The TDWSA is excited to release the 3rd in a 3-part series of interactive tips from DOUBLEHIT– professional coaches Tara Mullins and Marci Sier.
Each installment will include 5 questions and answers followed by a Pro Tip from DOUBLEHIT.
This is an interactive series in which YOU ask questions, so if there is a specific item or concern that you want to ask for advice about please email [email protected].
PART 3 – OFF COURT TRAINING
1- Finding your ‘OM’ — why flexibility is so important and what we do!
Flexibility is key! Especially for efficient movement on court. The more limber that you are, the little more stretch that you can get, the quicker that you will be! For Tara, flexibility was always a battle and a necessary focus when training and competing – both pre and post workout. Her immediate warm up always had some dynamic movement to it but prior to that she always gave her body a good stretch, foam rolling or something to make sure that it was ready to go for competition. Marci also has her challenges with flexibility. Her battle stems from coaching. Contrary to what some may think, coaching actually tightens the body up immensely. Lower back, hips, chest…all tighten up from standing, cold movement, and repetitive hitting. And let’s be honest (at least for us), as we get older that flexibility gets shorter!
A key thing to remember is that in today’s world the things that we do on a daily basis such as sitting at a desk and hunching over electronic devices for numerous hours in a day puts more strain on our bodies than we may think. And the sitting, hunching, etc… will put your body in a more inflexible state.
To help counter this inflexibility, we recommend to have a warm up and to incorporate dynamic stretching before a match. Doing so will really help those of you that always feel like the first game gets away! And a cool down and long stretch after playing is vital for recovery. Try to get this in before your social time after your squash game 😉
As a longer term strategy, some of the things we’ve done or incorporated into our lifestyles to manage our flexibility battle include:
- Water Therapies
- Foam rolling
- 30 day Yoga Challenges
…Yoga! has really been key to both of us!
2-Identifying your formula for optimal energy — nutrition/food/sleep/routine
Nutrition/Food: We’d like to emphasize your formula as everyone is different. The best process for this is trial and error. You can do your research, ask your questions, but you need to figure out what works for you in order to peak to your best. And this is not an overnight fix. It takes time.
For us, nutrition and food were key for energy and recovery. An early morning match (say 8am) meant either a super early wakeup call (5am) for a healthy breakfast and enough time to digest, or a sleep in and a small snack with plenty of fluids (water, electrolytes). The make-up of that again is personal but for us always combined protein, carbs and fat. Also, a good best practice is to always have some snacks and energy boosters in your racket bag just in case you miscalculate your meal!
Sleep: We are not robots! With a tough training program, a gruelling match, increased intensity or duration of workouts…sleep is very important. Don’t jip on sleep as it’s a main ingredient for recovery. And if you can fit it in, nap!
Routine: Routine is also something that is very personal. If you follow a routine for your daily habits, such as practice, nutrition and sleep, it is important to always check in with yourself. Recognize that each day the body feels different. If you can truly ask yourself how you feel then you can give yourself the things it needs. And if you are truly listening to your body you will see that some days you can train hard and some days you may actually need a day off even though a ‘training day’ is in your routine. Listen, recognize , and be kind to your body 🙂
3- When life is so busy what do I do?
You let yourself live! You become flexible with your choices as everyone is always juggling multiple expectations. We recommend periodization. Figure out your work/life schedule and identify weeks where you can focus and train more and be ok with the weeks that you can’t. Then schedule your training sessions based on the hours/location/resources that you have in a given week.
We also recommend having cross training options. Have a few items at home that you can work with if timing gets squeezed and you miss a session. Watch and use videos. Log your progress so that you actually see where you are at and what you are doing. Often times we underestimate our input.
And always think of training as quality over quantity.
4- How do I manage injury?
This is an interesting question… Rest and recovery, ice and heat, massage, machines, treatments, water therapies… all for sure help improve healing. However what do I do when I have that ‘BIG’ match and I am hurting?
ANSWER: Listen to your body! We’ve both played through matches with aches and pains, tweaked our footwork or stroke so that we didn’t move or hit a certain way, taped a foot or wrist, covered for each other on the doubles court… And yes we got through those matches. But sometimes you may be at that point when playing is just not the best choice. And you will have to make that tough decision. Playing through the pain is not always the right answer. If something doesn’t feel right, trust yourself and that feeling. And consider getting a second opinion from a professional as most people who play and love sports do not always want to take a needed break!
5- It’s the off season — should I take time off or will it set me behind my opponents?
Take time off! And recover both physically and mentally. Cross train and do new activities. Swim, play ultimate, go for bike rides, hike, be social and enjoy the break! Often times we get so focussed on practicing and improving that we forget that time away may just be what we need to break a plateau as you’ll come back fresh and rested.
Also, as a squash player we become one sided. The off season is a good time to work on re-balancing your body. Doing other activities will help prevent injury and make you much stronger in your squash playing abilities. Off season training is a bigger part of training than one might think!
Recover at the Spa! We are both frequent clients of Bodyblitz – a Toronto based water therapies spa. And have also visited the Scandinave, St. Anne’s and others…if our schedules and budgets permit! Even self made cold water baths at home (with ice if you can) really help! Sounds unpleasant – and it can be – but the benefits in our opinion our way the negative. And you never know unless you try it!