28 October 2022 / 3-Min Read / Translate↗
I recently saw a post on Instagram entitled “No Days Off” and showed somebody training, with the idea that any days off are a waste. It’s a misconception and theme that permeates throughout sports and exercise. There certainly an element of pushing hard to improve and using all your training time effectively, but resting per se is not bad, in fact, it’s absolutely required.
The misconception is that rest is something you do because you are too tired to continue, sometimes it’s even framed as a “reward” for working hard. This is also part of the “hustle” culture that I feel is misrepresented on social media and even mainstream media. It might seem that I have gone “off topic” already, but I wanted to address the idea that resting is not wrong.
Practicing and training are not exactly the same though and while most people understand the concept of “over-training”, the idea still persists that you need to accumulate 10,000 hours of practice, and that all practice is equal. It’s not and you can forget that 10,000 hours idea too.
I don’t think I am exaggerating when I say most gym users know that when training with weights, you do sets; limited number of repetitions, repeated a few times. yes, there are other ways to train, but for most people it’s the best way. they also know that you don’t do those sets every single day. You do different parts of your body on different days of the week.
Nobody thinks it’s okay to do a 100 reps of one exercise and say they have finished for the week! You do those reps in sets and take a rest between each one. It’s the same when it comes to practicing. Don’t hit 100 straight drives to the back continuously. Break in down into 20 or 25 and then do a different shot. It keeps things interesting, keeps you mind active and doesn’t stress your body.
Reading this sentence can be the difference between playing better squash and staying the same level for another year.
If you are doing a drill and the quality drops, stop. When I say “quality” I mean both the outcome i.e. the shot itself and the swing. if your swing control starts to weaken then you will be reinforcing an incorrect swing. It’s true that if your swing changes, then your outcome probably does too, but it’s not a fixed and rigid correlation.
Just like weight training, break your practice into sets of shots. if you only practice once per week, then try to perform a few different drills, but not too many, otherwise you won’t give your body enough time to improve. Too few and you will likely be over-practicing. I know it’s very easy for me to type this, but “better to do 10 minutes per day, than 70 minutes once per week”. But of course, that’s not possible for most club players. I know it’s impossible for me. But I also know that once per week over 3 months, with each session of 40 minutes having about 6 different drills will be great for my squash.
Keep the quality high
Simply doing more practice is no guarantee that you are not wasting your time or using it effectively. Short intense training sessions can be more effective than longer ones. There are many possible reasons for this and a lot depends on exactly what you are practicing, but breaking your drills, either solo or pairs, will allow you brain to absorb the training better than longer, boring ones. Quality is more important than quantity.