While elite-level squash sees players carry a variety of frames and sizes, according to the PSA’s bio info most male professional players are typically around 5’11/6’0 tall, and between around 70kg and 80kg (and shorter and lighter for females). At an amateur level however, there tends to be a far greater breadth of shapes and body types.
So if you identify as a larger player, or if you’re currently carrying excess weight beyond your usual norms, what should you be aware of as regards adjustments to your training?
Keep Training Low Impact
Squash by its very nature, is a fast-paced, high intensity, high impact sport. Sprinting, lunging, twisting, and turning, can all place substantial strain on the joints. As a bigger, heavier player, these forces are going to be significantly amplified, which may incur a greater risk of injury – any unnecessary additional bodyweight carried beyond standard lean mass, is an additional extra that the joints must bear.
While there is little that can be done about the athletic demands of the sport that you encounter on-court in practice and in matches, the cumulative effects of squash’s physical stresses can be mediated somewhat by lowering the impact of your training sessions. Reducing the amount of ghosting, court sprints, and shuttles in your programme, and replacing them with non/low-weight bearing activities such as bike sprints, rowing, and swimming, can help you continue to improve your squash-specific endurance whilst lowering the load on your joints.
Monitor Your Equipment
We’ve discussed squash shoes on the site before, and how it’s often the case that players squeeze every last drop of play out of a pair, and change them only when they (literally!) fall apart.
Changing your shoes at appropriate intervals is important for any player, but this is an even more crucial consideration for bigger, heavier players. Foot pain and related issues such as plantar fasciitis are more prevalent in those carrying additional excess weight, and these problems can be compounded by inadequate support and cushioning in training shoes.
As well as ensuring you change your squash shoes more regularly, it’s also worth looking into using specialised insoles. Off the shelf brands such as Sorbothane can be good, but if you are already suffering from foot and ankle issues then it’s well worth seeking an appointment with a suitably qualified podiatrist. By having your foot properly scanned and measured, personally constructed insoles can be created for you that can go a long way to address any problems with the sole, heel, or arch of your foot.
The importance of training to increase your base strength is a frequently addressed theme here on SquashSkills, but this goes double for the larger player. Making your joints stronger and more robust can go a long way toward helping mediate the additional stresses and strains on the body caused by carrying extra bodyweight.
Increasing your strength is also important from a performance standpoint. While larger players are generally going to be slower than their more slightly built compatriots, building strength and power will help with the ability to accelerate faster from the T, and thus cover the court more rapidly.
In addition, getting stronger will also increase your stability, allowing you a firmer foundation from which to play your shots. Heavier players often struggle to control their momentum and absorb force as they decelerate into position to hit the ball, but incorporating some focused strength work into your off-court training can provide a big boost.
We have a variety of strength exercise videos featured on the site, and it’s well worth exploring some of these to help enhance this crucial aspect of conditioning for the larger player.
B.Sc.(Hons), CSCS, NSCA-CPT, Dip. FTST
SquashSkills Fitness & Performance Director
Get stronger with the help of SquashSkills
Making your joints stronger and more robust can go a long way toward helping mediate the additional stresses and strains on the body caused by carrying extra bodyweight.Watch the series