Monday, 10 August 2009

Summer Training Basics – by Jonathan Barnes

Training over the summer is everybody’s worst nightmare. It requires effort (often physical unfortunately!) and comes with little immediate reward as there are very few events such as tournaments and leagues over the summer. Also, the summer is often a time where people lose some of their routine (particularly students as there is no class and everybody goes back to home) and therefore finding regular training partners can be a bit tricky.

This is precisely why summer training is important!

Who wants to train over the summer? Well, luckily your opponents probably won’t! So, if done properly, this is a perfect period to get ahead of the competition!

Yes… “if done properly!”

Training has various stages depending on the phase you are in. If you’re tournament is in one week, your training methods should be completely different than if you’re first league match or tournament was in 2 months. Some aspects of these training phases are standard through almost every sport, others are quite specific to racket sports or ball sports like Squash. We will go into some of these important phases in more details.

From General, to Specific, to Functional

This progressive sequence should be used during a single training as well as throughout a whole 2 months. What do these terms mean? Well, when I use these terms within a Squash context they mean the following:

General: None Squash related training. This includes weights, core exercises (sit ups, press-ups, planks…), running, cycling, rowing, swimming and other exercises that are generally closed and take away the specific attributes of Squash (ie. No ball or racket!).

Specific: This phase uses the methods used within the “General” phase and puts them into a Squash specific context. For instance if you are working on your core strength, then doing single stride ghosting at a very slow speed is a good way of working on your core (gluts, hamstrings, quadriceps, abdominal muscles, back muscles). Or, if during the “General” phase you were working on your stamina on the treadmill, then you might like to take this on to the Squash court with some long ghosting sets. The “Specific” phase, takes your general work-out into a Squash specific context (it often doesn’t involve the ball all that much though).

Functional: This final part of work will take the work from the previous two phases and put them into to a complete context. Finally you get to play! This section will allow the routines to become more open and gradually increase perception and tactical decisions making sure that you are ready for a game. This is why training sessions often finish with a game!

So when you work through the summer for instance, work on your stamina through running, cycling…etc before taking it on court with some ghosting and then even taking this further into routines and matches. The early work will facilitate the rest…

From Long to Short

A simple way of constructing a training session or a long training programme is to follow this progression. If you are training for a tournament (or league!!!) in 2 months time, then you would probably be foolish to start by working on your speed! Chances are you would burn out early, and actually, you may even have lost the benefits by the time you get to the tournament! The idea is that you should construct solid foundations both from a cardio-vascular and muscular point of view at the beginning of your programme. This comes with either long sessions (endurance can come through working above 70% of your maximum HR for over 40mins) or in long sets (e.g. 2mins ON / 30secs OFF – work time must be far superior to rest time!). This creates a basis for you to enter an anaerobic phase and then a speed phase. As you get closer to tournament time and you have set strong basic fitness then you will be able to go into an anaerobic (or resistance) phase taking the work time down but the intensity up (e.g. 1mins 15secs ON / 30secs OFF – Intensity = 80-90% MAX HR). Finally, as the match draws ever closer you will work on your speed, this goes even further with the rest time far superior to the work time as you must be completely recovered before starting again (e.g. 20secs ON / 2mins OFF – Intensity = 100%). This progression is also applicable to muscular work as you will start with long stability exercises before moving on to more explosive movements.

So get ahead of everybody and get training! Don’t forget start long and gradually make the sessions shorter and sharper and also make sure you start off court before gradually turning your training into Squash training!

Have a great summer and if you have any questions don’t hesitate in contacting me!

All the best,



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