Squash News From Around The World - Serious Squash



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Oct 25 2017 2:23PM

Keep The Practice Quality High


To become a top level athlete, in particular squash, we need to learn how to push ourselves when our body or mind sometimes would rather take a break. As both an athlete and coach I have found this to be both interesting philosophically and invaluable to understand. If you or a kid your coaching is having really tired or just not feeling it that day we normally want to push them or ourselves to get going. We might be more flat footed than normal, have less energy in general and also have trouble focusing.
There's a common fallacy that we think quantity of practice and the 10,000 hours will help guarantee we reach an elite level and that the quicker we get to that level the better. As a squash coach for a number of years now you can sense the expectations from coaches and parents on their athletes and how we all want, hope and even expect immediate rewards. When someone isn't achieving the success we want for them we think they need to do more or work harder or make changes to their game. One problem with squash is how much we compare ourselves against other people and get so caught up in results instead of becoming the best possible player you can be and play at a consistently high level. I wanted to win as much as the next person, but I believe that if you focus on improving your own game and have the proper work ethic the results will come eventually.

What good will we get out of that session if we are only able to give 50% of what we normally can give? Is that really a productive session? Was there something else that we could have done that would have had more benefit? Perhaps some recovery rolling or stretching or easy biking? Maybe some video analysis or a look at our training plan? Maybe even some feeding with a ball machine or solo hitting would have been more beneficial and perhaps the next day we would have felt better and been more mentally and physically prepared to push ourselves closer to our limits.

See it's very difficult to push yourself to your mental and physical breaking point each and every day. Understanding that sometimes less is more is a difficult concept for an athlete and also a coach or parent to understand. We instinctively think someone is being lazy and demonstrates poor work ethic and a lack of desire. We are all human and finding this balance of when to push yourself when you feel flat or off that day and when to mix it up is important.




If we look back at the above example, but instead imagine we had a rough start and weren't feeling up for it, but someone once we got going we were able to get closer to 80 or 90% off our normal level that could be incredibly powerful for when we are in a tournament and aren't feeling great. In competition we have to play unless of course we decided to withdraw from the competition. But in a tournament, assuming there is no injury or illness we have to learn to play and not be fresh. At the US Junior Open kids were having 7 matches in 3.5 days; nobody is feeling good going into their last few matches. But if you know you can still get close to your best squash even when you are stepping on court with less than 100% in the fuel tank your mind might indeed be stronger than your opponent.

This mental muscle is a skill we need to be a good squash player and one of the differences I've noticed in Canada versus when I've seen kids train and play in other countries is that we don't push our kids as hard; right or wrong. Passion and letting kids have choices in what they want to do is not always a luxury all kids get. There are pros and cons to both side of this perspective, but coming from a Canadian point of view I've always felt that intrinsic motivation can get the job done. There is a lack of structural support and funding here compared to other countries, but if you can find a good coach and people to train with you can become a top class player with years and years of dedication.

 My final point on this topic is about the title, keeping the quality high. If a coach or parent is the one pushing a kid constantly at some point they are not going to want to step back out on court or they will not be totally mentally engaged in their practices. Some coaches simply try and push their athletes as hard as possible every single time they work with them, but harder isn't always smarter, especially on low energy days. I know a woman who is using a heart rate watch which gives her a red, amber or green signal each day to let her know if she is good to train depending on her average heart rate and I believe quality of sleep. Tools like this can be used to avoid risk of injury and decide on when to push yourself hardest and when to focus more on technique or quality and keep practice sessions high, and the hard ones hard.

In university I knew I couldn't physically push myself in every on court session daily, so I would solo hit 2-5 times per week so I could let me brain and body recover proper and still improve my racquet skill. It would have been nice to have fancy devices like the heart rate street light watch and some of this perspective and knowledge back in those days.

Check out all the cool squash merch for both on and off the court as well as the 2 instructional films at SeriousSquashShop.com


Oct 19 2017 3:18PM

Perfectionism


Today I received an email from a father asking for advice for his son who is a strong player, but a perfectionist. His boy is having trouble handling making mistakes and appears like he is close to quitting the game because of the amount of pressure he's putting on himself to play perfect squash. As I started writing my response I realized that what I was writing about was probably quite a popular issue that good squash players face. This is a psychological issue and something that can be improved. I've included below the email I responded with.
Thanks for the email. Being a perfectionist is kind of how most squash players get to a really high level. We aren’t happy with poorly executing shots in a match and practice them over and over to do better. I remember as a kid always wanting to play a perfect game and playing all shots exactly as I wanted. As a kid I didn’t realize how absurd this goal was. As I got older I learned to focus more on the shot selections. As a kid we often make mistakes playing a poor choice, but as you get more experienced and learn to focus on shot selection you make less mistakes and hit higher quality shots. Shot accuracy can always improve, but when you’re playing the wrong shot it doesn’t really matter how the execution was.  
An exercise I’d recommend is having your son chart a professional match and make a note of how frequently even the best players in the world don’t hit the ball exactly where they want it. Perhaps their boast chips the 2nd side wall or they don’t hit their crosscourt wide enough. Even the best players miss their targets at least a few times each rally, but usually get away with it if it’s close enough and they are fast enough to recover. It’s impossible to play a fast paced open skill sport like squash perfectly, but the aim should be more on good decision making and consistency to targets will improve as the practices accumulate.  
That’s about all I can offer. Hope it’s helpful. And in final, a break is not always a bad occurrence. Kids have to go through things on their own sometimes so don’t put added pressure on him with your expectations for him. He’s not you and what you would do in his position is very different and should not be compared. Best of luck.

Do you have any other tips that could help someone in this situation? Have you had to learn how to deal with this? Obviously the pressure of competition and playing against another good player will force you into making mistakes. As you improve your ability to reset after points, learn to get out of trouble after hitting a weak shot will all make you better at staying in points you may have previously lost as you were too down after missing your targets on a couple of shots.

When I play my best squash I'm able to not let mistakes bother me at all and focus only on shot selection. If my shot selection is good I can live with the outcome. Some shots are just difficult and given that same situation and shot 100 times maybe I would make it more times than not, but a strong player can play higher percentage shots where they have very imitated risk and because of this can execute the shot with more confidence.



Being able to commit to the shot you hit is a sign of confidence and something you you are going to have trouble doing if you are playing a low percentage shot or tired, or even physically and mentally fatigued. So technique and accuracy in solo hitting is great, but it certainly isn't the most important trait of a top squash player. If you've read the recent article about Dessouky after his loss to Rodriguez you'll know what I mean. Fares is the most technically and physically gifted squash player on the planet (possibly 2nd is Ramy is healthy), but still he lost to a basic, super fit and mentally strong squash player, Miguel. Rodriguez was prepared to go further for the win and this made the difference. It really demonstrates how critical the mental game is from being a perfectionist to being able to bring your best squash on each and every day at the highest level in the game. Enjoy and embrace the challenges and lessons that this sport teaches us. Anyone can become mental giant with practice and discipline, just like acquiring any other skill. Miguel demonstrated that pure tenacity and determination can be victorious even against the very best in the world!

SeriousSquashShop.com is home to 2 squash instructional films and loads of merch!




I thought this US Open match was worth a full post. I was on court coaching during the actual match so I had to watch Karim Abdel Gawad and Paul Coll on replay when I got home. All squash fans knew this was going to be the match to watch and I always love people playing who have a contrast in styles. Tough draw for those guys and easily worthy of a semis or even a finals. Here's a few points I have on the match on the refs and why I feel the better player won on this night.

We all know Gawad has the best control and perhaps the best touch in the world. In the first game I thought he was looking pretty sharp and confident. The announcers talked about how he liked to take out his opponent's legs by going short a lot early in a match. Well I was watching I thought he just didn't feel threatened when Coll was hitting from the front. Coll has a nice counter drop, but has little no deception. I believe he was trying to put work into his legs and letting him run up and back to the T over and over. Gawad was volleying a lot, but most were going short.


I know this is going to sound trivial, but I really felt like he had to play more length and set up the short game better. If you looked closely at where Coll was standing when Gawad was going short, he was often in front of him very high up on the T. When your opponent is that far up on the T expecting a short ball often the hardest movement is when they have to go backwards in the back corners again. Obviously when you do this your opponent also is not going to be able to put as much pressure on you as they scurry off to the back corner to retrieve an attacking volley drive. I really think this one slight change could have turned the match right around.

Likely Gawad didn't want to get stuck into Coll's style of play and a more traditional type of squash and he wanted to open up the court and move the ball around, but going short that frequently, and often from behind your opponent is going to lead to some tins and a few shots being just off target which Coll could counter. Coll's attacking game is built on his counter punch where he uses his blistering speed to pounce on anything short. There's no doubt that Gawad can do things with his racquet that Coll can only dream of, but he demonstrated that if you don't need to have the best hands in the world to beat the best in the world.

I know a lot of people are upset about the conduct stroke near that gave Coll match point. Here's my take on this. I thought a lot of the calls were shocking throughout the entire match. For the most part these two guys are quite clean and don't call many lets. The one area that bothers me is how Gawad only appears to really hustle to a shot or back to the T when he is either looking for a stroke or trying to provide some subtle interference his opponent must maneuver around. As he volleys from the midcourt short and Coll is right behind him he moves quickly back to the T making Superman have to go around him or ask for a 'let.' You never like to leave a decision up to a ref especially when they seem to have trouble with the rules.

So in short, I can see why the refs were in that position to give a conduct stroke, but it didn't look like he ran that hard into Coll. If Coll didn't fall down would it have been a conduct stroke? If he didn't bump into him isn't it considered insufficient effort? What exactly is the appropriate amount of contact allowed or required to get a stroke in this situation? For now this interpretation is up to the ref and they thought it was excessive. It was such a crucial point and from thinking you were going to receive a stroke to being penalized a stroke is a tough pill to swallow. the match was pretty much over at that point.

When the ball was hot and bouncy Coll seemed to be able to get all of Gawad's shots back. Changing the ball after the third game evidently favoured Coll and Gawad needed to slightly adjust his tactics until the ball began to slow down. It's interesting how something like the bounciness of a ball can have such an impact on the outcome. Why is it in the rules that players can only ask for a new ball after the third game? Why at all? Why not after every game?

Did the best squash player win? On the night, yes I believe so. The player who demonstrated superior tactics and made less errors prevailed. But I do think Gawad's racquet skill are second to none, but that doesn't always mean you're going to win if you don't get the tactics just right. So although he is probably feeling hard done by the ref's I think he only has himself to blame for being in that position. If he played a little patient I think things could have worked out differently for him.

Have you hard that Serious Squash has a new instructional film out? Mastering Deception is now available at SeriousSquashShop.com which also has loads of Serious Squash march in stock. Both Mastering Deception and The Secrets Of Solo Hitting come with a money back guarantee. Here's the trailer:










Sep 30 2017 3:42PM

If You're A Heavy Sweater


By heavy sweater I don't mean clothing, I'm referring to your perspiration rate! Anyways, I was a pretty heavy sweater and because of this I'm going to share a few of the tips that has helped me over the years.



Obviously the first thing to focus on if you perspire a lot if being properly hydrated well before starting your match. This is something you learn how to do better with practice. This was tough as a kid as I would get stitches pretty easily if I drank too much liquid prior to a match. One time during a 5 setter in university I was so dehydrated that I couldn't stand up straight because of the cramping in my stomach. Somehow I won the 4th game by shooting without being able to move, but fell short in the 5th in an extremely painful occurrence. It was frustrating because it was a match I would have and should have won if it were not for this pretty intense case of dehydration.

Using electrolyte tabs and sports drinks can also be useful when you are sweating heavily. Although I don't quite understand why kids finish a bottle of gatorade before even stepping on court.

Another key for me was having 3 or more racquets with relatively new grips on them. Even with top of the line grips in good shape on my racquets they would get soaked as the match went on which affected my control. For this reason I would switch racquets after every game. This means you also want to have the same strings, type and thickness of grip and model of racquet to change to.

I would often wear a wristband on my racquet arm to help keep sweat from rolling down my arm and also to wipe sweat off of my face. For a couple of years I had longer hair and this caused me to sweat a little more and my goggles would fog up and get lots of sweat on them. For this reason I started wearing headbands or bandanas to help keep my eye guards clear. It's very tough to play well when your goggles are fogged up and have sweat droplets on them. Another key here is to make sure your shirt is cotton. If I wore a dry-fit shirt it would just smear the sweat on my eye guards. A cotton shirt with a bit of a dry spot is much better at cleaning off your goggles.

Switching shirts between some games was also something I did regularly. I never wanted to go back on court after a game with a shirt that was totally soaked.  A wet shirt is heavier and won't be any use cleaning my eye guards. I've even heard of people having a spare pair of shoes and socks because their feet sweat so profusely.

I also got into the habit of wiping my racquet hand on the sidewall or backless between every point. I tried every trick in the book to help keep my hands and gris dry and it was often still challenging. With all of these tips above I was able to minimize the impact of a slippery grip and bury goggles. It can make a big impact on the game if you can't hold your racquet properly or see clearly so remember hydration is not the only concern for us heavy sweaters.

Preparation is not just about the physical, technical, tactical and mental training, it's also about learning how to avoid and deal with issues such as hydration and excess sweating. Keeping some extra clothing and electrolyte pills can make a big difference along with spare racquets and new grips. Don't put in all of this hard work only to let something like a sweaty grip or eye guards derail you from your best performance.

Until October 3rd there is a 50% OFF sale on all orders over $100 on SeriousSquashShop.com. Enter the code nicks at checkout. You can now also pay with Bitcoin! Pick up your copies of Mastering Deception, The Secrets Of Solo Hitting and some Serious Squash merch for a great price!







I know it's been a long time since my last post, but I'm back. I've still been posting some tips and videos on social media so if you want to check out the latest tips and skill challenges feel free to follow Serious Squash on Instagram and Facebook.

Recently Serious Squash produced its 2nd feature film, Mastering Deception. In this video there are 3 strong squash players, myself and 2 women currently both professional squash players on the PSA World Tour. As a player for many years and now a coach for 10 I know the importance of understanding disguise and deception from early in the learning stages of squash. Of course we always start off by getting the grip right and learning how to just get the ball to the front wall and move back to the T, but after the very basics are understood I believe it's critical for any player with aspirations to play at a very high level to learn how to disguise their swing.



We watch the pros on Squash TV and often don't even notice their disguised shot, only the odd taxi we marvel and wonder how in the world did they completely fool another top pro. At a certain level if you don't disguise your shot your opponent will simply be cheating on their T position and will be on your shot and applying pressure to you no matter how good the execution of your shot was.

A few years back when I was working on my final Master's project I was designing an app for shot selection from the front of the court. My idea is that most players don't know what to do up there. Our opponent's are behind us and if we have too much time we normally think about it too much and hit a terrible shot, other times we panic and try and hit an outright winner, but we feel the pressure of our opponent breathing down our necks because we shape up for our shot so earlier and have decided to go for an all or nothing winner. The problem is, that most of us can't hit outright winners even while feeding ourselves in practice, let alone in the heat of competition.

While I was working on this project I exchanged a few emails with Roger Flynn who is kind of the squash guru for decision making. At the time he was the head coach of Scottish Squash. He told me that he liked to use the term, coupling when he taught people disguise. That when you shape up for a shot it should look at least the same as 2 different shots. If we ever shape up for a shot which only has a single outcome we better make sure our opponent is out of position or be under lots of pressure and just trying to retrieve the ball.

This coupling idea is something that must be used when you decide to hit straight or crosscourt length from the front or when you play an attacking boost or decide to crosscourt out of the back corners. If we telegraph our intention prior to hitting it we expose ourselves to a quick attack by our opponent. This is why I believe option drills are important. It's so critical to learn not only what is the right shot to play, but learn how to anticipate and both make it tougher for our opponent to read what we are about to do.

I've seen and worked with players who are well accomplished, and are unable to make changes and 'couple' their swings after years and years of grooving very separate strokes for each shot. This is why I feel strongly about learning this part of squash earlier rather than later.

I have always used deception and disguise in my games, and often times way too much. But I do know that played the right amount and executed properly it can make a fit player exhausted extremely quickly. The fact that squash racquets are so much lighter, and head light versus when I started playing it allows us to snap the ball and change direction at the last second and also rapidly increase or reduce racquet head speed. This has made squash much more exciting at attacking. If this is a topic that interests you I definitely recommend checking out the new Serious Squash film. It comes with a money back guarantee.

Here's the trailer and you can purchase your copy at SeriousSquashShop.com/collections/coaching-videos





Aug 3 2017 7:15AM

Serious Squash Film #2


If you've been wondering where I've been I've been away on holidays and since my return I've been writing and book, learning to play guitar and also running a lot of summer junior training sessions. This week I also started filming the 2nd Serious Squash full length film. If you don't already follow Serious Squash on Instagram or Facebook to find some clips from the recent shoot. Once the editing is complete it will be up for sale at the SeriousSquashShop.com. Stay tuned for more details including the theme and official release date.



Are you coaching or part of a squash team and want to make big progress as a group? The Secrets Of Solo Hitting is now available for teams and squash clubs to purchase. You can order a pack of 10, 25, 50 or 100 downloads at a largely discounted price. The 10 pack is available for $125, 25 for $200, 50 for $350 and 100 for $500. A single download is $25 so this is a great value if your team or club is motivated to improve their skill. Once ordered you simply share the links with your teammates or members and each person will be able to download a copy for their own. Pick up your team copy today at SeriousSquashShop.com





To celebrate Canada Day and a 9 month partnership between Serious Squash and Eye Rackets here is a best of skill challenge compilation! Enjoy :) and until the end of the long weekend order anything at SeriousSquashShop.com with the code 'canadaeh' and get 30% off your order :) Happy Canada Day to my fellow Canadians! 





May 29 2017 5:34PM

Tiger Trouble


This is a little off topic, but there's a lot we can learn from the news today about Tiger Woods. I turned on the sport highlights this morning and all the videos were about Tiger getting a DUI and people talking about this being the biggest downfall in the history of sports. Of course drinking under the influence is bad, there's no doubt about that. I don't know the stats off hand, but I know lots of people are injured and killed from DUI's every day across the world. But there are also probably thousands upon thousands of people that do this each day. Again, I'm not saying I agree with this, just that Tiger is not the only one who makes has made this mistake and paid the price for it.

My biggest problem with the reporters today is how happy they all seem to throw Tiger under the bus. I'm not saying he should receive special treatment, but there is a lot of research showing how difficult it is for pro athletes having to adjust to life after sport. He's had loads of surgeries and has not had any glimpses of success on the golf course in years. Not only that but Tiger was the most famous (and probably richest?) athlete of the 90's and 2000's. How is anyone supposed to live any resemblance of a normal life after all of this? I don't think any of us can relate to what Tiger is going through. He has the spotlight on him all of the time and he is forced into being good role model and saying politically correct things. We want hugely successful people to be the best role models for our young because they appear to have it all and are also model citizens. But even model citizens have low points.

Does someone who's super rich and famous really have it all? I can only imagine that it's not all it's cracked up to be. Once someone has achieved their lifetime dream which was their sole purpose each and every day of their lives, how exactly are they going to find meaning in their lives after the best is over? What does it feel like when you have to act like someone that the media wants you to be? As a coach, I feel like I have to be a good role model for all of the kids I coach, but that this in turn makes me want to be a better person so I enjoy this aspect of it. I'm sure I'm not the only coach or teacher that feels this way. Sometimes it can feel like you are 2 different people; 1 when you're at work (or for Tiger under the microscope any time you leave your house) and another when your'e not. It's incredibly difficult for these 2 to match up and I'm sure it causes a lot of stress. Do you think they should or can be the same? Or is that unrealistic expectations to put on someone? Most people would say they behave how they are expected to at work and off the clock they are themselves. Isn't that what we have come to expect from not just pro athletes, rock stars, but every single one of us?

Does someone not deserve to have a private life regardless of their spotlight in the media? This morning the reporters were upset about how Tiger put on this facade pretending to be the perfect role model and are in shock about how non-perfect he really is. My big peeve here is that humans make mistakes and that goes for each every one of us. It's about learning from our mistakes and from other people mistakes. This is more the message I hope is uncovered from this story. Should we not feel bad for what Tiger is going through? We loved him now we all despise him. Can we not turn this into a positive somehow and realize how fake media interviews turn famous people into? With social media being so popular these days it's difficult to hide the truth and it doesn't take much to tarnish someone's reputation. But I believe it's about trying to become a better person by giving back, being true to yourself, not following the money trail, following your passions, forgiving those that make mistakes and not being afraid to admit your own mistakes. And dealing with getting old and things change we need to learn how to adapt too.

I can only imagine what kind of life Michael Jackson lived the last few years of his life. I'm sure the same happens to many of the rich and famous. We all envy them, but maybe it not all it's cracked up to be. I would love nothing more than some of these greats to write an absolute truth biography and be completely open about all they went through. Theo Fleury did this and revealed that he had been molested as a child. I feel like if he never got this off of his chest he would have carried this weight around his whole life and never would have been truly happy. Maybe we don't need to make all of our skeletons public, but certainly having someone to speak with and help you through difficult times is an extremely important thing to have. Does Tiger have someone like that now that he is separated and has gone through piles of coaches? I still think Tiger means well and has just done some stupid things. And instead of publicly shaming him, I feel he could help a lot of other celebrities and pro athletes about how to better deal with the difficulties of falling out of the spotlight and losing their ability to compete at a high level.

Giving back is a way that can provide meaning and purpose much more valuable than any possession. Giving just money away is one thing, but actually going out and putting in the work is another.  Maybe Tiger will get into coaching or become even more involved with some charity work. He still has the platform to make our world a better place and I hope he takes this opportunity to do so. Gold is such a self-driven and internally focused profession so I imagine this makes changing your focus and motivation incredibly challenging.

Nobody is perfect and knowing how Tiger believes he can do anything he sets his mind to, I'm sure if he wants to he can turn this all around. Sometimes it takes a major low before you realize how far you've let something slip. I think we should be a bit more open minded and give Tiger a chance. In the end he seemed bigger than life, but that pressure in itself must make everything that much harder. People struggle and are often better for it in the long run. Let's hope Tiger will be too. I don't condone what happened, but you've got to feel for the man. He may appear to have it all, but clearly happiness isn't something you can buy. Only time will tell what's next for Tiger.


May 28 2017 11:21AM

Just Play!


One of the great things about squash is that compared to other sports it really can be played your entire life, but for many of us it isn't. In squash you can be competitive and play tournaments at age, from under 11 to 75+. Since finishing juniors or varsity squash we tend to see most squash players disappear from the competitive squash scene. Some will continue to play the odd regular game with someone at their local club while others will turn to the more social and easier on the body game of hardball doubles. Once I got into coaching I also failed to play as much competitively for a variety of reasons. I think a lot of this stems from people moving on to the next stage of their lives and today's post is about trying to keep people in the sport after their junior and college careers and in doing so increasing participation in squash tournaments.

Team pic after winning an OUA title for Western Ontario from about 10 years ago (from all my years at university there were just 3 of us that played nationals this year)

When you're a kid you don't have many responsibilities. Even at university squash practices are all scheduled for you. There's also a lot of perceived expectations and self-imposed pressure that can take its toll on you over the years. When we finally finish competing as a junior or varsity athlete we have to set up everything on our own and clearly many of us do not make the time or have the desire to organize our own daily training schedule. Our focus turns to more adult like things such as careers and making money. Early adult life is for getting our career and our love life in order so we push aside our hobbies such as squash. It can also be quite a relief to let go of all that pressure you felt to win during your junior and college days.

Besides the challenges already discussed above there is another issue I believe keeps people out of competitive squash after juniors and university. As an individual sport we have all worked vey hard to get to a certain level and to play at our highest level requires daily practice both on and off the court. If we are unable to prepare to play at our best many of us just won't enjoy stepping on court and playing well below our potential; none of us want to lose to some junior we know we're better than. After all squash does require an extremely high amount of physical fitness to be successful at a high level which is very challenging to maintain when a weekly training schedule isn't planned out for you. Is this starting to sound familiar?

Long time rival and friend from juniors in the finals of the U.S. Open

From years of playing squash we have built up an ego about our skill level and who we believe to be better than or similar to. We like to preserve this level in our minds about what level we can play at with just a little bit of discipline and training. But even still at this years senior nationals (held in the squash capital of Canada, Toronto) the masters divisions of 30 and 35+ were very tiny. We don't have to worry about playing 2 matches in a day or losing to some kid because they're training every day and we're too busy living like adults. In the women's masters events they didn't even have entries in the lower age groups. It's kind of ironic that representatives of Participaction were on hand at the nationals when it's the one's who weren't in attendance that need that kick in the pants.

I know from growing up in Toronto and playing at university how many strong squash players there were and still are in the area, yet most didn't play in the nationals. Is it because they don't have the desire to play tournaments anymore or do they not think they're good or fit enough to enter? The age groups are much more about fun than the competitive open or junior events. I wonder why most didn't play when it's in their home town while I'm flying across the country to go compete.

I guess the main thing I take from all of this is that I wish more people would just get out and play and keep the squash spirit alive! It's easier to say than do, but if we don't worry about winning and losing and simply having fun and reconnect with old friends we battled against as juniors it could be a lot more fun than pain. If the nationals was held anywhere besides Toronto I'm sure the age group draws would have been even smaller.

I don't know what we can do to get more people to participate after juniors or varsity squash, but it would be great to keep more of these people stay in the game. Squash is a pretty small scale sport and it's a shame that so many skilled people who spent such a large portion of their youth playing squash stop competing and being a part of our sport. I know people begin to have families and get busy with their careers, but I know I would really miss squash if I just stopped playing and being around the game.

Do we need to find a way to make squash less competitive or less physically taxing for those that aren't playing much, but were once strong players? What if we played to 7 PAR or best of 3? Or simply guaranteeing just the 1 match per day? I'd actually really like to see the low tin used on all courts for amateurs so this could be a good step too. Or perhaps the best way to keep all of these people involved at tournaments is to provide lots of free beverage tickets ;)

Squash Canada and each province needs to find a way to keep all of these previous juniors involved in squash at any capacity. I know there is a big gap right now for people that want to go from juniors or varsity squash to the pro level. Maybe it's just up to each and every one of us to just sign up as long as we are relatively injury free. Nobody is ever completely healthy and fit when they get into their 30's and this is why they have age groups! I know it's too easy to listen to the reasons why you shouldn't, but remember life is about experiences and getting outside of your comfort zone. Hopefully this trend will change and we'll see more people getting back into the competitive side of the game. Remember that you don't need to be playing the best squash of your life to play in a tournament. There is more pressure to prepare for competitions when you're a kid, but this is only self-imposed when you're older. Sign up and play and don't take yourself so seriously. Let go of expectations and your ego and you may just find yourself enjoying the best game in the world with an old peer.

Play squash because it's fun and because you love it. If you're worried about the outcome you have to remember it's just for fun and exercise. Let's help keep the game strong with increasing participation which likely also will increase the tournaments beer sales too! Support your local club tournaments and play provincials or nationals whenever possible and especially if they're close to your hometown. This post doesn't just have to do with Canada or Nationals, but any club in the world. How many times have you made illegitimate excuses not to participate in a tournament because you didn't feel 100% prepared for it? Let's all try and say 'sign me up' a little bit more. Let's try and remember that the game is bigger than any single one of us.

I leave for vacation tomorrow so there will be a break from postings. I'm certain I'll come up with some new great topics to write about once I return so stay tuned for those. This summer I also plan on beginning to film the 2nd Serious Squash instructional film. Stay tuned for more details. If you haven't hear yet, the 1st film is a full length instructional video titled 'The Secrets Of Solo Hitting.' It contains 30 solo drills and tips to improve your game. The film can be streamed and downloaded at SeriousSquashShop.com/collections/coaching-videos and there is a no questions asked money back guarantee that comes with it. Here's a video preview of the film:




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