5 Tips For a Successful Return to Squash

by Steve Thompson

Solo practice, household play and individual coaching have been all that’s been allowed over the last 5 weeks, and players at all levels have been itching to get back to normal full court squash!

That time has now arrived, and will now hopefully never be taken away. With a successful vaccination programme and a much-reduced risk of catching COVID-19 in the UK, ‘normal’ squash should be back for good and we can all look forward to a much brighter summer and competitive season for the rest of 2021.

 

‘There is nothing that can prepare you for the physical demands of squash, apart from squash.’

 

‘There’s nothing quite like it for a workout!’

 

‘Well now I can really tell how unfit I am after that session on court.’

 

These are all things I’ve heard as a coach over the last month or so since some level of play has been allowed back on court. And to a large extent I agree with the first quote:

‘There is nothing that can prepare you for squash.’

From the multi-directional lunges, the short sharp sprints, explosive movements to the front to retrieve and the stealthy footwork anticipating the volley – squash is an extremely physical sport. What can prepare your body for such demands?

I know as a fitness professional that people working alone (solo practice), or being told to do a mind-numbing exercise (like squats or forward lunges), or to push to full exertion (like sprints or intervals), will never push as hard as they will when chasing that little black rubber ball around a squash court! They just won’t. They can’t. Something clicks when you’re in the heat of battle on court, you can’t stop, you won’t stop until you’ve reached victory or defeat. So, here’s a few pieces of advice for when getting back onto court for the full game in the coming days and weeks…

 

1.The key to a great game of squash is a great warm up – Elite Squash is well known for our methodology on preparing the body for movement and performance. Make sure you follow the RAMP principle (Raise, Activate, Mobilise and Potentiate) and give yourself even more time than usual if it’s been weeks or months since your body has experience such physical exertion. Oh, and don’t forget to stretch out afterwards!

2.Muscle soreness is completely normal – You will experience DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness) after your first hit back on court. Likely after the second too, but know that this is completely normal. Just make sure that you warm up, cool down properly and make use of a foam roller for those extra sore areas (best used on glutes, hamstrings, quads and calves).

3.Keep it simple – don’t get back on court thinking you will be able to slot just as many cross court nicks in as you were 4 months ago (I did, and it only ends in tears). It’s best to start with some straight drive rallies with your partner, maybe some Drop/Drive, Boast & Drive, a back court game, and maybe a few fed routines to practice those more technical volleys before launching into the battle of the century with your opponent.

4.Pace yourself – your body will thank you. Linked to point number 3, don’t set your expectations too high for your body. Unless you have been keeping extremely active with online sessions and your own personal fitness, this is going to come as a shock to the system. Ease your way in – and have a great time!

5.Hydrate properly – hydrate, hydrate, hydrate.You’re probably bored of hearing about it. Squash is an extremely intense sport, putting a huge strain on the body, so as well as warming up and easing your way in, make sure you’re staying hydrated and be sure to rehydrate with about a pint of water for every 40 minutes that you’re on court.

 

Here’s to bringing the great game back in all it’s glory! See you on court soon.

 

Steve Thompson

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