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Walt Whitman At US High School Championships

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Play Squash

Make History

 

Whitman has the chance to send a team to the US High School Team Championship tournament for the first time.

In order to enter, we must have 7 committed players by November 15th.

Are you in?

The Event: US High School Team Squash Championships

February 10 to 12, 2017 in Hartford CT

Whitman + teams from around the country

 

 Logistics: Miss two days of school (1/9 and 1/10)

Travel up on Thursday, Feb 9; back on Sunday Feb 12

Matches start Friday Feb 10; end Sunday Feb 12th

2 nights in local hotel

Travel by bus or carpool

Coach and parent supervision

Cost: Approximately $300 per player

Good news – We have a good chance of reducing this fee substantially through a grant, but must have player commitments by November 15 to apply for funding.

May also be reduced through fundraising.

Questions: Coach Connie Barnes conniesquash@gmail.com

Captain Harry Dodwell hmdodwell@gmail.com

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Now Offering Video Analysis

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Video Assessment Analysis –  We provide squash assessments utilizing the professional motion analysis software. With the cooperative efforts between our PT staff and our elite level squash coaches on site, we have the ability to clearly and effectively walk you through a video analysis of your desired stroke/strokes, allowing coach and client to closely analyze any inefficiency in technique. A dual view of your pre-correction and post-correction video will provide you with biomechanical insight, which will be used to compare noticeable improvement in technique and form.

Along with improving performance, we also use this assessment as a preventative and corrective measure in regards to injury. The more efficient your technique, the less you prone you are to sport related injury. This could potentially alleviate any existing injury or discomfort due to squash play.

For more information or questions please contact Connie Barnes.

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URBAN YOUTH PROGRAM IN DC

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Washington DC is finally getting close to organizing a comprehensive urban youth program based in DC! An Urban Youth Program brings squash coaching and academic tuition to underserved DC youth.

There is much support for urban youth squash programming nationally under the auspice of NUSEA http://www.nationalurbansquash.org/

And from First Lady Michelle Obama http://www.nationalurbansquash.org/first-lady/

At its core, the program strives to build confidence and self-esteem and provide opportunities for personal development and college admission.  The program includes mentoring and a community service aspects.

We have a 501c3 set up, identified 3 possible venues in DC,  one of which is a massive school/ community center redevelopment and another that could fit two courts – both  close to target population so transport will not be an issue. If you would like to be involved in discussing and developing an urban youth squash program please contact  Connie Barnes at conniesquash@gmail.com

 

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Bill Ho’s Office has Bare Space

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Just when you thought things were maybe getting a little weird working in the squash world, along comes a member that erases that last little bit of doubt.  Worldgate’s Bill Ho sent me an email with this picture of his office. No Bill isn’t moonlighting selling racquets, he just can’t bear to part with his dead ones…. I will let Bill explain.

Office

It’s my office. I came to collect broken racquets when I couldn’t part with favorite racquets that I broke. Then as I had an office with empty walls, I put these racquets up. Of course it spurred conversation in the workplace. Then as my squash colleagues broke their racquets I asked for them to add to cover the other bare walls. The long and short of it, I started in 2003 and I think I have over 20. I have not been actively seeking them lately though.

I think we need to help him out..send your broken racquet to AussieNick and we will make sure that nasty bare space is covered! When it is we will post again!

AussieNick 15-January-2007

 

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Your Physical Attributes and how you should Play/Train

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By its very nature squash puts demands on your body that you cannot meet. This is true at all levels of play and usually in every rally of a match.  Generally this will manifest itself as your either being too slow with feet, legs or hands and/or inaccurate with motor control over feet, legs, body, arms or hands. Of course the interaction with the brain, nervous system performance, choices we make in shot selection and movement, whether we watch out opponent etc make this a highly simplified perspective on why we lose or win any particular rally.  However, without pursuing the philosophy of this too much I have mused a little over the impact of physical attributes in this somewhat simplified paradigm, and from this can we determine what is the best way to approach playing and training given our particular physical strengths and weaknesses.

In some ways it is not necessary to think about this too deeply as players will to some extent optimize their style automatically to best suit their physical specifications, although this is not always the case. Also if someone is conscious about what is best for them then they may approach training with a more specific technique and training regime in mind and this may lead to more rapid improvement.

In thinking about this I have observed many players that are successful and many that aren’t and compared their different physical attributes and tried to categorize this in a way where you might learn from it. These are innate physical attributes that I am assuming you can’t change or could only change very slowly at which time you would just alter your physical description and go through this process again. These physical attributes are assigned a range from -2 to 2, where 2 means a great degree of the attribute compared to players of the same “skill range” and -2 means greatly opposite to the attribute as written in the table compared to cohorts. Zero would mean neutral in this aspect etc. The attributes are:

  • Height
  • Leg Power to Weight ratio
  • Wrist strength
  • Maximum swing speed
  • Innate Skill and Coordination
  • Age

Now let me introduce another concept called playing attributes and assign them a range from -2 to -2, where a 2 would mean you would follow the approach to playing and training strongly as written below and -2 would mean you would strongly follow the opposite of the approach as worded below and 0 would mean neutral on this attribute and so on.  The playing attributes are:

  • Strong Grip Strength
  • Long Swing length
  • Long Stride/Lunge length
  • High Power/Finesse play ratio
  • Highly attacking posture
  • High Winner/rally ratio
  • High Fitness/Finesse ratio approach

There is obviously more attributes to the game, for example do I play my forehands off the orthodox or unorthodox foot, do I play mostly rails or cross-courts, but aspects like this are less linked to the physical attributes of the player. Here I am trying to look at the more significant aspects of play that are affected by physical attributes.

A way of interweaving these considerations is to place then in a table and look at a ‘pseudo-correlation index’ between the factors. What this means is how each attribute of the game (Grip strength, swing, stride, power etc) best suits and hence is an important consideration for a player with particular physical attributes (height, power, wrist strength, speed, coordination etc). In the table below, a positive number means that in my opinion this game attribute goes in sympathy (correlates) with this personal attribute, and the more positive that number the more strongly correlated  they are (note that correlation is being used in a loose sense here). A zero means that the attribute of the game and the physical attribute are unconnected. A negative number means that they are negatively correlated, which means the importance of the game attribute goes with the inverse of the physical attribute.

Grip Strength Swing length Lunge Length Power v Finesse Attack Posture Winners v Rally Fitness v Finesse
Height 0 -1 1 -1 1 1 -1
Leg Power-to-weight 0 0 2 1 2 -1 1
Wrist Strength 2 -1 0 0 1 2 0
Swing Speed -1 2 0 1 2 0 0
Coordination -1 1 0 -2 2 1 -1
Age 0 -1 -1 -1 0 2 -1

To further illustrate this let’s look at a few examples. The correlation between height and Lunge is 1. This means that the taller the player the more suited to a long stride/lunge. Conversely a shorter player should not be trying to cover the court with large strides. This particular correlation comes about from body mechanics. A tall player that tries to take a lot of little steps around the court is generally doing themselves a disservice, they are much more naturally adept at lengthening their stride to cover the court. Note the correlation even stronger between Power-to-weight and Lunge. This is because a person with high power-to-weight can more easily cope with recovering from large stretches. Conversely a lower power to weight (often symptomatic of the older player) has very little chance of recovering from a deep lunge (this is why a lot of older players have to run through a tough  ball rather than stretch to retrieve).

Now look at ‘Coordination’ and ‘Power versus finesse’. These are negatively correlated, which means that Finesse should be much more of a concern than power for a player with naturally gifted coordination The third category is the uncorrelated, for example  Swing speed and lunge. This says that their is no relation between the importance of the length of your stride and how fast you can naturally swing the racquet. The numbers are my estimates from my study of the game and each number has similar arguments behind it. Some are undoubtedly more controversial than others and more systematic study might change the estimates.

OK so let’s accept what we have so far, but now we have to ask what use is all this? Let me use myself as an example. When deciding how to grade your own physical attributes it is important to think of this within your normal competitive sphere, rather than on an absolute basis. So for myself in contemporary range (e.g. players around the 5.8 level) I consider myself to be tall, average leg power to weight, high wrist strength, lower hand speed, average hand-eye, and most unfortunately on the older side. Thus again using the -2 to 2 scale I might write that my physical attribute vector is:

Height  = 2, leg P-t-W = 0, wrist strength = 1, Hand Speed = -1, Hand eye = 0, Age = 1

We then multiply the column vector of each of the game attributes by the physical attribute vector you gave yourself. So for game attribute Grip, I get 0 + 0+ 2 + 1 + 0 + 0 = 3. A positive number means the positive side of this attribute, in other words a strong grip would suit my physical attributes. For me I know this works, so, so far so good. Similarly I get for the other game attributes:

Swing = -6. (Strongly suggests to use a shorter swing length)
Lunge = 1  (Mildly suggests a long lunge is best for me)
Power = -4 (Strongly suggests I should concentrate more on finesse than power)
Attacking Posture = 1 (Mildly suggest I should take the ball relatively early)
Winners v rally = 6 (Strongly suggests I am suited to playing a lot of winners)
Fitness v Finnese = -3 (I should approach winning my games from a finesse perspective rather than fitness)

Another example would be my imaginary friend Jack who is a 6′ tall older player (65 yo) who has excellent innate skills but is slowing down a lot with age. For Jack he might then score himself, given his 4.5 player cohorts, say:

Height = 0, Leg P-t-W = -2, Wrist strength = -1, Hand Speed = -1, Hand Eye = 1, Age = 2

This leads to:

Grip = -2 (Jack should use a softer grip)
Swing = -2. (Jack should use a relatively short swing length)
Lunge = -6 (Strongly suggests Jack should take small steps/lunges)
Power = -7 (Strongly suggests Jack should use finesse rather than power)
Attacking = -5 (Strongly suggests Jack should not attempt to take the ball too early)
Winners = 5 (Strongly suggests Jack should shoot for a lot of winners)
Fitness = -5 (Strongly suggests Jack should concentrate on winning with finesse rather than fitness)

One aspect not covered is that of injury. If you are carrying an injury but still playing, just incorporate that injury on the effect it has on your physical attributes e.g. lower leg power-to-weight ratio than you would be capable with full fitness.

So,  estimate your physical attribute data and plug itin and see how you go. Would love feedback on the concept and whether it makes sense for you or not.

Rod Barnes 8-April-2007

Site AdminYour Physical Attributes and how you should Play/Train
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Connie’s No-Partner Workout

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  • Warm up (exercise bike/ light jogging etc)
  • 20 crt sprints (timed – refer base time)
  • Forehand side of court – 20 drives each from first line, 2nd line, third line
  • Backhand – ditto
  • Forehand side of court – 20 volleys each from first line, 2nd line, third line
  • Backhand – ditto
  • Lunges – backwards and forwards across the crt (keep low – knees bent) 40
  • Serves – from right box 10 to defined area on wall, ditto left box.
  • Repeat – try to get more in the defined area the 2nd time.
  • 20 crt sprints (timed – refer base time)
  • Moving to and from T by going to each of the 6 ‘corners’ – 1 minute, pause, repeat

Have fun!

Connie Barnes 2-May-2007

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The Off Season

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It’s undoubtedly a little ironic but  the off-season is one of my favorite times in the squash calendar, especially the first few weeks of it in April/May. I am sure many of you can relate, it is akin to ceasing to bash your head against a wall,  like a long time-base endorphic experience. This year especially I needed a break. After leaving the Embassy and  starting in the US private sector it has been especially busy. With juggling an engrossing job,  running the first PSA event in the region,  a young family and its demands, running Premier league, writing journal papers, buying a house, working through the US security and other bureaucratic processes for my job and maintaining multiple web sites, I felt a little down on horsepower and there was not a lot left for the court.

With many of these tasks now in the rear view mirror and with many weeks almost squash free, it is good to feel the energy levels, well dare I say it, on the surge. I have always advocated 2-4 weeks off every 6 months. Squash is such a demanding sport and it wears down your mental and physical resilience over time. Having a substantial break every 6 months lets the body repair the niggling injuries and, even those aching joints can rebound a little. It also allows the mental resolve to accumulate and that dwindling or missing desire might be rediscovered.  I would go so far to say that without these breaks your longevity in the sport is very likely to be diminished.

On a cerebral level, having a break also permits a time of reflection and a different vantage point on your own game. Both good and bad habits that engrained over the last season will fade in muscle memory, giving the chance for a fresh start and a renewal. I always come back after a break with a clean slate view of what is not quite right with my game.  Some would say this is fertile ground, and should not be that hard with or without  a break, but when you have been playing continuously for a long time you lose perspective and sometimes even the obvious goes unnoticed.

My final point on having a break, is really relating to the fact that improving in squash for most of us, often comes down to improving physical prowess. The three S’s, strength, speed and stamina. Squash in the end is so much about them. Many people who have asked me for advice, especially those getting on in years, just don’t want to seem to hear this but there is no denying it. I can understand their selective deafness, after all, ‘tweaking that drop shot’ sounds a lot more appealing than ‘5 sets of 20 court sprints every other day’! Improving the three S’s is like running up a hill. It hurts and it is hard and there is no short cuts. To never give up on improving the three S’s to whatever our natural limits are at the age we find ourselves takes fortitude, and to attack it for a life time is somewhat cruel and unusual,  taking advantage of a break now and then allows the body’s batteries to recharge for the next push.

Some people I have discussed this with disagree, and have expressed concern about losing their edge over the time they have off, others appear too addicted to the sport to consider a sustained break. All wrong, in my opinion. Any longer term strategy for everyone, except those few players trying to achieve elite status, should be based around one to two lengthy breaks through a yearly cycle. On that note, please be upstanding, raise your glass and toast the off season. To the off season.

Rod Barnes 18-May-2007

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