14 June 2022 / 3-Min Read / Translate↗
The ideal time to have lessons from a squash coach is when you first start playing, I mean BEFORE you start playing, but that’s not easy or possible for a lot of people. But I am guessing that you already have started playing, right? That’s fine, and the sooner you get coaching, the better. The longer you leave it the more bad habits you will develop. We all know that it’s harder to stop bad habits than it is to start good ones.
Gregory Gaultier showing some beginners how to prepare for a backhand squash shot
Right, so we have established that the sooner you get squash coaching, the better. So how often should you have lessons? Well, a lot depends on how much you play. If you only played once a week, then a lessons every 2/3/4 weeks would be fine. If you played three times a week, then a lesson a week would be great.
It’s about getting the right balance between practice/games and coaching. You need time in real matches and games to put into practice what you learned from the coach. If you don’t play enough in-between the lessons, there little time to improve. But, if you want to just visit the coach and not play other people that’s fine too.
As a coach, I find it almost trivial to see if a player has had coaching
In the past, I have had pupils who only came to me – that’s right, they didn’t play with anybody else – ever! That’s clearly not the best way to improve, but there could be valid reasons for that. In one of my cases, it was because they just wanted to have some exercise and try to improve. They weren’t a competitive person and the thought of playing against other people didn’t interest them, even for fun. The reality is that improvement is much, much slower if you only go to the coach.
Are you? Are you older than 84? Because that’s the oldest pupil I have ever had and YES!, they did improve. There is a phrase is English, and probably many other languages too, “You are never too old to learn” and it is so true. And even if you are older than 84, so what. If you play squash, you can have lessons! Of course, the younger you are, the faster you learn – at least in general. And the younger you have lessons the easier is it to put into practice.. But honestly, learning is fun and who doesn’t want to improve?
The chances are that if you have been playing for a long time, you have developed quite a few bad habits and changing those can take some time. It’s quite possible that you game will worsen before it looks better. It’s no different from renovating a garden or building. Sometimes you need to demolition the bad before you can replace it with the good.
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The first thing you need to do when you visit a coach, is be completely honest with them and how often you play, what you hope to get from the coaching etc. The coach doesn’t want to make you a champion. They want to help you get better within the limits YOU set. You should commit to at least 3 or 4 lessons, but ideally 6, and play at least 2 or 3 times between each lesson. After that, you can decide whether you want to continue.
The coach has to make a decision: help you in the short-term or help you in the mid-term. The short term won’t change your swing very much, if at all and will just try to maximize your skills and abilities. The mid and long-term is when the coach will try to change your swing, because it is limiting you. It’s my experience that less-experienced coaches only think long-term and are surprised when you stop coming, because they have made your game worse.
They have to build trust, but showing you that they can help in the short-term and hopefully you will then commit to the mid-term. Just be very clear with the coach and say, I am committing to x lessons and after that I will assess my progress – A good coach will appreciate your honesty and not try to convince you to have more lessons – they will just do the best they can in the time they have.
Have coaching as soon as you can – even if you have been playing for 20 years. Commit to 3 lessons and see what happens after that.