For most clubs, the squash season has started…house leagues are underway, tournaments are scheduled and T&D players are keen to start their training. As a club pro, I enjoy the enthusiasm of watching the teams get together to start training in preparation for a successful season.
I am a strong believer that one of the best ways to improve your game, as well as team camaraderie, is by practicing on-court drills – Yes, the dreaded “D” word! Drills can significantly improve many aspects of your game including footwork, shot accuracy, fitness, and shot selection…BUT…there is a catch! To get the most improvement out of drills, you must have a very specific objective in mind and remain conscious throughout your training session about what you are trying to achieve.
For example, a very common drill is the 2 person boast/drive drill. Too often I see the player that is boasting from the back moving corner to corner instead of back to the T in between shots. Anyone who has taken a lesson with me will know this as “cheating on the T”.
“To get the most improvement out of drills,
you must have a very specific objective in mind”
Another example is the 2 person straight length drill. Very rarely do I see each player rotating back to the T after hitting a straight drive to the back. There is often a lot of interference in this drill because players tend to hang back which often interferes with the other player moving to the ball. In this drill, balls are often over hit (hitting the back wall before bouncing), under hit (bouncing short), and/or loose from the side wall.
My best advice is to perform every drill in as “game like” a fashion as possible. Here are some strategies for doing so:
- Use floor tape/electrical tape to target areas where you would like the ball to bounce and aim for your target every time
- Always attempt to go back to the T after hitting each shot
- Add shot options to avoid the temptation to “cheat”
Drills provide a lot of repetition and with repetition comes muscle memory. We want our muscles to be trained with the proper techniques and strategies that we will need in a game. So the next time you step on court to do drills, remember that how you practice will ultimately determine how you perform in a match. Set your goals high and get the most out of each training session!
Have a wonderful squash season and train smart!
Nicole Pirko, Pickering Recreation Centre/Squash Club Squash Professional 2015 recipient of the Mark Sachvie Coaching Achievement Award