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Every month, I receive about 2 or 3 messages from juniors asking me if they could become a professional squash players.

We all like to dream, especially when we are young. I remember being around 14 years old and wanting to become a professional tennis player and it’s probably rare that children of that age don’t have some similar dream with their chosen sport. Becoming a professional athlete is very difficult, and I have seen plenty of very talented, hard-working and intelligent juniors go on to become very, very good squash players, but not professionals. If you are an aspiring junior and dream of becoming a squash professional, please read the following letter, and read it all. The Brutal Reality The harsh reality is that 99.9% of juniors who write to me will not become pros. That’s 1 out of every 1000 juniors. That’s a guess, but it seems about right. In fact, it might be 99.99%, so 1 in 10,000, or even more. Of course a lot depends on many factors, some of them out of your control. For example, do you have easy access to squash courts? Are there coaches near you that work with juniors? But even having your own court (one person who wrote to me has) and having a few coaches available, don’t automatically mean it’s going to be easy. “But I could be that 1 out of 10,000, right?” Yes, you could be, but the other 9,999 say exactly the same thing! That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try though. A Thought Experiment Imagine that you could see the future, and you saw that you spend thousands of hours on-court and off-court training, you saw yourself smiling when you win and crying when you lost. You saw yourself getting injured and recovering, your saw yourself travelling to tournaments and waiting in train stations and hotels cold, tired and bored. You saw yourself play some fantastic shots and some absolute clangers. You saw yourself shouting at the ref for what you thought was a bad call and…

There are two situations that seem perfect for buying second-hand squash rackets. Firstly, when you are new to the sport and need something very cheap, and secondly when you are experienced and know what is a bargain and what isn’t. Let’s discuss those options.

This is my second article about second-hand rackets (see what I did there?), but it’s focus is a little different. Buying anything second-hand can be risky. It’s easy to get cheated, either by accident or by design; sellers can make genuine mistakes or know they are cheating you. In fact, I’ve been cheated, but that’s because when I was buying rackets, I had them delivered to an address in the UK )I live in Northern Spain) and didn’t see them until months later, which was too late to complain. I bought a cracked racket in case you were wondering! So why the heck would I recommend buying second-hand if you could get cheated? Well, firstly, unless you are buying a very special and unusual vintage racket, you should always go a see it directly from the seller. That does limit your options, but it also mens less chance of buying a bad racket. Of course, depending on the price and your rush, you could easily take a chance, or make sure you write and ask the seller if there is any damage or problems. That way, if it arrives damaged you have proof that it’s not supposed to be. Then it becomes a fight with the seller and courier, because you should be able to reject it. Case One: Beginners When you are beginner, it’s easy to become obsessed with the technical specifications of rackets in the hope (dream, actually) that it is going to make a big difference to your squash. It almost certainly won’t. It’s like buying a Ferrari to learn to drive. Sure, people will look enviously at you, but you won’t know how to get the most out of it. If you have a lot of money to spend, great, but it’s a waste of money too. Many times, people just need something functional. Something that is better than the basic aluminium rackets used as hire…

This article is for ambitious, competitive players who are looking for the slightest edge. Visualisation, also called mental rehearsal is the process of seeing yourself perform actions in your mind’s eye.

Heart Rate Monitors

I’ve previously discussed visualisation in my Tips For Maximising Your Ghosting, and even made a video (see below), but today I want to extend the idea to all parts of your squash training. Visualisation can be used almost any time, any where, and just like fitness training used to be something only “crazy people did” but has become mainstream now, I am sure that visualisation will become the same. There was a time when you only played your sport to prepare for it. It was considered enough. Not now. Oh no. even juniors regularly perform lots of fitness training outside of the court. It would be fascinating to see the difference between athletes who perform all the modern training techniques compared to athletes who only play their sport. The difference would be huge. So, how can you use visualisation for non-squash training? Well, at its core, visualisation is a person sitting down and imagining themselves playing or perform som other activity, for example remaining calm when receiving a really bad call at game ball. So if you can do it sitting down, why not do it when actually training. Which is why I talk about if during ghosting in the link above. Some Other Specific Examples At the time of writing this article, I haven’t been on court for over 9 months due to pain, but I am considering a return within the next two weeks or so. As part of that return I have been doing daily Shadow Swings. As I am doing them, I imagine myself hitting the ball. I imagine the feeling as the ball hits my strings and the sound it makes against the strings and against the wall. Before I do those swings, I also spend 35 minutes on the spinning bike at the gym. I don’t listen to music, podcasts or watch TV (fortunately there are no TVs in this part of the gym).…

This article is aimed at competitive players. Players who regularly encounter players they have never played against before.

How Many Squash Shots Are You?

The first time on court against new players creates a lot of emotions; nerves, excitement, curiosity, confidence, doubt, and hope, to name but a few. For some players those emotions, plus the challenge and hopefully the win is what makes squash fun for them. A few players thrive in that sort of environment and others fade. Assuming that team matches and graded tournaments pit players against each other who are very similar standards, those matches can really test your mindset and mental strength. I knew a guy who won 90% of his first matches against new opponents, but them lost 90% of the follow up matches. It was fascinating. Let’s call him Jack for the sake of this article. What skill set did he have that made him so successful the first time he played anybody? BTW, those 90% figures are just estimates. But he really did win an overwhelming number of first encounters and then lost most of the rest. He was the perfect team player for either the first or second have of the season, but not the whole season! I wish I had paid more attention to him in the years I knew him. I might have learnt a lot about squash in a short space of time. Anyway, here are some thoughts about what I think happened. No, not this Jack. Set The Tone – Part 1 The first thing he did was “set the tone”. In this context it means he decided what happened in the knock up and first game. For example, he always got on court first and was the first to hit the ball, and always three or four shots to himself. Next, when asked if he were ready to swap sides he would say “no, just a couple of hits more”. Then switch sides when he was ready. He spun the racket to decide serve – obviously he didn’t win the…

Not everybody wants to play competitive squash, for example in inter-club team matches or graded tournaments. Those types of people “get fit to play squash”, but what about the people who want to “play squash to get fit”?

Playing squash to get fit and improve your health is a fantastic idea and if you are considering doing that or have just started, I congratulate you. You have made a great choice of sport; the squash community is friendly, the sport is both fun and great for your body. Eventually, you will encounter people who tell you that you should do extra fitness training in addition to playing. Those people are right *IF* you are ambitious and want to play competitive squash. If you want to play better squash (mmm, that would make a great name for a YouTube channel and website. Oh Wait!), then you will need to do more than just playing. Luckily, I write a lot about that sort of topic, so if you are new here, check the archives for plenty of tactics, tips and training ideas. But not everybody is or should be ambitious, right? Right! And let me tell you now, there’s nothing wrong with wanting to play squash with a group of friends once or twice a week as simply a way to get fit or even lose weight. Below are a few things to consider when playing squash to get fit. The Benefits of Playing Squash First, it’s great for your heart and lungs. We call this “cardio”, which is short for “Cardiovascular system”. Doing cardio means you are breathing heavily. Next, it strengthens you whole body, but mostly your core (back and stomach area) and legs. Don’t worry though, you won’t develop big legs, just strong legs. Next it’s great for your mind and mental health. Instead of simply going to the gym, you are playing sport and that means the time goes faster AND you have to keep you mind active. Hitting the ball allows you to release any stress you have and is also a lot of fun, especially when you hit it hard! The squash community is…

One of my objectives for this site and channel is to encourage potential players from all backgrounds and situations to try squash. In the past, squash was seen as an elitist sport, but thankfully, that’s changing.

Many years ago, I was chatting with somebody in the bar of the Wembley Squash Centre, where I was coach, and they said that they would love to try squash but were “too big”. “Nobody is too big unless they couldn’t fit through the door” I replied (partly joking, but looking back, quite true too), and the next week he was on the court with me. Admittedly, he really didn’t do very well, but that wasn’t due to his size. Being “big” and you know what other word is associated with big, but I’m not going to use it, has always been a stumbling block for many who want to exercise. And let’s be clear, being big does cause some problems with regard to exercise, but unless there is a medical reason then I personally don’t see a problem in trying different sports. Another time, I had an inter-club team match (my club versus another club) and the person who I was sharing the trip with warned me that “Mr. Smith” (yes, that really was his name) was a rather large fellow and I should not pre-judge him. On seeing him, I pre-judged him (silly 20 year-old me!) and thought it would be an easy night for me, but I was wrong, very wrong. I managed to beat him in 5 hard games, and he was one of the quietest players I had ever played. He seemed to glide around the court rather than the expected thump. The Lesson: Big players can move surprisingly well sometimes. If You Are Big And Reading This, Yes You Can Try Squash I am lucky. I recognise that until recently (I am getting old), my body never stopped me from doing any activity I wanted to. Or more importantly my and society’s attitude never limited my options. Not everybody has that luxury. There should be nothing stopping people of all shapes or sizes from…

Squash balls have been on my mind a lot the last few years and I have written quite a lot about which ball is suitable for which type of player. But knowing when and why to try another type of ball is also important, so let’s look at that.

I’m not a huge fan of the blue dot ball. I feel it’s too bouncy. Now, bouncy *is* good, especially when you first start playing squash, but the blue dot just doesn’t feel right. A room temperature red dot bounces more or less the same as a very warm double yellow, which means that new players can become accustomed to similar bounce profiles right from the beginning. At this point it’s worth noting that Dunlop’s blue and red dot balls are larger than the yellow and double yellow. Other brand’s balls are not. At least not in general. Again, given the choice, I would use a standard size red dot. I’m not against making the game easier for new players, especially children, but in this case i don’t feel the larger balls provide any real benefit and the fractured market may only confuse players. As a coach I always ensure that whatever ball I am using with a pupil is the ball that they can also use alone or with their other playing partners. I feel there’s little point in using a yellow dot on court with me, but then not being able to use it when they practice alone. I don’t follow that rule 100%, because they might be an overlap of time when pupils are on the cusp of switching. So, assuming you are playing with a red dot, when is the best time to switch to a yellow, or from yellow to double yellow? The simple answer is to try the new ball and see how successful you are. Yes, that’s an obvious thing to say, but there’s isn’t really an agreed test or hitting pattern that can objectively decide when you should switch balls. If you can keep the ball going and it increases in temperature then that’s a clear sign you should probably use that ball. The easiest way to know if the ball increases…