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How to improve? 101 - Periodization for Squash

Fundamentally Squash Tigers is a 12 month a year program designed to assist players to achieve their goals in the sport.  We believe in an ecological approach to coaching, which in this context means that we care about the player as a person, a son or daughter and an academic, not just as a squash player.  Due to the nature of 12 month a year programming, it is important that we emphasize different aspects of players development during different parts of the year to make sure they maximize their capacity, make sure they are well rounded, injury free and enjoy the game.


Periodization in sport has roots all the way back to ancient Greece, and fundamentally refers to breaking training down into small, manageable and progressive stages.  Despite our urge to “train all the things all the time”, in order to maximize our resources, both mental and physical, we must emphasize certain aspects of our Tiger Five Trainables at different times of year. 

Specificity is king!  By that I mean that we are squash players, not weight lifters or long distance runners and we must get on court and hit balls.  Keeping that in mind however at different times we must change stimulus to avoid overuse injuries, burnout and to accentuate learning.  Plateau refers to the propensity of an athlete to stagnate at a given level unless provided with new stimulus, if we do the same thing all the time, we either cease to progress or progress more slowly.  Periodization is a partial answer to this problem.

What’s it look like?

In essence, the program uses the principles of periodization to manipulate the various training variables to continue to enhance player development.  Several variables are apparent, the first one is time, i.e. how long we train for and intensity, how hard we train.  In essence we can’t train super hard and super long.  In our competition season it means intensity is high and duration low, in our off season, which is principally summer, the intensity can come down a little, and the minutes or duration of training sessions and weeks can go up.  The second obvious set of variables to modify stimulus for players is in modality, or the overall type of training.  In broad brush strokes that means that the closer to peak competitive form, the more specific match oriented training should be.  Further away from major events is when we prioritize physical and technical development.  

Fundamentally periodization affects all different aspects of the five trainables and each quarter of our squash year has a different character and theme.

Take home thoughts

  1. Burnout, overuse injuries and performance plateaus all come from being non-attentive to the principles of periodization

  2. Constantly varied training across all Five Trainables ensures players improve more quickly and achieve their potential in the sport

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