Welcome to Part Three of a special series of blog posts on warming-up or knocking-up before a squash match. A thorough warm-up should not only touch upon your hitting but it should also get you warming-up mentally, get your movement up to scratch and also sharpen your racket speed and skills. Today we will be focusing on warming-up mentally.
Getting your racket doing the talking
In this post, we will be considering how to warm-up your racket skills and dexterity so that you’re able to adapt, improvise and use your racket to deal with all the challenges you will face in a squash match. Never underestimate how important the knock-up can be in squash. Those first few hits of the ball can be a very useful tool for helping you focus and get in the zone, as we talk about in ‘Getting in the Zone’.
What we are going to discuss today though is how you can use the knock-up and warm-up to set the tone for your play with regards to tempo and your racket head speed.
Warming-up the way you want to play
It’s not uncommon to go into the first game feeling a bit slow with the racket. Perhaps you let a few volley opportunities go to waste or maybe you can’t quite get your racket where you want it to deal with a tight shot in the front or back corner. This is not a position you want to be in and you can prepare yourself for this in the knock-up.
Rather than just whacking the ball up and down the line to yourself without thinking, have more purpose to what you do. It’s not really getting you ready to play at the tempo or speed required. Instead, look to stretch and challenge yourself. Step forward and volley the ball to yourself for three or four shots before cross-courting to your opponent. Better still, get on the court before your opponent and really go freestyle on the volleys, throwing in the figure of eight drill and aiming for some volley nicks.
Another one I like is to step forward to the mid-line and play kills against myself. I say against myself because part of me is really trying to kill the ball and get it past myself, whilst another part of me is trying to prevent the ball getting past me and keep the solo rally going. It’s really good for getting your racket head speed up to scratch and also for getting you into an attacking mentality, as you are now in a rhythm of hitting the ball early.
You can read more about tips for ways to hit the ball in the knock-up in ‘Getting in the Zone’.
Look out for the final instalment of our special series of posts on the warm-up in squash, in which we will look at warming up our shot making and accuracy.