By Peter Nicol, former World No. 1
So the traditional season is over and now is the time to assess how you performed. Ideally, you should be hyper-critical of your game initially to really identify the areas of weakness. From that point you can work on building your game back up, piece by piece, until you are ready to start the new season in the best shape ever!
Where to start? I always created simple groups to start the identifying process. These were fitness, technical, tactical and motivation. I’d then break them down further to reach some basic conclusions.
In this article, let me address the fitness aspect. For me fitness was strength, power (legs), speed, stamina and anaerobic ability. I generally had to work harder to maintain and improve my strength, power and speed. As a young boy I always ran everywhere and played several sports so my stamina and anaerobic ability was good. Alongside the general hard physical court work I was doing, I focused less on these aspects of my fitness.
I’d break down my strengths and weaknesses, taking each area separately but always relating my ability to my game. There is no point being able to master a certain physical feat if it has no correlation to your game and the goal is top improve your squash. I was always very focused on making myself a better player through being a better athlete, not purely for the sake of being fitter. I made sure I was trying to be fit for a purpose.
My first thoughts leading into the off-season were nearly always on an all-round weight program to improve my general body strength. I naturally am slight and throughout the season, with a gruelling schedule and lots of tough matches, I’d have lost muscle bulk. I’d also start on a heavy leg weight program to specifically build the base for more power in my legs. If I could get all this work “in the bank” over the course of the first 4-6 weeks of off season training, I knew that converting that into match fitness was almost inevitable.
Although known for my movement, raw speed was never in my armory. Nearing the end of the training period I’d have to work consistently on lots of different short and sharp bursts to improve my speed. This, alongside my movement work, ensured that right through my career, getting to the ball was never a major issue for me.
With regards to fitness, I’d urge everyone to be honest about his or her strengths and weaknesses before embarking on an improvement program. Without knowing what is needed, lots of hard work could be wasted if not focused on the right areas. Being fitter is a very simple and hugely effective way to be prepared for the new season, I almost guarantee you’ll be a better player!
Join us at Squashskills.com where we are going through a full off-season training program, led by our fitness trainer Jessica and featuring preferred training methods by the likes of squash legend David Palmer.