Sunday, 3 February 2013

Squash Tips: Exercises to improve efficiently

Variability is the best thing

When training in squash we have two problems:

  1. We have the ego and our self image that makes us tend to do the thing we already know.
  2. We need to find our blind spots so that we work on the skills we need to improve.

So here's a list of exercises that will take you occupied for the months ahead.

Solo Exercises

When training alone we must always be leaning toward the edge and do the things we are kind of average on.

The problem is that as the ball keeps on staling on the floor we tend to start doing the things we already know how to do (for example 50% of player remains stuck on doing long backwall drives.).

Instead of creatively avoiding the training, simply try to do easier things, remember that strength is just a tiny factor in squash, instead control and precision are definitive factor hence you must work on them more.

I'm going to write on-goingly harder exercises, i suggest you to check them all out since you can never know what will work for you.


What to focus on

When starting never demand too much from your performance, you must simply choose a skill to focus on and make sure you train on that particular skill.

Since you have to make conscious effort to improve your technique it's always good to work on only one skill at a time, when you are good at that it will become automatic.

Of course the outcomes (i.e. depth and precision of the ball) are important but you should be focusing on using the right technique not on doing great shots, they will eventually come natural.

I made an in depth article about managing your learning curve for newbies.

For advanced player what you must be focused on when making the exercises is to always fine tune the things you already do. 
For example if you're good at making drives you then must focus on walking less and extending yourself more, make a series of drives and always touch the T line with a feet before hitting the ball again.

Learn to really catch a ball from the backwall by making slow drives and making it really hard for you.

So let's get into the list!

The Exercises

All these exercises are developed with the usage of the babystepping technique.

1)Start by dribbling the ball against the front wall

When starting just focus on feeling the ball on the racket, try to maintain control over it.
Make sure you use the elbow to generate power and try to maintain a firm wrist

2)Develop depth in court and try to make the ball go into the serving box

When your coordination will improve you'll find it easier to make faster shots, just keep doing them until you reach the back wall.

3)Stay near the backwall and hit the deep drive.

This is a great test for your racket skills because you need to open, move and swing the racket correctly in order to retrieve a ball from the backwall

4)Learn how to retrieve the ball from the backwall with efficiency and hit the deep backwall drive

Start simple. If you want to train simply throw the ball onto the backwall and start to get a feeling of how to do it there are four main keys:
  1. Take the racket UP
  2. Stay as far as you can from the back wall
  3. Wait for the ball to bounce out of it even if it means it is lower
  4. Bend your knees

5)Make a series of drive on one side then make a cross-court and go on the other side.

This exercise is important to build power and stamina when making shots, try to do as many as you can.

6)Train the volley with the babystepping principles

Stay near the front wall and just hit the ball, make a step back when you can make 50 shots in a row.

When you are able to play a decent volley, alternate the volley with strong deep drives and try to always forestall the volley shot as much as you can.


7)Drive -> Boast -> Drop

Stay near the back wall and play drives, then make a boast (start with a high slow one) and go near the front wall, do the best drop you can and try to retrieve it. 
Then keep doing drives to go back to the backwall, you can make the volley in this moment. 
Repeat for as long as you can.

8)Create your own,

 You can add a cross court to exercise number 8 or use the lob instead of the drive. The important thing is that you mix it up to work on whatever skill you need.

9)The butterfly

The butterfly is a fantastic volley exercise in which you place yourself on the T and play volleys near the angle between the front and side wall in a way that makes the ball bounces back (hit the front wall before the side wall).
This exercises makes you work on the speed at which you open and the precision of your volley.

When you are able to play the butterfly consistently try to change the shots, alternating from "cross-courts" to  volley drives and then come back to the butterfly.

Exercises for two players

When playing in two the most important thing is clarity, both players must agree on which skill to work on otherwise it will be a mess and the training won't give it's fruits.

1) Long drives 

You can replace running on the treadmill with this exercise: Always go back to the T and give a hard time to your opponent by throwing the ball in the back corner.
When doing this you can focus on different skills such as:
  • Precision
  • Depth of the ball
  • Strength and Speed of the ball
  • Moving as less as possible 
  • Maintaining control of the T
  • Playing volley to keep high pressure
I recommend you to train at least 30 minutes per week on this specific routine.
You can also make variation in which you can play the drop or cross-court after a certain number of rallies

2) Boast vs Cross-Court

This exercise is a knee breaker, one player is in the front corner and the other is in the opposite back corner.
The player in the back can only play boast, while the one in the front can choose between cross-court and drop.
If it makes a drop, the player in the back has to choose to play a cross court or another drop.

3)Only long shot games

Make a game in which you can play only shots that bounces over the middle line. 
It's a great way to work on the depth of your ball.