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Finding a Balance in Training By Alex Kirkup MSc

Jul 10

Written by:
10/07/2014 09:23  RssIcon

Ciara Richards, International Squash Player: Finding a Balance in Training

Sporting Achievements

 

-           U11 Welsh Junior Open Champion

-           3rd in British U13 Championships

-           French U13 Junior Open Champion

-           2nd at U19 Welsh Open

 

 

Intervention Highlights

-           Re-address Training Focus

-          Complete Player, Coach and Parent buy-in

-          Functional Movement Screen

-           Hot Yoga

 

 

 

Sporting Achievements

 

  • U11 Welsh Junior Open Champion

  • 3rd in British U13 Championships

  • French U13 Junior Open Champion

  • 2nd at U19 Welsh Open

     

     

Intervention Highlights

  • Re-address Training Focus

  • Complete Player, Coach and Parent buy-in

  • Functional Movement Screen

  • Hot Yoga

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 





Taking a quick glance at 14 year old Ciara Richards’ Squash backstory, it is clear to see how atypical she is as a teenager. Having started playing Squash at the age of 5, she has already managed to accumulate head-turning results in some of the United Kingdom’s most prestigious tournaments. Representing Wales both at a National and International level, she has without doubt excelled for someone so young in a sport that requires such athletic ability and tactical nuance.

As she begins to mature both as a player and individual, her early success rightfully enables entry to additional age category tournaments, pitting her against individuals both home and abroad, who often have both an age and physical advantage. However, in spite of Ciara’s undoubted talent with a racket, she like many young individuals across sport reached a ceiling effect early in her success. It was at this point that Ciara began to struggle to reach the same levels of success that she had experienced throughout her time in Squash, it was recognised by all involved that a change was needed to allow for her compete at this level in spite of her age and relative inexperience.

It was at this point that Ciara was referred to us here at Elite Fitness for a solution. Initially, it was asked of Ciara and her support team to first consider the time she spent playing Squash competitively against the time spent working on areas that enable high-level performance, such as her movement development, general and specific fitness, as well as her mobility and flexibility. It was clear even at this preliminary stage that the time Ciara spent playing Squash, vastly outweighed the time spent on these developmental areas, as the table below illustrates,

Key Consideration

It is clear to see the imbalance Ciara was facing in terms of her training schedule. A change in focus needed to be made to ensure development across ALL capacities required within Squash to include the physical, as well as the technical, tactical and psychological.

 

Through assessment using a Functional Movement Screen, even at the age of 14, Ciara had already begun to encounter the negative effects associated with early sport specialization. Without having ever gained fundamental movement competency not only in Squash specific movements but also in the general movement patterns that our bodies are designed to be able to perform, she had reached an early plateau in her performance and resulting success.

Under pressure in the recent British Junior Closed it was apparent that Ciara could no longer compete at this level and needed renewed training/strategy. Ciara lacked stability and range of movement at full extension on the lunge into the front and back corners.  This meant her options where limited on the shot she could hit as a result her opponents could read her shot very easily.  Physically, Ciara can now get lower on the ball and drive through the ball creating tempo and volley options. This has opened up Ciara’s game and enabled her to compete both technically and physically with the best players in Britain. Her results are a testament to her training, planning, work ethic and combined approach between technical coaches and physical trainers

Greg Tippings

High Performance Coach at Welsh Squash

 

Since beginning her work with us at Elite Fitness, Ciara is now a regular attendee at our Hot Yoga classes, as well as continuing her work on developing the general and Squash-specific movement needed for active sports participation. The results of which are beginning to pay dividends for Ciara, having recently been runner up in the U19 Welsh Open, she is also holding her own against adult competitors in regional Squash ladders.

Having begun to refocus on the development and mastery of fundamental movement skills that precede fitness and performance, the prospects again look bright for a future star or Welsh Squash.

It is important to remember in spite of Ciara’s undeniable ability, her story is not unique; many young individuals reach early ceiling effects as a result of lacking balance in their training. Take the time to consider your child’s current balance and get in contact with us at Elite Fitness to allow us maximise your child’s sporting and athletic potential.

Keywords: Squash, Performance, Development, Fundamental Movement, Movement Competency Functional Movement Screen, FMS, Hot Yoga, Mobility, Flexibility, Adolescent Training, Multi-sport Participation, Early Sport Specialization


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