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Can You Get Fit Just Playing Squash?

Not everybody wants to play competitive squash, for example in inter-club team matches or graded tournaments. Those types of people “get fit to play squash”, but what about the people who want to “play squash to get fit”?

26 November 2022 / 4-Min Read

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Playing squash to get fit and improve your health is a fantastic idea and if you are considering doing that or have just started, I congratulate you. You have made a great choice of sport; the squash community is friendly, the sport is both fun and great for your body. Eventually, you will encounter people who tell you that you should do extra fitness training in addition to playing.

Those people are right *IF* you are ambitious and want to play competitive squash. If you want to play better squash (mmm, that would make a great name for a YouTube channel and website. Oh Wait!), then you will need to do more than just playing. Luckily, I write a lot about that sort of topic, so if you are new here, check the archives for plenty of tactics, tips and training ideas.

But not everybody is or should be ambitious, right? Right! And let me tell you now, there’s nothing wrong with wanting to play squash with a group of friends once or twice a week as simply a way to get fit or even lose weight. Below are a few things to consider when playing squash to get fit.

Two men playing squash

Simply playing squash can be enough to get fitter

The Benefits of Playing Squash

First, it’s great for your heart and lungs. We call this “cardio”, which is short for “Cardiovascular system”. Doing cardio means you are breathing heavily. Next, it strengthens you whole body, but mostly your core (back and stomach area) and legs. Don’t worry though, you won’t develop big legs, just strong legs.

Next it’s great for your mind and mental health. Instead of simply going to the gym, you are playing sport and that means the time goes faster AND you have to keep you mind active. Hitting the ball allows you to release any stress you have and is also a lot of fun, especially when you hit it hard! The squash community is a friendly group of people and if that social side interests you, it’s a great way to meet people and make friends. if not, plenty of people just play among themselves.

Heat Up And Cool Down

Just because you are not doing any extra training outside of the court, doesn’t mean that you should arrive at the court and start playing squash. Squash is not like pool or darts (no disrespect intended, I just want to highlight the physical demands of playing squash). Being hot before you play will mean you have less chance of an injury and play better. A proper heat up (incorrectly called a warm up) doesn’t have to be complicated. Move around increasingly fast over 5 minuets, swing the racket a little bit and stretch (AFTER getting hot) as if you were reaching for a squash shot.

Cooling down means not finishing your squash match, jumping straight into a hot shower and still be sweating after you’ve got dressed. Take a few moments to walk around and do some very slight stretches. Talk with your friends and how bad they played and how well you played! Don’t sit against a cold wall and get cold either.

Two other men playing squash

Play squash, have fun, get fit!

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Learn How To Swing Properly And Safely

The better your squash swing, the longer the rallies will be, the fitter you will get, and the more weight you will lose. Why? Because when you first start, simply getting the ball into the back corners is often enough to win the point. Quick, short points don’t get you fit. For that, you need longer points and to have longer points you need to be able to keep the ball going when it gets into the corners. I promise you, the longer rallies are the most fun.

Learn A Little About Strokes, Lets and How To Play Safely

I won’t deny that strokes and lets in squash is a pain in the neck. Even experienced players sometimes disagree with the interpretation of the rules. You don’t need to worry about that as long as everything you do is safe. Knowing when to stop instead of hitting the ball is important. You can’t get fit or lose weight playing squash if you get injured. This article is not the place to discuss in detail the intricacies of strokes and lets, but think of it like this: If you couldn’t get to the ball because you opponent somehow hindered you, play a let. If you couldn’t hit the ball safely because your opponent was in the way, it’s a stroke. If in doubt, stop, don’t hit the ball and simply play a let.

Two women playing squash

If you are both of more or loess equal standard, you should ahve some great rallies

Eat Well And Drink Water

This paragraph could easily be a copy and paste from a hundred websites. If you play squash twice a week, but then eat more food with more calories, you probably won’t lose weight or get much fitter. Eat sensibly, drink lots of water instead of carbonated drinks and you should notice an increase in your fitness within a month or so. You won’t be “fit”, but you will be “fitter”. Obviously don’t smoke, drink too much alcohol, caffeine or sugary and fatty foods.

Don’t Play Too Much

Each person has to decide what is right for themselves. For some, it’s twice a week is the right balance between cost, time, effort, fun and fittest. For others, four times per week and others 6 or 7 times per week. Set a maximum number of games per week and stick to it. It can be tempting to play a lot, especially when you first start, but your body needs time to become accustomed to squash, so increase the amount you play slowly.

Final Thoughts

Yes, playing squash is enough to get fitter and lose some weight, as long as you eat well, heat up and cool down, learn to play better squash to keep the rallies going for longer. Plenty of people do it that way and love squash. You can too. Just email me if you have any questions.

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