13. Malaysia tour feedback

The Malaysia tour was all it was meant to be. Loads of on court time, matches, sightseeing and lots of laughter (even in the boiling heat)

Hong Kong is a squash players paradise. Besides all the sights and a vibrant culture, the accommodation at the Salisbury YMCA, (overlooking the harbour) included 2 squash courts at our disposal, which meant we didn’t need to face the Hong Kong crowds to get to a playing facility, but could book the training schedule as and when required. Matches against the Hong Kong regional team were an eye opener and a reality check for some of the players, but set the stage for a disciplined and determined ethos which was implemented throughout the tour.

Penang was hot, humid and great! The training sessions under Aaron Soyza and his team, with Wee Wern Low on hand were constructive, planned and progressive. Every session saw a break through, with players improving with each shot. The matches against the Penang players also proved valuable as players could apply the training sessions in match conditions.

All in all the players spent 12/14 days on court with at least 2 x 2 hour sessions per day. They saw the sights in both Hong Kong and Penang and last but not least, made some new squash friends – friends for life !

Thank you to the parents and players for affording us this priviledge ! It was a very worthwhile investment of both time and money. The return on the investment will be seen on the court.

All smiles at the MMA

World of Squash – promoting SKILLZ in squash
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12. National u13 Academy

The TuksSquash panel of coaches will host the 2018 National u13 Academy on behalf of SA Schools and SquashSA.

From 9 – 12 August, the top 3 players per Province will be hosted and put through an intense training program using the high performance centre as a base.

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11. Back to the drawing board

The IPT’s marked the end of the 2018 season and many players are pondering their  pathway forward. Matches were won and some were lost. Matches went well and others not so well.

Squash is a process which includes wins and losses and the progress or rankings are calculated over a period of time. Once-off wins will be taken into account, but the history between two players will also be considered. The systematic improvement between wins and losses will give the end result on the rankings.

When the new season kicks off in September, many players will move into a higher age group. The whole ball game changes with bigger and stronger opponents – resulting a lower and harder squash. Adapting to these conditions can take some doing and training also needs to adapt to cope. Playing against older and more mature players can also have an intimidation factor which some struggle with and matches can be won or lost in the process.

The World of Squash training program has developed over many years and has a built in factor to prepare the players for the challenges ahead. There isn’t time to panic, but to get back into the swing of things through a systematic and progressive approach, doing what is needed at the right time.

What’s done is done and the celebrations need to continue, but if the final results are not what was expected, the whole year lies ahead to re look at goals and to work on a plan to achieve those goals

2019 – here we come

“Winning is a consequence of SKILLS work”


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10. Pre IPT Training Session : Sat 16 June 2018

The count down has begun and the biggest event of the year is less than two weeks away.

IPT is the  culmination of months and months of training, travelling and incurring expenses to play in tournaments outside of Pretoria, sacrifices to meet the selection criteria and lots of hard work on and off the court.

The World of Squash program is designed (and proven) to get players to the top of their game, by having a systematic skillz development approach. Emphasis is on regular attendance and progressively mastering all aspects of the game.

With exams taking place right before the IPT’s, it becomes a challenge to keep players at their best. Besides the many hours of studying, the weather changes result in players being more prone to getting flu and this is why the final 10 days before the IPT become more and more important.

The  Pre-IPT training session is a catch up, strengthen up and filling in session a week before the big day starts, and it is imperative for all our players to make every effort to attend so that the finishing touches can be dealt with and the final touches added to the past year of training

We look forward to all our players making use of the opportunity and using the entry form PRE IPT TRAINING SESSION : Saturday 16 June 2018 to register and secure a spot.

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9. Tours, Travel and Tournaments!

Squash opens the door to many exciting destinations and experiences

Playing in tournaments is tough and even tougher when heading outside of the country. Internationally the juniors just seem to have so much more time for squash as they don’t have the added after-school schedule and mainly focus on one sport.

The approach of later specialization has been debated for many decades and the multi sport philosophy seems to win every time, but trying to get juniors competitive on the world tour is a challenge and we have not accomplished that yet.

Touring and playing a variety of opponents help players to build up experience. Every centre, every city and every opponent has something different to offer and most players thrive by competing in different circumstances. Planning and preparing for each event also builds up the player and lifts them to a higher level.

The World of Squash coaches have made a change in their approach to tournaments and decided to travel with teams to specific events through the year. This decision has already had a positive spin off as players enjoy the uninterrupted attention of the coaches while they compete and the coaches enjoy the progress and development of the players.

Besides the positives of going to new places and playing in the tournament, meeting new people and seeing different cultures is also a spin off of travelling. Not all destinations are affordable, but many destinations are favourable to the Rand and also host good tournaments. A number of top performing juniors are starting the trend of choosing an annual trip which includes squash training and a tournament on route to their ski-ing or beach holidays. A great idea to improve their squash and get exposed to top level squash.

Tournaments are to be embraced as a challenge to see how well the player fares up against the opponents in the draw. Too often tournaments are seen as hurdles or obstacles and avoided, which is short sighted as the benefits are huge and the experiences gained invaluable to the development of a player. The advantage of travelling long distances to a tournament is that all the opponents are unknown and a player can relax and just play their best without the worries of ranking positions etc.

All the advantages of tours, travel and tournaments makes it a good investment into a juniors squash career and is encouraged at all ages!

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8. Junior Circuit Kicks Off with Tournaments Galore

PPP / T is our motto and tournaments are an ideal way to test the theory

This coming weekend a number of tournaments are taking place around the country and juniors ranging in age from 9 to 18 will be testing themselves against their peers in the hope of improving their Provincial rankings. The players who have prepared consistently over the past few weeks, will reap the benefits of their commitment while those who have had a haphazard training schedule may well be performing below their expectations.

By applying PPP/T a solid foundation is laid and the skills gained over the period, can be drawn on under pressure. Matches can either consolidate or unravel those skills, so having a variety of strengths in the draw is an advantage at this time in the season. Players using the easier matches to practise the newly acquired skills have an opportunity to practise them in and hopefully use during the tougher matches. By focusing on applying the newly acquired skills, the players tend to worry less about the scores and should therefore play better.

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7. Between Games Coaching – 90 Sec Break

Recommendations on what to do and say in the 90 sec break by Coach Mark Allen

So often when I watch tournament matches I see enthusiastic friends or parents clambering around the competing player between games all offering their own interpretation of the preceding game and offering advice on how the player should proceed in the next game.

Whilst support is a positive thing, understand that unless advice given between games is simple and concise it is going to be of no use to your player at all, and in many cases may hinder rather than enhance performance. Several people talking around the competing player results in too much advice being given, and the end result of this is that nothing at all ends up going in.
** More than one voice distracts attention away from the person delivering the key point (if others want to show support then they can do so by handing/holding the water or offering a towel but they would be better to refrain from speaking and confusing the core information you are trying to communicate).
These are my recommendations if you are helping someone between games.

Part 1 Preparing the player to receive information (15-30 seconds)
1. Move to somewhere private where the performer is free of distractions
2. Have them drink their water now, and when they are finished
3. Make them stand/sit still and make eye contact with you
4. Let them speak first if they have something they look like they need to say

Part 2 Giving the advice (30-60 seconds)
1. Address their emotional needs
2. Give your tactical advice
3. Use positive statements (what to do) rather than negative (what not to do)
4. Do not give advice of a technical nature
5. Repeat the same simple message several times

Part 3 Preparing the player to play (15-30 seconds)
1. Have them drink for the second time
2. Ask them to repeat the advice given back to you
3. Offer a final word of encouragement before they step back onto court
Our short term memory lasts only 20-30 seconds – especially in the midst of intense physical exertion.

For advice to be of any use beyond the opening couple of rallies we must get the information into our players long term memory store. In highly stressful moments (and between games is such a moment) the brain is only capable of transferring one or two simple pieces of information to the long term memory. The skill in coaching your team-mate is in selecting the most significant one or (at a maximum) two pieces of advice and to make absolutely certain that they go in!

The crucial part of the 90 seconds is the mid section – what I have called “Giving the advice” and I would like to look at the five bullet points listed in more detail;

Point 1 Address the emotional needs:
In my experience this makes a bigger difference to performance than anything else that you do and for this reason it is a significant advantage to know and understand the personality of the person you are helping. Ideally in a team situation we should each coach the team-mate we have the strongest personal relationship with and try to stick to helping that same person for the duration of the season. Your ability to make a difference to their game will improve as you learn more about how they react to the advice that you give.
If too tightly wound up from a referee’s decision toward the end of the game then they will need to be calmed down.
If they are being negative then you need to try and give them a more positive mind set, and if they are tired then remind them that their opponent has also done a great deal of work.
If they are not trying then it’s time to give them a severe kick up the butt! Remember this all needs to be done whilst keeping your own emotions in check.

Point 2 – Give your tactical advice
You will have a far greater chance of helping your player if you stick to focusing their attention toward a game plan and specific issues of shot selection.
Hit hard and low cross court to his forehand, Use your straight drop shot from the front of the court when he is hanging back. Start to cut the ball off on the volley on the backhand wall, and Take your time and focus on hitting a quality serve, are all the types of useful pieces of advice that have a chance of enhancing performance.

Point 3 Use positive statements (what to do) rather than negative (what not to do)
As often as possible find a way of presenting advice in terms of what your player should be doing rather than what they should not be doing. For instance if your team mate is boasting too much from the back and this is getting her killed, then play down the wall and deep when you are behind your opponent is better advice than whatever you do don’t boast!! Telling someone to be patient, lengthen the rally and try to keep the ball in play longer, is better than telling them stop making mistakes!

Point 4 Do not give advice of a technical nature
Technical advice between games should be avoided. Over the years I have heard frustrated coaches trying to teach their pupil how to hit a drop shot between games. If they aren’t doing this already then it is not going to be learned in 90 seconds! Any advice along the lines of changes to grip, swing and footwork patterns should be avoided, it simply will not work.

Point 5 Repeat the same simple message several times
Remember that the message that you are trying to get across needs to be repeated, so do not shy away from saying the same thing, the same way, several times in a row in the short time that you have available. A simple message repeated several times has a good chance of being remembered.

In the closing seconds of the time just before the player leaves me for the court I like to make sure the advice has been received and understood, so I ask my player to repeat it back to me. I will then close out by offering some kind of positive encouragement just before they step back onto court such as, keep going girl or this game’s yours Dan.

Mark Allen

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6. Performance vs Outcome

Why “did you win” is not the question to be asking after a match – although it is simple, it is never easy!

Whether you are a parent, a coach or a player, chances are you are focused on improvement. If this is the case, I have some simple advice for you. But beware, simple never means easy.

If you play competitive squash, you probably have been asked: How did you play? If you want to assist in the improvement process of your child or pupil, this is a decent question because it didn’t inquire about the outcome. If you are asking someone else this question, make sure that the answer describes the performance and not the outcome.
Results are a consequence of performances.

Performances are not improved by focusing on outcomes. Ever. Never ask your child or student if they won. And never answer the question: How did you play? By beginning with the result. The way to answer is to describe precisely what you did well and what you would like to do better. If you want to mention the outcome as an aside after this discussion, that’s perfectly fine. But don’t talk about it until after you have described the performance. You might think this is touchy-feely nonsense, but I assure you that it is not. It is a hard, practical, methodical, simple approach to getting better.

Every day parents, friends and would be do-gooders do huge damage by focusing competitors on outcome instead of performance. In doing so, they set back so much of the hard work and preparation put in by competitors and coaches. Life is a race, and like any race your whole focus should be on moving forwards with care and attention to details.

If you ask the question: What did you do wrong? – you focus on failures of the past and in doing so direct your attention toward going backwards, not a recommended direction for progressing toward the future. All this does is establish the idea that the player is the villain in their own story and identifies their barriers toward progress. On the other hand, the question: What did you do well and what would you like to do better? – helps the player to establish themselves as the potential hero in their own story and shows them a path to a brighter and more successful future.

Likewise, if you are goal setting, don’t specify outcomes such as a result against a particular player, team or a ranking number. All this does is put a huge emotional and mental burden on you or the players you have given this goal too.

Rather than that, target a particular tournament or ranking period for performance and enthusiastically work to see how well you can perform. The opportunity to surprise oneself by focusing on performance rather than outcomes is part of the great delight of true improvement. After the target performance has passed, review your performance and reset for the next target. Only compare yourself to your most recent performances and either celebrate progress or analyze what is needed to move forwards.

This simple system is fail safe. But remember, simple isn’t easy.

Working hard on your technique, strategy, mentality, team spirit and fitness while genuinely remaining excited to discover just what you are capable of, this is truly the path to future success as long as you define success as progress and not some specific outcome.

Outcomes are a consequence of performance. They are like milestones or even small scenic villages on the journey. Be careful not to get waylaid at one of these milestones or villages (or disappointed that you haven’t reached one of them), and find that you have forgotten the journey forwards. Work on your performance in a positive manner and you will surprise yourself and all of those around you.

Many of you have learned the importance of racquet preparation, dynamic movement, setting up at ninety degrees to the line you want your shot to travel on, pace management to put you in position before your opponent can hit the next shot, using specific hitting zones on the racquet for touch, control and power, etc.

These are the fundamentals of squash. The basic rudiments of the game. The simple stuff that we all have to learn. But if I ask you how well you perform these simple fundamentals, how would you answer? Are you among the top 50% of exponents of these simple fundamentals in world squash? The top 20%? The top 5%?

Again, simple is hard! It takes tremendous focus to do basic things well. Extraordinary players do ordinary things extraordinarily well. So the next time you hear the question: How did you play? – focus on what you did well and ask yourself what could you do better? Focus on performance, not outcomes.

Richard Millman

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5. “Drive Thru” Sessions

Consolidating technique through use of the ball machine while also focussing on movement, drills and skillz

It’s new and an innovative way to improve your squash. The month of May is filled with tournaments, league matches and the prestigious Top schools event. Team up with a partner (of similar strength) and enjoy a morning of squash where all the main areas required for top performance will be dealt with having three qualified coaches present – to ensure that each aspect of the game is covered.

Using a staggered starting time means the centre isn’t crowded or “busy” and assists players to focus on the job at hand.

Court 1 is the starting point for all players as they arrive. The coach will be ready to give them a good warm up, balance work, strength as well as some agility work.
After 20 minutes, the players will move to court 2 where they will do Skillz under the watchful eye of the coach who will time as well as correct as they go along.
Court 3 will be conditioned game and drills court which the players will do at their own level and pace before heading off to court 4 where their technique will be consolidated using the ball machine.

The principle of “Repetition is the mother of learning” is applied on the final court, where the coach will be correcting as well as consolidating the basic shots before sending the players home. Through the morning players will all start their drive-thru on court 1 and finish off on court 4, then do their own stretch down before going home. 80 minutes of on court work with a 1 minute water break for each team will result in improvement and better performance at the tournaments which are listed through the month of May.

Enjoy the drive-thru and love the improvement it will bring.

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4. “It’s UP to you” – Festival of Squash

Primary Schools Squash Festival turns out to be a huge success

The Festival format is a new concept to many players (and parents) as most squash events have the winner at the end of the weekend.

The theme for this weekend was It’s UP to you, good hard squash, trying your best and enjoying the process. No winners were announced and no scores were recorded. Players went flat out against stronger and newer opponents, girls against boys and u11/12 against u13’s.

The success of the weekend was confirmed when after all was done and dusted and teams were ready to go home, a number of players requested another round of matches!

Thank you to all the parents and teachers who helped make this weekend a huge success. We will definitely have more of these events through the year.

Remember … it’s UP to you.

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