We are a bunch of coaches, players, improvers and beginners at a council leisure centre in Hanworth, in the west of the borough of Hounslow, which is both in West London and in the west most corner of Middlesex. We run adult sessions for squash and racketball, and several junior training sessions. Several of our juniors graduate to training with the county, and we have a vibrant community of junior players.
We do not currently host any events, or invite neighbouring teams to play at our venue, because our facilities are limited and do not offer enough observation facilities for marking or safety, although we are working to improve matters.
Meet us every year at the London Youth Games, or at other Middlesex hosted events, or if you are local, come along to one of our sessions and take a look.
Squash is the best game for relaxation and well being, and the best for fitness for all ages.
At the top level, it is generally regarded as one of the most demanding in terms of skill and fitness. All the way down to the lower club levels, when played well squash improves fitness, stamina, strength, balance and speed.
For developing juniors, squash promotes all round athleticism, even in the case of those youngsters who see themselves as clumsy, weak and slow.
You can walk in out of the sun, rain, snow or freezing sleet and play squash. You can squeeze a game in over your lunch hour and work up a good sweat. And you can share a court between several players, each taking turns in short ten minute games.
But let's have another look at what I said above, that squash is the best game for relaxation and well being, and the best for fitness for all ages.
Wait a minute ! Relaxation ? Yes ! Well being ? Yes ! All ages ? Yes !
But surely everyone knows that firstly it's really hard work, secondly it's tough on the joints and thirdly it's dangerous for the old.
Well, my answer to that is that they're doing it wrong, times three.
Many times I watch players new to the game dashing about the court, twisting left and right for the ball at the last minute, puffing and blowing with the effort. They will watch the front for the ball, set off for the ball with one leg fighting the other, and attempt a mighty swing that puts them even further off balance, as the ball smacks itself around the court and straight onto opponent's racket. Opponent will make a meal of it as he is totally cramped up, and the spectacle repeats itself.
This is all very exhausting, bad for the joints and cartilage and bad news for the elderly.
Well, firstly players should be exercising the grey matter more, watching their opponent, second guessing their shots, and moving early and smoothly for the next ball.
Secondly, they should be judging better where they and the ball will be when they play their shot, so they can pace their movements to the ball prepare for the shot with good stance and style. Straight to the shot, play and straight back. No twisting, all the forces on resilient bent joints, no hammering of foot on floor. The steadier and smoother you can play, the better for your body and your play.
And thirdly, if a player has played and practised steadily for a few years, there's nothing to stop them playing well into their pensionable years.
Oh, and the relaxation comes after a good game of squash.
I haven't mentioned practice, drills or fitness training. There is a mantra going the rounds that you must get fit to play squash - you can't get fit playing squash. Leaving aside the top club levels and above, I disagree totally with this ethos. In my view, you can get quite fit enough to play good middle level club squash purely by playing.
So it can be fun from the start. You just need to give the gave the head space that it deserves, by thinking, judging position and movement, and of course by regular play. When you first come to the game, play steady, easy pat-a-cake squash as you learn the best way to move and swing the racket, and build up from there. Or start with racketball, though the danger here is that you'll stick with racketball !
If you have looked at some other squash sites, you may feel that there is something missing from my descriptions of shot style and shots. In very few places on this site will you hear me talk about where on the front wall you should aim your shot. I have two reasons for that. First, I don't know, and second I don't care.
When I approach a loose medium hit forehand rail with the intention of sending back a high lob volley to the opposite corner, I don't think, "Aim at point X on the front wall." I think, "Aim to drop nicely in the back corner." Did I ever think front wall, even as I learnt the game ? I don't think so. I think I just went by results, and made adjustments to my shots by telling my body to turn a little this way or that, changing my stance, correcting my footwork and making further adjustments to my timing and swing angle, until my shot was just right.
I try to write clearly. But there is one phrase that I use a lot that requires clarification.
I often say that you must develop the ability to do such and such. I do not, in general, mean that you can't do such and such now, but you must create within you the ability do do it. I do mean that however much of that ability you have now, you must develop it, make it a better ability.
Copyright (C) Richard Hart 2015 - 2018