Training in the current climate of quarantine and lockdown is extremely difficult. Various bodyweight focused exercises can still be utilised, and restricted space can be adapted to some degree, but getting in any truly squash-specific work is a challenge for many. With a bit of creativity and forethought however, it’s still possible to tailor even very limited training space into an area suitable to provide a taste of the ghosting exercise you’ve no doubt been missing!
Mark your court
First things first, you’ll need to mark out your ‘court’. A standard squash court measures 9.75m long, by 6.4m wide. If you were to measure that out in standard paces, that’d be about 13 steps by 9.
Using 4 cones or other visible markers, you can mark out 4 corners and have a pretty good approximation of the surface area of a squash court. A good way to check would be to run a few lengths and get a feel – most players cover this distance in 6/7 strides.
That’s not to say you couldn’t work in a space far smaller and still get a good workout in. While the full court dimensions described obviously give you the most realistic setting, you can shrink this down into literally any space you have available – worst-case scenario, if you were to work your ghosting routines with just 1 step, without holding a racket in your hand, you can get a decent workout in even within a small living room!
Clear the surface
Other than for those limited to working indoors, the 2 surface options most people will be faced with are concrete or grass.
Whichever you’re using, make sure your ‘court’ is marked out on flat, even ground. For concrete check and clear any cracks or loose stones/gravel, while for grass check that there are no holes or divots. Check also that there are no dips or hollows on whichever surface you use.
Working in a garden or a field has obvious benefits in that the grass is naturally softer and springier, more closely resembling the surface of a squash court. That doesn’t mean using concrete is necessarily a bad choice, but it’s important to limit volume initially and then build up slowly to allow your body to get used to the harder surface.
One advantage concrete or paved surfaces do provide, is that they’re generally less slippery than grass. This is where your choice of footwear is particularly important.
For either surface, your squash shoes are probably one of the worst choices to use. Squash shoes by design are generally very flat, with the rubber on the sole designed to enhance traction on a soft wooded floor. Wearing squash shoes outside, particularly on grass, will lead to a lot of slippages.
Most standard running shoes have better traction in their soles and are thus more suited to any ghosting sessions that you’re doing away from the court.
Probably the very best option however, is to use studded/cleated footwear such as soccer/rugby boots. These enable you to train with far more grip while allowing you to keep your sessions on softer grass environments. If you don’t own a pair, consider them a very useful investment for your training – you can pick up a reasonable pair online for no more than about £20/$25.
Do be mindful that something neither running trainers or soccer boots will offer in a way equal to most quality squash shoes however, is firm lateral support to protect the ankle.
So you’ve marked your court, checked your surface, and got your footwear sorted. What next? A great place to start is with our ‘Origins’ series, where Joey Barrington takes you through the theory and structure of ghosting in three parts: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3. Also, make sure to check out our Put it into Practice article linking everything together.
Alternatively, you can search our extensive SquashSkills database, with some of our more physical ghosting sessions to be found here.
B.Sc.(Hons), CSCS, NSCA-CPT, Dip. FTST
SquashSkills Fitness & Performance Director
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