The TDWSA is excited to introduce 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 1 – IN THE MOMENT
1. What would you recommend as an easy 5 minute warm up?
T: The most important thing for me was to make sure that my body was moving. This meant being as loose and limber as I could be before stepping on court. A pre-stretch at home if I had time always helped. If I had access to the gym where I was playing I would pick a machine, break into a small sweat and then do some quick dynamic footwork movements. If the gym wasn’t accessible I would use a hallway, stairs, skipping rope…anything help get my heart rate going and my body moving.
M: A warm up can make a huge difference in a match! Actually, more than you think! Many times you hear people say, I didn’t get into the match until the second game….I would bet that they did not have a good warm up. Remember you are most likely coming from a busy day at work, home or have sat in traffic to get to your match. Your body needs to switch gears and let’s be honest, so does your mind! I would recommend finding a space where you could move your body side to side, forward and backwards and where you can activate squash like movements. Incorporate dynamic stretching and some activation techniques, such as plank, hips raises etc… as these are a key part to getting warmed up and the body firing to go!
2. What would you recommend as an easy 5 minute cool down?
T: A post-match stretch and chocolate milk! I always listened to my body and planned based on the intensity of my match. If I felt that I had a tough match I would do a light bike for 10-15 minutes before stretching. And my stretch didn’t necessarily need to be long, but it had to be done! Sometimes I would even stretch while watching other matches. If it was a super tough match you can even consider doing a second session of recovery at home.
M: #1 – Don’t sit down after you’ve played your match! #2 – See if you can find a bike or walk around to flush the lactic acid out of your system. 3# – Drink some electrolytes (not Gatorade!) and get some food into you. Alternatives to sugary sports drinks like Gatorade include natural fruit or vegetable juice, smoothies, coconut water, and Emergen-C. This will help the body recover quickly.
3. What does it mean to have a game plan and how do I set this up?
T: Ok – I always tried to go on court with a plan and one would be knowing my strengths and my opponents’ weaknesses. And then to set up rallies based on those answers. Between games it’s always good to take a moment to assess what’s working and what’s not working. You can then reassess and possibly tweak your plan a bit based on what was transpiring on court.
M: Like Tara’s answer, a game plan is your strategy that you would like to use against your opponent that encapsulates areas of their weaknesses and your strengths. Game plans are not always straight though meaning there are waves within them. My recommendation is to stick the plan as there may be some ups and downs along the way…..but roll with it! Grit and sticking it out go a long way.
4. OMG – nothing seems to be working! What do I do?
T: Remember to Breathe! And then focus on one thing that would help get you back into the game. Looking for good length by focusing on targeting my shots always helped me. One tactic was to identify where on the floor the ball needs to hit for good length and then to focus on direction and pace to that spot. And it may actually take a few rallies to see any changes so make sure that you are patient!
M: KISS! (Keep It Simple Stupid) Focus on a specific action. An action that can become physical. For example: If my length is not working, say to yourself, follow through to a high spot on the front wall. When you give yourself a vague instruction such as say hit good length, the thought process becomes more complicated and more thoughts continue and the next thing you know, you are quickly down 5 points. REMEMBER THE KISS METHOD!
5. What would you recommend for tips for on court nerves?
T: Work on them off court. Have a couple of key tools and practice them in friendly matches. Deep breaths in the warm up, a reset between rallies, a key word would be some tools that you can develop. And remember nerves always come — you can’t fight them but you can learn to manage them when playing!
M: Nerves are a good thing! It means that you love squash and that you care! Bringing your nerves down a notch is possible but you must learn what makes you nervous. Try tracking where things went wrong in the last match. Learn what your triggers are and then seek out tools to help with this. No matter what tool you use, deep breathing is the fundamental way to decrease nerves. Start practicing in any life situation. We forget this simple tool all the time.
Check out the APP: Headspace.
It is a useful tool to help learn breathing techniques. Trust us, there are wonderful effects after a minute of focused breathing. Did you know that when you focus on breathing your mind is not able to have other thoughts? It will automatically slow your thoughts down and your nerves! Try it out and let us know what you think!
PART 2 – WHAT DO I NEED TO DO TO GET BETTER?
PART 3 – OFF COURT TRAINING
Send your questions for DOUBLEHIT to [email protected].