Thursday, September 21, 2023

Players jump to it at Lexden for data collection during PSA satellite tournament

By LAURA NORTHEAST (Squash Mad Sports Science Correspondent)

Mike Hegarty and the team at Lexden Rackets and Fitness Club were kind enough to offer their facility as a base to collect data and showcase some performance testing kit from WPC (Writtle Performance Centre, Writtle University College’s brand new, state-of-the-art sport performance centre) as they hosted the Anglia Flight Centre PSA satellite tournament.

The Lexden club is packed with history and still feels like a predominantly squash facility; the tournament has a great vibe and family feel to it. The mix of players ranged from good county to seasoned pro, including Commonwealth medallist Daryl Selby, Lowri Roberts (eventual winners) and upcoming stars such as Isabel McCullough.

Compared to other mainstream sports, data relating to certain fitness testing outcomes, (particularly gained by modern kit) can be pretty stark and/or difficult to access for squash.

Therefore, it was a rare luxury to have the perfect combination of extremely accommodating hosts, easy access to players, PLUS space next to the courts with successful internet connection to carry out some testing.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

So, I took along a set of mobile Vald Force Decks, which offer the possibility to test multiple performance variables including strength, movement, stability, asymmetries and much more.

The kit can be set up quickly, software is intuitive and best of all, provides immediate feedback on the tested variable to participants or coaches.

At the Lexden tournament, players were asked to carry out a counter movement jump (CMJ) which requires standing on the platforms and jumping as high as possible as quickly as possible.

Hands stay on the hips to ensure the lower body is responsible for generating explosive power, allowing for a more valid measurement.

For each jump, the software provides instant feedback on metrics such as jump height, peak power and asymmetry.

This is highly motivating for participants and invaluable for time constrained coaches or fitness professionals.

Data elicited might be used to monitor athletes’ progress over a season, recovery from injury or to check ability against comparable competitors.

Talented pro Anna Kimberly was at the club practising. Anna is used to training at a high-performance centre and gamely stepped up to be tested.

I was grateful to have had the foresight to move the force plates slightly to the right moments before, to avoid players hitting their heads on the long strip ceiling light above (note to self for future testing) as Anna proceeded to surprise me by jumping like a kangaroo, out-jumping many of the male players I had tested the day before!

Anna Kimberley is tested by Laura Northeast at Lexden (with thanks for the Squash Mad logos on parade!)

She continued to be a great sport and simultaneously, politely posed for a shameless plug for my friends at Squash Mad (pictured – thanks Anna!)

The Vald Force Decks software also incorporates a brilliant ‘leader board’ feature to encourage competition among participants. For testing a squad or multiple people at once, the leader board facility adds to the fun, camaraderie and often results in better performance outcomes as naturally competitive athletes try to outdo each other.

This was notable at Lexden, when I allowed players a sneak preview of the jump height of one of the top male Egyptian players. Competition mode kicked in and players suddenly wanted to test again to try to beat the score.

Nobody managed this time, although the highest jumpers, Keiran Hillman and Will Salter (a formidable finals’ opponent for Daryl), achieved very respectable scores of ~43 cm.

Following a fun and successful few days with the fantastic team at Lexden, we hope to continue to test with various new kit at tournaments. So if you spot us, come and have a go – or DM me (or Squash Mad) to discuss a visit to the Writtle Performance Centre near Chelmsford.


Pictures courtesy of Laura Northeast, with thanks to Lexden Rackets and Fitness Club 


Related articles

Leave a reply

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Latest articles