Speed is a huge asset in almost all sports, but especially so in a game like squash that relies so heavily on repeated movements to and from the ball, in both defence and attack.
Despite its significant importance, it is still one of the least well-understood attributes for many players and coaches in respect to the best way to train to improve it. To give you a helping hand, we’ve put together our top 3 training tips for improving your squash-specific speed.
1) Train at High Intensity
To best train your speed, you need to be working fast. This may sound self-explanatory, but having observed a huge number of training sessions over the years, it’s certainly not uncommon to see players just going through the motions in many of their workouts.
Now you can get away with this to a certain extent when working on other physical elements such as endurance, where you can still get a reasonable training effect even when not 100% engaged. For speed training however, not working at full capacity severely limits the gains that can be made in that session – without working with full focus and effort, you are not going to be able to make any significant improvements to your raw speed.
2) Take Longer Rest Periods
One of the oft-forgotten parameters of squash training sessions is rest periods. Most players think to monitor reps, durations, levels etc, but properly controlling rest periods between exercise sets is often neglected.
In keeping with the need to train at a high intensity outlined above, having a sufficiently lengthy rest period is crucial to allow for maximal effort in each set. Too short a rest period will have a knock-on effect in respect to the energy you can put into your next set, and thus reduce the quality of your session.
I’ve seen coaches lay out some fantastic drills and circuits to improve the on-court speed of their charges, but then have them working through long sets with minimal rest which quickly changes the emphasis from speed to becoming just another form of stamina based conditioning session. Ideally, for squash speed training, plan for around a 1:4 work to rest ratio – so for a typical ~15sec exercise, take a full 60secs rest between reps.
3) Keep Your Volume Low
‘Quality over quantity’ is very much the key phrase for speed training. Sessions should be kept short and sharp, with limited sets focused very much on high-quality efforts. A typical speed targeted workout should last no longer than around 20-25mins, not including your warm-up.
There is also a place however for ‘speed endurance’ focused sessions, where you’re aiming to extend the amount of time you can resist fatigue, and maintain a high velocity in the multiple repeat-sprint exertions that make up the typical match. In terms of developing that base speed however, the structure of high-intensity efforts, sufficient rest periods, and low volume is key – otherwise, you’ll only ever get better at maintaining your same quickness for longer durations, as opposed to actually really increasing the fundamental speed of your movement.
B.Sc.(Hons), CSCS, NSCA-CPT, Dip. FTST
SquashSkills Fitness & Performance Director
Interested in learning more about training speed/agility for squash?
Check out this playlist where Gary Nisbet explains what speed is, how to train it, specific drills and analyses how professional players use it to attack and defend.Watch now