Written by: Todd F. Shaw
As one of the world’s most popular racket sports, squash is an excellent way to get in shape, improve your eye-hand coordination, reflexes, agility, and general cardio-vascular condition.
WHEN IT COMES to winning the game, instructions of technique and strategy could fill entire books (and have). For the sake of this article, we’ll concentrate on factors that will help you maximize performance while minimizing the risk of injury.
The racket: Lighter rackets are more maneuverable and permit a much faster swing, but require more power. Heavier rackets provide more power for less effort, but with reduced control. Flexible frames have greater shock absorption properties, while stiffer frames keep the head rigid and truer to the incoming ball – but the vibrations must be absorbed elsewhere, such as in the arm.
The ball: beginners are advised to start with the most lively ball (yellow dot), and gradually work up to the slower balls such as those used in tournament play.
Shoes: any good court shoes (tennis, basketball, etc) with a non-marking surface will do.
Clothing: light, loose-fitting clothing – either cotton that will absorb sweat, or breathable synthetics that allow easy movement.
The best diet is one that provides adequate fuel and is balanced with nutrients in the required amounts. A higher than normal amount of carbohydrates the day before playing is advised (the body uses up the carbs stored over the last 2-3 days, not what is eaten before the match).
Water and proper hydration are very important. It’s not uncommon for players to lose in excess of a liter of perspiration, which induces fatigue. Therefore it is imperative that you drink fluids before, during and after play. Sports drinks with some sugar and electrolytes are also good.
Health and injury prevention
Avoid playing with an unhealed injury. This invariably throws off your body mechanics and increases the chances of an injury elsewhere.
Don’t overdo it your first time on court. Pay attention to your heart rate and breathing during play (this is especially important for older players), and don’t hesitate to take a break if you feel yourself “overheating”. Building up endurance is critical.
Always warm up before playing. Use some non-ballistic exercises, especially those that mimic the motion/activity used during play. Focus on stretching the lower back, the groin, the hamstring group and calf muscles. The older you are, the more important it is to warm up the calf muscles and Achilles tendon.
Stretch immediately after stepping off the court, not after that beer you were thinking about for most of the fifth game. Avoid too rapid a cool-down. Put on some sweat pants and a jacket or get in a warm shower, sauna, whirlpool, etc.
WHERE TO PLAY?
Cybex Health Club & Spa, Hotel Hilton, Pobřežní 1, Praha 8, tel.: 224 842 713
Corinthia Towers Hotel Prague, Kongresová 1, Praha 1, tel.: 261 191 111
Hit Fitness Flora, Chrudimská 2b, Praha 3, tel.: 267 311 447
ASB Squash Centrum, Václavské náměstí 13-15, Praha 1, tel.: 224 232 752
executive director, ČSOB LeasingWhy do you like to play squash? What kind of preparation would you advise to beginners?
” Squash is great because, thanks to its intensity, an hour of playing means you’ve exercised enough. No special preparation is necessary for the beginners. Just go to play few times with someone who knows how to play (or with a coach) and then follow all the advice they give you. However, at the end of the day what really matters is to have a good feeling from the game, not how you played.”
general director, BonduelleWhy do you like to play squash? What kind of preparation would you advise to beginners?
” It is a very fast sport where you spend a lot of energy in a very short time, ideal for people with a stressful job. It significantly improves the speed of reactions, body flexibility and concentration. For beginners, I would recommend spending few hours with a coach. Also, one needs to choose a good racket and shoes. Before a match, strech your muscles well, which helps to prevent an injury.”