Squash Agility/Speed Test & Training: A Reader Comment & Update

Ben Mathes (mathes.ben@gmail.com) comments on yesterday’s post:

“On the smaller confines of a squash court, I wonder about the safety of the various balls rolling around after they are placed.  A small variation on this that I’ve done is to place squash rackets on the six “corners” and move them from point to point. Due to the size of the rackets, however, you can’t drop anything in the middle.”

We took Ben’s comments to heart and modified the speed-agility test to include the use of shoe boxes into which to put the balls in order to not create a hazard on the court.  We switched to tennis balls to take hand dexterity effects out of the test.  See the video below.

The test can also be used for speed and agility squash training.  The physical ability targeted in the six-point drill can be changed by  controlling the work:rest ratio, which in turn can be controlled by the number of players participating in the exercise.  Assuming (for simplicity of calculation) the players are doing the six-points in about 20 seconds:

  • Aerobic Power: 2 people equals a work to rest ratio (W:R) of 1:1 – so 20 seconds of work, followed by 20 seconds of restwith relatively little rest, the intensity of work will drop after a few repetitions into the aerobic training zone where the players should be working at 80-85% of maximum.
  • Anaerobic Endurance: 3 people equals a W:R of 1:2 – so 20 seconds of work followed by 40 seconds of rest – with extra rest the intensity or speed of movement should increase, with a concomitant greater involvement of the Lactic Energy System (Glycolytic is another frequently used term);  Because of the accumulated lactic acid after a number of repetitions, sets of five can be used with 5 minutes of active rest between sets (active rest like jogging at 60% will help eliminate some of the lactic acid).  Players should be working at about 85-90% of maximum.
  • Anaerobic Power:  Using 3-5 people on the court equals a W:R rest ratio of  about 1:5 – which should increase the intensity or quality of movement (more rest), and prevent the same rapid increase and accumulation of  lactic acid as with Anaerobic Endurance.  Players should be working at their maximum possible speed of movement.  Note that the greater the rest the less squash-specific the training becomes, as the W:R in match play is about 1:1 – something to keep in mind.

In the absence of individual prescriptions by qualified personnel, a rule of thumb would be to start with one set of five, and then add another set of five every week, until you get to 3-4 sets, at which point the law of diminishing returns starts to take effect.  Note that the terms used to describe these physical abilities or energy systems can vary according to country and also by group of researchers.  The terms used here were popular in English Canada – the Quebecois using a different more French (and complicated) system of nomenclature.

The “rules” for when exactly (time of season) to use each of these types of training are a bit complex, and will be addressed in another post.

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