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The More Serious You Are, The Less Creative You Should Be

The connection between squash and chess has been made many times, and most people who play squash and know a little about chess seem to agree with the concept.

The More Serious You Are, The Less Creative You Should Be

I’ve always felt that squash has so much more variety than most other racket sports primarily because of the side and back walls. Whether the rectangle of walls and the similarity with a chess board are important I don’t know, but there’s almost certainly a connection.

A few days ago I read the following sentence in a subreddit about a chess website and it stuck in my mind.

The more serious you are, the less creative you will be in chess

Should I wear Squash Goggles?

I have no idea whether the author of this sentence is an international grand master or the village idiot – not that they are mutually exclusive or that it matters. What is important is whether the statement is true and not being a good chess player, I can’t tell you if it is or isn’t.

But it did get me thinking about whether it was true of squash or even other sports. Do you think that the higher ranked a player becomes, the less creative they play? On the surface, I think I agree, but perhaps the creativity is simply more nuanced.

You only need to visit any local sports centre or squash club in most countries and watch recreational players to see reverse boasts, serves at the receiver, weird almost undefinable shots that better players would avoid. Play those shots against a better player and they will eat you alive, but at this level they are often successful.

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Most coaches have plenty of stories of trying to convince pupils to stop playing the reverse angle only to be told “but it wins me points!”.

So I am going to say that I think in principle, I agree with the statement, but with the caveat that the creativity at higher levels is more complex and subtle than the “Leisure Centre Boast” as the boys from Squash TV like to call it.

What are your thoughts?


  1. Hi mate, interesting to see you mentioning the “Leisure Centre” and referencing SquashTV where “he’s done him with the Leisure Centre” is a fairly frequent commentator’s cry. Funnily enough -as one of your frequent readers- I was going to suggest you write something about this particular shot. Going back several years I remember my old coach warning people off this shot and I never really understood why. As you say at intermediate levels in particular it can be effective but it seems in squash there is almost a snobbery about line and length and “proper” squash. Or is there actually a very good reason to not play the reverse angle boast? I’d be interested in your thoughts.

    1. Hi David, thanks for your comment and the suggestion to write more about the leisure centre boast. You point about snobbery regarding line and length was at first a stab in the heart and got me wondering “Am I being a snob about this?”. So expect an article about this tomorrow. Again, thanks for the suggestion.

      1. Hi Philip I’ve commented on some of your YouTube videos before using my prism as a musician. This feels like a topic I can get. Creativity is always tempered by the media in which you are in the more structured the form the less frequent you can use your creativity. Think of high level squash as jazz and the rally as the main theme. Everyone plays the main theme straight as anything as it’s written. You must wait for you chance to improvise i.e be creative. If you compare leisure centre squash to garage rock or punk. It’s much more chaotic and simpler things are considered creative.

        I think this makes sense or it’s a fever dream

        1. What a wonderful way to look at things. At first, I thought you might have used classical music as your example, but I suppose there is very little creativity you can add to that sort of music, so jazz really is a great example.
          You might even say the leisure centre squash is more like jamming, with almost no fixed theme to stick to.

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