Part one of this three part series covered the rationale behind using a Progressive Approach when introducing players, young or old, to squash and the other racquet sports. In this second video, we make a recommendation to use a racquetball racquet as the starting “implement” no matter what racquet sport you coach. It has the largest hitting surface, closest to the hand, making it the easiest weapon of choice. The only easier implement would be Ken Watson’s Big Hand – a sport “glove” to really make contact with a ball easier – a great product.
Most physical educators and squash coaches are not lucky enough to be able to solely coach talented, young athletes in a private lesson setting. Most of are usually involved in teaching larger groups of untalented (and often unmotivated) youth or adults. Traditional racquet sport pedagogy methods usually involved teaching using lines of students trying to hit full swings off an unrealistically perfect feed from a coach – with little time for individual correction in group teaching. My first tennis teaching assignment (1975) was to teach 75 kids on three courts with two assistant instructors.
Many of the sport science resources that squash coaches use continue to evolve. Here are three updates from trusted sources:
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From pedagogical, tactical, fitness, social and developmental perspectives, there are good sport science reasons for squash coaches to integrate British Racketball into their coaching activities.
Pedagogical: As the easiest-to-learn racquet sport, due to the slow, relatively high-bouncing nature of the ball and the relatively large racquet face, British Racketball should be the first step for both young and new learners. The tennis world is currently swamped with progressive learning methods for introductory tennis – and of course in squash we have our Mini-Squash – I think British Racketball is just as good.
Most of the attention in the sport psychology domain is given to advanced and elite adult players. In an ideal world, squash coaches would start to guide their proteges towards mental toughness at the very start of their squash lives.
In the early 1990’s I helped Tennis Canada develop mental training and sport psychology priorities for every age group in their junior tennis programs: periodized annual mental training programs to be implemented in Canadian indoor clubs for each of their junior age groups: U11, U14, U18.
At each stage of development, different psychological qualities were prioritized – for example tennis intelligence, courage, leadership, etc. In effect what we did was develop psychological specifics what we would now describe as stages of a Long Term Athlete Development Plan (LTAD).
While many of the technical and physical aspects of published LTADs are very concrete and specific, the psychological aspects tend to be general and vague – reason being that the sport scientists developing the LTADs work primarily in the areas of physiology and motor learning – not sport psychology!
Here is a link to great example of mental training for beginning tennis players – which will apply 100% to beginning squash players – thanks International Tennis Federation (ITF)!
Currently, most Squash Coaching Education programs are organized based on a hierarchy of technique:
Level 1 Coaching Course – coaches learn how to teach the basic shots.
Level 2 Coaching Course – coaches learn how to teach the intermediate shots.
Level 3 Coaching Course – coaches learn how to teach advanced shots.
The problem with this approach is that there is so much more to good squash coaching than simply “teaching shots”. Depending on the actual function the squash coach is fufilling (e.g., Assistant Pro in a club responsible for junior clinics or Part-time National Coach for a World Championship 2-year cycle) the skill set that the coach needs to acquire and demonstrate are very different. The “clients” (i.e., athletes) of these two different types of coaches also have very different expectations about the person guiding their efforts to improve.