If you just started squash and you feel very exited about it you might be tempted to spend the whole hour-or-so just playing games. But if you dedicate at least part of the time to training, you´ll improve much faster. And that will make it even more fun. Therefore I´d advice beginners to plan a training session for example like this:
Warm up (5-10 minutes, before the session
Get to the club a bit earlier and make sure your muscles are warm and you feel ready to start when you get on the court. Use a treadmill, a bike, whatever is available. Or get on a free court and run, jump, rotate your arms. The main thing is to get nicely warmed up and out of breath and to prevent injuries. Also, ghosting is an excellent and useful warm up. Then do a few short stretching movements.
Simple hitting exercises (15-20 minutes)
Drive-cross-drive. Player A is on the forehand side and player B on the backhand side, near the service boxes. A hits a forehand drive to him/herself and then crosses the ball to player B, who hits a backhand drive and then crosses the ball back to player A. There´s not much movement as the players don´t change places, but this simple routine gives you an opportunity to practice technique and ball control. Make sure the ball doesn´t “die”, try to keep the exercise going as long as you can. Start gently, the main thing is the control, not power. After 2-3 minutes, swap places. Continuous crossing. Both players are near the service box, one on each side. They simply hit crosscourt shots. This simple exercise helps improve racket preparation and ball control. Swap places after 2-3 minutes. Hitting in the service box. Both players are on the same side. Player A is near the T, but in the front court. Player B stands just behind the service box and plays the ball softly to the front court, “feeding” the ball nicely to player A, who hits a straight drive. Player A should target the first bounce in the service box. You can count 10 or 20 shots in the target and then change roles. Make sure you don´t just stand on the spot but move slightly towards the T after each shot.
Conditioned games (20 minutes)
Front court game. You play every shot above the service line and the ball must bounce in the front court. Why above the service line? Simply to make the rallies long and to lower the pace of the game, so that both players can concentrate on their technique. Above the service line game. You play everything above the service line but this time the ball can bounce in the back court too. Generally, when the ball is in the back court, it´s more difficult to play. The rule on the service line forces you to lift the ball high, and you´ll commit less mistakes (=hit the tin). Short versus deep. Player A has to play everything on the backcourt (including the first bounce), and player B on the frontcourt (including the second bounce). Swap roles after a set.
Normal game (20 minutes)
For beginners (and often for more advanced players as well), some of the most important things to think about while playing tend to be these: - Come to the T quickly after the serve and after every shot BUT don´t hit the ball and move away from the ball at the same time. Hit, follow through and then move to the T. - Keep your racket ready and be prepared to play forehand as well as backhand. - If rallies are short and you hit many tins, lift the ball higher, above the service line. - Concentrate on technique, not hitting as hard as you can! - If your partner is blocking your way or is too close to you when you´re trying to hit, don´t hit but ask for a let. Safety above all…
Ghosting/cool down (5-10 minutes)
Practicing moving technique is very important, and what´s a better way than ghosting. You can take turns with your partner: one player does ghosting to six points (frontcourt both sides, in the middle and backcourt both sides) for a minute, the partner waits by the door, then swap. Try to move efficiently but don´t rush, this is not as much about fitness as it´s about learning and automatizing moving technique. Don’t forget to give your muscles gentle stretches after the session.
It´s recommendable to agree with your training partner on some sort of routine structure for your training sessions. Be flexible, of course: if one day you feel like doing more feeding and less conditioned games, perfect, just do it. Everything is useful if you keep the quality high. Doing feeding, drills and conditioned games is very rewarding as you´ll notice how your racket and moving technique and the accuracy with which you place the ball improve fast. The more you learn, the more fascinating squash gets.
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