For the squash player, the ability to move
dynamically and efficiently around the court is key.
To this end, much of the training that we do to improve our
athletic capabilities revolves around various drills and
workouts focusing on the muscles of the lower limbs Ė
various squats, jumps, and lunges, that predominantly target
the quads, hamstrings, and gluteals.
As vital to our athletic development as these kinds of
movements and exercises are, there is usually very little
(if any) attention paid to the only part of our body that
actually makes contact with the ground, and through which
all of our drive, push, and stabilisation force actions stem
Ė the feet.
Most people spend the vast majority of their day wearing
some kind of footwear, which for most working adults will
often be some kind of formal shoe or high heel. These shoes
are generally hard soled, flat bottomed, and relatively
important do you think fitness/conditioning is to the modern
game? In your opinion, have the fitness requirements changed
at all with the transition to PAR scoring?
Itís essential period. Not only does it give you the tools
to physically compete, but it also helps injury prevention
and longevity in the modern game.
With the change to par scoring, the emphasis has become more
explosive power Ė with shorter scoring and every rally
counting, it can become very fast.
2) How many dedicated fitness/conditioning sessions do
you complete in a standard training week?
It varies really. in the off-season this would be 6 days a
week. During the season itís about maintenance, so 1-3 times
a week plus my playing/technical work.
3) How long do you spend warming up before an on-court
practice session and/or match? Do you pay special attention
to any certain areas and if so, why?
I warm up for around 30-40mins, regardless of if itís
practise or a match. Keeping that continuity is important,
particularly for areas such as hips, glutes, thoracic spine,
& ankles that take a lot of punishment.
a huge range of different fitness tools and devices
available now, of a wildly varying degree of use and
Amongst this backdrop of Ďmust-haveí gadgets carefully
marketed to part the fitness enthusiast from their money in
the quest for the next latest and greatest workout tool,
sometimes the simpler things get lost.
The humble Skipping Rope is one such oft-forgotten
item, yet for the squash player in particular it is an
invaluable addition to your kit bag. Cheap, portable, and
easy to use, no squash player should be without one!
Read the full post
BLOG, Feb 2014: Attacking Short from the
Nicol shows us how
Iíve always found going short off an easy ball, even with
plenty of time, a challenging aspect of my game. Attacking
from the middle of the court is much easier for me as I
flatten the racquet head and hit through the ball a little
harder, leaving my opponent less able to get onto the ball
and counter attack due to their positioning and shot type.
From the back of the court, I could only ever attack by
hitting the ball deep again - my highest quality option
being a forehand boast.
why did I find it so challenging to attack from the front of
the court? From an early age, I did play some open squash -
however upon turning professional I realised I was well
behind my peers in this style of play, therefore the
quickest/most efficient way to improve was to become
physically fit, mentally strong and play a more controlled
and aggressive game to the back of the court. I focused on
developing this style of play, which worked well, but after
several years became victim by my own design as I became
stuck in the same style of play. It wasnít until the last
few years of my career that I began to experiment and break
out into a new, more aggressive style of play.
The reason I chose my initial style of game was simply
because I was much more able to play this way. I donít have
a strong or quick wrist. My racquet head speed is fairly
average. My forehand is incredibly flat and I struggle to
cut under and around the ball. All of the above means I was
not comfortable at the front of the court unless hitting
deep. The problem this created was I only attacked half the
court and my opponent only needed to cover that area Ė not
great to only have 50% of the court to work with.
I felt vulnerable further up the court when I had time to
play any shot - I could feel my opponent coming up behind me
and got nervous. Feel similar to anyone out there?!
Nearing my late 20ís I started to experiment with going
short from the front area of the court and often got burned
badly. My opponent would come charging past me and either
hit the ball deep quickly or counter my shot - my short game
obviously needed dramatic improvement if I wanted to utilise
it during competitive play. Understanding that I was never
going to play like Power or Shabana, I started working on
practical and simple ways to improve attacking a short ball
into the front of the court.
BLOG, Jan 2014: The Backhand Diamond
"Technique Geek" Jethro Binns loves a good backhand ...
a bit of a technique geek. I get excited by seeing a really
good swing in action and sometimes get caught up with what
the swing looks like as opposed to where the ball ends up.
This is wrong, because if someone is hitting a target time
after time despite not having the most aesthetically
pleasing swing then they must doing something right.
However, I am a firm believer that if you create and
aesthetically pleasing swing where all the bio-mechanics are
working as they should, then you will hit the ball more
accurately, more consistently and with more power.
For those of you who follow the Facebook page, you will
notice that I'm a big fan of shoulder rotation on the
backhand side and often highlight this whenever I see a
photo of someone doing this correctly. For me having good
shoulder rotation at the beginning of the backhand swing is
fundamental. It's where all your power, and all your
consistency comes from.
been on court many times with people for the first time and
I ask them what they want to work on. "It's my backhand, I
just don't seem to be able to generate any power and always
drag the ball into the middle of the court" they say.
Without so much as seeing them hit the ball its obvious what
the issue is... A lack of shoulder rotation.
By rotating towards the back wall and getting your shoulder
to sit under your chin at the beginning of the swing, you
are naturally loading up your Trap and your deltoid so that
they want to pull your arm (and your racket) back through
the line of the ball. You also have the benefit of your
torso wanting to come back into its natural position meaning
that you are able to generate power at the beginning of the
swing as opposed to at the end.
By not rotating at the beginning of the swing on the
backhand you will find yourself trying to generate power at
the end of the swing.
BLOG, Jan 2014: Mental Agility and Strength Peter
Nicol looks at ways of improving your game
that we often forget about ...
all know improving fitness is an easy way of becoming
a better squash player.
However, one area and element of the game that we forget
about that can also dramatically improve your standard is
mental agility and strength.
You have to remember that the person who gets the ball up on
the front wall last in a rally wins the point. Therefore, if
you're stubborn, strong enough physically and technically,
then you'll be able to win more points in this manner and
thus win more often. I know this from the early part of my
career when I had a very limited game and relied heavily on
physical and mental strength.
So how can you get mentally tougher?
A very simple way is that every time you go on to court,
pick your racket up, train, warm-up - do it correctly. It
sounds simple but is rarely done at any level of squash.
An accumulation of doing everything well correctly gives you
mental agility, more options in your tactical locker and
greater resilience and mental strength. And the reason that
should give you strength is because you see everyone around
you making mistakes, taking shortcuts, not warming up
properly, not doing the physical training (or doing it but
doing it halfheartedly), not getting back to the T every
time in practice.
If you can do this you're doing everything better, harder,
smarter than anyone else therefore walking into play a match
against those same people you're going to have more
confidence in your own abilities and less fear of theirs -
all because of the level of mental focus you've shown
yourself that you are capable of.