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Explosive Fitness Right for Squash

Published: 15 Feb 2009 - 22:38 by raystrach

Updated: 18 Feb 2009 - 23:55

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Getting your fitness right for Squash is important because your fitness determines the type of game you are able to play. I am fitter that I have been for some time but the type of fitness I have at the moment is aerobic fitness.

I have gained this fitness mainly through my bicycle riding. The 17 kilometers i ride to get to and from Squash two or three times a week in addition to other riding has made a big difference to my base fitness level.

During my ride I ride as hard as I possibly can for the entire journey and whilst I know I can get a lot fitter, this extra work has made a big difference, and while I continue to do carry the same workload, that base level of fitness will rise.

Unfortunately this type of fitness does not enable me to play the type of game I want to play against good players. I have to go above my anaerobic threshold to play at that level.

When you play better players, you generally have more difficulty reading their game, more difficulty hitting winners and the rallies tend to go longer (that is if you are not  copping a thrashing). All these things made you work not only harder, but faster.

Less time means that you have to move later which means you have to go faster. Faster means more explosive which means more anaerobic. When I try to go at this higher pace so that I am putting pressure on the other player, I get puffed pretty quickly. My cardio vascular system simply cannot cope with the extra workload placed on it by the anaerobic system.

It is the aerobic system that has to replace all the ATP that is being used in the more explosive movements. At the anearobic threshold, your body is using just the amount of ATP that the CV system can create. Therefore I have to do some more specific training to develop a more anerobic edge to my fitness, therefore lifting this threshold.

I need to lift the intensity of the work that I do. Over the next couple of months, I intend to do the following to help with this:

  • Instead of riding at the once pace on the bike, I will make it more like intervals, riding really hard for a minute or so, then easing off for a minute and continuing my journer that way.
  • Upping the tempo in any practice games, but attempting to make more volleys, even if I still hit it back to the opponent to give them a game
  • If I do any drills, I will increase the intensity, but decrease the amount of time I spend doing each set and make the recovery time shorter but more frequent.

decreasing the amount of time in between the opponent's hit and yours is one way of putting more pressure on your opponent and generally increasing the standard of your game.

Just make sure you have the right sort of fitness to be able to do it.

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From MarkG - 18 Feb 2009 - 23:55


In addition to the sprints mentioned, my coach has another good drill.  From the edge of both side walls, put a racquet on the ground directly on the service line (grip end touching the wall).  Put half a dozen balls (or so), on the strings of the left racquet.  Facing the front wall, pick up the first ball, and move across to the right side racquet as per normal ghosting, putting the ball on the strings.  Ghost back to the left racquet picking up the next ball and repeat until all the balls are on the right racquet.  Continue by transporting the balls back one by one to the left hand side racquet face.  Makes you concentrate when under the stopwatch and you accidentally let a ball roll off the strings, and have to put it back on!

I question though.  I've been thinking of additional exercies and remember reading somewhere that running up stairs is good in that it mimics lunging (or strengthens the muscles related to lunging).  What do you think?


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From raystrach - 18 Feb 2009 - 08:48   -   Updated: 18 Feb 2009 - 09:06

hi dave

yeah, i may have reached that point, although not in the way that you mean.

the great thing about the bike is that it is low impact. because of my advancing age, i can no longer get fit on court - put simply, my body breaks.

it is also good as a cross training element for younger athletes, helping to avoid some repetitive training issues.

while ghosting is great, for me, it is no longer a part of my training. i now prefer a range of drills and routines which can help maintain my fitness and improve my racket skills.

with the court work, it is good to tie these activities to time. that way you get a good idea of your progress and/or relativity to previous sessions - a good way to monitor your fitness/skill levels.

we used to use 22 as a benchmark, ie

  1. 22 court lengths in a minute ( we used to touch the floor with our hand at both ends - you should bend your knees to get down, not just bend your back) - always carrying a racket of course
    • medium initensity training - 10 sets with na minute break in between
    • high intensity - 10 sets with 15 secs in between (yes, it can be done - just)
  2. 22 ghosting points to the minute (4 corners, 2 volleys per circuit)
    • use the same intensity guide above

alternatives (done 1 minute on, one minute off) -

  1. interrupted ghosting - done in pairs, one person does the ghosting for a minute and the other person ambles around the T area getting in the way of the ghoster (to simulate real play)
  2. directed ghosting - again in pairs the other person directs the ghoster to certain points at the required rate (eg backhand volley, short forehand, deep backhand etc etc)
  3. interrupted and directed - most advanced form - you don't need me to tell you the pain that you can be put through with this one

being fairly slow, i was just able to achieve the 22 in a minute, even when fresh, so doing it when fatigued was dfficult, but possible. i have been on court with some who do do up to 24 - let me tell you, that is flying!!

these days i would be flat out doing one set in a minute let alone 10 consecutive sets!


aprice, a lot of people say that they need to get fitter, whereas what they really need is to get more skill. your story illustrates that point. the coach obviously had a lot more control  making you work intensely - you of all people will know that your anaerobic system was being relenished at that time you were gasping for air.

this is where it gets interesting, trying to use that energy to dominate (using those extra skills as well) rather than just trying to defend. that way, you do less intense running and all of a sudden you seem fitter in the process.

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From daveamour - 17 Feb 2009 - 22:51

I have tried many things to improve squash fitness including running, biking and swimming but the two best methods I have found have really improved my fitness dramatically is ghosting and court sprints.

For court sprints I just run from one end of the court to the other then back again at a fast pace.  Currently I start on 24 rest a ittle, then 22 rest a litte then 20 and so on right down to 2.  This takes me about 15 moinutes and my heart rate and breathing is right up there for the duration.

You try sprinting up and down a court 24 times and then find that you have to run a handful of court lengths in a ralley and by comparison it just seems so easy.  The added fitness also helps you to recover and turn defense into attack.

Ghosting too is fantastic as is is practising exactly what you do on court and should also be done until you can't do any more!

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From aprice1985 - 17 Feb 2009 - 08:43

Playing at a higher level certainly improves fitness, i played our club coach earlier this week and after one game of him playing english and me PAR to 9 i can off court gasping for breath, and i seem to be one of the fitter players in the club!  My immediate thought was I haven't been that tired in years but then again I haven't played anyone that much better than me in a long time, too many games with people of a similar level.  It didn't help that he wasn't playing full pace and was playing corksrews and trick shots.

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From raystrach - 16 Feb 2009 - 21:52

hi mike

depending on what match I am playing, none or an hour or so. for practice, i don't bother with any rest, i just go on an play.

if i am playing a really tough competitive match, (which is the case with two or three of the players) i will drive down instead of riding. otherwise for easier comp matches, i give myself an hour break so i am prepared to put in a good effort for the team.


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From mike - 16 Feb 2009 - 11:56

Ray - how much rest do you give yourself after riding 8.5km at pace before starting your match?

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