The Formidable 5 On-Court Physical Challenges

27th August 2020

As squash players, there’s no escaping the fact you’ve got to hit it hard in training sometimes, to prepare your mind and body for the rigours of those gruelling 5-setters. We all have our ‘favourite’(!) brutal session to undertake, but listed below are some of those used by the truly elite.
If your current court sprint/ghosting/shuttle sessions aren’t quite doing it for you anymore, then give one of these a try! Each one should take somewhere in the region of 10-20mins, with a focus very much on intensity rather than volume.

WARNING: These sessions are extremely tough, and not recommended for those without a solid base of conditioning! As with all on-court workouts, complete a thorough warm-up before you begin.

Good luck…!


22 Sprint Repeats

For this session, you must complete 22 court sprints in under 60secs. You then take a 60secs rest, before repeating the 22 court sprints again within the same timeframe. You’ll keep repeating this sequence until you can no longer complete the 22 sprints in under 60secs.
The elite level to aim for here is to get to 10 sets of sub-60secs 22s.



Here, you’ll be combining court length sprints with court width shuffles. You’ll start with a set of 20 court sprints, with a target time of 60secs or less. After the court sprints you’ll rest for 60secs, and then complete 20 court widths within a target time of 48secs or less (for court widths, you’ll be facing the front wall and shuffling laterally across the court, lunging to touch the nick on each side). You’ll then take a 60secs rest and repeat.
Elite aim is to get to 10 sets of alternating the 20 lengths and 20 widths (so 5 sets of each), keeping to the sub-60secs and sub-48secs target times and with the same 60secs rest periods between each.


5mins 100s & 10mins 200s

Simple, straightforward, and brutal for this one! The first challenge is to be able to complete 100 court sprints in under 5mins. If that’s too easy for you(!), ramp up the challenge and go for 200 court sprints in 10mins – a super high-level challenge, and very much not for the faint of heart!


30 Shuttle Repeats

In this workout, you’ll be using court shuttles – starting on the back wall and then going out to touch the back of the service box, returning to the back wall before going out to touch the short line, and then back to the back wall and out again to touch the tin at the end of the court. Each time you touch a line (back of service box, short line, tin) you’ll count 1, until you reach 30 (so 10 complete sets of the standard 3 line shuttles) – your aim is to get the 30 line touches within 2mins. You’ll then rest for 60secs and repeat.
Your elite target is to complete 5 sets of the 30 touches each in under 2mins, taking 60secs rest between each set.


120 Ghosting

Some ghosting in this session, to mix things up from all the court sprints! This ghosting pattern is 120 shots as the name suggests, and is adapted from a session used in his pro days by our own Peter Nicol.
Start by placing 4 balls/markers in each corner of the court – each marker should be 3 racket lengths in towards the T from the side wall>back wall joining point. You’ll then use these markers as your imaginary balls to hit in your ghosting, returning through the T between each one.

The ghosting sequence is:

  • 10 x Front Right
  • 10 x Front Left
  • 20 x Front Right then Front Left
  • 20 x Front Right then Back Right
  • 20 x Front Left then Back Left
  • 20 x Front Right then Back Left
  • 20 x Front Left then Back Right
    (each swing of the racket over the marker counts as 1)

Elite target is to get below 6mins to complete the full 120 pattern.
For the truly super-fit, you’d then take a 2mins rest period and complete through 2 further times – aiming to keep all 3 sets below 6mins.


Got any super tough on-court workouts of your own? Share them with us on social media!


Gary Nisbet

B.Sc.(Hons), CSCS, NSCA-CPT, Dip. FTST
SquashSkills Fitness & Performance Director

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