Developing a Squash World Champion: Align Your LTAD & Coaching Programs

Although squash is played in 153 countries around the world, it is not as well developed as some of  the world’s more popular or richer sports like soccer or tennis.  A small, well organized group of dedicated squash coaches (e.g. currently the Egyptians) can develop world class players, and even a world champion. If we look at the recent history of the squash world rankings, we can see that there is quite a bit of movement near the top of the rankings on both the men’s and women’s side in terms of the players’ nationality.  We also see a lot of successful solo efforts that cross national boundaries such as Liz Irving’s (Australia) coaching of Nicol David (Malaysia).

In terms of sheer numbers in the top 100, the English dominate simply because of greater numbers and government related money that is put into player development (more than any other country).  You can read this post to explore the economics of developing champions.

In order to achieve sustainable results, squash nations need to take advantage of the advances in sport science. This means using a system where the coaching certification program and actual coaching programs used in squash clubs are in perfect alignment with  a nation’s comprehensive Long Term Athlete Development (LTAD) system:

An LTAD Aligned Coaching & Club Training System

An LTAD Aligned Coaching & Club Training System

Since squash is not an early specialization sport (table tennis and gymnastics are for example), the Active Start stage of the LTAD can be delegated to parents.  They should enroll their children in a variety of different activities (soccer, swimming and gymnastics preferably) to give them the athletic foundation (kinaesthetic and spatial awareness, hand and foot dexterity, etc.) to be talented squash players later in life.

Starting at the FUNdamentals stage of the LTAD coaches need to be trained (and evaluated) on how to meet the technical, tactical, physical and mental needs of that particluar age group.  Since it is impossible for a coach to learn everything that is necessary at a particular LTAD stage in just one weekend, or even over a two-week course, every coach needs to be provided with a step-by-step, detailed annual periodized training plan (the Club Program) so that they can correctly train their squash athletes.  Sport scientists and expert coaches need to collaborate on developing these plans. The number of tournaments and matches played, the type of physical training exercises, and the selection of games and drills used will differ greatly for each level – not an easy task.

2 Responses to Developing a Squash World Champion: Align Your LTAD & Coaching Programs

  1. […] Ideally, each coaching group (Training Center or National Program) should develop a hierarchy of deception tactics (e.g., easiest to most difficult), and then determine which ones should be taught at each stage of their squash LTAD. […]

  2. […] This month’s NSCA Performance Training Journal (one of the benefits of membership) just appeared in my inbox.  There is a great article on Core Training for tennis with Mark Kovacs as the first author (ran into Mark and chatted with him in the elevator at the ITF Conference in Valencia, Spain last November where I was presenting on mental training at each stage of an LTAD). […]

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