World’s Best Squash Stretch!

May 6, 2009
World's Best Squash Stretch? Not!

World's Best Squash Stretch? Not!

After 25 years of relative quiet on the stretching-flexibility front – thanks in large part to the popularity of Bob Anderson’s book of static stretching – squash coaches are now confronted with conflicting sport science research on both the type, and timing of doing stretching exercises.  To make a long story short, the recommendation to perform relatively long (10 – 30 seconds) static stretches as part of a warm-up prior to squash training or matchplay has been replaced with a recommendation to do a series of dynamic stretches (stretches with movement), supplemented with short 2-3 second “mini” stretches of tight areas.

A definitive answer to the stretching question from sport science research is unlikely, due to the difficulty of implementing an applied (versus in the laboratory under contrived conditions) study in a real world squash situation.  What we can recommend is one particular stretch from Core Performance – what they term the “World’s Greatest Stretch”.  If you only were able to do one stretch for squash – this one would be perfect.  It takes the place of about five to six of the good stretches described on this page.

I have been adapting many of the Core Performance dynamic stretches with my own college squash team’s program for several months now, and implementing them into my own workouts for about five months – they really work.

Here is tennis’ Anna Kournikova doing the World’s Greatest Squash Stretch (starts at 1:33 and ends at 3:08 on the video).

Injury Prevention for Squash Coaches: A FREE Resource

April 12, 2009

Back in the late 70’s and 80’s top squash was seen primarily as an aerobic sport, with intermittent bursts of speed and power.  Tales of Jonah Barrington’s and Geoff Hunt’s attritional matches were of legendary status – and I was there in Toronto when Jahangir Khan effectively dethroned Hunt by grinding him down to the point where he literally could not move (I think he also threw his racquet for the first time if my memory is correct?).  I regularly went on six to 10 mile runs, and for several years worked my way up to 24, four hundred metre intervals at the start of every season.

Amongst our Toronto group, there was talk of New Zealand’s Murray Lilley (working in Calgary at the time?) going out and running a 2:23 marathon with little or no specific running training (over and above what he would do for squash).  At our Squash Canada National Team Training Camps (I was there as the mental training consultant), players such a Jamie Crombie, Gary Waite, and Dale Styner were all pulling VO2 Max scores in the low to mid-seventies, which were equivalent to the Olympic Marathoners at the time.  (Note that these scores might be due to misguided training and tactics versus the actual demands of the game and “smart” tactics).  My opinion at the time was that the physiological profile of a top player was very similar to that of a 10K runner.

Runner's World Injury Prevention

Runner's World Injury Prevention

Read the rest of this entry »

Rhinovirus Implications for Squash Coaches

January 3, 2009

Ok – we mean what should a squash coach tell their athlete about practicing or training with a cold?  Colds are a big issue in the squash world since squash is a winter sport (except if it is the Olympics or you play and train in the Southern Hemisphere:).

One cause of the Common Cold

Rhinovirus: One cause of the Common Cold

Recent conventional sport medicine wisdom has suggested “Symptoms above the neck – ok to play; symptoms below the neck (i.e., chest congestion) better to rest.  A recent New York Times article sent to me by fellow Smith College Coach Kim Bierwert, cites research that indicates that playing squash and working out might make you feel better and definitely will not make you feel worse!

The article reported on two little known, but ingenious studies, published in 1997 and 1998 in the journal Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise:

Results from the First Study:

“At the start of the study, the investigators tested all of the subjects, assessing their lung functions and exercise capacity. Then a cold virus was dropped into the noses of 45 of the subjects, and all caught head colds. Two days later, when their cold symptoms were at their worst, the subjects exercised by running on treadmills at moderate and intense levels. The researchers reported that having a cold had no effect on either lung function or exercise capacity.”  Read the rest of this entry »

Happy Holidays Squash Coaches! (Squash Vacations & 15% off sport science books)

December 20, 2008

We are off to Jamaica tomorrow for a tennis teaching vacation – after 32 days of rehab, my new right hip is ready to get on court and teach (tennis not squash)!  At this point I do not intend to return to squash competition and regain my #4, 45+ U.S. ranking, preferring instead to get back  our #3 spot in the World Racketlon Mixed Doubles Championship , which will probably be enough squash for my hips (they always hit to the woman:).

Fitpro Travel also offers squash teaching vacations, as done my friend and former Canadian Jr. National Coach Rene Denis’ organization, Sportausoleil – all you need is a basic squash coaching certification.  At the start of post-op week five, my physiotherapist has just started me on bodyweight squats and lunges, in addition to a multitude of other intricate exercises, so my return to the squash court is imminent (although I have done stationary drilling already) – I hope give it a try down in Puerto Vallarta at the start of January.  I will be training at the same club and time as Jonathon Power’s (my former pupil) Fantasy Squash Club.  At this point I can enthusiastically recommend my orthopedic surgeon, Stephen Murphy, M.D., if you have access to the U.S., and need a new hip! Obviously there are many alternative surgical approaches out there and you need to do your research very carefully.

For most of us squash coaches the holidays can be a great time to catch up on our sport science reading – so I would like to pass on a 15% savings on Human Kinetics (largest sport book publisher in the world) products – just enter promo code E5031 (details below – not sure it will work for non-U.S. coaches but give it a try).

Upcoming January and February posts on this site for squash coaches will include:  Nicol David rallying in the back-court, Neil Harvey on mental toughness, CSA 2006 Coaching Conference highlights, more biomechanics of squash examples, and “physiological” on-court squash drills.

All the best in 2009!

Tim Bacon

In Appreciation of You from Human Kinetics

Special savings for our clients

We do appreciate the business you’ve shared with us over the past year, and in recognition we’re offering you a 15% discount on purchases made through the ASEP and Human Kinetics Web sites through January 1, 2009. Below is just a sampling of the thousands of resources available to coaches, administrators, athletes, fitness and recreation enthusiasts, educators, students – you name it. The offer ends January 1, so don’t delay – order today! Shop at or (Cannot be combined with any other offers and excludes ASEP Coaching Principles, Sport First Aid, Coaching [Sport] Technical and Tactical Skills, and Coaching Orientation courses.)
To receive your 15% discount, enter the promo code E5031 on your shopping cart page at checkout.

What Can the Tennis Brits Teach Us Squash Coaches?

July 16, 2008

I just got back from the British Lawn Tennis Association’s (LTA) 2008 Sport Science Conference, held on June 20th in London and thought I would update you on new and interesting information and perspectives that have not permeated down to we squash coaches in the trenches. You can view the conference speaker schedule here: LTA 2008 Sports Science Conference.

It was a great time to visit London with all the Wimbledon excitement and fantastic sunny weather. Here are what I believe to be the most interesting tidbits in no particular order:

  • Ann Quinn (an Aussie sport scientist well known in tennis) opened the conference by announcing that she had been hired just a year prior to develop the LTA Sport Science Department – and to date has hired 20 (yes – twenty!) sport science specialists to help develop British tennis. The Brits are throwing money ($50 million from Wimbledon and Olympic money) at their tennis programs, and in addition to sport science initiatives have just opened a 32 million pound National tennis center and pay the American Paul Annacone 1.3 million for 32 weeks work to direct their national tennis coaching program. Let’s compare this situation with Squash Canada’s and U.S. Squash:) Read the rest of this entry »

Injured? That is NOT a reason NOT to train!

November 28, 2007

About 10 years ago at Princeton Summer Squash Camp – back in the days when it was the USSRA Junior Training Center – we had a recurring problem with “sudden-onset” overuse injuries such as ankle sprain, “tennis” elbow, rotator cuff, hamsting pull, lower back, etc. with our junior campers aged 10-18. The problem of course, was that these young players had not been near a squash court for months – and now were on court for three hours in the morning and two to three hours in the afternon! Fatigue was exposing weaknesses in their physical preparation and causing both acute injuries and chronic injuries.

As the resident mental training consultant I was assigned the task of keeping these injured athletes busy as up until my arrival they had been consigned to “watching from the stands”. Here is the checklist (can be done in any order) we developed to keep them working hard on improving their squash: Read the rest of this entry »

Time for a Flu Shot!

October 13, 2007

Here is a copy of a post I just made on my squash team’s site. I think this is “seasonally relevant” for squash players around the world!

What is the point in training 2.5 hours a day, for 19 weeks, only to miss the most important matches of the year because you did not take the time to adequately protect yourself? Why risk getting the flu and passing it on to your teamates? Inadequate attention to lifestyle factors (alcohol, sleep, time management, nutrition, AND flu shots), has the same negative effect on performance as not showing up for practice – in other words lifestyle management is an important aspect of COMMITMENT to the squash team.

“A flu vaccine clinic will be held on Tuesday, October 16, from 3-6 p.m. at the Campus Center Carroll Room. Only current employees and students are eligible to receive the flu vaccine. Please wear appropriate clothing, i.e. short sleeves. No appointment is necessary and the cost is $15 (cash and checks are accepted). ”

Here is flu info for athletes from the English Institute for Sport (EIS).