27 July 2023 / 4-Min Read / Translate↗
Court renovations and upgrades, changes to work or study schedules, changes to personal circumstances, abduction by aliens or many other possible reasons could cause you to have to take a break from playing squash. But that doesn't mean you can't "Do Something Every Single Day To Improve Your Squash!". So here are some ideas for you to maintain your fitness, interest and motivation in squash. BTW, if you have any ideas that I missed, please email me and I'll add them to the article - with a credit to you, of course!
Let's be honest, some people enjoy playing sport but dislike doing any sort of fitness/physical training. I understand and respect that point of view. If you are one of those people, then finding a temporary alternative to squash is probably the best option. Ideally, a racket sport is best and I highly recommend badminton as your first option. It's close enough in its fitness demands that it could easily compensate, plus unlike tennis, it shouldn't change your swing. I'm not saying "don't play tennis", be aware that tennis isn't as close to squash as badminton is.
Other racket sports that you could try are padel and table tennis. Neither offer the same physical workout as squash, but at least you will be "keeping your eye in", a phrase that means you will continue to have to concentrate on timing a swinging bat and hitting a moving ball. I haven't mentioned racketball as this is normally played on a squash court outside of the USA, so it's unlikely to be an option.
Of course, you don't have to stick to racket sports if you fancy a complete change. As long as the sport you choose challenges your fitness level then that's all that really matters. Just make sure you heat up and cool down properly because it's easy to injury yourself playing new sports, even if they are less strenuous than squash.
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If playing other sports is not to your liking, then maintaining your fitness becomes even more important. Some strong-willed readers will be able to train alone, and there are plenty of things you can do to get even fitter than when playing squash. The most obvious one is ghosting, which is moving around on court without a ball to improve your fitness and/or your footwork. Read my Tips To Maximise Your Squash Ghosting? article for more details.
In this case though, you don't have access to a court, so choosing a suitable location is very important. Choose an area where you can use your squash shoes. Ideally, that would be indoors. Perhaps a sports hall, a covered car park - somewhere whose surface is dry, smooth and not too sticky. Yes, you can perform ghosting outside, but if you are worried about damaging your squash shoes, use a pair of shoes that are flat. DO NOT PERFORM GHOSTING IN RUNNING SHOES! Dry grass is pretty good, but if you think it might be slippery, do not do the ghosting. I have seen too many people fall or slip and get injured.
Don't worry about having a detailed plan when you ghost. Just start slowly as your heat up, and when you are sweating, do 30 seconds of ghosting and 10-20 seconds rest. Do that 15-20 times, then take a 2 minute break, then do it all again.
In addition to ghosting, you could use an agility ladder, which is fantastic for your footwork, spinning or interval running to recreate the short bursts of effort of a squash match, as well HIIT training )High Intensity Interval Training), which is the same as the ghosting described above.
Finally, Shadow Swinging can also be performed during a break from squash. Read my Why Shadow Swinging Is Perfect For Improving Your Strength AND Technique article for more details.
It's possible that this forced break could be the perfect opportunity for you to focus on a weakness in your physique. For example, perhaps you lack core and leg strength, in which case a short series of training sessions at the gym under the control of the trainers would be ideal. Lifting weights and getting stronger is rarely the wrong thing to do, just remember you are not looking for bigger mucles or pure strength. You want power. Power is strength times speed. Make sure you tell the trainer exactly why you are training.
Yoga, pilates or simple stretching can also be very useful for squash players. Too often people feel that unless that are very tired at the end of a training session, then it hasn't been useful. That's not true. After a tough yoga session you might not feel it until the next day.
Obviously, things like swimming, running, biking or anything else that gets your heart rate up is good, so don't worry too much. Even walking uphill is good for you. Being outside and close to nature is great for the soul too.
Staying motivated when not playing can be difficult for some, so watching professional squash matches can keep you focused on the reason for doing the other training. There are also plenty of motivational videos on YouTube that you can watch that will inspire you. In fact, I recommend you watch one or two every week, whether you are taking a break from squash or not!
Whatever the reason for your break, see it as an opportunity to improve your fitness. Yes, you would prefer to be actually playing, but we often neglect to do the things we need to (training), by doing the things we like to (playing).
It's quite possible that you could come back from the break a better squash player than your were before!