want to play matches and almost never do a proper warmup, so I'm worried that those people will be at a high risk of injury. If you're taking the time to read a blog post like this you're probably more conscientious about your squash and I believe you are more likely to follow my general precautions. 

On a final note on this topic I'd also like to suggest easing your way into it, yes even for solo hitting. Don't go in and hit the ball as hard as you can for an hour and expect not to do some damage. Especially if you're a middle aged or older squash player you have to be more patient easing your way back to where you were pre club closure.

I'd like to finish off by going over some of the safety protocols I'm looking at implementing as a coach. When my club opens again it will be in phases. At the beginning it will likely only be same household or solo court bookings. We will also probably only use some of the courts and spread out the time between bookings. I won't offer any group sessions, at least for the first few phases. When I give lessons I will be the only 1 handling the ball and opening and closing the court door. In my lessons we will always be on opposite sides of the court, which is fine for coaching, especially when easing someone back into squash. I believe our club is going to order some of the iMask's + full face shields so I will probably have to wear one as I will be in contact with a lot of people. This will likely make it more difficult to communicate and provide instruction. 

As we move along in the phases of reopening our clubs there will be a stage where people will have a bubble of 2-3 players they can play with so if anyone does ever have have Covid-19 it will be easy to narrow down who has to be quarantined. I know our club is also doing a comprehensive overhaul to make the club as safe as possible and reduce the risk of any cross-contamination. Everything from how to open and close the front door, having automated paper towel dispensers, no towel service plus having masks and hand sanitizer available for all. This is how clubs have to change to avoid being a potential hotbed for future outbreaks. 

Squash is considered a high risk sport, but there are a lot of ways we can make squash safe. For awhile I was worried about the future of my career. It would be impossible to imagine changing careers at this point. Squash is all I've known and all I've done for so long now I don't even know where I'd start. Thankfully it looks like the light at the end of tunnel is starting to appear and squash can again be a part of all of our lives. 

Next week on episode 54 of Squash Shots (Patreon.com/SeriousSquash) I'm going to discuss both the pain and beauty of stairs and hill sprints. I did a lot of this training in my university days and now that the weather is getting better it's an excellent way to combine cardio and strength training. 

The 'Monster' Hill That I Trained On While At University

On a final note, I've decided to take down my instructional films in the Serious Squash Shop for the time being. With the clubs being closed now there isn't as much demand as there has been in the past. But I do want to thank everyone who has purchased a copy over the years. I've probably sold over 1,000 copies of the various films and most noticeably was The Secrets Of Solo Hitting, which I have posted for free up above. The online store is still active and at the moment only has video analysis, my final master's project, Serious Squash Signature Racquets and the new tees. If you want to check them out you can do so SeriousSquashShop.com That's all for this week. I hope all of you are safe, healthy and doing your best to stay active. 




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