The Smith College Squash team is the first and only team in the U.S. to plan and schedule a four -week “non-traditional season following the National CSA Championships. Who said you cannot play squash in the spring – it is a beautiful time of year on the Smith College campus (and if it dos get hot – the courts are fully air conditioned!):
One of the major problems with the NCAA and U.S. College Squash is that the competitive seasons are too short and too intense – leading to lack of player development, a high injury rate and burnout on the part of athletes. The reason is that the NCAA season is based on the “Professional Sports” model where very little improvement on the part of players occurs and the emphasis is on making money though the scheduling of many competitions.
Under the impression that they are “protecting”athletes, the NCAA is actually ensuring high injury and burnout rates by limiting season lengths to 19 weeks. Unfortunately the NCAA administrators are heavily invested in their bureaucratic creation and are unable to critically reflect on alternatives.
The Smith College Squash program avoids these inherent problems through careful planning and scheduling – using principles of periodization and longterm athlete development (LTAD). Specifically, the team starts every season relatively early compared to other programs (late September or early October), gradually increases training volume and intensity by going from two practices a week to three and then to five, takes advantage of frequent breaks to allow athletes to regenerate (weeks off for Fall Break, Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays), and then using these “saved” weeks to lengthen the season with a low pressure four-week mini-season in late March and April – practicing only twice a week.
Another successful innovation is the 4/5 practice policy, where in exchange for a slightly longer practice of 2.5 versus 2.0 hours, athletes need only attend four out of five practices – allowing them to better manage academics and stress. The overall result of this careful planning is that the Smith Squash athletes 19 weeks is spread over a seven-month period from September to April – more closely resembling a “real world” athlete development scenario compared to other college programs in the U.S.
Here is a communication to the team regarding the non-traditional season:
- Our “non-traditional” season – open to everyone receiving this e-mail runs from March 23-April 19th. Here are some key components:
– practices Tuesdays/Thursdays 5:30-6:45
-you are also encouraged to attend the round robins M/W 7:00-8:30
– there will be an Intramural tournament Saturday April 4th, and a local skill level tournament Sat./Sun/ April 11-12 – you must be available 9-6 for these dates if you wish to play – no exceptions. there will be a small entry fee for both as these are NOT team events, but community events.
– we have funding to take our top 10 down to Philadelphia to play in the U.S. Nationals the weekend of April 17-19th (departing VERY early on the 17th) – those not in the top 10 are welcome to come down under their own steam – I believe the $150 entry fee is waived for most on our team – I will verify and get back to you.
– I will be organizing and coaching a “Racketball Club” on Wednesday Evenings 7:00-745 starting tomorrow until the week of March 23- it is open to the entire Smith Community and you are invited as well.
– I will be posting a training program shortly that covers the period from now to March 23rd on our training page. In the meantime there is an EXCESSIVE (more than enough) amount of information on what you should be doing there already: https://smithcollegesquash.wordpress.com/squash-team/training-information/ and here: http://scienceofcoachingsquash.wordpress.com/category/physical-physiology/ .
Contact me if you have any questions,