By Mohit Arora
Squash is the second fastest racquet sport only after badminton. One can burn up to 1000 calories in an hour of squash. It has been voted the healthiest sport to play by Forbes magazine based on cardiorespiratory endurance, muscular strength, flexibility, muscular endurance, calories burned and the risk of injury. It provides the best overall fitness approach in this fast-paced world.
We are in conversation with Rushab Runwal, 20, who is a national level squash player playing since the age of 10. He started his professional career in 2015. He has played a plethora of tournaments including the Mumbai University Championship, local club tournaments and the National Squash Championship. He is also the co-founder of SportsBanana, a sports development start-up.
What are lifestyle changes you need to incorporate when preparing for squash?
It’s a combination of passion and hard work to the game. A lot of commitment is needed. I don’t think that I have ever missed a gym or squash session while training. I closely monitor my sleeping patterns to provide enough rest to my body. Cutting out on fast food and alcohol is also a very necessary step in achieving the desired fitness.
What is your regime like?
My training comprises mainly of fitness and technical sessions. Fitness involves strength building in the gym, cross-fit programmes and plyometrics to provide agility and power to legs. During the technical sessions, we focus particularly on squash. We practice in different tentative match situations, improve on racquet swings and work at bettering my game.
How do you maintain your diet?
My protein intake is high during training. After every gym session, I drink whey protein shakes. While playing, I regularly rehydrate myself with BCAAs and electrolytes. My meals are always home-cooked and constitute a balanced amount of carbohydrates and proteins. Fried food consumption is minimal. Following a balanced diet plan strictly contributes the most to my fitness.
What is your schedule? How do you balance time between college, squash and SportsBanana?
My day usually begins at 7 AM with a two-hour gym workout, thrice a week. Following this, I attend college till 2 PM. Squash usually begins by 4 PM. On days when I work out in the gym, I play squash for 4 hours whereas on other days my training in the court lasts for 6-7 hours. I train six days a week with a gap of one day to rest and organise SportsBanana events.
What all do you carry in your Kit?
My kit has all the things that I need to play and practice. This includes 3 squash racquets, 1 bottle of water, 1 bottle of energy drink, 2 bananas, 1 energy bar, 2 pairs of squash shoes, wrist bands, 2 pairs of shorts and 2 t-shirts. After every game of squash, a player is drenched in sweat. Therefore, it is very necessary to always carry with you extra equipment, rehydrating drinks and clothing.
What is your ‘fitness mantra’?
Take care of your body all the time. The body is your temple. Never assume that your body is fit. For example, after playing a lot, I resist from playing football or other sports to avoid injuries. Prioritising plays a major role in that.
Any suggestions that you would like to give our readers who might be squash enthusiasts?
Beginners should look at how the best players in the world play and figure out what style suits them. You need to choose a style that enhances your strengths. For example, endurance is my style: I can engage in long rallies to tire my opponents. Take multiple advices (sic) from different coaches because nobody is right or wrong, there are just different styles of playing.