19 December 2022 / 3-Min Read
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My saying "Start your own training squad", might sound like I expect you to be the coach. To be clear: I don't. I'll talking about a coach in a moment, but for now, I just want to promote the idea of a group of like-minded people spending an hour or two each week, with the clear intention of drilling, practicing and playing condition games.
Unless you are first starting squash, playing is not enough in itself to make significant progress. If you play squash once a week with your friends and it's purely for fun, then carry on as you are, but I suspect that because you are reading this article, you might want more than that.
I'm not the kind of person that believes every second on a squash court should be aimed at improving - you must have fun, but with a little effort, one hour a week could bring some many benefits.
The first thing you need is one other person. Yes, having a group of 4 or 5 people is ideal, but even starting with one is enough. You both need to be of similar standard because otherwise the number and variety of drills available is reduced. Next you need to find a day and time that is suitable for both, that is obvious, but try to think long-term and maybe select a time that would allow more people to join and also one that isn't very busy at the facility you plan to use so that you have scope to extend the time or court numbers.
People like organised training, so I have seen projects like this quickly become popular. Most well-run facilities already have club-nights, team-training squads, ladies-mornings and other similar events, but this is for you specifically and might fall outside the purview of those events.
As the organiser, you will probably be expected to create a training plan, but I recommend making it clear that you are not the coach. Everybody should come with ideas of drills to try.
It's at this point people often ask "What The Heck Do We Do?" and it's an excellent question. There are plenty of resources available, this website, my YouTube channel, plus other channels and websites, even books that will give you lots of idea for drills and practices. Just try a bunch of things and see what you all like. This is not a military operation - you can do anything you want to do. Some drills will work, others won't. What is important is that instead of just playing matches, you are doing some drills.
Some people need a competitive edge to make it fun and interesting for them. In those cases, score the drills. Keep switching things up as well - don't do any one drill for more than 5 minutes. If possible, rotate positions and players so that you are not stuck doing the same thing with the same person.
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No, you don't need one, but I won't deny having one is better, sometimes much better. Doing a drill badly and doing a drill properly is clearly a big difference, so having guidance is important.
That doesn't mean the coach has to be there for every session though and paying for a coach to guide the session once a month or every other month is always an option. The coach can ensure you are doing the right drills for your level as well as offer new drill ideas and suggestions.
In fact, at some point next year (2023) I may include this type of service to my Paid Services.
It could be, or it could just be starting a Whatsapp group (or similar) and booking a court and turning up with a positive atitude and working hard for an hour or so. Share the cost with all who come and make sure that cost includes new balls.
I know from experience that sometimes being the organiser is a pain in the neck, but if you keep things simple and are honest with people it doesn't have to be. If nobody replies to the group message by a certain time, you don't book the court.
Even if it just you and a friend doing drills for an hour, that can be fun, useful and hard work. If other people see you doing that they may ask to join. In fact, why not put a poster up telling other court users what you are doing.
Just be sure to include the standard of player and don't be afraid to politely turn people down if they are not good enough for the training. If you accept everybody in an effort to be helpful and accommodating you will turn into a club night and not a focused training squad.
Start small and stay small. Three or four people committed people is better than seven or eight people who hardly come. Try lots of different drills and don't worry about doing them perfectly. Keep rotating the drills so that each week feels different.
Make it clear you are not the coach. Each player has to bring a drill to each training session. Make it a group responsibility.
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