Tag Archive | Functional Training

Press release: The Millman Experience and Richard and Pat Millman are joining Scenic City Squash in Chattanooga!!

We are excited to announce that the Millman Experience will be moving to a new home as of February 27th 2017.

Richard Millman will be joining Scenic City Squash in Chattanooga Tenessee as Director of Squash and Pat Millman will be joining him as Assistant Director. The Millman Experience will have its new base of operations at Scenic City Squash.

” I am absolutely delighted to be able to join Scenic City Squash and Mike and Taylor Monen. The Monens are squash crazy and are highly motivated to help grow the game – not just at Scenic City Squash but everywhere. Their passion for our game exactly mirrors the passion that Pat and I have for the people of Squash and for the sport itself,” said Millman, the owner of The Squash Doctor Corp and the originator of The Millman Experience.

Millman’s first priority will be to develop Scenic City Squash’s programs at all levels, whilst simultaneously developing the Chattanooga club as a ‘go-to’ destination for the development of the game both in terms of coaching and tournament play.

Mike Monen, the owner of Scenic City Squash said,

” We are so excited to bring Richard and Pat Millman into our Scenic City Squash Family. It’s seriously a dream come true and I look forward to working with them to make Scenic City Squash the absolute best it can be. I look forward to what the future brings and making a life long friendship with the Millman squash family. ”

Millman will offer The Millman Experience at Scenic City Squash and will welcome students of the game from all over the world to study with him at the Tennessee club. He will also continue to attend major masters events and will take players from Scenic City Squash with him both to tournaments and on tour to the UK and elsewhere.

(Below: photos of Scenic City Squash, Richard Millman, Richard and Pat Millman, The Millman Experience.

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Philosophy, Analysis, Practicality, Strategy and Execution in Squash. A five part series by Richard Millman. Part 2: Analysis

Phlilosophy, analysis, practicality, strategy and execution in Squash.
A five part series, by Richard Millman.

Part 2. Analysis

As I said in the first of this series of five articles, the central pillar and most important priority in the game of Squash, and indeed in the struggle for life itself, is survival.

This powerful and apparently simple principle, is much less than simple to adhere to, however. In the complex application of behaviors that we see in Squash, the essential principle of life and death is often forgotten and is eclipsed by behaviors that should be being used to survive but, for various reasons, are given such focus and attention, that they improperly take on a life of their own and receive undue or misplaced attention – ultimately to the detriment of their original essential purpose.

In order to develop as a Squash player it is essential to clearly analyze and clearly understand the capacities required to survive, without becoming sidetracked.

In the battle for life, ultimate survival is a punishing razor’s edge where complacency or mis-judgement, over-confidence or loss of focus, have only one outcome:
Death.

Since time immemorial, human beings have been engaged in the battle for survival against other species and against our own species.

Whichever it was against, two key traits were and are required in order to succeed, overcome and survive. These two traits are as true today as they were a million years ago or however long ago it was that our ancestors first fought to survive.

These two traits work in combination, are as important as each other, are interdependent, but must never be confused or used as substitutes for one another.

The first can be termed ‘Primary focus.’

Primary focus is used to ‘attend’ to a human being’s most immediate and urgent matters at hand (more on the much mistaken concept of attention in a later part of this series).

In primeval times it may have been used to follow the spoor or trail of prey, or to attend to a Grizzly bear that suddenly confronted you, or a hostile member of our own species who was attacking.

On the Squash court Primary Focus is concerned with the ball.
Only the ball.

The second of these essential traits that work in concert for our survival can be termed ‘Peripheral Awareness.’

Peripheral Awareness is used to continuously scan your surroundings and the environment around which a human being’s most immediate and urgent matter at hand is transpiring.

In primeval times it may have been the forest around the trail you were tracking to ensure that you didn’t step on a dry twig and give your presence away or break your ankle stepping into a gopher hole, it may have been detailed awareness of the immediate area in order to escape or trap the Grizzly bear confronting you, it may have been knowledge of the obstacles around you and your attacker as you fought for survival – to ensure that you didn’t lose your footing or have your ability to maneuver thwarted.

On the Squash court Peripheral Awareness is concerned with everything except the ball.
It is what we use to continuously be intimately familiar with the entire court and our place within it.
It is what we use to continuously be aware of our opponent’s position, their options,the angles of possibility of those options and the best location from which to equilaterally defend the court against the specific options of that moment.
It is what we use to continuously be aware of imminent happenings such as the opponent imminently hitting the ball or the ball imminently hitting the nick or ourselves imminently running into a wall or our opponent or their racquet.
It is what we use in the process known as Hand/Eye coordination – a vastly useful tool that humans use in the survival process, not just to strike a moving object, but to judge the intersection of any moving objects – and that with a level of accuracy that is as extraordinary as it is microscopic.

It is what we use in an inextricable partnership with our Primary Focus to attempt to avoid death.

These two then, are the tools of human survival and success.

We use them to manage the commodity of survival.

But what is the commodity of survival?

That which a surfeit of means life and a lack thereof turns us into slaves and even leads to death?

It is non other than Time itself.
That monstrous, slippery, never-ending, fickle, resource.

The dance of life and death wherein human beings have used the two vital perception systems that I have described, Primary Focus and Peripheral Awareness, in order to lethally manage Time, is as old as mankind and as paramount today as it was then and all the days between.

It was and is still the difference between you and the Tiger’s jaws, between you releasing your arrow and the Antelope escaping, between your swerving body and your opponent’s sword tip or your sword tip and their body, and in Squash between you and the ball being struck by your opponent and then bouncing twice and between your opponent and you striking the ball and it bouncing twice.

It is a minuscule amount of time that when marginally increased by stealing it from your opponent or expanding it through management of your actions, can make you feel enormously powerful; conversely that minuscule amount of time can be rapidly lost by loss of focus or poor decisions or by incapacity and suddenly you are the most miserable pauper in the world.

Survival is determined by your capacity to balance time in your favor. But that balancing act is performed on a razors edge and unless you have analyzed just precisely what is required to survive and prepared yourself to be able to practically do so, disaster awaits you.

The tools at your disposal: Primary Focus and Peripheral Awareness.

The task you must perform with those tools: The management of the time between you and the ball being struck and bouncing twice.

The prize: Survival – in the face of the opponent’s efforts to do so.

But how do we practically manage time? What are the necessary assets and skills required to effectively manage these tools that we have carefully analyzed? And what are the pitfalls?

In my next article I will discuss the Practicality of Survival.

Richard Millman
1/13/16

Mind/Body – How does your Competitive philosophy affect your mechanical and strategic performance?

As I approach my thirty-eighth year as a professional Sports coach, I find myself increasingly intrigued by the philosophical aspect of competitive development and coaching itself as a field of study.
Many wise coaches over the history of our profession – even back to the days of our true ancestors – the fencing masters and the sergeants at arms and gladiatorial instructors – have routinely declared that 95% of what we do is mental and that the skills that must be learned in order to participate – no matter what the level of excellence achieved – are merely tools and are in reality the entry fee that must be paid to get in to the party. What you do once you have gained entry – that is the crucial part.
This being the case, I cannot help but feel that importance attached to certain areas in the development process are not only given disproportionate quantities of attention but, in point of fact, whilst well meant, do a great deal of damage.

Let me explain.

I have a pet saying that when I look at a competitor performing, what I am seeing is a physical representation of the ideas in that competitor’s head.

Therefore if the philosophy is flawed, no matter how hard the competitor works on mechanics and skills, ultimately the competitor is doomed.

You may work as hard as you like on running a race, but you can only win if you are on the right course.

In my field of competition, the Sport of  Squash, competitors become distracted by the huge volume of attention given to winning and losing, rankings and rivalries, outcomes rather than performance.

This in turn manifests itself in mistaken philosophies and assumptions that misdirect competitive development.

Not only this, but because philosophy directly contributes to mechanics, the physical execution of skills are compromised through a failure to understand ultimate priorities.

Language, as we know both to our benefit and to our cost, is a very powerful tool and so before we speak – and that includes self-talk – we must make sure that we understand the consequences of the words/advice we offer or hear.

For instance a simple example of a philosophy that has disastrous consequences in Squash, is the concept of trying to hit ‘a winner’ – ( a finishing shot).

To the unthinking or the uninitiated this may seem a harmless expression.

But let’s follow through the philosophy:

If a player is attempting to play ‘ a winner’ they are attempting to end the game.

If they are committing to ending the game, how much will they focus/work on the continuation of the game beyond the shot that they are attempting to win with?

None is the answer, because in their minds they are hoping/intending to finish.

Should the opponent retrieve or worse still counter attack against the attempted ‘winner’, the player is unprepared for the next phase of the game – having committed to the end and having made no plan for the future.

But this is not the end of the story.

When a player attempts to play ‘a winner’ it seriously affects the physical and mechanical technique employed.

When attempting to bring play to a halt, the player becomes static – focused as they are on stopping rather than continuing the play. As a result they only employ their upper body strength as in focusing on stopping – they don’t employ their legs to move into position (as they execute their shot) in order to be prepared for the opponent’s possible reply. Why should they? In their mind there isn’t going to be a reply so why move to cover?
As a consequence of not dynamically recruiting the powerful muscles of the legs and thereby creating an energy wave that will flow smoothly and uninterrupted up through their bodies, through their arms and into the ball and at the same time alleviating all stress in the arms to enable the arms , hands and fingers to precisely control the ball – the opposite occurs and the upper body becomes stiff, prevents smooth and precisely controlled weight transference and produces a tight inaccurate, emotionally charged attempt – which frequently results in an error.

I am sure that there are exactly equivalent behaviors in the competitive business world.

All this from a seemingly innocuous expression – ‘ a winner.’

The expression ‘winner’ of course is a description of an outcome that has occurred in the past, not something that should be attempted in the future.
Competitors  should ‘attack’ with gusto, always remembering that highly talented opponents will almost always retrieve those ‘attacks’ and that one should therefore always assume a need have a plan in place for the continuation of the play.
If by some chance the opponent doesn’t retrieve the attack even though you expected them to, then you are in the happy position of having covered every eventuality. And of course because your philosophy was to ‘attack’ without making any prediction as to how successful your ‘attack’ would be, your body has been employed dynamically and thus has produce mechanics which have resulted in the best possible combination of power/weight transference originating in your active legs which in turn was funneled through the precision oriented, relaxed and sensitive, unstressed arms, hands and finger – all in a seamless and natural progression which facilitated both protection for your self ( the primary focus) and pain for your opponent ( an important but secondary focus).

To summarize: Competitive skills must not be developed in isolation from the philosophy of the competition.
Over concentration on ‘how’ to perform a skill rather than on ‘why’ to perform a skill will lead not only to poor strategy but poor execution.

Competitors  must firmly understand their purpose in all of their behaviors otherwise they will emphasize physical and mechanical movements that are counter productive.

In general we in the Competitive world need to direct all of our activities toward putting us ahead on the timeline.

Much is spoken of staying in the moment – but this refers to the physical and mechanical execution of skills being well delivered and not distracted by concerns about possible final outcomes.

In point of fact Competitive people need to focus on remaining physically up to date ( in the present) but mentally slightly ahead ( in the future) to be successful.

Forgive me for misquoting the great Wayne Gretsky, but he is credited for ‘ not wanting to go to where the puck is, but where the puck is going to be.’

That, in a nutshell, is what Competition is about. Keeping your mind being prepared for what could happen next and making sure that whatever you are doing now puts you in the best position to strengthen your situation.
This may mean attacking, defending or both in various ratios.

Always prepare for the worst. Attack like a demon when you can, but never over commit, never become complacent. Hurt your opponent over and over again, but make no assumptions as to how effective your attack will be. A wounded opponent can be a lethal enemy, so keep your guard and your position up until nothing comes back.

Here is the sequence that I believe produces the best player development:

1. Study and understand the philosophy of the game understanding that in order to survive one must always think ahead.
2. Develop movements and skills that adhere to that philosophy.
3. Condition the mind, emotions and body to be able to execute the movements and skills that are in line with the philosophy of the game.
4. Continually review, reappraise and re-rehearse all of the above with an open mind.

With this formula I believe that both competitors and coaches can achieve their maximum potentials.

Richard Millman
Dec 9th 2013.

Weekend Squash camp in Baltimore with Richard Millman:The Squash Doctor

Richard Millman in association with Meadow Mill Athletic Club
presents:

A weekend with The Squash Doctor

Friday to Sunday July 12, 13 and 14 at the Meadow Mill Athletic Club, Clipper Mill Rd, Baltimore, Maryland.

Come and have a fun, informative, competitive and challenging weekend with Richard
Millman.

Experience the unique, thoughtful and focused approach to Squash that has helped
Richard to successfully train players at every level from beginners to international
champions and that he uses himself in his approach to his own game,

In a twelve hour weekend of intensive coaching, The Squash Doctor will give you a
prescription for your own unique development and send you away with a multitude of
ideas and options to improve your game.

To sign up contact Richard at: thesquashdoctor@yahoo.com or phone him on 843 323
7340 and fill in and return the form below before Wed July 3rd 12noon.

Payment can be made by Pay Pal to thesquashdoctor@yahoo.com

Name……………………………………………. Age………………..
Experience/Objectives and Level ( 3.0-5.5 players
welcome)……………………………………………………………………………………………………………..
……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………
Email………………………………………………….Phone……………………………………………………….
Address………………………………………………………………………………………………………………
I hereby declare that I have paid the non-refundable deposit of $75 via PayPal to
thesquashdoctor@yahoo.com and that I will pay the balance due upon arrival at the
program on Friday July 12th 2013.

I further declare that I hold harmless Richard Millman, his assistants and Meadow Mill
Athletic club and their employees and agents of any and all injuries or accidents that
may befall me in the course of this program.
So declared and signed by me ( print name)…………………………………………

Signed( Parent/Guardian if minor)……………………………………………………………
Date………………………………….

Cost of Program – $395 Schedule: Friday 5-8, Saturday 9-12 & 1.30-4.30, Sunday 10-1.

Accommodation: Radisson Cross Keys – mention the Meadow Mill rate.

Medicine Ball Training for Functional Performance.

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.

http://www.coreperformance.com/knowledge/movements/medicine-ball-rdl-to-overhead-squat-tennis.html

http://www.coreperformance.com/medicine-ball/

http://www.performbetter.com/wcsstore/PerformBetter/catalog/assets/Excercisesheets/PDF/MedBall%20Handout.pdf

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:

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