Watching high-quality squash has a number of benefits. Firstly, it establishes tactical habits. If you only ever saw players lob from the front when under pressure, then it would seem normal to you. Clearly the limiting factors for amateur squash players when compared to professionals are fitness and skill. However, you don’t need to be skilled to hit a lob under pressure, you need to be skilled to hit a great lob under pressure. But the point still stands. Tactical habits can be formed and educated from watching great squash.
I used the lob as an example, but tactically there are lots of other possibilities; patience when rallying, using the backhand side wall more than the forehand, varying the pace to break an opponent’s rhythm, the “hunting” of the volley, and many more. But honestly, within the limits of skill and fitness, the lob under pressure is a pretty important one.
At the risk of labouring the point, the more you see something happen, the more normal it seems. It would be a fascinating experiment to have a complete beginner watch a few hours of professional squash, have a few lessons with a coach and then practice against a high-level player (purely for the tactical habits), without seeing ANYBODY else play squash. What they saw would be the “norm” for them.
From a psychological point of view, it works the other way too. If you constantly see players go for winners after 3 shots because they are tired, then that will seem normal to you. No, I am not suggesting you don’t watch your friends play squash, just realise that bad habits can easily be formed from watching lower-level squash players too much.
Secondly comes the inspiration, motivation and spectacle of the whole event. If you are lucky enough to go to an event with an all glass court, the lights, music, and atmosphere are incredible. I liken it to visiting the circus as a child. It can lead a lasting impression that permeates your training and matches for weeks, if not months to come. I have never meet a person who wasn’t “fired up” after watching professional squash.
Talking about children, please take them along to the professional matches too. I know it’s not cheap, but depending on the event, some daytime sessions are very reasonably priced. Some junior groups also organise trips for the children to watch matches. The benefits for the children are the same as for adults.
Don’t Forget YouTube
Ideally, you should visit the actual venue and watch live, but I do accept that it is not possible for everybody, myself included. But let’s not forget that YouTube has plenty of matches and channels for you to watch. Luckily for you, I created a Reddit thread with some great links for you to start with.
Please Don’t Be A Gender Snob
Women’s squash is incredibly high-quality and male amateurs can learn so much from those female athletes. Too many male amateurs believe they could beat the women, and some could, but I fear most would be shocked at how hard the y hit the ball, how fast they move and how easily they would move your around. So don’t be a gender snob, go watch the women too.
Many amateur players have little interest in the professional squash circuit, and I fully understand their point of view. However, if you want to improve your squash, and you are reading this, so that is probably true, one great way is to watch high-quality squash. Luckily for you, there is quite a lot of events planned around the world. You might not be able to see an all-glass event, but even on a traditional court, pro squash is incredible to watch.