Of all the racket sports squash is the most intense, its’s fast, the space you play in is limited and – unlike the net games – you share the same space as your opponent. So getting around the court and past your opponents to play can make the difference between winning and losing. To help you get a head start on your rivals, check out our top 5 essential squash drills and start putting them into practice on the court.
The ball moves and rebounds at speed so as well as needing agility and speed to play strength is crucial for powerful returns. The pace of the game is relentless and many newcomers to the game or those that neglect exercise between games flail not because they lack the skills but because they lack the stamina.
Whether you’re a novice or not, devoting 20 minutes to specific squash drills and exercises three times every week is guaranteed to up your game.
The easiest of all the regular squash drills is ghosting – spending time alone on the court practising moving from the T at the centre of the court to the six recognised hot spots on each side at the front, centre and back.
Run between these and the T in sequence and then randomly. Go as fast as you can and eventually when you get to each spot lunge low, squat or jump high to mimic the leg actions of the various returns you might make.
Devote 15 minutes once a week to this and record how many runs you make and how many breaks you require, you’ll be amazed how quickly the numbers rise and the rests fall and you’ll soon notice a breakthrough in your game.
2. Stability Ball Back Bridge
A stable strong core is essential for powerful play and also to hold your balance as the body weight shifts in accordance with your moves around the squash court.
To perform this back bridge rest your head, neck, shoulders and upper ribs on the centre of a stability ball with your back extended and unsupported, your knees bent and your feet directly beneath the knees on the floor set a hip distance apart. The ankles and knees should both be at right angles so the shins are vertical and the body and thighs horizontal.
If your core is weak, just holding this position will be a challenge and to do so engage your butt tight. If you’re feeling stable, elevate alternate feet progressing to lengthening and lifting alternate legs whilst keeping your back stable and still.
3. Deep lunges
This squash exercise is great at it powers up the legs generally while preparing them specifically for squash and the many returns made low to the ground.
Newbies may find body weight alone is ample resistance but with regular repetition the load of a barbell, hand weights or kettlebells can be added to create powerful legs that lunge low and jump high.
Stride one foot forward and the other back, place the front foot flat on the floor and lift the heel of the back foot, maintaining a hip distance between them. Bend your front knee as low as you can keeping it vertically above the ankle, moving the back foot back further if you need to in order to maintain this alignment. As you bend the front knee bring the hips and the back leg low softening the back knee on the way down and extending it slightly on the way up.
Root your front heel to the floor throughout and try to initiate the lift from the load in that heel. Aim for three sets of 15 on each leg. Move slow and full rather than fast and shallow.
4. Standing Bosu Ball Balance
The stabilising muscles in the lower legs and those that support the ankle are both built by balancing on a Bosu ball. Strong stabilisers will restrict falls while strong ankles will enable rapid turns and sprints while protecting the ankles themselves and the knees.
To perform this balance simply step both feet on a Bosu ball a hip distance apart, then lift alternate feet off and hold each balance for as long as possible Progress these squash drills by holding for longer, lifting the legs higher, moving the leg while it’s lifted back and forth, side to side and bending and extending it. For an extra challenge, draw the arms in against the body as opposed to spreading them wide, as you’ll instinctively do.
5. Plyometric Jumps
Any plyometric move – a rapid, explosive full body movement – works the body at high intensity and so quickly advances endurance. Plyometric exercises also work the muscles to their maximum so they also build incredible power. Which means any plyometric move is great for squash.
Of them all, we recommend simple jumps varying the orientation of the player and their direction of travel. This exercise will best recruit the wide variety of muscles you need to drive you quickly and powerful across the court.
Either on court or in a suitable space set your feet at hip distance apart, bend the knees and jump forward, sideways and diagonally at least four times in each direction before changing.
Always aim to lift and land the legs in unison, a staggered land is indicative of a tired person, do this for ten minutes twice a week and you’ll soon notice a difference in your all-round fitness and your play.
Collectively these exercises should not take more than 30 minutes and we recommend you blend them with your workouts on non-game days at least twice a week.
Before you do, commit to them by booking them into your diary. When you do, record your achievements in a journal. And while you do, note what aspects of your game benefit. We’d love to hear from you when these simple squash drills help you beat a long-standing opponent or get you moved up a league.