“It isn’t possible to play better squash at 55, than at 35, right?” WRONG! It is certainly possible, and in fact, very likely if you focus on a few key factors. Read on to learn what they are, and what you can do to keep improving as you get older.
The Game’s Evolution
While the professional game differs vastly from national, regional, and recreational levels, the Masters game also evolves significantly as we move up the age categories. It becomes one of extremes due to the increasing physical limitations life imposes upon us.
Rallies typically shorten, front-court attacks become increasingly more effective, and subtleties with the racquet face tend to become outright winners.
What implications does this have?
Develop a sound understanding of the game in your age category. How long do matches typically last? Are rallies primarily played in the back, or is there a lot of front court attacking? What implications does this have on your current training routine? Do you need to change anything?
- Don’t train like a 30-year-old – depending on your level of competitiveness, gruelling aerobic and anaerobic conditioning isn’t as important as you get older (although it most certainly is for life). Given (typically) shorter rallies and games, you don’t need to spend 30+ minutes completing interval training as a 70-year-old.
- Develop subtle disguise and deception – changing direction becomes exponentially more difficult the older we get. Show one shot and hit another; something as simple as showing a straight drive and hitting a cross-court drive can be extremely effective.
- Emphasize the first shot of each rally – the serve, or return of serve. Improve the accuracy of your serve to force a loose ball immediately, and then play a short attack to expose your opponent’s (likely) movement limitations. Develop multiple serves to disrupt your opponent and capitalize on this immediate loose ball strategy.
- Study your opponent and devise a specific game plan to expose their technical, tactical, physical, and mental limitations.
- Improve your anticipation – by picking up on technical cues while also understanding your opponent’s typical patterns of play, you reduce the likelihood of getting caught out of position.
Most importantly, I encourage you to remember the power of our mind. If we label ourselves as “old and slow”, we will feel older and slower than our genuine physical capacity. However, if we tell ourselves that we’re “fast and agile”, we will likely feel faster and more agile than we did previously; even if we don’t rival Mr. Fantastic (Ali Farag) himself.
I encourage you to take a thoughtful approach to your training. The sky really is the limit!
All the best,
Founder of ARProformance,
M.A., CPT, Peak Performance Teacher.
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