Physical Training Priority
We only have one priority – to avoid & minimize injury to maximize on-court play & training – multiple 2016 studies have shown a .87 correlation between “days lost to injury” and final team ranking. This means a large emphasis on prehabilitation, recovery/regeneration and attention to training volume and intensity – rule of thumb is maximum of 10% increase in training volume per week (assuming intensity stays the same).
Think about it…at the end of the season we are placed in a pool of similar ability teams, and after the first round of Nationals we play teams where season overall match scores were 5-4, with many 3-2 individual matches…if one or more of you get injured and are removed from the line-up, your teammates are bumped up at least one position basically ensuring a team loss and a National Team ranking at least 4 spots lower (e.g., 22 instead of 18).
I heard of some complaining from some of the seniors on last year’s team “we want more real weights!” “program is not tough enough”:
We were the ONLY program (both men’s & women’s team) in the CSA that outperformed their seeding at Nationals last year – and although we had some aches and pains we were one of the few teams who did not have to sit players due to injury…a considerable achievement considering 50% of last year’s team showed up on Nov. 1 with some type of chronic injury – 50%. The purpose of summer training is to show up injury-free.
The Best Squash Training
The best physical training for squash is to actually play squash for the same duration and intensity that you will need at for your three matches at Nationals – so a 45-60 min. match at 100% effort (assume equal opponent with a 13-11 finish in the 5th).
There is a role for supplementary training, but after November 1, this is secondary to giving 100% at practice. Once practices start, supplementary training (unless you do it outside of practice on your own) moves to a once a week maintenance level in order to have sufficient time to do the best training – which is to play squash: games, conditioned games, tactical drills executed at or near game pace.
Once you take out the warm-up, cool-down, water breaks, court switches and our brief coach game/drill explanations you are basically left with 45-60 min. of real on-court practice.
Here are some links explaining our overall approach to the season:
Action Plan – August 17 to September 4
- Do the strength workout that Shona sent out 3 times a week. Do 2-3 sets of 10-12 reps for each exercise. If you have been doing a lot of strength training for the last 2-3 months and you think this program is too easy, contact me and I will write you a tougher one. Here is a PDF but accessing the program using the Fitness Builder app is better (access to vid explanations): Wesleyan Strength Summer II.
- For the first part of aerobic training (assuming you have been doing 30 min. at least 3 times a week during the summer) you need to up the intensity and do shorter 20 min. efforts at 80% (so heart rate of 160+ bpm) or above twice a week. Ideally, this should be interval training using squash-specific muscles: 30-60 seconds of harder effort, followed by 10-30 seconds of lower effort. If you are lower leg injury prone (sore knees, ankles, shin splints) you should do these on a bike (until your legs are no longer injury prone).
- For the second part of aerobic training, you should also do 1-2 more lower intensity aerobic workouts (30-40 min. @ 65-75%). Again, if you are lower leg injury prone (sore knees, ankles, shin splints) you should do these on a bike (until your legs are no longer injury prone).
- Avoid sore knees and shin splints at all costs! No large increases in training duration or dramatic switching of surfaces (running on grass to road; from biking to running; from running to pounding on a court). If you have not been doing much then play it safe and train on a bike or elliptical.
- If you have access to courts and are actually playing squash for an hour or more, you do not have to add in the aerobic training – and should not do both if you have been doing nothing.