Periodization of Squash Training: College Squash Team

November 11, 2011

I have been developing and teaching coaches (in all sports – not just squash) about periodized annual training plans since 1987.  Back in the 1990s, there was a very small group of  us, Master Course Conductors (give courses and train others to give coaching education courses) for the Coaching Association of Canada’s National Coaching Certification Program (NCCP), who taught thousands of coaches how do develop a periodized plan for a “season” (Level 2 Theory) and an entire year (Level 3 Theory).  Our teaching according to periodization principles (every coach had to submit a periodized plan with supporting documentation as part of their course evaluation) went well beyond any periodization books (e.g.,. Bompa) published at the time. Current conceptions of periodization are very limited in scope.  Most current authors restrict their view of periodization to the “periodization of strength” or physical training – we went well beyond that.  My article on the Periodization of Mental Training provides a short, concise overview for those who have not read Bompa’s book:  Bacon (1989). Periodization of Mental Training.

The annual plan is one of the few ways to integrate all the different aspects of squash training – squash is one of the most difficult sports to plan since we need to train all of the training factors to a high level (as opposed to sprinters or long distance runners who emphasize only one aspect).

Here are a few “up to date – 2012” comments on the annual periodized plan for a college squash team I have posted above:

  • I have changed the traditional periodization of technique and tactics to reflect the recent research on the superiority of a “tactics first” approach over traditional methods;
  • Planning for academic stress is an essential component of a college plan – ignore this aspect at your peril:)
  • I need to modify the “physical” lines of the plan to reflect what I have changed in my approach the last three years:  the Core Performance approach to longer term training is quite different than the traditional approach – plyometrics and power exercises are introduced much earlier in the season (still progressively) – I will publish a post in which I “reverse engineer” their periodization and contrast it with the traditional approach.
  • With the change in squash scoring, matches, especially at the college level are much shorter, so much less emphasis on lower intensity aerobic conditioning and much more on interval type squash-specific training.

That’s it for now.  Keep in mind that a squash coach needs to prepare or obtain two other longer term planning documents – and LTAD and a Quadrenniel Plan (4 Years) similar to the one I have posted below for my team at Smith College (dates back to 1995 – so could do with an update): 

Psychology of Squash: Positive Self-Talk During Practice

April 14, 2009

Being positive and focussed on the task at hand is one of the key characteristics of the Ideal Performance State for squash.  However being positive is a skill or ability that cannot necessarily just be turned on or off at will – particularly in very important, closely contested, stressful matches when one is not playing their best.

In order to be able to keep thoughts positive and focussed on actual squash performance (versus “how bad you are playing” or “that was a horrible referee call”) in an important match, squash players need to practice controlling their thoughts in practice and training situations – “you play the way you practice”.  This idea of using mental skills in progressively more stressfull and match-like conditions is one of the principles behind a periodization approach to implementing a psychological skills training program.

Squash coaches need to be able to coach their squash athletes on these mental aspects in addition to their regular technical-tactical coaching.   In this short video clip I introduce my team to the idea of using positive self-talk during practice.  At this stage of the season (specific preparation period) I am suggesting they tailor their self-talk to their technical goals (e.g., “lead with the butt on your swing”).

Application for Squash Coaches:

  1. Give your athletes a chance to use mental skills in practice before expecting them to use them sucessfully in matches.
  2. Help the athletes develop self-talk to use in practice that is related to their squash goals.