Squash News From Around The World - Serious Squash

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Jun 10 2020 10:15AM

Black Lives Matter

I normally only discuss squash, but I thought it was important to discuss George Floyd and the Black Lives Matter protests that have currently swept the globe. I understand that my audience is here for my squash perspective and that is almost always what I stick to, but I also thought that if I failed to discuss this some of you may interpret my dismissal as compliance. I'm fortunate that I grew up in Canada, one of the most (if not the most) multi-cultural countries in the world. I also grew up playing squash and there have always been a lack of black squash players which I'm going to hypothesize on and provide some of my personal experiences in this regard.

I know this issue has been going on for a long time, but if you don't witness it in your daily lives you tend not to be as understanding or as concerned about it. In the US there's been so many terrible crimes when it comes to police brutality or mass shootings that you begin to feel a bit numb to it all. As a Canadian you are just thankful that you live where you do, but it's still difficult to explain why there are such drastic differences between our countries. I suppose I am negligent because I didn't say or do anything about these issues until this point. I in fact only heard the slogan, 'Black Lives Matter' last week. I've always thought of myself as a good person which I thought was enough and all that I could do. But now I understand that silence equals compliance and it certainly isn't enough. When Colin Kaepernick was kneeling for the anthems I didn't have a problem with it, but I also never spoke about it and supported him. I would just say to myself 'what can I do?" or 'how am I going to make an impact?' I don't have a very large following for Serious Squash and I have always just stuck to what I know best, and that's squash. But things are different in our society today and I believe we can and must do more.

When I was young I had friends of every ethnicity and I never thought or experienced any racism. Canada is very progressive and supportive of individual differences regardless of gender, race or sexual orientation. At the schools I've attended and worked at they've all been strongly open about supporting these differences. This doesn't mean that bullying never happened and kids were never teased. So clearly Canada wasn't and still isn't perfect, but it's far better than a lot of other countries. Unfortunately for those that live in the United States things are not so good. I've travelled throughout the states for various vacations and squash tournaments and it's easy to tell that you're not in Canada. I remember driving to the US Open as a child and going through streets where every house had bars on their windows and graffiti was all over the houses. I've heard stories about New Haven being not safe once you're off of Yale's campus. I have to say I don't know if things have gotten better there in recent years, but this is common knowledge for many of those in the squash community.

I really can't think of any examples of racism in squash. There are however a notable absence of black squash players. I wonder what percentage of people that play other sports, such as tennis are black? Does the fact that there aren't many black squash players mean that there is a problem with racism in our sport or does this have more to do with socioeconomic issues that have plagued squash for decades? Many squash clubs across North America are expensive and I could never afford to join most of them. If I can't afford to join one of those clubs, I certainly wouldn't feel comfortable being a coach at one of them.

I grew up playing at both the Pickering and Ajax Community Centres where the memberships were inexpensive and there were no fancy country club rules. We didn't have to wear all white clothing and we didn't have an outdoor fancy pool with a gourmet restaurant. There were no initiation fees at my clubs and access was something most lower to middle class families could afford. I again don't know the stats, but I would guess the diversity of recreation complexes is probably a lot greater than the private clubs.

Over the past 15 years or so a lot of urban squash companies in Canada and the US have done a great job giving access to kids who normally wouldn't have that opportunity. This is the positive side about what has been happened in squash, but what about the country clubs with a predominantly white membership? Do people of colour feel comfortable joining a club like this? Now don't get me wrong I'm not suggesting that every expensive squash or golf club has racism intertwined in them. This is just a portion of squash where you notice an absence of people of colour. Should some of these clubs initiate marketing policies to attract more members of colour?

I lived in British Columbia for 8 years and I know that it is very multicultural. In fact I read a stat that about half of the residents don't speak English as their first language. I think we can all imagine what Trump would say about that. Personally, as a coach you just want keen and coachable students and I have always treated my students equally. Even though BC is extremely diverse I can only recall ever seeing a handful of black squash players. There were quite a few Asian squash players,  but perhaps it's something as simple as racquet sports are more common in Asian cultures and there are a lot of Asian people living in BC?

When I moved to Turks and Caicos I was for the first time a minority. The natives of the country are black and it was common to go somewhere and be the only white person. It was simply different, but I didn't mind it. This was as close I could get to experiencing how it would feel to be the only black member of a squash club. Out of the 30 or so people that played squash while I was there, there was only 1 black boy who played squash. The kids all got along great and there were no issues with racism whatsoever. There's a lot of expats in Turks and Caicos so it's not surprising that they would be the majority of the people playing squash, but in a country with so many black people it's odd that more of the native black community didn't participate.

A lot of the native children in Turks and Caicos played basketball. At my gym they would play all of the time while I would rarely see a white child shoot hoops. The club also had a big hockey league and it was again predominantly white children that participated. I don't know if these differences were based on socioeconomic factors or if it was simply what the children enjoyed playing. Even though the children were largely divided in what sports they played I didn't notice a single instance of racism. There will always be differences in sports regarding what percentage of various ethnicities participate in. I have a hunch that some of this also has to do with role models. I imagine as a young black child you want to be like the successful athletes you can relate to and admire, but if there are so few in a sport like squash than perhaps they don't think twice about it.

I started off writing about this thinking I was going to make a short statement and move on to a squash topic, but as I got going I felt that this deserved to be it's own article and topic. Squash has some amazing people involved in the sport all over the world and I hope we can make our sport more appealing to everyone, regardless of race, gender or sexual orientation. When I was young there were a lot of male only clubs, but most have changed their policies, so perhaps there will be a movement happening sometime soon about promoting equality in squash and specifically in regards to race.

I don't know how else I can help make difference besides how I treat people, but I hope by simply bringing up this topic in the squash community it will do some good. I know a few black squash pros have recently made posts about their experiences and unfortunately they had to overcome some forms of racism over their careers. I'd like to think that squash brings out the best in us, so I'm hopeful we can all be better and do more and not be afraid to have our voices heard. I truly believe education and discussions are big factors in this so even if you are normally reserved and don't share your opinions with others I hope you decide to so this time. It's only if we all unite together we can create change. Black Lives Matter.

If you're following Serious Squash on social media you'll already be aware that the club I work at has opened back up today! It was a lot of work to get the club to a point where we are. I was on a 4 person Covid board to ensure we are following all of the government safety protocols. There's been a lot of changes, but we are finally open, even if it is just for solo hitting at the moment. If you're interested in what changes have been put in place I made a short video which highlighted many of the safety protocols.

London Squash Club Reopening Video 

On top of what I mention in the video there are a few other policies in place. We originally had a finger print scanner at the front door and 24 hour access, but obviously having people place their finger on the same scanner is a way the virus could spread so we have just switched to a key fob system. We also must have a staff member when members are in the club now, so we have temporarily switched our hours to 8am-8pm. 

Court times have been staggered and are only 30 minutes in length. You must also book a court prior to coming to the club. There's 15 minutes after each court booking to allow for a thorough cleaning of the court, bin and chair. When your'e on court you are expected not to touch the walls with your hands (even though the club staff will clean them afterwards). Demon racquets are not permitted and members are allowed to grab their equipment from their locker, but they will not be able to use their locker going forward. The saunas, showers, bar and gym are also not open yet. This will all happen in future phases. 

Because the club, like a few others in Ontario are only open for solo hitting at the moment I've been posting some old Serious Squash solo drills. I will be filming some new drills this week which I will be posting over the next week. If you haven't already seen what I've posted so far I will post the videos again below. Most of these drills are for intermediate to advanced levels, but I will be filming some beginner drills shortly. 

The Secrets Of Solo Hitting

Court Sprint + Straight Drive Drill

Squash Shots Episode 43: Advanced Back Corner Solo Drills part 1

Squash Shots Episode 44: Advanced Back Corner Solo Drills part 2

Hopefully your club is opening soon too, if it hasn't already. I know I'm really excited to hit a few balls later today. It's been about 3 months for me now, which is the longest I've gone without hitting a ball in many years. 

If you want to do some squash training at home with me follow London Squash (@LondonSquash) on Instagram. I've been doing weekly training videos on their account. Normally it's around noon or 1pm on Friday's, but it's also weather dependant as I do these outside. 

You may have noticed that I removed the instructional films in the Serious Squash Shop. The platform I used to allow people to download the films was pretty pricey and when clubs were closed people weren't purchasing copies. In fact my online store is up for it's annual renewal June 15th and I'm debating pausing it for awhile until squash gets up and going again. So if you do want to purchase a shirt, racquet or a video analysis I suggest doing so in the next 2 weeks. 

That's it for this week. Stay tuned for new solo drills and if you have any questions about the opening of our club let me know. Happy Squashing!

Squash Shots

May 27 2020 11:13AM

Planning Your Comeback

Squash is one of, if not the best workouts in the world. Squash involves every athletic trait; from mobility, flexibility, strength, speed, stamina, the list of qualities you need to be a great squash player doesn't end. Because it's such a physically demanding sport it requires a lot of training and regular drill and gameplay to be able to play out a match at a peak level without your body breaking down. It's been almost 3 months since I've been on court and even as a coach I am planning on easing my way back into coaching. If on the first day back I gave 5 or 6 lessons it would take a lot out of me and I'd be at risk of injury and I would probably need a day of recovery afterwards.

Depending on what you've been doing while the courts have been closed you may have to gradually ease your way back into things. Today my agenda is to get everyone to begin to plan out their comeback and to set timeframes and goals for this. We don't need to wait for the squash clubs to be open to begin this. If you read last weeks post, this is basically a continuation on from that with more of an emphasis on the off court training portion of our preparation. I'm going to quickly go over some solo hitting issues and then get into the meat and potatoes.

When clubs open up (I'm aware some already have) you will have to start with only solo hitting. This is an ideal way to get your timing back before getting right back into a match. Even with solo hitting there's going to be some weak muscles and a lack of calluses so this will likely be an issue for most of us (including me). In your first few solo sessions I would avoid doing a lot of short hitting with pace. These types of short hitting drills could put a lot of strain on your entire arm and shoulder and it's something you will need to build back up in time.

Besides the arm and the missing calluses the biggest challenge for most of us is going to be the lack of strength and stamina. After a few months of sitting around and being less active we are going to have to be patient and disciplined about getting our body back in 'squash shape.' Let's go through these athletic traits independently and see how we can best build up our strength and stamina to get back into squash most effectively.

Our lower body is going to need some extra special attention. When is the last time you did a lunge? If you haven't been doing any away from the court expect as major case of 'squash butt' when you first do a set of lunges. The good thing is that we don't need any equipment to begin to work on our lunges. There are a few ways to build up your lunging ability. The first and likely the safest is by simply holding a lunge for a short period of time. Make sure you spend time on both legs, not just your dominant one. You can then build up to walking lunges, eventually to lunging forwards and backwards and at a later point some side lunges or even adding in some light weights. I suggest spreading out your leg workouts by at least 3 days as you start this type of training.

On top of lunging, it's also important to be able to squat properly. The ability to get low into a squatting position, especially in the back corners is an essential skill in squash. Again you can start with a simple bodyweight squat or a squat hold. You can build up to wall sits, squats with weights and maybe the split-squat, squat jumps or even the mighty pistol squat.

Doing lunges and squats will make a big difference in your game, but don't forget the posterior chain of your lower body. One leg deadlifts are an excellent way to focus on your hamstrings and glutes and again they require no weights for training. You can do this in a number of different ways as well. If you haven't' done them before you will need to start by simply trying to do this while balancing properly. As you improve you can add in twists, holds and eventually weights.

Above I listed the 3 main lower body strength exercises that I recommend for building up your lower body strength for squash. These are all exercises that I do regularly which should help with my transition back onto the court. If you would like to see the above mentioned exercises done at various stages check out my playlist from home workouts: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLzYXhBuUol3Tx4MV2l0nfoJ-5mRN853iB

Below is the first video which simply explains 6 simple at home exercises you can do with no equipment, which also includes the above mentioned exercises.

Let's move on to the stamina/movement portion of squash. In this section I'm going to discuss not just the aerobic endurance required, but also the stop/start, fast paced movement that we need to play at a high level. Building up your aerobic endurance again isn't too difficult when the weather is nice. Simply doing some light jogging or biking will do the trick. Even though we've lost a bit of fitness recently, we still have a reserve from our years of training which will help us. If just getting started the 2 main areas of concern are starting slowly to avoid injury/burnout and taking that first step. Committing to a plan and a schedule and changing your routine into a more positive, squash focused lifestyle is what I'm looking my athletes to be doing now.

If you don't have access or the ability to bike or jog there are some other ways you can get some cardio in. If you've taken part in any of my recent home workouts you will see how I plan some of my workouts to provide a cross training benefit for improving endurance along with strength. You can do this by timing your sets and staying on a timer throughout you session.

If you've been managing to maintain a decent aerobic fitness base you are probably more concerned with the speed, sprinting, anaerobic portion of your squash training. There are a number of ways you can improve this even before getting back on court. Doing this type of training can mean a few different things. You could be focusing on working near your VO2max/heart rate by pushing yourself in a really tough session like running stairs, hills or doing some windsprints. For me this type of training is much more taxing on the body and the recovery will take much longer. So if you haven't' done any aerobic base training or strength work I would focus on those areas first. After building this up for 6-8 weeks you will be ready to get into this more strenuous type of cross training. Below is this weeks episode of Squash Shots where I talk about stairs and hill training. I didn't actually do the training in this video myself as I'm still working my way through building up an aerobic base before jumping right into sets of sprints.

Squash Shots Episode 54: Stairs + Hill Training

If you aren't into running hills, stairs or doing windsprints you could do some ghosting. Again, you can do ghosting at your own speed and you don't need a squash court to do it. If you can get in 1 or 2 weekly ghosting sessions prior to playing a game your transition will be much easier and your performance will be far greater. I often get my students to use practice swings and ghosting in lessons because without the ball the concern for contact and the shot result, it's easier to make swing or movement changes. When you do this enough you will eventually build up the muscle memory to make these adjustments permanent.

How much of each of these training types should you do? Doing some strength and aerobic base training during the same time is fine. Depending on your ability and training experience you should be able to do 2-3 session of each per week. After a specified period of time (6-8 weeks) you will feel stronger and fitter and at that point you will likely be ready to transition into the anaerobic/lactic acid producing phase of your training. Because this type of training is so taxing on the body you will need some lighter sessions, possibly mobility focused and of course core is fine too. I believe it would be too tough for most people to do a max sprint session and then do a leg strength session the day after or even before. Doing this would lead to overtraining for most and quite likely an injury at some point. If you are at this stage of your training you should be working with a highly skilled professional strength and conditioning coach or personal trainer.

As your squash club opens up and you can get in to solo hit once or twice per week you will be feeling better and better week after week. If you've been doing nothing the past 3 months you should be eyeing August/September for the resemblance of a decent squash match (assuming we're allowed). If you do the above mentioned training there is no reason you won't be able to jump back into things and playing at a pretty good level in a short period of time. Not everyone likes the training part of squash, but there's no better feeling than knowing you are fitter and stronger than your opponent.

After such a long break just hitting a ball or playing a rally will be enjoyable. But as you can tell from a coaches perspective I believe there is a lot we can do to play better squash and transition back into it more seamlessly by planning ahead and setting some short term goals. I know from previous experience that when I jumped into overdoing an activity too quickly without spacing out the sessions and building up to them I got injured. As we age this is even more important for us to consider; we can't always do what we once have done. I supposed the following phrase is also appropriate, squash really isn't like riding bike. So please think about concentrating on small adaptations which in time will do what they are meant to do and help you get back to where you want to be.

If what I've mentioned above doesn't interest you there are plenty of other ways to get active and fit. There is boxing, yoga, swimming, crossfit, trx, spin classes, skipping, etc. Find what works for your body and start planning out your comeback. Be prepared for it and you will not only play better squash, but enjoy your squash that much more too!

Hopefully I've at least given a few of you some motivation to get back into a training and active lifestyle mindset. I feel like most squash players use squash as their only source of exercise. I've heard many club members over the years say how much they dislike the gym and running, etc and that squash is an enjoyable way for them to exercise. These are the people I'm most concerned about, but they are also less likely to do what is necessary off-court or in fact read a blog article like this.

Once you get back on court I would also suggest starting with some static drills and slowly building your way up to rallies. If you're looking for some simple, static drills keep an eye on the Serious Squash Instagram, Facebook or Youtube accounts where I will be posting many examples. Also remember you don't have to play a full match the first time you are able to. I urge all of you, from beginner, to experienced pro and regardless of age to be sensible and focus on your comeback 1 step at a time.

SeriousSquahShop.com - Video analysis, Signature Racquet and the new Canadian version tees!
Patreon.com/SeriousSquash - still going strong 1+ year in! There's a new episode every Monday.
Youtube.com/SeriousSquash - I've been trying to post more regularly here. Will be able to post some longer clips here once the club opens back up.
Instagram @SeriousSquash
My interview on the 'In Squash Podcast': https://soundcloud.com/gerry-gibson-485133288/episode-142-chris-hanebury

Now that some squash clubs have reopened and the rumour of this happening sometime soon here in Ontario I thought it would be prevalent to discuss solo hitting. In most of the phase 1's of reopening it's being recommended that people can only solo hit or practice with people from the same household. I'm lucky in the fact that I'm currently living with my brother so we can have some good sessions when the club opens, but not everyone is in this same situation so let's see how can best ease our way back into squash.

A few weeks ago I posted the instructional video, 'The Secrets Of Solo Hitting' on the Serious Squash Youtube channel. I've posted the link here below if you're looking for some solo drills to do when your local club opens up. To maximize the limited time you get on court I recommend going in with a plan about what you want to practice. The simpler the drill at the beginning the better. If the drills in the below film are too advanced try some sidewall drives or even a bit of short hitting.

The Secrets Of Solo Hitting

I know for me it's been over 2 months since I've been on court and my calluses are slowly disappearing. When I get back on court it may actually hurt to hold the racquet again. This happened to me once when I travel for 5 weeks and then got back on court. Luckily now I've been using kettlebells a lot for training so I still have a few calluses which will make my transition a little easier than it would have otherwise been. 

If you haven't been doing any training you will also want to make sure you do at least a light warmup before solo hitting. Think about trying to warmup your arm before solo hitting. Doing some arm swings or throwing a ball nice and easy or using a workout band can ensure you don't injure anything when you first get back on court. You don't see pitchers come out of the bullpen with no warmup and you shouldn't either. 

When you get back on court I also suggest adding in some physical training. If our goal is to get back to drills end eventually matches we have to be working on our strength, mobility and cardio. As I mentioned in my interview on The In Squash Podcast last week, most people need to improve their core and lower body strength so they can get into the correct hitting posture. Fyi the episode is set to come out later this week (episode 143 I believe) so make sure to subscribe to the podcast and you should find it there soon. 

When you're on court doing your solo hitting try adding in some lunges and possibly even some ghosting. You don't need to be on court to do some of the other important exercises like planks, squats or 1 leg deadlifts. If you make the time to implement these types of exercises into your training you will see a benefit when we can get finally get back into regular matches. Not only will your game improve, but you will be less likely to get injured during this transition phase. I too will have to ease my way back into. Remember that squash is a very explosive and intense sport therefore our risks of injury after a long layoff will be substantially elevated. 

If you're looking for a video on some of the exercises mentioned above you can find them here: 

6 Squash Specific Home Exercises

If you have already been keeping up with your basic movement exercises and you'd like to have some workout ideas checkout the Serious Squash Youtube playlist which I have been updating with a new session each week: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLzYXhBuUol3Tx4MV2l0nfoJ-5mRN853iB These are all exercises that will help you get fitter, stronger and play better squash. I record them live each Friday at 1pm eastern time on the London Squash Instagram account (come join in on the sessions!).

It's clearly evident that as a coach I'm concerned on reducing the risk of injury when we get back on court. I know most squash players only want to play matches and almost never do a proper warmup, so I'm worried that those people will be at a high risk of injury. If you're taking the time to read a blog post like this you're probably more conscientious about your squash and I believe you are more likely to follow my general precautions. 

On a final note on this topic I'd also like to suggest easing your way into it, yes even solo hitting. Don't go in and hit the ball as hard as you can for an hour and expect not to do some damage. Especially if you're a middle aged or older squash player you have to be more patient easing your way back to where you were pre club closure.

I'd like to finish off by going over some of the safety protocols I'm looking at implementing as a coach. When my club opens again it will be in phases. At the beginning it will likely only be same household or solo court bookings. We will also probably only use some of the courts and spread out the time between bookings. I won't offer any group sessions, at least for the first few phases. When I give lessons I will be the only 1 handling the ball and opening and closing the court door. In my lessons we will always be on opposite sides of the court, which is fine for coaching, especially when easing someone back into squash. I believe our club is going to order some of the iMask's + full face shields so I will probably have to wear one as I will be in contact with a lot of people. This will likely make it more difficult to communicate and provide instruction. 

As we move along in the phases of reopening our clubs there will be a stage where people will have a bubble of 2-3 players they can play with so if anyone does ever have have Covid-19 it will be easy to narrow down who has to be quarantined. I know our club is also doing a comprehensive overhaul to make the club as safe as possible and reduce the risk of any cross-contamination. Everything from how to open and close the front door, having automated paper towel dispensers, no towel service plus having masks and hand sanitizer available for all. This is how clubs have to change to avoid being a potential hotbed for future outbreaks. 

Squash is considered a high risk sport, but there are a lot of ways we can make squash safe. For awhile I was worried about the future of my career. It would be impossible to imagine changing careers at this point. Squash is all I've known and all I've done for so long now I don't even know where I'd start. Thankfully it looks like the light at the end of tunnel is starting to appear and squash can again be a part of all of our lives. 

Next week on episode 54 of Squash Shots (Patreon.com/SeriousSquash) I'm going to discuss both the pain and beauty of stairs and hill sprints. I did a lot of this training in my university days and now that the weather is getting better it's an excellent way to combine cardio and strength training. 

The 'Monster' Hill That I Trained On While At University

On a final note, I've decided to take down my instructional films in the Serious Squash Shop for the time being. With the clubs being closed for a while now there isn't as much demand as there once was. But I do want to thank everyone who has purchased a copy over the years. I've probably sold over 1,000 copies of the various films and most noticeably was The Secrets Of Solo Hitting, which I have posted for free up above. The online store is still active and at the moment only has video analysis, my final master's project, plus the Serious Squash racquet and the new tees. If you want to check them out you can do so SeriousSquashShop.com That's all for this week. I hope all of you are safe, healthy and doing your best to stay active. 

This week there's a few exciting things to announce. Let's start off with the biggest one! It was officially announced today that I am the new head coach of the Western Ontario's mens varsity  squash team. I played on the team from 2006-2009 and it was one of the best times of my squash career. I played and trained with some great friends and I really enjoyed collegiate squash.

Jack Fairs was my coach and he's such a great man and a legend in squash, so I'm excited about the opportunity to follow in his footsteps. Western is the only Canadian team that competes in the US in the College Squash Association (CSA). Last year the team had a strong season and finished 11th overall and I'm looking forward to helping the team get back up into the top 8.

 Pic and old school UWO shirt credit to my brother

When I was at Western we finished 5th, 6th, 7th and 9th over my 4 years. We only had 1 home match in those 4 seasons and I was also a driver for most of our away matches. There were and still are a lot of challenges being the only Canadian team, but now having a full time coach we are 1 step closer to the top teams in the CSA.

Since the alumni have raised enough money to bring me onboard we can support that the team needs to compete with the US schools who have much larger budgets and more resources available to them. Recently I've been working on the teams training schedule and some fitness and technical testing measures for next season.

Western has been the top Canadian squash team for years

If you'd like to find out more out Western you can do so here: https://westernmustangs.ca/sports/mens-squash Also if you have any questions about the men's variety team you are welcome to contact me at chanebu@uwo.ca There's a large UWO Squash email database where I will be sending out team updates and if you're an alumni or simply a squash supporter and you'd like to be included on the distribution list please send your email address.

After winning another OUA title at White Oaks

Believe it or not this isn't the only exciting news this week. Two days ago I was interviewed for the In Squash Podcast by Gerry Gibson. We had a good chat and talked about a lot things which I hope the squash world will find interesting. It should be published soon and I'll add the link to a later post or you can find it wherever you listen to podcasts. I will also be doing another interview for an Australian sports company called Sportageous who are looking to highlight a variety of sports, including squash. Stay tuned for that piece as well.

Another cool thing happened this week. I celebrated my 1 year anniversary of Squash Shots! I've now published 52 episodes and the topics are wide ranging. Recently I've focused more on the off court training side of squash, but I do have a neat post set for next week looking at what breaks down in your posture and swing under pressure. I used some old footage of me to demonstrate and explain this. If you're interested in subscribing you can do so at Patreon.com/SeriousSquash for as little as $3/month

I've also had some excellent feedback on the limited edition Serious Squash Canadian tees. In the first week I sold over 25% of the incoming stock. Thanks to everyone who preordered a tee or has supported Serious Squash in anyway over the years! The shirts will be arriving shortly and I will mail them out asap. If you'd like to preorder one you can still do so here: https://serioussquashshop.com/collections/serious-squash-limited-edition-canadian-themed-shirt

The New Serious Squash Canadian Tee

Don't forget I'm still doing a weekly live workout on the @LondonSquash Instagram account. So far they've all been on Friday at 1pm eastern standard time, but with how wild the weather is recently that could change week by week. These workouts are focused on mostly improving your core and lower body strength. This week I'm going to introduce the split squat and side lunge and I also have another challenging circuit mapped out. After recording I will post them to a home workout playlist on the Serious Squash Youtube channel. You can find the playlist here: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLzYXhBuUol3Tx4MV2l0nfoJ-5mRN853iB

I'd also like to bring up Squash Canada's 'Return To Play Recommendations.' This is a pretty comprehensive guide for coaches, players, club managers and owners about how we can safely get back into the squash clubs prior to a vaccine being produced. I can already imagine how squash is going to change for the next while and therefore so will my job. No matter the precautions we have to implement I'm excited about this announcement and the fact that squash is getting closer to returning. If you'd like to read the recommendations you can do so here: http://squash.ca/en/news/squashcanadapublishesreturnplayrecommendationsclubscoachesandplayers

I should also mention I just finished a 3 day fast on Wednesday. I've heard there are lots of health benefits from doing so and my brother was already planning on doing it so I decided to join him. He normally does it once per month and I'm still on the fence about if I'll be joining him next month or not. All I had was coffee and water for almost 72 hours. I don't think I would be able to do this while I'm coaching, but it was nice to be able to try something different during this time off. Any of you have any experience with fasting? Or fasting and sport?

With no squash I thought I would do a week of posting some of my old skill challenges. I'm going to post 1 each of the next 7 days. Here are days 1, 2 and 3:

Throwback Skill Challenge #1: Half Butterfly And Switch

Throwback Skill Challenge #2: Butterfly Twist - Forehand To Front Corners, Backhand To Back Corners 

Throwback Skill Challenge #3: Sitting Down Backward Figure 8 Volleys

Follow Serious Squash on Youtube, Instagram or Facebook for the next 4 skill challenge releases! I hope all of you are staying safe and healthy. If your squash club is back open I'd be interested to hear how it's going so far and what you're allowed to do and not do.

Another week of social distancing and waiting patiently for squash to get going again. I'm still managing to keep busy trying to prepare for next season and also doing some fun Serious Squash stuff. I thought for this week I would share what I've been up to and finish off by talking about how important it will be to ease back into squash and what exactly that might look like once we get the green light.

Earlier this week I ordered a small batch of Canadian themed Serious Squash tees. I ordered 3 colours and just 40 in total. I thought it was fitting to do a Canadian version since I'm now back in Canada.

The New Serious Squash Tees

Since I got back to London it's been quite cold. We've had lots of snow and I've only left the house about 4 times in the past 6 weeks. On Sunday we finally got a nice day, the sun was out and it was around 20 degrees. I wasn't sure what exactly I was going to do with my racquet, but I brought it and a squash ball with me. It resulted in the following collaboration of skill challenges and fun trick shots.

Sunday Fun Day With A Squash Racquet + Ball

What else have I been up to this past week? I filmed home workout #3 and it was a doozy. It was a lot tougher than I had anticipated. If you want a challenging squash specific workout you can find the video below. After the warmup the circuit consisted of lunging forwards and backwards 2x per leg and then 6 squats. I did these with weights and for 13 sets. I started each new set on the minute so its a 13 minute workout and the rest time was usually only about 20 seconds. This coming Friday I have another challenging circuit planned. If you want to join along live check out @LondonSquash on Instagram. You can also find the workouts posted at a later date on the Serious Squash Youtube channel. If you don't have any kettlebells at home I highly recommend picking some up! 

Squash Specific Home Workout #3

Next Monday is episode 52 of Squash Shots makes it 1 year of publishing weekly coaching videos on Patreon. I've learned a lot from filming them and I'm starting to get better at editing video and filming. Here is episode 51 which was on tracking hard movements. Hopefully we can get back into the squash courts soon so I can begin filming some new on court footage. 

Squash Shots Episode 51: Tracking Hard Movements

I've had quite a few meetings over the past week. I've had meetings about the Nash Cup (a pro tournament here in London), Squash Ontario junior committee and a few club board meetings. I'm not as busy as I will be when I actually start work again, but I do have lots on the go plus I'm trying to get in at least 5 workouts per week. Last week I started up a monthly newsletter at my club and the first edition was sent out on May 1st. There were surprisingly a lot of updates for a closed club. 

I have a feeling we are all underestimating how difficult it's going to be to get back into a hard match. Even if you are exercising at home and staying active a hard match is much more explosive and tougher on the body than anything we are currently doing. This means we will all be susceptible to injury when we first get back. This is why I believe it's super important to ease our way back into squash when are allowed to do so. This means that we should build our way up to matches by doing some simple set drills and eventually progressing to rotating drives and length games. Solo hitting and ghosting will be really effective too and of course we will benefit from actually warming up and cooling down properly. I also recommend spreading out our first few sessions. 

When I was younger I had a rule that for how long I had taken off squash (say 1 month) it would take 2x that amount of time to get back to where I was. Now that I'm getting older this rule could be even a little longer. Seeing that it's going to be at a minimum 2 months, more likely 3 or 4, give yourself at least double that amount of time to get back to where you last were. 

A number of years ago I went on a trip to Asia for 5 weeks and I remember when I came back and went on court my hand hurt. Five weeks was all it took for my calluses to almost completely disappear. Now I should be in better shape because I'm regularly using kettlebells which are helping me maintain my calluses. 

Lastly, I thought it would be interesting to discuss some of the ways squash will change. I'm on a subcommittee at my club on how to safely reopen and play squash again. I read an article on tennis and they had some ideas that I will transfer to our squash club. There are a number of areas which we will have to consider. One idea the tennis article discussed was having different sets of balls for each player so they never have to touch the same ball. In squash this is something we will have to do as well, but it will be more difficult because our ball has to stay warm and not every ball bounces the same. I believe this will be a protocol though. Another difficult area to overcome will be not touching the walls. I often wiped my hand on the sidewall as part of a focusing routine and to keep my hand dry. When we get back to competition we won't be allowed to do this (or we shouldn't be allowed). 

Another tough question is wow do you open and close the court doors? Will we have a glove in our pocket we put on? Will there be a way to use a foot pedal of some sort to open it? Will just 1 person her be able to open the door and it must be sanitized after each use? Will we be forced to wear masks, or what I hear they've been working on for hockey is a full face shield (see image below). Maybe this is something the iMask can adopt and extend further over ones face. I can't imagine playing squash with a paper mask or even a cloth mask covering my mouth. 

The Bauer Hockey Full Face Shield To Protect Against The Spread Of Covid-19

Another major area of concern is how close we are to our opponent in squash. In tennis it is easier to socially distance. In squash we often get close to them. This could mean that you are only allowed to play with a partner you are quarantined with or perhaps 2 people who have already had Covid-19. Maybe we will have to stick to crosscourt games and short versus deep so we can stay as far away from one another as possible. Maybe we will have to start off just with solo hitting? There's lots to consider here about how to safely reopen and get back on court. 

How group programs, leagues and tournaments are going to operate is whole other discussion and I certainly don't have all of the information yet. So let's wrap things up for this week. If you'd like to preorder a Serious Squash tee you can do so at SeriousSquashShop.com They are expected to be in stock within the next 3 weeks and I will be shipping them out shortly after. 

Other Serious Squash links:
Squash Shots: Patreon.com/SeriousSquash
Instagram @SeriousSquash

While we're currently in a forced prolonged off season I thought it would be a good time to discuss what types of training you should be focusing on. Back when I was competing I would focus mainly on improving my cardio in the offseason. I would do a mixture of building an aerobic base (trail runs), anaerobic and explosiveness work (hill sprints, stair running and 200 meter sprints) and some gym strength training too. How much of what should you be doing now?

I'm a big believer in routines. If we want to make positive changes to our daily lives developing positive routines can be extremely effective. Routines can be difficult to change, but within a few weeks they can become the new normal. We all know we should be more active and eat healthier, yet many of us don't. Why is it so difficult to change our behaviours to one that's better for us long term? If this topic interests you I would highly recommend you check out the book 'The Power Of Habit' by Charles Duhigg. If you don't read it, just know that new habits become habits within 3-4 weeks. So if you start planning a workout for certain days and times you can build a new more beneficial routine by the end of next month.

Looking back at my own personal experience I should have focused more on strength and mobility training. My aerobic fitness base could only get so high no matter how hard I trained, but if I was stronger I would be faster off the mark, more stable through my shot and be able to play at faster pace. Training has come a long ways since I was in university so there's a lot more knowledge and sharing of information.

Even though a lot of us are trapped indoors (at least here in most of Canada the weather hasn't been too great) there is a lot we can do to improve our overall fitness. You don't need any equipment to have a great workout. Exercises like yoga, stretching or body weight strength workouts can be super effective and also require little space. What I like doing now is at least twice per week making my home workout focused on cardio. How I do this is by increasing the repetitions and/or reducing the rest time.

Last week I did a live home squash specific workout on my new clubs Instagram page where I did a circuit of 4 squats, 4 lunges and 4 pushups on the minute every minute for 12 minutes. By doing this I was exercising for approximately 30 seconds and having 30 seconds of recovery. This way of designing a workout makes you keep going even though you maybe want a longer break later in your sets. You can adapt it in numbers ways too. If you want to do more or less you can increase or decrease your reps, sets or your rest time. I used weights for my exercise, but I'm certain many of the people following along didn't.

As the weather gets nicer there will be more opportunities to include some aerobic and anaerobic training outdoors. This could include going for runs or cycling. I remember almost 20 years ago losing a match to someone in the spring and I felt like it was because of my base fitness so I started jogging for 20-30 minutes 2-3 times per week and when I got my rematch at the end of the summer I won. Nothing is more frustrating than losing to a lesser skilled player simply because they are fitter than you. Those that are making use of this time to get fitter will come out of this in a much better position when competitions start back up.
Being in such a unique position during this prolonged off season you have to do what you can for now. When more options become available we can all be a bit smarter about how much of what we are doing. That being said if you know you really need to work on your strength (as I needed to) you should focus on this year round. I know when there season gets going how much you do and the frequency will change, but if that is the area holding you back you should still be trying to make strength gains during the season. This of course changes as you mature and get to the level you require to play at your best.

I'm going to take a step back and discuss the importance of basic mobility for a moment. Now more than ever we are doing more sitting and lying around than ever. My brother found a 6 week program that he is doing and I am doing some of as well. You can find the details on his Instagram page here: https://www.instagram.com/p/B_NP3SJnk-p/ None of these stretches or exercises require any equipment yet a lot of them are quite challenging and if you stick to the schedule you will definitely improve your mobility and strength. Movement must come before hard training so this could be a good starting point for many of you. What I'm doing is picking some of the exercises and adding them into my own workouts.

If your mobility is already at a high level it's time to think about what areas you want to work on next. Having an aerobic base is essential for squash players. How long do your matches typically last? If your jogs are for 20 minutes but your matches last for an hour or more you may have to adapt your training accordingly. When we play squash our heart rates vary because we are working harder at various points in the match. This is why when I used to jog I would make sure to include a few sprints and always finish hard. But now that I'm older and I've had 1 knee surgery jogging isn't for me; at least not for any real length. This is where everybody had individual difference and why 1 single training plan can't be used for players even if they are a similar age and ability.

Right now there are plenty of athletes sharing their home workouts. You can find a lot of great stuff on Instagram which will challenge you and keep things interesting. But should you allocate a specific period of time for a certain type of training before moving on to the next? Chunking your training into specific quadrants is called either a mircocycle, mesocylce or macrocycle.
A mircocycle is something short term (averages about 1 week) while a mesocycle is normally about 4-6 weeks in duration. A macrocycle is longer and can be many months or even a year or more. Right now we have time to focus on more than 1 athletic trait so you can opt to set up a 4-6 training period with a singular focus; say strength. Once that cycle is complete you can move on to something else. Doing this doesn't mean you stop all strength training, it means you are simply looking to maintain that while building up another essential area. Remember you can still target anaerobic and aerobic fitness targets while doing strength training.

Switching athletic trait targets in your training program isn't just about preparing for the season, but it's also good for your mental well being. How many consecutive weeks or months can you go do wind sprints and achieve maximal gains and even just simply enjoy your training? If you have a specific 4-8 week period focused on this you will see the light at the end of the tunnel and you can also continue pushing yourself week after week to go faster, take less recovery or do more sets. This obviously cannot continue indefinitely, nor should it. When the season gets going again you will get a lot of your training from on court sessions so this build up won't be entirely lost.

Once the season begins you want to have base built up for aerobic, anaerobic and strength training because there's not always a sufficient time to work on these with all of the on court time. Building up this base over the course of years is what is referred to as training years or training age. This is the accumulation of the training you have done over time. So no matter how hard someone tries in 1 or 2 off seasons they will not be able to get as strong or as fit as someone genetically similar that has more training years under their belt (at least until father time comes a-calling).

One area that is super important in training programs is planned time off. I know most of us are getting more than enough of this at this point in time, but it is something our bodies and minds need. We will perform better, experience less injuries and burnout if we schedule times in the year where we avoid overexerting ourselves. But don't get rest confused with being completely inactive. If you are having a planned rest period you should still be moving around; going on walks, easy bike rides or perhaps doing a few light stretching sessions or yoga classes.

If you're well over the 1-2 week rest time and ready to get back to action go slow. Start with some of the mobility exercises outlined in the guide above or even some daily walks or bike rides. A big mistake people make when getting back into training is that they do too much too soon which doesn't give their body enough time to recover and adjust to the increased workloads. You can't go from zero to a marathon or a tough Crossfit workout and not expect some repercussions. And as you get older and have to deal with more injuries so training smarter becomes even more critical. When I play a match these days and feel good physically the squash seems to follow. I don't get upset even if I'm not playing my best, simply because I'm feeling good and moving well it's a good day.
If you're looking for more squash specific home workouts you can find mine on Youtube. I've created a playlist for them at https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLzYXhBuUol3Tx4MV2l0nfoJ-5mRN853iB

I'm also doing a weekly live workout on the @LondonSquash Instagram page. These will later be posted on the Serious Squash Youtube channel if you happen to miss them. I'm currently focusing on building up basic strength required for squash by focusing on squats, lunges, deadlifts and core exercises.

Ideally this post provides some motivation and ideas on what type of cross training you can and should be doing. If you're not already in a positive routine there's no better time to switch and getting than today.

On a side note, if you're looking for some squash to watch I just posted an instructional film, Mastering Deception. You can watch the complete film here:

That's all for this week. I hope this post will get you up and off the couch and thinking about how to make the most of your time. Don't just wait for the clubs to reopen to make your fitness a priority. Right now most of us have more time than we ever have to concentrate on improving the often neglected cross training side of squash. I'll leave you with a comment from my old squash club, 'get fit to play squash, don't play squash to get fit.'

Want to know where else you can find Serious Squash?
Instagram @SeriousSquash

Oh and did I forget to mention that there could be a limited edition Serious Squash shirt coming out in the very near future...stay tuned and as always thanks for the support!

Apr 22 2020 8:36AM

My Tribute To Stuart Dixon

I've always had a difficult time dealing with the passing of a loved one. Dealing with loss is not easy and as someone who doesn't outwardly express a lot of emotion it's difficult to let your guard down to feel hurt and vulnerable and to share this pain with other people. But we can either not talk about it and hope that time will heal our wounds or we can think about all of the joy and wonderful things that person brought into your world. Today's post is my chance of doing just that for one of the kindest humans and best coaches I've ever had the privilege to know, Stuart Dixon.

Stuart didn't just recently pass away, it was back in September so I apologize for taking so long to get to this. A friend from back in Victoria told me about Stuart's passing. I knew he hadn't been well for some time, but I didn't know the finish line was so close. Later that week I watched his funeral remotely from Turks and Caicos and I felt bad that I couldn't be there in person to show my respect for his wife Sandy. I figure it's about time that I shared how wonderful of a person he was and important he was to me as coach and also as a person.

Stuart is a well known coach not only here in Canada, but worldwide. He's coached multiple Canadian National Teams and he's worked with plenty of top juniors and professional players throughout his career. He's in the Squash Canada hall of fame and was the proud owner of the Victoria Squash Club (VSC).

As many of you are already well aware, the VSC was a club like no other in Canada. Dogs strolled by the courts, including Kiri, who was Stuart and Sandy's golden retriever. Stuart ran monthly cup tournaments which included after event parties hosted at Stuart and Sandy's house. They would hand cook dinner, including their famous mashed potatoes, for all of the participants and have a keg of beer to boot. The VSC was a club where the members truly felt like a part of the Dixon family.

I first met Stuart when I moved to Victoria in the summer of 2011. When I moved there he let me play and train at his club for free. I was a broke masters student, but I was one of the strongest players in the city and he loved having good players around the club. Shortly after he asked if I wanted to coach with him at St. Michaels University School. This school was close to the club and had 4 courts on campus. After our first season he told the school to hire me as their head coach and that's what they did. The school had a lot of respect for Stuart and generally did what he suggested. I owe everything to Stuart for my 8 years at that school.

Stuart had a way clarifying issues and making the correct choice seem more clear, but without telling you what to think or say. He did this in coaching too; even though I was much less experienced he would constantly ask me for my opinion on someones game or a specific training method; he was a lifelong learner. To this day I have never met a coach who absolutely loved coaching more than Stuart. Little did I know that my real master's degree was going to be by working alongside Stuart and not the diploma that the local university presented to me.

Stuart was a lot of fun on our school's team trips. Even in his 60's he was just like a big kid, full or enthusiasm and excited about the matches that lie ahead. He was honest, yet super positive when coaching which made everyone love and respect him. In some ways it's quite intimidating to be working with someone like that because you feel like you don't measure up, and really how could you?

One particular tournament I remember sharing a room with Stuart during the Rugby World Cup. I believe it was the semis or finals and New Zealand was playing. Being a Kiwi, Stuart loved his rugby and especially the All Blacks. So at 3am he had his alarm set so he could tune in to watch the big match. Knowing nothing about rugby, I stayed up and and watched the game with him learning a bit about the sport and the team. And if my memory serves me correctly, I believe the All Blacks won which put Stuart in an even better me than usual.

If I had to select Stuart's best characteristics, I would say that he always made time for everyone (and every dog too) and he genuinely took an interest in their lives. He was known for constantly being on 'west coast time' because he would be deep into a discussion with the mail person or someone who passed by the club who was a member a few decades ago. Knowing what he was doing nobody could ever get upset at having to wait a bit for him. That's just how he lived. He would give you as much of his time as you wanted. I spent many of afternoons sitting on the couches or in his office talking about squash and life in general. When he did eventually get on court he would stay out there long after the practice because he was so engaged on helping this person learn and improve. Your level or age didn't matter to him and when your session was over he would continue chatting and cracking jokes.

As Stuart got older and his health slowly deteriorated the club was struggling more and more to pay the bills. He was the manager, owner and head coach, but the clubs revenue had been relying heavily on Stuart's coaching revenue to pay the bills for years. Stuart and Sandy have also put a lot of their own savings into keeping the club afloat. It was clear he wasn't into coaching and owning the club to make money. I'm still amazed that someone can be so unselfish and love what they do even while their business is struggling with such financial burden.

A couple of years ago now I started a Go Fund Me page for the club because it was going to have to shut its doors. It was time to pay the property tax and there were some other building expenses that totalled over $30,000. I remember Stuart said he had a month or so before he'd have to declare bankruptcy. I was determined to find a way to keep the club doors open. Later that day I thought about this funding idea and Stuart was initially reluctant. He didn't like the idea of asking for a handout, but I kept insisting it was the only way. Eventually he let me do it and the campaign was a major success. We raised over $50,000 and Stuart felt incredibly touched. He couldn't believe how many people cared and came out of the woodworks to show their love and support for Stuart. See it wasn't about the club necessarily as it was about Stuart. Everyone who knew him understood that there are few greater causes than helping such a beautiful individual. The club and Stuart at one time or another had made such a positive impact on so many peoples lives that by keeping the doors open those opportunities would continue.

The club struggled to pay the bills when Stuart couldn't get on court as much and also because the rent was quite high considering the low membership numbers. Stuart made it so cheap for people to pay a guest fee, or even cheaper if they were a member at another club, that likely resulted in the club having fewer total memberships. He wanted squash to be affordable for everyone even at his own expense. It also didn't help that the other club in town had not raised their membership dues since the courts were built a few decades ago. They are part of a government complex so they don't have the overhead facilities costs that the VSC did. So people living in Victorias had a choice to pay nearly twice the price to play at the VSC or save some cash and play at the rec centre. Ultimately not enough people chose to support the VSC and that's a big reason why I believe it ultimately faltered.

The club officially shut its doors last summer. Our Go Fund Me campaign helped it stay afloat for another year and it gave the members an opportunity to get a committee and plan in place to take over the club or rejuvenate it somehow, but to this day it has yet to occur. Hopefully someday in the future the VSC will be back and I would like to think better than ever, but without Stuart it could never be the same.

I vividly recall the last time I was with Stuart. Him and Sandy came out to a Thai restaurant with 2 of our mutual friends. I brought him a bottle of Scotch (he loved Scotch) and it was our goodbye meal before I was moving to Turks and Caicos. Stuart had been battling cancer for some time now and he was not as spritely as he had once been, but he still enjoyed our dinner and discussion. He never once seemed upset that I was leaving the city and would no longer be able to help his club. Instead he was so happy for me and said he would think about me enjoying frozen drinks on the beach. This was just about 1 year ago now. It was sad to leave Stuart, Sandy, the club and my friends, but things were not working out at the school as I had hoped so I felt like I had no choice but to move on.

For awhile I contemplated trying to take over his club full time and see if I could make a go of it, but living in Victoria without a base salary and with 6 years of student loans to pay back was more than I could handle. Now I can't help but think I should have tried to do more. But this post isn't about me, it's meant to be my tribute to Stuart Dixon. I had the pleasure of getting to know him really well over the course of 8 years and I will always treasure that time. I know he has made name a better person and also a better coach too. These are attributes that I hope I will be able to pass on to others one day too thanks to Stuart.

So from the bottom of my heart, I just want to thank you one more time, Stuart. You welcomed me into your family just like you did for so many others. You made me feel special and you lived each day with an unwavering zest for life. Even when your health was deteriorating you always had a smile and you were more interested in how everyone else was going. Even though the club was struggling you'd still offer to buy me a coffee. You were one of the most unselfish people I've ever met and even though you are gone your impact is still felt through everyone you've touched. Rest in peace, Stuart and thank you for all that you have done and continue to do.

That's all for this week. If you knew Stuart I'm sure everything I said rings true and brings back a lot of great memories. If you don't know him hopefully I helped you get to know a bit more about a really special soul.

I'm still working on lots of home videos during isolation. You can follow along on Instagram @SeriousSquash or Youtube.com/SeriousSquash or Facebook.com/SeriousSquash I'm also posting mostly workout videos these days to Squash Shots. It's almost a year in now. You can learn more at Patreon.com/SeriousSquash and the online store is still open for business and has 3 instructional films, video analysis and Serious Squash signature racquets for sale: SeriousSquashShop.com

It's funny how life works. Eleven years ago I couldn't wait to graduate university and get on with my coaching career. I had a 4 fun years at Western University where I played on the squash team and completed a degree in kinesiology ('09). Most of my best friends from my school days were on the squash team and we did everything together. Still, after 4 years of not making any money and training and studying year round I was eager to move on to the next chapter.

Now eleven years later I'm back in London hired by the club I was a member of back in my Western days, The London Squash and Fitness Club. The club is vastly improved from when I was a member. They've had a major club renovation since that time and it looks amazing. They still have many of the same members so I already know a lot of the people at the club. I've probably already received over 50 messages and emails from the members congratulating and welcoming me into the club. My brother also plays here so that's a bonus. It will be nice to have someone to film some episodes of Squash Shots with and to have my doubles partner close-by. 

It wasn't an easy decision to leave Turks and Caicos. The weather and the beaches were terrific, but in the end it was not possible to make a living there as a squash coach. I did get the junior program up to over 20 kids, but without a base salary life just wasn't affordable. I was running an Airbnb for awhile, but Coronavirus foiled those plans. 

(The front view of the London Squash and Fitness Club)

So here I am back in London, in the snowy winter belt of Southwestern Ontario. The club is closed for now, so I'm still waiting for this pandemic to dissipate before I can get to work. I have started working on some ideas for the programming for next season. I'm hoping to make a big splash with the junior program. I'm also intending to run some group classes, which I don't think they've had many of in recent years.

London Squash is also home to the Nash Cup which I even played in back in my Western days! It was my only PSA I ever played and I made out of qualification to lose to the second seed in a relatively competitive match. The Nash Cup has had many top players and has both a men's and women's event. They always have a top Western player in the draw along with many of the top Canadian PSA players. They have live scoring and streaming. Here's the website so you can bookmark it for future reference: https://www.nashcup.com

What am I working on at the moment? My days have basically revolved around workouts, filming episodes for Squash Shots, writing blog posts and now brainstorming for programming once the club opens back up. Yesterday I recorded a welcome video for the club which included 6 basic home exercises that the members that require no equipment. Here's the video if you're interested and yes, there were some flurries during production!! 

Until Covid-19 disappears life will be pretty relaxed, but once things ramp up I'm going to get quite busy. Right now I can't help but wonder how squash will change next season. Will I be able to run tournaments? If I do will people participate in them like they did before? What about leagues and so on? How will clubs transition back to being open again? Only time will tell, but I do think it's going to take quite awhile for things to get back to how they were before.

If you want to know more about my new club you can do so here: www.lsrc.ca They have 4 singles courts, a hardball doubles court, a sauna in both change rooms, a pro shop and a bar/lounge. It's really a beautiful spot.  

On a different topic, I've been recording a lot of workout posts for Squash Shots. Recently I've posted kettlebell workouts and some core exercises. You don't need any equipment to get in a good workout from home. I not only demonstrate how to do the specific exercises, but I also explain how to design a home workout. You can find out more by checking out Serious Squash on Instagram @SeriousSquash and @SeriousSquashShots or at Facebook.com/SeriousSquash or Youtube.com/SeriousSquash or by subscribing to Squash Shots at Patreon.com/SeriousSquash

There's also an online shop if you want to purchase an instructional film, a video analysis or a signature Serious Squash Harrow racquet: SeriousSquashShop.com

Until next week stay safe, stay healthy and stay (or get) fit!

Apr 8 2020 10:35AM

Kettlebell Training

It's been 2+ weeks of quarantine at my brothers place. Luckily for me he has 3 kettlebells so I've been able to continue to get in some good workouts. When I was living out west in Victoria and I was working with some personal trainers they taught me how to use kettlebells properly. This week in Squash Shots I filmed an episode demonstrating 35 kettlebell exercises. You can get in a full body workout with very little space and with just a kettlebell or 2 which means it's the perfect piece of equipment to have while in self isolation.

One of the great benefits of kettlebells is that all of the exercises you do with them engage your core. Because of how often I use kettlebells I have a much stronger core than I ever have and I've done far fewer sit-ups and crunches.

Here's this weeks episode of Squash Shots if you'd like to see some of the various exercises you an do with a kettlebell.

If you don't own a kettlebell I suggest you picking some up so you can do some of these exercises from home. Even now I'm doing most of my workouts on my brothers deck. Kettlebell are also very easy to store and for many exercises they are mush easier to hold and use than dumbbells. They aren't cheap, but they are well worth the price if you put them to use. Here's a link of a group of training equipment I've created on a Serious Squash Amazon if you're thinking about making an investment  www.amazon.ca/shop/serioussquash

I'll walk you through a few of my training sessions over the past 2 weeks. Yesterday was pretty simple. I did 5 goblet squats with a kettlebell followed by 10 pushups. I did this on the minute, every minute for 20 minutes (sets). So by the end of this workout I had done 100 squats and 200 pushups. 

Last week I did a similar workout where I did 5 squats, 5 swings and then 5 pushups on the minute, every minute for 20 sets. Using a timing method like this keeps you moving even when you get winded and want that little extra rest. It also shows you how efficient you can be with your time and back in a great workout in just 20 minutes. This and the previous training session would equate to about 25-30 seconds of training and 30-35 seconds of rest. As you get further into your sets the rest sure seems to run out quicker.

Another excellent way to set up a workout is by doing a circuit. A circuit is what I do most often at the gym. Normally I'll go do an exercise, move on to the next, maybe 1 more and then go back to the first one. This gives the muscles you used for each exercise a little bit of rest. So generally I don't do back to back exercises focusing on the same muscle group unless I want to really target that area for that session. 

Today I did a circuit that included kettlebell carries (briefcase carry, shoulder carry and a high overhead carry) and mixed in between were planks, side planks with a kettlebell, snatches, presses and cleans. So it was a core and upper body focused workout after all of the squats yesterday. 

Another effective way to set up a training sessions is by setting a goal for how many of a certain exercise you want to do in total. Let's say you want to do 100 deadlifts. You can break anytime you want, but every time you break you have to do a 1 minute plank and 10 pushups or say 10 burpees. So your goal will be to try and get the 100 deadlifts in with as few breaks as possible, but you will inevitably need at least 3 or 4. The longer you go the more difficult the planks and pushups or burpees will be. On the other hand the fewer reps you do the more sets of planks and pushups or burpees you will have to do. 

For a future episode I filmed a bunch of complexes with kettlebells. A complex is a combination of 2 or more exercises which makes the workout more of a full body workout. A complex of exercises also increases the aerobic training component of the workout. When you combine exercises that add up to more than 30 seconds it means that you can still get in some of that important cardio that we need for squash. 

I've listed a number of ways for designing your own workouts from home. If you haven't tried kettlebells before use light ones. The 3 I have here are 25, 35 and 40lbs. If I was at the gym I would generally use 40+ ones, but it depends on the exercise and number of reps In intend to do. You can also use 2 of the same weighted kettlebells to do a number of other exercises. 

Five years ago I had never touched a kettlebell and now it's the piece of equipment I work out with the most. In this time of gym closures and home workouts it's the perfect piece of equipment. Until next week stay safe, stay healthy and keep active. 

If you enjoy Squash Shots you can subscribe for the weekly episodes for as little as $3/month at Patreon.com/SeriousSquash

Serious Squash is also on Instagram @SeriousSquash and Facebook.com/SeriousSquash and Yotube.com/SeriousSquash plus there's an online store SeriousSquashShop.com where you can purchase instructional films, video analysis and the custom Serious Squash racquet (for when clubs reopen!). 

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