A task I myself and many others often struggle with, after months of hard work in the gym or on the track its time to transfer all that hard work into practice and hopefully reap the rewards. No matter how many sessions you do off the court it all comes down to how you perform on it and you can be as fit as a fiddle but if you can't play squash what’s the point.
So after a solid twelve week block of training my priority was to use some of the improvements I have made off the court and start using them on the court. Obviously work still takes place on court over this period however it is usually a time away from competition and a rare opportunity to make some real changes to your game.
As I have mentioned in some of my previous blogs I have been training in Manchester working a lot on the physical aspects of my game alongside some technical work. A benefit of being up in Manchester this summer was that there were a lot of squads for both senior England players and academy players, I was fortunate enough to gain some exposure to some of the worlds leading players. One thing with squash not currently having the attention of other high profile sports is that there are no big egos and all the senior players male and female are easily approachable to ask questions on problems you might be having. It gave me a look at what it takes to hopefully get to that level and what it is they do to make them so good.
Obviously these hits were a massive help in sharpening me up ready for the new season, other methods I used were the obvious ones such as practice matches and smaller tournament which don't take to long out of training. These offer a chance to start to transfer and use some of the things you have been working on in a less controlled environment. However physiological it is often hard to replicate a competitive match environment with the outcome effecting your World Ranking. I know some players who put a wager on practice matches to make it more interesting, however I am not encouraging you to start gambling away your money.
A lot of it is just what works best for you, but I believe and think most players would agree you have to have some sort of recent competitive match player before you first tournament. This year my first tournament outside of England is over in Canada in London, Ontario a fantastic place, it was were I played my first PSA tournament last and a place which brings back fond memories. A tough tournament though and I go there with nothing expected of me as I am one of the lowest ranked players in the qualifying draw. But feeling good learnt a lot about myself this summer and feel ready to get back into tournaments.