Our spotlight video this week on SquashSkills sees a bit of a change of gear, as we welcome Bryan Patterson to the site for the latest episode in our ‘In Conversation’ series – this time round with a focus on the topic of coaching groups. We’ve put this feature together primarily for all of our members out there working in the field with young players, and hope that you find the dialogue as insightful and interesting as we did!
Bryan is the Director of Squash at the hugely successful CitySquash urban programme in New York. As well as being a fine player in his day, Bryan boasts a huge wealth of experience as a coach and as a teacher; working with children in a group environment can certainly be a real challenge, attempting to juggle a whole range of different personalities, abilities, and learning styles – we’re delighted therefore that Bryan agreed to take the time to sit down with us to share his knowledge and insight into this area, offering up some invaluable advice for coaches and parents alike.
It’s important as a coach working with beginner players, to remember that these types of group sessions are very often players’ first taste of playing squash – their experiences and interactions with other players and coaches here will play a huge role in shaping their feelings towards the game.
With this in mind, Bryan takes us through his thoughts on technique development in early-stage players, session focus progressions, and the importance of discipline to ensure that a strong level of mutual respect is maintained throughout.
One theme that Bryan returns to often as he shares his insights, is his consideration of trying to make the whole experience fun for novice youngsters. To foster a true love of the game, even as players improve and begin to play more competitively, we should never lose sight of the fact that juniors need to be stimulated and engaged – making sessions too stiff, serious, and rigid, can really rob the time that the children spend on court of its sparkle.
This is particularly important in respect to the physical side of the game. Being fit and strong is a huge part of squash, and is something that does need to be brought in early due to the integral underpinning it holds within the sport. That said, drilling young players new to the game into regimented court sprint and ghosting drills is not really going to be conducive to developing a sense of fun and entertainment in their sessions. By making the physical training element of the game more enjoyable through the use of things like races, competitions and challenges, however, you can unlock a whole new level of thrill and excitement in the game within young players, and thus increase their affinity to the game at an early stage.
To go along with Bryan’s reflections in the video, we’ve included below some sample small group sessions for you to utilise in your coaching set-ups, created by the SquashSkills team. We’ve also included a court-based fitness circuit for you to try with your players, adding in that fun competitive edge as highlighted.
Put it into practice
This session is built around a selection of drills and routines, incorporating all 3 participants working within each exercise.
This four-person, one court session works through a series of practices progressing from control based drills, into more competitive rally based work.
This circuit allows you to include up to 10 people on court in one session, while also stimulating some fun and competition with a challenge based format.
In this playlist, Dave Pearson talks about how to develop successful juniors and his own experiences teaching them through the years.
Paul Carter talks through the importance and benefits of routines and condition games and shows the implementation for both players and coaches.
In this series, Bryan Patterson shows the techniques he uses to get beginners started in the game.
Let us know how you get on with the sessions, we’d love to hear your feedback!
Interested in learning more about group coaching?
In this brand new round table format, Jethro sits down with Bryan Patterson to discuss how he teaches groups and what advice he has for other coaches.Watch the series