With courts starting to open up now across the world, we’re finally moving toward a gradual resumption of play. Even though the UK has lagged behind somewhat, large parts of Europe, Australia, and the US now have some court access – albeit mostly held to certain restrictions surrounding numbers of players, social distancing, and facility availability.
Naturally, keen squash players the world over are delighted to be able to get back toward some semblance of normality, and be able to resume playing the game they love. Returning to squash after such a prolonged break however, has the potential to place a lot of stress upon bodies that have become unaccustomed to the intense demands of the game.
With that in mind, here are 3 of the most important things that you need to consider from a physical standpoint, when getting back into your squash routine.
Be disciplined with your warm-up
Warming-up before playing/training is something we highlight the importance of frequently here at SquashSkills, but coming back on court after a prolonged absence it should become an even more integral part of your pre-match routine.
One of the primary functions of a properly constructed warm-up, is to prepare your body for the exertion that is about be placed upon it. This becomes an even more important concern, when you’re placing your body under the stress of physical work that is unfamiliar in either type or intensity.
One of the most frequently cited reasons for players not completing a suitable warm-up before they play, is a lack of time. If getting to the club just that little bit earlier to factor that warm-up time in isn’t possible, you’d still be better off to start your session with the first 10mins gradually ramping up intensity, rather than diving straight into full pace play like so many players do.
Think of that extra time taken to be diligent with the start of your session as a form of insurance for your body, and as an important way to really maximise your body’s response to your on-court work.
Practice moving at speed
Even with those who have stayed training hard during the lockdown, it’s likely that most of the exercise that people have been doing is based around more moderate paced aerobic-based activities such as running, cycling, and bodyweight circuits.
Squash however is fundamentally a game of repeat-sprints, quick changes of direction, and rapid accelerations/decelerations – these type of explosive movements place totally different demands on a body than a 5k run will.
As part of your initial training sessions back on court, look to include some progressive speed based exercises such as the racket touch drill, cross sprint drill, and lateral drill. If you’re training with a partner, we have a good selection of 2 person drills in the fitness section of the site to add in a more realistic random element to these kinds of exercises as well.
Warm-up thoroughly first, and then perform a few steady pace sets of these speed & agility drills each time you train, increasing the pace/intensity of them gradually. They’ll help the quality of your movement in general, whilst also helping your body acclimatise back to the rigours of full pace on-court play.
Build up your court time gradually
As exciting as it is to be back on court hitting balls, it will pay better dividends for you in the long-term if you take the time to build up the duration of your sessions, rather than going straight back into the lengthier games/training you may have been familiar with pre-lockdown.
While your brain might be conditioned to playing for longer time periods, it’s highly unlikely right now that your body is. Start your comeback to court at not just a lower intensity, but at a lower volume as well. The longer your session goes on for the more fatigued you become, and the more susceptible an unconditioned body comes to breaking down. Being patient for a couple of weeks and slowly building up the length of your sessions, will pay dividends in the long term.
B.Sc.(Hons), CSCS, NSCA-CPT, Dip. FTST
SquashSkills Fitness & Performance Director
Your ultimate return to court guide
Check out your guide to socially distanced squash and make sure you’re ready to play once the courts reopen. Whether you are looking for solo practice drills or ways to train while maintaining social distancing, we’ve got you covered!Find out more