There are many things you can do to improve your squash, from training hard in the gym to getting on court with a good coach, to playing matches against players of a range of different styles and standards (plus logging in regularly to SquashSkills of course!).
Beyond these main elements though, there are many smaller details that people look for to provide that additional boost, seeking out things such as special performance-enhancing supplements, complex high-end training tools, sport psychology mind hacks, and various other physical and mental tips and tricks that offer ever-diminishing returns.
When searching for these special secrets to augment their performance, many people all too often miss out on some simpler, far more basic aspects that if taken care of on a daily basis, can have a far more significant effect. Check out our top 3 below:
Sleep is perhaps the most powerful natural performance enhancer there is. Countless studies have shown the benefits of a good night’s sleep, whilst also highlighting the negative effects of inadequate night-time rest and recuperation.
Everybody’s needs will be slightly different, and it may take a little trial and error to find your optimum requirement, but if you set yourself the goal of getting between 7 and 9 hours sleep per night that’s a good general window for most people. A lack of sleep can result in slower reactions, less fine motor control (and thus accuracy), increased chance of injury, and a drop of around 30% in your time to physical exhaustion (i.e. a reduction in your endurance).
It’s not just the quantity of sleep that’s important, it’s the quality – good ‘sleep hygiene’ is another very important piece of the puzzle that needs to be addressed if you’re going to optimise this crucial element of your overall physical performance (and indeed, health).
Our bodies consist of around 60% water, and this element is vital to a vast array of bodily systems and operations. The importance of staying properly hydrated for an optimally functioning body system (and good health in general), can not be overstated.
While the exact amount of fluids required on a daily basis will vary by individual, generally accepted guidelines suggest drinking around 1.5 to 2 litres per day is about right – a good tip to track your intake is to fill up an appropriately sized bottle in the morning and then sip on it throughout the day. Thirst is not considered a reliable indicator for dehydration since we only get thirsty when we’ve actually already lost around 1% of bodyweight to dehydration.
In addition, as a regular participant in a game so typified by heavily sweating as squash, a whole extra amount of fluid intake is necessary to avoid slipping into a dehydrated state.
Studies suggest a loss of sweat equal to around 2% of body weight causes a noticeable decrease in physical and mental performance. Losses of 5% or more of body weight during intense activity may decrease the capacity for work by roughly 30%.
The American College of Sports Medicine provides the following guidelines for the maintenance of optimal hydration:
Before Exercise: 16-20 ounces within the two-hour period prior to exercise.
During Exercise: 4-8 ounces every 15-20 minutes during exercise.
Post Exercise: Replace 24 ounces for every one pound of body weight lost during exercise.
So get your daily intake of water, and top it up with the extra amounts on training/match days.
There is a world of information available to us out there, with our smartphones giving us complete free access to a worldwide web full of engaging articles, incisive research papers, and comprehensive e-books, that offer us insights from a whole range of experts and scholars on how to improve our sporting and physical performance.
Most people have a time in the day when they flip on their phone and browse through some reading material whilst commuting/eating/relaxing at home, with attention frequently drawn to social media fluff, vacuous celebrity tabloid tattle, or the latest reality TV nonsense.
That time spent flicking aimlessly through your phone could easily be switched up and used instead to read and learn about so many fascinating topics that can be readily digested to help you enhance your technical, tactical, mental, and physical performance.
Give yourself the goal of reading one new article per day, and consider setting up a media collating tool such as ‘Pocket’ to save and store other new reading material ready to be pulled up at a moments notice whenever a reading opportunity pops up, no matter how brief.
B.Sc.(Hons), CSCS, NSCA-CPT, Dip. FTST
SquashSkills Fitness & Performance Director