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Game Preparation for Squash


  • Think of starting your preparation before you leave home by eating correctly and fully hydrating.
  • Contrary to popular opinion the five minute “hit up” prior to your Squash game should not be solely used as a warm up.
  • Use the five minute hit up to get used to the court and ball conditions.
  • Make sure you have the additional total body warm up and even the Squash specific warm up
  • Being well prepared will help prevent muscle and joint injuries, and get fully tuned in for your game.

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PSA Squash TV - CIMB Malaysian Open 2012

Pre Game Meal

  • What you eat and drink leading up to a match, directly affects your performance.
  • Only eat a meal that can be digested before you play. Different foods have different digestive times. (Could be up to 3 hours or more).
  • Suitable pre-game meal foods:
fish
lean meats
bread
cereals
salad sandwiches
cooked vegetables
potatoes
biscuits
dessert
  • Although a meal high in Protein can help muscles perform more efficiently, you mustn't eat anything too heavy just prior to your match.
  • Carbohydrates are converted into energy most easily. Include foods with a low glycemic index (GI) so that there is a slower release of energy.
  • High GI foods can result in over production of glucose or insulin (or both) a side effect of which is lethargy, sometimes in under a hour.
  • Fully hydrate before playing. (Clear urine is usually a sign of full hydration).

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Nutrition and Sports Performance

Nutrition and Sports Performance
Protein
(2 servings +daily)

  • Meat, fish, poultry, nuts, peas and beans
  • These foods have nutrients required for growth and repair.

Dairy Foods (2 servings + daily)

  • Milk, cheese, yoghurt, ice cream
  • These foods contain fats which are the large fuel sgorage depots contained in muscle and fat tissue. 
  • They are an essential part of the diet.

Cereals/Grains (4 servings + daily)

  • Bread, cereal, rice, spaghetti
  • Carbohydrates provide the most economical source of energy and the preferred fuel in intensive exercise.

Fruits and Vegetables (4 servings + daily)

  • Apples, oranges, salads, potatoes and corn
  • Carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals are essential parts of the enzyme systems which metabolise carbohydrates and fats.
  • Minerals are essential in the proper functioning of nerves and muscles.

The number of servings listed will only supply essential nutrients and represent a balanced diet.  Extra servings containing extra calories will be required to meet full training needs.
Water

  • Two-thirds of body weight is water.
  •  The critical chemical reactions for providing muscular energy take place in water.
  • Water provides an important function in transporting metabolic by-products to the lungs and kidneys and heat to the surface for dissipation.

Pre-Game Meal
Two to three hours before a match a high carbohydrate, low fat meal accompanied by abundant fluid is desirable.


Choices for a Pre Game Meal

A guide to your meal choices:

Excellent Choices Poor Choices
Breakfast
Cereal or Pancakes
Low Fat or Skim Milk
Fruit, Fruit Juice
Weak Tea or Coffee
Wholemeal Toast
Bacon and Eggs
White Toast
Full Cream Milk
Strong Coffee
Lunch
 Lean Meat, Chicken, Cheese
and Salad Sandwich
Fruit Juice
Fruit Salad, Ice Cream, Rice
Custard
Meat Pie and Ships
Milkshake
Mars Bar
 Dinner
Pasta (limit oil and cheese)
Low Fat or Skim Milk
Salad, Vegetables
Apple Crumble,  Pancakes
Pizza, Fried Chicken, Steak
Roast Potato
Apple Turnover
Can of Coke

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Mental Preparation

  • Prepare yourself mentally to follow your desired game plan (eg. Volley where possible, change the pace, etc)
  • If the level of arousal(eg. too anxious?)  is too high - try deep breathing, relax and get rhythm especially in the hit up.
  • Visualise your technique (eg lob serve - feet positioning, ball toss, front all target etc)
  • Set/adapt your game plan according to what you know about your opponent.
  • Stay focussed prior to the game (don't let pre game interaction upset or distract you)

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What you must do to be successful

Being successful

  • Each competition presents different challenges and has different demands.
  • Preparing to perform adds a sense of control.
  • Relieving tension, enhancing concentration and building confidence.
  • Visualise some problems you expect to encounter the day before the actual match.
  • Visualise how you will successfully handle the problems to include a perfect performance.

The following ideas may assist your mental ability to perform well.

Behaviour experienced Suggested encounter
Could not sleep the night before Relaxation exercises
Nervous
  • Cannot think
  • Scared to play your shots
  • Slow to move
  • Unco-ordinated
  • Breath Control
  • Increase your heart rate before going on court
  • May be trying too hard
  • Try to get your timing right in the warm-up.
  • Don't try to win the hit-up but strive for a "good feel" in your swing.
Referee Calls
  • Cannot hear the Ref
  • The Ref is against me
  • Can only recall the bad calls by ther Ref
  • Looking for excuses
  • The Ref's decisions do not lose matches.  It is a difficult job. The more you focus on the Ref the worse the refereeing seems to get.
  • You must get on with your game plan as concentration is easily lost while thinking of the Ref.
  • Don't look for excuses.
  • If you expect "strokes" and only get "lets" get into position quicker to convince the Ref. 
  • A stroke is a penalty against your opponent, not a bonus stroke for you.
Aggressive Opponent
  • Pushing
  • Standing too close
  • Excessive swing
  • Opponent argues, wastes time.
  • Keep your jmind in control of what you are doing.  Don't be put off by this tactic.
  • Keep thinking positive
Over confident
  • Walk on the court without a plan
  • Keep thinking about the match results
  • Prepare yourself for all matches mentally and physically
  • Competition is often a battle, not of playing ability, but of mental toughness.

A guide to your behaviour is:

  • Shook hands before and after the match.
  • Comments were supportive
  • Accepted the Ref's decisions
  • Showed honesty and courtesy
  • Acknowledged good play

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Physical Match Preparation

  • The physical match preparation consists of three main elements.
    • General body warm up
    • Specific muscle stretches
    • Sport specific warm up
  • Undertake all three warm ups to be fully physically prepared for your match.
  • Continue your mental preparation at this time to perform at your best.

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Swing the racket through the full range of movement

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General Body Warm Up

Increase the heart rate when warming up
  • Any light to moderate physical activity
  • Get up a light sweat or heart rate of 60 - 70% mhr.

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Specific Muscle Stretches

Warmups will help remove any stiffness
  • Once a warm up has been completed, players should then stretch the major muscle groups used in Squash.
  • Each stretch should be held for at least 10-20 seconds(no “bouncing”)
  • Completed at least 2-4 times.
  • Held until a slight burning sensation can be felt.
  • Never stretch torn or injured muscles
  •  Read more on stretches

More on Stretches

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Specific Muscle Stretches

  • Stretching specific muscles is essential to help reduce muscle tear injuries and to allow you to have maximum flexibility during a game.
  • A warm up by itself will not prepare you for the extra stretching that is required in some situations and when you may move awkwardly.
  • Stretching beforehand will help reduce the chance of muscle related injuries. Stretching after the game will help your overall flexibility as this will stretch the muscles more than the pre game stretch due to vigorous movement during the game.
  • More advanced forms of stretching can be undertaken but this would normally be done in a special stretching or flexibility session.

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Skills Warm Up

Swinging and moving will develop rhythm
  • A Squash skill warm up should include a series of ghosted court movements.
  •  A range of racket swings.
  • A combination of the above.
  • You can increase the intensity as this progresses.
  • During the entire warm up, mental rehearsal or other psychological preparation for the match.

More on Squash Skills Warm up

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Sports Specific Warm up

  • A Sport specific warm up can have a positive effect on your performance.
  • It is vital prior to a competitive match .
  • It can be replaced in a practice game with a short period of lower intensity play (say building up over 5 - 10 minutes).
  • A period of controlled dynamic movement is very useful in peparing for a competitive game and to help reduce injury risk.
  • This is also a useful time for mental rehearsal.
  • Undertaking this warm up will help refine the muscle memory into a groove.

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The Pre Game Hit Up

This is the time to get the feel of the court
  • A "hit up" before a competition match lasts 5 minutes.
  • Standing on either backhand or forehand side, players hit the ball to each other for 2.5 minutes then change sides.
  • This is a chance to get used to the court conditions and the ball.
  • Get a feel for the pace of the ball and try to establish a good length.
  •  If you have not seen your opponent play before, try to pick up any technical weaknesses they might have.
  • Try to get your movement and swing into a "groove" - be purposeful.
  • Attempt plenty of volleys in the hit up.
  • Mental rehearsal of your hit up routine can ensure that you carry out all the desired tasks in the hit up.

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