Bi-Lateral Cross-Training for Squash

One of the challenges for WISPA and PSA squash tour professionals is to balance the need to make a living with scheduling sufficient time off to avoid burnout and chronic injury.  Pro racquet sport athletes do not have the luxury of following properly designed 12- month periodized  training plans with built in transition periods:  4-6 weeks of cross-training following the most important competition of the year to allow complete mental and physical restoration.

Most pros will be obliged to use cycles of 3-5 weeks built around their tournament schedule, where hard training is done for 1-2 weeks, followed by maintenance and tapering in order to “peak” at an important tournament, followed by an easier restoration week, before starting the pattern again.

Problems related to the over-development of one side of the body (upper arm/shoulder) are less frequent in squash than in tennis due to the lighter weight racquet.  Rarely do we see a squash athlete reminiscent of Rod Laver’s gargantuan left side – due to the relatively light weight of the squash racquet (compared to the tennis racquet).  We do see a lot of early onset right hip arthritis due to overuse of the right leg on both the backhand and forehand (open stance) sides.

Laver's Large Left Arm

Laver's Large Left Arm

One solution to avoiding possible problems (in addition to doing a few extra “left-side” sets when strength training) would be to incorporate a bi-lateral cross-training activity that could be done during transition and regeneration weeks.  U.S. Handball is a great option, since the one-wall, outside variety can be played almost anywhere (schools, parks, etc.), since all you need is a wall and a ball.  I ordered the easier-on-your-hands “family” ball (and gloves:) today in order to give it a try in the coming weeks.  The U.S. handball site also has some free excellent instructional downloads here.  Apparently, the ubiquitous U.S. racquetball is also a good choice for beginning players.

Here are some pretty good players playing doubles at a local park:

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