Happy Birthday Geoff Hunt (and me:)!

March 20, 2012

Source unknown.

  • Geoff Hunt was born on March 11, 1947; I was born on March 11, 1957.
  • Geoff Hunt started playing squash at the age of 12, was at his peak in 1977 – the year I started playing squash (at the age of 19).  In 1977 Canada had three official types of squash: balls, national championships, rules.  We used to play them all – sometimes all three on the same day!
  • Geoff Hunt ran his legendary 26(?) x 400’s @ 75s; I ran 24 x 400’s @ 80-85s for interval training.
  • Geoff Hunt won 6 British Opens and several world Championships; I won the 1986 Canadian National Hardball Championship Consolation in 1986 (Finalist 1987) – I beat the 1988 Open Champion Mark Barber 3-0, coming back from 13-11 down (playing to 15) in three consecutive games.  In softball, I played “A” league until I headed down to the U.S. in 1994, whereupon I took about 10 years off competitive play until the mid 2000’s. Then several Massachusetts 45+ State Championships, and was U.S. Squash 45+ top 10-ranked 2004-2006 (?);
  • Geoff Hunt was Head Coach at the Australian Institute for Sport, leaving High Performance sport to go and coach currently at a much lower level in Qatar; I was Canadian National Jr. Men’s Coach and psychology consultant to the Canadian National Squash Team Programs from 1987 to 2000 (as well as National Tennis and Racquetball Programs)  leaving to coach currently at a much lower level at Smith College.
  • Geoff Hunt has had two hip replacements; I have had one hip replacement (need the other one too!). Note: I personally know more than 30 squash coaches who have had hip replacements, so we were not alone in our belief that high volume training was the way to go!

I actually had my very first squash private lesson in 1978 with another Australian, Heather McKay, at the Toronto Squash Club, one of the few facilities in Toronto that actually had wide international courts. I prepped for the lesson by reading her book, only to be chided “Why are you trying to volley everything?  Two years later I was playing her in an exhibition match – at that point we both worked for the Racquet Sports Group of Canada – I was manager/pro at the Sherbourne Club (11 American/2 International courts), and she was the pro at the Dunfield Club.

But “our” (meaning the “B” and later “A” league players I played squash with) Bible at the time was Geoff’s Book “Geoff Hunt on Squash“.  Typed summaries of his two Chapters “Match Play” and “Tempo and Temperament” could be found on the bulletin boards of nearly every club.  I wholeheartedly embraced the Australian “attritional” , fitness-based approach to squash – although now I realize a much wiser and healthier approach would have been to cultivate the current attacking Egyptian style.

These chapters, as well as being “tactical” were also “mental”.  Phrases such as “play hard from the start” and “never throw a game” reverberated through my head during tough matches.  Later as a very busy mental training consultant, I realized this list of key points or cues was actually a basic “focus Plan” for squash players.  At the time there were only a couple of actual sport psychology books, with the number only increasing dramatically in the late 1980’s.

I actually started coaching squash the summer after I played it for the first time.  My first job that featured coaching squash was Head Instructor at the 1978 JCC Summer Racquets Camp – we taught tennis, squash, badminton, racquetball and ping pong.  My current competitive interest still involves all of the racquet sports:  Racketlon!

I am pretty sure I could take Geoff in a ping pong match – but just to be sure I may wait another 10 years to challenge my hero on his birthday!

New Year – New Squash LTAD for Squash Coaches!

January 17, 2011

Melanie Jans posted a comment in December:

“Thanks Tim for all of the information you post. I read your site all the time for inspiration in my coaching.  I’m not sure if you are aware but Squash Canada now has an LTAD model called Beyond the Nick. It can be downloaded on the Squash Canada website at squash.ca. Here’s the link.

Melanie, now coaching at the Vancouver Lawn Tennis & Badminton Club, is one of my favorite squash coaches and players – she got her Bachelor’s of Physical & Health Education at my Alma Mater – the University of Toronto (one of the best P.E. programs in Canada).  Back in the late 80’s and early 90’s, Squash Canada actually had three mental training consultants working with their National Team Programs:  Stan Gendron did the senior men; Peter Bender did the junior and senior women; and I did the junior boys (e.g., Jonathon Power, Graham Ryding). So I only actually officially worked with Melanie once, replacing Peter at a training camp – but we have run into each other at tournaments over the years – and she always has thoughtful and insightful comments.

I had actually already downloaded a copy of the Squash Canada LTAD, but Melanie was the first (and only) squash coach I know that has mentioned it.  So you can download a copy at the link above – but here are a few key pages from the document.  The first, an overview of the FUNdamentals stage, is important as it reassures parents and coaches they do NOT have to pressure kids into squash at an early age (proper grip and cocked wrist are essential however as this is extremely difficult to change at a later age).

This second page is a good overview illustrating the necessity of adapting training at each stage of a child’s progression, in other words “kids are not simply miniature adults“, and so you cannot use the same training methods (a lesson for untrained volunteer parent coaches).

While the document is a good start, it is short on detailed specifics, so most squash coaches will still be asking the question “So what do I actually need to do today?”.  Squash Canada (and/or other organizations) need to take the next step, which is to produce annual, periodized example programs or templates, as Tennis Canada did back in 1992 – and of course to link Squash Coach Certification programs to each stage of the LTAD as I have explained in a previous post on the topic.

And of course, as usual with planning documents (since sport psychologists do not author them), the Squash Canada LTAD is a bit light on mental training content:)

If you are new to the LTAD-squash discussion here is a list of previous posts from Science of Coaching Squash:

LTAD Coaching Program Alignment

When to Start Kids in Squash

Keys to Developing Top Juniors

Rethinking Squash Coaching Education

An LTAD Squash Training Example

High School Coaches Need to Know about LTADs

Last-Minute Training with a Squash Scientist – Next Two Weeks in CT!

July 11, 2010

There are still a couple of spots open in both the junior and adult World Class Squash Camps being held at Wesleyan University (30 minutes from Bradley International near Hartford or New Haven train station) starting this Monday (July 12) for two weeks – I have arranged for a 20% discount for those who follow my blog – contact camp Director Shona Kerr directly at 1-860-685-2444 or skerr@wesleyan.edu.

I will be organizing and running the daily strength training and will also be doing a daily 10-minute mental session.  My main objective will be to introduce campers to the Core Performance training philosophy – all training exercises developed by rehab specialists and strength consultants:

  • During an intensive one-week camp a big emphasis on balancing out the many hours of on-court work with hip, back, core and complementary exercises (e.g., for the hamstrings) to prevent injury and ensure efficient movement during the camp.
  • A big emphasis on daily regeneration and recovery exercises – including foam rollers, myofascial release with tennis balls and use of stretching ropes for those key areas for a squash player – hamstrings, lower back, quads and hip flexors. Camp Director Shona Kerr  has purchased a foam roller for each of the campers – a great innovative move.
  • A daily 10-minute mini-injury prevention workout to instruct campers in how to help prevent the most common squash injuries: ACL tears, sore knees, shoulder bursitis, lower back, and sprained ankles.
  • Introduction to the Core Performance system (including a free 3-week trial to the www.coreperformance.com site), how to plan an entire year of training and instruction in some of the techniques the campers may be less familiar with like plyometrics or medicine ball training.
  • A daily mini-mental session based on my squash specific approach to mental training – here is a link to all of my mental posts.

The World Class Squash Camp has been designed this year by former English Junior Squad’s and Wesleyan Men’s & Women’s Coach Shona Kerr (who is on the U.S. Squash Coaching Advisory Panel) and is still a top player (having gone undefeated in two years of U.S. National Championships beating several U.S. Squad members) and features both North American homegrown #1s – Shahir Razik from Canada and Jullian Illingworth from the U.S.  This is a great chance for Canadian and U.S. kids to learn how to get ahead from those who have done it in our North American environment (not saying that training with top foreign players is not helpful – but just a very different look from most summer squash camps).

Session I: July 11-16 Novice/Intermediate/Advanced Juniors (Sun-Fri session) – $1350
Week with Shahier Razik and Shona Kerr

  • (2 places left in this session on 07Jun2010)

Session II: July 18-23 Novice/Intermediate/Advanced Juniors (Sun-Fri session) – $1350
Week with Julian Illingworth and Shona Kerr

  • (2 places left in this session on 07Jun2010)

Adult Weekend: July 16-18 (Fri evening-Sun afternoon) – $650
Weekend with Julian Illingworth, Shahier Razik and Shona Kerr.

  • (5 spots left in this session on 07Jun2010)

Train with a Squash Scientist this summer!

June 17, 2010

I have received several requests for squash science consultation over the last year.  One of the best ways to work with me (and Karim Darwish – last year’s world #1) this summer is at the upcoming Premier Performance Squash Camp which starts this Sunday, June 20th at Mercersburg (close reach of Washington and Baltimore). The camp runs for a week and you are invited to attend all or part of the camp.

I have designed the squash camp around the latest sport science and squash developments so that “campers” (both adult and juniors train together in the Egyptian style) will receive training that is unavailable elsewhere in the squash world:

  1. Tactics First or Games Approach for all sessions – everything learned will be in a useful, practical, tactical context – no boring lectures – every sessions starts with a different tactical game and we go from there!
  2. Physical training sessions based on the Core Performance model – designed to get you through the camp with an emphasis on recovery and regeneration as well as learning new ways to train.
  3. Daily, short 15-20 minute squash-specific mental training sessions – you cannot get these anywhere else.
  4. Both technical AND tactical video analysis on a daily basis – according to the latest research and essential component to accelerated sport learning (your strokes will be compared to Karim’s).
  5. Emphasis on learning the attacking, deceptive Egyptian game – they are at the top of the world – why not train and play the way the Egyptians  do?

Contact Sahel Anwar at 203-209-4880 or sahel@squashdesign.com and mention “Science of Coaching Squash” or “Tim Bacon” to receive a 25% discount on published camp rates.

USSRA Coaching Conference, Oct. 12-14, 2007

June 4, 2007

The USSRA will be holding a coaching conference at Yale University (New Haven, CT, USA) October 12-14, 2007.

WSF Conference Sept. 6-9, Calgary, Canada

June 4, 2007

The World Squash Federation is holding a coaching conference in Calgary, Alberta on September 6-9, 2007.  The conference is being hosted by Squash Canada.  More information can be obtained at this Squash Australia link.