Warming-up the body
Welcome to Part One of a special series of blog posts on warming-up or knocking-up before a squash match.
Out of the all the people that play squash, very few warm-up. Most people will knock-up and hit the ball to each other for a couple minutes at best but Squash and warming-up are much more complex than this though.
A thorough warm-up should not only touch upon your hitting but it should also warm you up mentally, get your movement up to scratch and also sharpen your racket speed and skills. If you cover these four major areas, you will find you are able to start the match at a high tempo, fully focused and playing good squash, rather than having to wait until the second game to get into it.
Hitting the ground running – literally.
In this post, we will be considering how to warm-up physically so that we can start the game fast and ready to move around the court as quickly as possible.
Getting the heart rate up is just the beginning. Whilst you need to get the blood pumping, you need to also really get warmed-up for squash-specific movements. There’s twists, turns, take-offs, quick steps and last ditch sprints and you need to be prepared to do all of these.
Quite often, you won’t be able to get on court before a match if you’re playing at busy times, in a team match or at an event so any sort of space you might find near the court will do. Once you’ve got the heart rate up with a bit of gentle jogging up and down (if you are able to access a gym bike, this is a great warm-up for a couple minutes), start working in more dynamic movements very quickly. Skipping is always a good one to do but only in short sharp bursts for no more than 30 seconds as you don’t want to wear yourself out! If you haven’t got a rope, any other kind of quick jumps will suffice. If you can find some stairs, some short, sharp bursts of step-ups are also good.
Next, start looking to up the intensity with some short sprints. You only want to sprint 5-10m though as this is the sort of distance you will cover regularly during a game. After doing a few sprints, look to make the sprints a bit more squash specific by decelerating and lunging on alternate legs at the end as if you were getting down low to play the ball. If you are able to get access to a court pre-match, doing 30-60 seconds of ghosting is a great way to get into squash patterns of movement.
Try carrying this onto the court during the knock-up if you can. Perform small jumps or hops whilst your opponent is hitting the ball to keep yourself primed and whilst you’re hitting the ball, try and incorporate some movement. Perhaps you’ll boast to your opponent’s side and then play a straight drive to them. If you can get on court by yourself, have a mini-match with yourself and run around the court chasing your own shots. It’s a great way of playing a variety of shots and getting the hear rate up.
However you do it make sure that when you start your match your heart rate is up and your body is raring to go.
Look out for the next instalment of our special series of posts on the warm-up in squash, where we will discuss warming-up mentally.
You can find out more about how to get yourself ready for your big match on our page on ‘Getting in the Zone’.