Mobility on Court

The first time I picked up a racket and started to play I can remember always running after shots. As I got better, I ran less and hit more winners. I realised that every squash player fell into the same pattern.

As a low D player I started out as a retriever. As I learned to control the ball, I started to control the rally. At first it was one rally, then a series of rallies until I could control a game and then the entire match. My improvement reflected where I stood in the D category. I was a retriever at the low end; a mixture of a retriever and shooter in the middle; and primarily a shooter at the top of the class.

This circle repeated itself in the C class and the B class and finally in the A class. With each class the retrieving and shooting had to be a degree better. This is obvious. But, due to lack of experience, I always felt discouraged when I became a renewed retriever entering the next level.

For example, I worked my way up through the C class and became a decent shot-maker. I made my opponents do all the running as I hovered on the T. This was great and who would want to change things. Some players didn't. Others couldn't. I, on the other hand, had a desire to keep getting better. Like most players I didn't stop to think what was really needed to get to the next level. I discovered, the hard way, that it wasn't hitting better shots. That came later. It was making better gets and retrieving the ball throughout the rally until there was time to get back to the T.

Every time I entered a new level, I ran from shot to shot without ever finding time to get back to the T. The first goal for you as you enter a new level is to get to the T during the rally. Sometimes this is easily said than done. But, this is the first hurdle. After this, keep yourself on the T as long as possible. Once you're able to get back to the T comfortably and continuously, then go for winners. The resulting conclusion - efficient mobility around the court had to come first.

Learn the best stretching techniques you can. Use weight training for added strength in getting in and out of deep corners faster. Cross training always helps. But, most of all learn how to run efficiently on a squash court. If you run at full speed, you'll never make it to the end of the match. Pace yourself. This is something I also learned the hard way.

The best court mobility training I know is to perform star drills. This is when you position yourself in the middle of the court on the T. You'll notice the six points of the court being the two front corners, the service boxes, and the two back corners. Run from the T to the left front corner. Run in such a way as to count the number of steps it takes you to get to the front corner. You should be able to get there in three to four long steps. Once in front, take a swing as if hitting the ball then back pedal back to the T. Then run to the right front corner; take another swing and back pedal to the T. Twist and run to the left service box and then back to the T. Twist and run to the back left corner and then back to the T. Then go to the right service box and then back to the T. Finally, go to the back right corner and then back to the T. This is one star. Remember that the running style should mimic the way you run in the court during an actual rally. If you're running correctly, you won't be able to hear your steps. So place each step; don't stomp. Concentrate on your braking ability. Do you brake with a single step or several smaller steps? Take my word for it; brake with several small steps. It'll save your knees.

Work your way to four stars. Once you accomplish this, do two sets of four stars. The desired goal is doing four sets of four star drills. As you run the star, imagine hitting the ball as you enter each of the six points. Visualise making great gets at each instance. Designate each of the six points as hot spots. Memorize how well you move to each of the points and then recover to the T. Make your movement graceful. Try to feel the air pass your face as you start breaking into a sweat. Between each set take a minute break and walk around the parameter of the court. Even during this break period notice each of the points as you pass them. When you feel your heart start to slow, dive into the next set.

Squash is a running game. Learn to move around the court smoothly and try to cover as much distance with each step as possible. Have a strong stride and good leg strength. Stretch to stay limber. Keep in mind if you want to get to the next level; be ready to run the ball down. Great gets will give you the confidence you need to hit those great winners. Remember you're playing squash - the ultimate mind/body sport.