My 8 year old son is a beginner that loves squash. We started playing regularly a year ago. I played many years ago but I have no coaching experience whatsoever. We watched a lot of videos on YouTube but for the most part the content and production quality varies a lot and it is very time consuming to find help in specific areas of the game (i.e. specific shots, drills or speed/conditioning).
We’ve looked at some of the aspects relating to the development of junior players here on SquashSkills previously with our blogs on the growth of young players and more general early stage development, and it’s a topic that we frequently receive questions on from the many coaches and parents amongst our members.
I moved to Mid Wales 17 years ago and was shocked to see the lack of squash activity. Guess at that time I was a fit and enthusiastic hacker having taken up Squash at age 37.
There is a certain level of complexity involved with team dynamics in any sport as there are many factors such as personalities, cultures, ages and abilities amongst the set of players. In squash, the team aspect is rather unique. Usually your team consists of 5,7 or 9 players and you set your lineup after try-outs, challenge matches or rankings.
David Pearson has been a coach for 35 years. He is a father of four, 2 daughters, 2 sons. David was the longest serving Head National Coach across all sports in the United Kingdom from 1995 until 2010.
David has coached 4 world Champion Squash players; 2 women, 2 men– coincidence!? Widely acknowledged as one of the best Squash Coaches in the world, ‘DP’ as he is fondly known, continues to coach all players across the playing standard spectrum and from all corners of the globe.
Juniors crave instant gratification for success.
In reality, we know it’s not always that easy. Unfortunately, for all athletes who work hard to achieve their goals, there are obstacles that must be overcome.
One of the most difficult aspects of coaching is the mentality of junior players. Coaches must look for several fundamental factors in juniors, these include current and potential ability, physical ability and of course, attitude.
Once evaluated, it will be evident which areas need most work.
However, there is one characteristic that outweighs all others: Confidence.
With the World Junior Championships underway in Eindhoven, I thought back to my two experiences playing in the same event. I certainly had two very different experiences in those events that helped form my squash character.
This week’s blog is prompted by a session I ran recently, introducing a couple of good standard u17 junior players to a new speed/agility drill they hadn’t done before. It was quite a technical drill, where we were really looking to emphasise focus on the split step, elasticity, and efficiency of movement.
What really struck me, was how difficult it was for the players to actually go through it slowly. Every repetition was being done at high pace; even after they’d been told to slow it right down to get a proper feel of the movement before increasing the pace up to the full working sets.
We’re fortunate to have a tremendously diverse membership here on SquashSkills, and included in that are a large number of coaches from all across the globe. We’re often asked to feature more content specific to coaches looking for help with their skills development programmes, and in particular those that do a lot of work with junior squash players – from fun and ‘mini squash’ level, right up to regional and national level and above. It’s always great to hear of the obvious time and dedication so many of you out there are putting into the young athletes you work with, and it’s an area we hope to feature from time to time here on the site.
For those that coach juniors, or have children of their own that are keen squash players, the question often comes up of ‘How soon should my child specialise in just the one sport’? It’s a difficult one to answer with lots of factors to consider, and it can often be tough to give a categorical response.