[Updated on 1 June 2020] Squash is one of the most physically demanding sports, especially for older players.
So, how can aging effect squash? When we age, our bodies become less resilient.
Lung capacity, stamina, and overall strength tend to decline. You may find yourself winded after a few serves or struggle to keep up with your opponent.
To help improve your game, we’ve rounded up the following seven squash tips for older players.
Reduce the Risk of Injury with Protective Gear
Squash players over the age of 40 are more likely to get injured, mostly due to poor physical condition and a lack of protective equipment. Before heading to the court, pick up the following equipment:
- Protective eyewear
- Squash shoes
Squash balls travel very fast. The world record for the fastest squash serve is 176 mph. While the people you play may not reach the same velocity, getting hit in the eye may cause serious damage.
Protect your eyes with suitable eyewear. If you wear prescription glasses, ensure that you find a pair that fits over your frames.
You also need proper squash shoes, which should have non-marking soles and provide complete contact with the surface of the court.
The wristbands keep your hands dry, helping you maintain a firm grip on the racquet. The headband keeps sweat out of your eyes.
Avoid Playing Squash Too Frequently
While proper technique requires practice, you also need to avoid spending too much time on the squash court. Playing too frequently increases your risk of overuse.
Overuse injuries occur due to tissue damage from repetitive tasks. Examples of overuse injuries include:
- Ankle sprains
- Shoulder dislocation
- Stress fractures
When you try to take on too much too quickly, you may even exacerbate previous injuries.
Instead of attacking squash with full force, pace yourself. Limit yourself to two or three days on the squash court and avoid spending more than an hour per day playing or training.
Don’t Return to the T After Each Shot
Younger players are often taught two basic rules of squash – use long, straight drives and return to the T. Returning to the T position isn’t always necessary, especially if you can read your opponent.
Older players are often better at analyzing other players. If you know the younger player is going to hit the ball to the back corner, avoid taking the extra steps back to the T position.
You save yourself a few steps and preserve more of your energy. You’ll need the extra energy to come back with a strong volley.
Use Volleys to Squash Rallies Quickly
Volleys help you keep rallies shorter. It’s an attacking shot that puts more pressure on the other player, increasing the pace of the game.
Here are a few tips for improving your volley:
- Keep a firm grip on the racquet to maintain control
- Use the open racquet face technique for improved accuracy
- Try to get out in front, before the ball hits the sidewall
- Move forward and take the volley early
As volleys demand more control and accuracy, use solo training to perform volley drills.
Add a Variety of Drops to Your Repertoire
Along with volleys, drop shots are your best weapon against younger players. A good drop shot also allows you to conserve some of your energy for the volleys and forces your opponent to move more.
The other player needs to rush forward to take the ball. However, these shots are most effective when the other player doesn’t expect them.
Using a variety of drop shots keeps your opponent guessing. The main types of drop shots include:
Work on each of these shots while following these squash old age techniques:
- Avoid flicking your wrist
- Disguise your swing
- Aim near the corner
Keep your wrist straight through the full motion of the swing. This keeps the racquet face open, ensuring that you connect with the ball properly.
Try to hide your swing. Make it look more like a straight drive to throw your opponent off.
Aim near the corner to send the ball to the front while allowing it to bounce off and tap the side.
To maximize the effectiveness of your drop shots, get in front of your opponent. If the other player needs to move around you to reach the ball, you have a better chance of scoring.
Play More of an Offensive Squash Game
Playing conservatively doesn’t help you as you age. When we get older, the heart pumps slower, reducing oxygen-rich blood to cells in the body and overall stamina.
The body tires faster from strenuous activities, such as playing squash. If you have less stamina, you don’t want to play a prolonged match.
The goal is to go for quick shots and stay on the offensive. Look for opportunities to capitalize on your opponent’s weak shots.
One of the benefits of age is the ability to cope with stressful situations, such as a squash match. Use this to your advantage. Keep the pressure on your opponent.
Playing offensively, even when you’re behind by a large margin, gives you a psychological edge. It forces your opponent to react quickly, which isn’t something younger players handle well.
Stay Fit and Mobile with Regular Exercise
Squash is a physically demanding game. A lack of physical fitness is a common reason for injury for older squash players.
Your skeletal muscles start to weaken after the age of 40. You become more prone to injury and lose some of your strength.
Work out regularly, using a combination of cardio and strength training. Use cardiovascular exercise to maintain your heart health and strength training to maintain muscle mass.
Playing squash over 40 presents a few additional challenges. You may have less energy, strength, and mobility compared to younger players.
To stay competitive, remember to stay fit and focus on your technique. Use solo training to work on your drop shots and volleys.
When you get on the court, keep the pressure on your opponent. With practice, you should have no problem beating players half your age. You may even win more championships!