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Arbitrary Goals; Train how you want to play and play how you train

Over summer, as I play squash (a winter sport) and I want to get better, I have set some arbitrary goals for myself. This blog is not about me, it’s about the aspects of injury prevention, recovery and performance! The bits everyone wants but isn’t always prepared to do what’s necessary to achieve, as they can be; time consuming, expensive and or boring. But in the interest of enjoying your sport for a lifetime and not just in your 20’s 30’s and 40’s, understand that the sacrifice of, 1 hour a week of boredom, pain, your time and money is nothing compared to enjoying your sport in your 60’s and 70’s (albeit slower).

So today I have sat down in the morning and thought about my game, I was going to draw up some goals that I want to achieve before league starts again in September. However, I’m sure most of the people reading this are in a similar position, I don’t know how far I can run, I don’t know what my 1RM’s are, I don’t know how fast I run 200m and I don’t know how far I can jump! Hence the title of the blog post, arbitrary goals. So what can we do…? I gave it some thought, and could work out some logical goals, that are achievable and relevant. However are likely to change based on my first two weeks of training. There has been a lot about squash players compared to tennis players recently, in an attempt to get some social media hype, if nothing else it has made my search for data much easier. And this is where you should start, see what the pro’s of your sport need to do physically and save that info somewhere.

When planning any training programme, or setting goals for yourself, they need to be purposeful otherwise there is a greater chance of you not following through. For myself, I would need to emulate what the professional squash players are doing in competition. They are averaging 5km in a tough match, roughly 1 km a game with heart rates reaching 190+. However, it is the recovery that is really needed, as players need to repeatedly perform close to maximum in every rally.

What I know is that my heart rate reaches 200bpm in a tough match, so it’s not like I’m not putting in effort! First step is checked then. Secondly is distance covered, now, I, like you can’t measure this but I can train for it. Third thing then is recovery. So I now have some basic data needed, I also know I need to be faster, which comes from being stronger and training some sprints. So time to set these arbitrary goals!

First, I started by making a quick table of the attributes I want to look at, and plan my training around. But this is purely a subjective graph for a starting point, rating them out of 10 based on how strong I think I am in this area (completely arbitrary, 10 is not world no.1). Then, because I can! I made a graph so it’s easy to see what I’m looking at.

Now I encourage you to do the same, and pick the bits you are most confident in, and nail them! Remember it is all relevant, I want to become as good as I can before 30, without being training every day as I’m not a professional athlete, if you’re just playing Sunday league for fun, then being able to jump an extra 20cm will win you more headers and you will score more goals, being able to run 0.5m/s faster will let you beat more defenders… each giving you more goal scoring opportunities. Either way you will have more fun as you are playing better.

There is a saying that perfectly describes why I have chosen these goals, arbitrary as they may be. “Train how you want to play and play how you train”. So if the pro’s need to run 5km I want to be able to run 10km, I know I need to lunge in squash so I want to be able to do the front splits, I know to be balanced I need strong legs, so I want a double bodyweight squat and deadlift (150KG). Movement quality and HR recovery are more difficult to put targets on, so I’ll just leave them blank for now.

I know that I move well, so I can continue with my movement training no problem, but speed, speed is not only about lifting heavy weights, it’s also about running movement too, so sprint training will need to be included. Which luckily will hit the HR recovery. Now this may all seem long and time consuming to just get to the goal stage, but it isn’t. 5 minutes to pick some goals, they can be very specific or very vague, so long as they require progression to achieve. And to make things simple, why not combine attributes into a single goal, like my 5th one. A Court sprint is a 10m sprint on a squash court. This will require me to recover, and wearing my HR belt will let me check the recovery.

Now, for the few that have read this far. I hope to see your goals posted below in the comments section! And many pictures from you training!

Arbitrary goals:

  1. Be able to run 10km in 1hr

  2. Be able to do the front splits

  3. Double bodyweight squat

  4. Double bodyweight deadlift

  5. Complete 10 sets of 12 court sprints in 30 seconds

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