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7 , 2002 by Dan Kneipp (Kah-nipe)

Most people are aware of how
an athletic taper works (or peaking as it is sometimes called). Put simply
this is the process in which an athlete rests their body leading up to
a major event so that they’re in peak physical condition on a certain

The only way a professional athlete
can reach a physical peak, is partly by ensuring there are physical highs
and lows.

Dan (left) and Joe Take
a Relaxed Approach to Summer Training
photo © 2002 Dan Kneipp

It’s too mentally and physically draining
to keep your body at peak condition. So when Joe and I sit down to work
out his training program it includes planning for when he puts his racquet
down and has a break from hitting a ball. This not only allows for a chance
to recharge his batteries and let any niggling injuries clear up, but
also ensures that the next time he gets on court he’s especially eager
to play.

Try going on court for three hours
a day for six days in a row and you’ll see that some of the joys of the
game become less obvious. There’s plenty of club players that I know who
have had a short break from the game and come back playing better than
when they stopped. Usually because they’re especially eager to play, and
surprised that they’ve overestimated how fast squash fitness deteriorates.

Obviously with summer’s lack of tournaments
(see our last article) it’s the ideal time to stay off court for a while.
There’s two major factors that have to be considered when planning this:

How Much Rest?
The squash calendar isn’t always conducive for celebrations like Christmas
and the New Year. There’s usually a substantial tournament in December
(the World Open this year), and a couple of big ones in January including
the Tournament of Champions in New York. So if you take much time off
to enjoy yourself over that period then your opponents have an advantage
over you. So the best idea is to make sure that by the time Christmas
comes around you’ve already got the major celebrating out of your system.

Summer is the best time to do this.
The difficult part of having a break is making sure that the rest isn’t
too long and that it doesn’t become too much work to get back to top shape.
Rest can also mean doing something other than squash. It’s an odd situation
when you find yourself really looking forward to going for a five kilometre
run, because it’s a nice change from court work.

Paying bills
There’s certainly plenty of sports where the players earn enough money
so that they can go for three months without having to play a paid game.
Unfortunately not for squash players. Most of them have exhibition games,
invitational tournaments or coaching organised. Some of the other Australians
based in the Netherlands are working at squash camps in the states, an
option Joe and I considered.

Joe’s doing a small amount of coaching
over summer. This becomes an important factor in planning our training
schedule because the days that he coaches become a write-off for training.
After five hours of coaching the last thing he wants to do is be on court
listening to instructions from me. So part of our preparation for the
Commonwealth Games at the end of July is having a rest, but no so much
as to lose fitness, and staying off the court for awhile, but not so long
that we can’t pay the electricity bill. A bit of a juggling act.

We’re eager to get feedback on our stories. If you agree or disagree with
what we write, or just wish to ask Joe a question about life as a squash
professional please don’t hesitate. Some of our upcoming articles will
be a little contentious and will hopefully evoke strong reactions. Our
address is dan@teamkneipp.com
or joe@teamkneipp.com

We’re currently playing social squash
and tennis with Richard Krajicek’s coach (Richard isn’t at the French
Open because he’s returning from injury). We usually have heated debates
on the differences between squash and tennis in areas including fitness,
pay and professionalism. Most squash players have an opinion on these
matters so hopefully when we move the debate to SquashTalk more people
will join in.

SquashTalk Forum

if you would like to discuss our columns or introduce questions
or comments, please email us at dan@teamkneipp.com.
We will post the good comments and question here on our SquashTalk
column together with our responses. We hope to get a good dialogue


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