In the game of Squash world-wide, we are indeed fortunate to have an enormously broad and deep human asset pool.
We have innovators who are developing the way the game is broadcast. Innovators who are developing the way the game is marketed. Innovators who are constantly striving to evolve the equipment we use.
But how many players, coaches, referees, administrators and promoters accept the game as it is and how many ask deep and searching questions about the status quo? In my own writing I try and promote deep questioning thought and of course, when I come across those who seem to have a similar bent, I am delighted.
In my book ‘Angles’ I tried to pique the curiosity of readers by challenging accepted wisdom and asking contributors to reveal their own thoughts on the subjects that my poems considered.
At 52 years old, having been in Squash almost all my life, I am gradually becoming a little more tolerant and considerate of ideas that oppose my own – and perhaps a little more effective at outlining the reasons for my differing.
How refreshing it is then when an individual comes to the fore who is young, considerate and importantly a deep thinking individual who profoundly investigates ideas to the point of continually challenging and evolving their own previously held values.
Such an individual, it seems to me, is James Willstrop.
It is of course wonderful that he has become the number one player in the world. And wonderful that he is such an extraordinary exponent of our game.
But if you have read any of his writing either in his regular newspaper columns or his new book: ‘A Shot and a Ghost,’ or elsewhere, you will appreciate that his playing of the game is actually a physical realization of a very complex and deep mind.
James Willstrop is the world number one, but I suspect that his contribution to the sport will go far beyond that accolade – rare as it is.
Since I have suffered both hip and knee injuries and impact has become a serious concern for me, I have looked for alternative training methods to both prepare and maintain myself for intensive Squash competition.
The “discovery” of Medicine Ball training has been a lifesaver.
I have used the Medicine Ball in one way or another since I was a kid at school, but more recently I have incorporated it in my coaching and training. If I am honest ‘though, I had mainly subjected my students to the Medicine Ball routines and hadn’t done a great deal myself.
When I still owned a Squash club, I invited famed Sports Specific trainer Damon Leedale Brown to come and offer some Functional Training sessions to my members. I also participated and the experience proved to be something of a light bulb for me.
Damon had worked extensively with James Willstrop and Vanessa Atkinson – both world number one Squash players at various times – and had studied extensively how the movement patterns of Squash players both function and breakdown.
When we fatigue our musculatures naturally default to less efficient movement patterns and Damon was able to explore Sports Specific exercises to counter the loss of efficiency.
Much of this work was developed using the Medicine Ball.
After my sessions with Damon, I began to develop exercises based on my own knowledge of Squash and specific to the types of movement that I needed to be able to reproduce.
The net result is that I now have a simple training program that I try to use once or twice per week.
I am delighted with the results.
Not only are my joints protected, but my movement efficiency on the court is noticeably improved when I do the Medicine Ball sessions consistently.
With my existing hip and knee injuries, my form when reproducing these exercises is not the best – so rather than trying to emulate me – I strongly advise you to read and watch some of the numerous brochures/ videos that there are available on the net, in order to gain the correct impression of how these exercises are done. See the links below.
www.coreperformance.com is a great site with powerful information that is of great practical value to Squash players – particularly if you interpret your own movement patterns when you are fresh and try to analyze how you are breaking down when you are fatigued. You can also follow them on twitter: @coreperformance
When you purchase a Medicine Ball I would recommend that you buy a ball that is comfortable for you. If you have never done any medicine ball training and you are a slight person or a junior who hasn’t passed puberty yet I would suggest a very light ball – no more than 4 pounds. I myself use a 6 or 8 pound ball and find that more than adequate. If you are in great shape and have used Medicine Balls a lot you might want 8 or 10 pounds – but try the lighter ball first. There is great advice for how to select your Medicine Ball at www.coreperformance.com
I would recommend the rubberized ball that bounces as you can do a broad range of exercises with these balls.You can purchase your this equipment at www.performbetter.com. This is a great site to buy your Medicine Ball.
My typical session includes 4 to 6 different exercises. I typically do 15 reps of the leg and arm focused exercises, and around 30 of the core based exercises.
I try to do a Squash movement such as the one in the picture below (see images below and excuse my form), followed by a core exercise and then a swinging arm exercise and then a Squat and upward driving movement exercise. If I do my 15 reps for each exercise (both sides if the exercise involves lateral movements) and 30 reps for my core exercises and repeat the whole series twice, it typically takes me between 30 minutes to an hour.
Once or twice a week in addition to my stamina and sprint sessions, plus my games and training/practice sessions seems to provide this 52 year old body with a strong foundation for competition.
I strongly recommend you try this program. If you are not sure of your movements you should get some advice from a trainer or experienced Medicine ball user. Certainly watch the available videos carefully.
I would love to hear about your results so please get back to me with your findings!
Meanwhile – Good Training to you!
Top Row Squash Movements – Bottom Row Coordinating Medicine Ball Movements: