What if i can't get on court?

By Bob Maison

By now you will have received notification from the club which is in line with England Squash and PSA guidelines and that pretty much Squash like all other sports is in shutdown for the duration.

Overseas many clubs and Gyms have shut their doors and its possible that this may happen at the Uni or any other gym or club that you might use. 

Of course, it’s very frustrating as we rely on our Squash for our physical and recreational outlets. I’m also working with Pro players whose livelihood depends on playing so of course they are frustrated, depressed and wondering it might all be over. But then of course weighed against the bigger picture Sport is not THAT important.

So, let’s assume that you might be away from the courts for 3 months- similar to recovery from a nasty injury. What could you be doing? Here are some suggestions that I’ve passed along to my PSA players:

Attitude. Its natural to be depressed about having to miss your Squash and most players will feel that way. However, having a positive mindset and doing as much as you possibly can away from the courts is likely to give you a considerable head start on most others when you can get back on court. And knowing that you are doing “SOMETHING” should definitely make you feel more positive. During a recent Coach’s seminar, I was presented with the following scary data ·        
80% of all infections that Sports People get, are picked up in the gym. So, if your gym is still open then definitely make sure you are wiping down all the equipment before and after you use it. ·        
When returning from injury or time out its natural to want to get back to your previous level of fitness as soon as possible. So why not extra days or extra reps? Studies at English Institute of Sport have shown that a 20% increase in activity will lead to a 50% greater chance of you being injured. So, work your way back gradually 

What could I do at home that could be useful if I can’t get back on court?      
If you have an exercise bike at home Google the GCN turbo training sessions and pedal along to them and for those of you that have a heart rate monitor then all the better.

In addition, you could try the following programme that Nick Matthew used and that used to be a regular feature of our training when we were at Histon Road   ·        

Nick Matthew Bike Sessions
5 mins build up
30 secs on (RPM 90-100), 15 secs off
30 secs on (RPM 100-105), 30 secs off
30 secs on (RPM 105 +), 60 secs off
x 8
5 mins build down
36 mins total
Note - Set the gear on the exercise bike to a level you can pedal relatively comfortably. If you can complete the 8 reps fairly easily then increase the gearing. These exercises are great if you can do them wearing a heart rate monitor - if you are working at around 85-95% of your theoretical maximum heart rate then that is perfect. ·       

No exercise bike?  Google the “Couch to 5k” running programme and make a start or alternatively google “Power walking” – a fantastic exercise for our older or less fit members. ·        
HIIT exercises- A brilliant start to the day- at least that’s what it feels like when you’ve finished – “Ladder climbs” (google if you don’t know what they are) 20seconds on, 10 seconds rest x 8 reps. Then straight into deep squats for 20 seconds on 10 seconds rest x 8 reps. Then plank for 30seconds. Increase your time with the plank as you get fitter. 
You will also find lots of different HIIT programmes on YouTube ·       

If you do nothing while you are away from court then everything tightens up and you are highly likely to sustain an injury first time back. There are lots of stretching programmes on google ·        

Every time you went on court there’s a fair chance you were burning up 500 to 600 calories. Some of the Pro’s are burning 4000-6000 per day. If you don’t limit your food intake then you are likely to be 10kg heavier when you get back to Squash. ·        

If you haven’t found the yet there are a large number of brilliant podcasts. Google “Don’t tell me the Score” and listen. There must be close to 60 by now all with fantastic speakers. There’s a huge amount of inspirational stuff on there.   ·       

Mental Skills
This is a large part of the work I do with my players. It’s an area that many Coach’s neglect and it becomes more and more important the higher the standard a player reaches. The following is part of a programme that some of my players are following.

Daily Exercises – 10 mins morning and evening minimum
Deep Breathing 1 - This is a well-known exercise for lowing heart rate and reducing anxiety. Breath in deeply for a count of 6. Hold for a count of 2, then breathe out for 7

Deep Breathing 2 – “Wellness” is becoming a major factor in Sports Performance and the mental health of elite performers. Controlled breathing is one of the most common wellness exercises- 

Note – All these activities are designed to enable you to become expert at Controlling your breathing for when you sense the anxiety symptoms increasing. 
Music. You will often see players warming up with headphones on and presumably listening to music. Some players will need high tempo music to get them pumped up for a match and such music can often be good for motivation during a gym programme. However, if you are starting to sense increasing anxiety symptoms then “calming music” would be a better choice and you could listen to this while you are completing your Deep breathing1 exercises   ·        

Positive Self Talk 1- Identity Statement ·       
It was reported that as a junior about to go on the PSA tour David Palmer would repeat to himself morning and evening that “ he would reach world no 1” Of course just saying it without the hard work isn’t going to be successful but almost certainly the phrase kept him focused on what he wanted to achieve – so to prepare your identity statement write down- · Who are you and what do you want to achieve? What is your goal? Might be top 50 PSA, Might be to get up to box league 10.

Positive Self Talk 2- Positivity and your Squash Diary        
One of the big challenges any player faces is to motivate him/herself to practice/train to the highest level possible – just going through the motions is a waste of time. B Level practice doesn’t produce A level results. No training or practice will be perfect but it’s important to praise yourself for what you have achieved each time plus a comment about what you want to achieve next time. ·         
Write some positive comments about your practice/training each day ·        

Note – this is only an extract from the programme. If you are interested in learning more then contact me by email   

Like you, I’m away from the courts, trying to stay positive – hope all this stuff helps you Stay well, and look forward to seeing you after the crisis has passed 

Cheers Bob M

By Alistair Dawson
Posts: 12
Great post Bob, yep i will be following some of your guidelines as i need to keep active both physically and mentally!