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.
Here is a video example of a coaching session using the Games Approach method to teach deception in the front court. Notice the following in comparison to a “usual” technique-based coaching session:
- Start with a game to assess the squash player before any coaching takes place. This assures a minimum of talking (boring) and an active start to the lesson with competition (everyone loves competition!).
- Use questioning to help the student figure out for themselves what they need to work on – if the squash coach tells them outright, the student will never develop the ability to think for themselves. Notice in the video that Chris’ (the student) awareness of what is actually happening in terms of the results of his shots is not that great despite his relatively high standard (sorry Chris!)
- After identifying an area to work on, squash coaches can use more conventional drilling to improve the weakness. If possible, make the drilling game-like by including movement to the ball and also including the recovery and follow-up shot (in this case the straight volley into the open court created by the drop to the front). Also if possible, set a standard of quality (seen in the drop practice scenario in this: if the opponent can lob over the player after the drop has been played) that provides the player with automatic feedback (no coach feedback required).
- Missing from the video is finishing with another 5-point game to see if the student has actually improved. Also for the sake of keeping things simple, we have not delved into a micro-analysis of Chris swing, use of wrist and hold, etc.
In this example, three players (including the coach) were involved. Obviously the game could also be played with two players to make it even more game-like. Thanks to Shona Kerr for helping out fresh off her knee surgery!