Developing “Thinking” Squash Players

June 18, 2007

Squash is one of the most “open” sports, a sport in which players must effectively read, react, and make decisions in a constantly changing environment.

Why then do most coaches run “closed” training sessions where no decisions are necessary?

This question is not devoid of cultural influence where British and Australian players historically have tried to grind their opponents down in a war of attrition, while Egyptian and Pakistani players value skillful touch shots, trickery and deception.

There is a pedagogy designed to develop smart, thinking squash players. It involves the simple principle of starting every training session with a tactical problem or context, and ensuring that players must make decisions during practice and play. This does not mean that players should not work on developing excellent technique – only that technical work must be couched in a tactical framework.

I have been using this approach in my squash coaching since being introduced to this pedagogy in a tennis coaching workshop run by Louis Cayer in 1987 – the most user-friendly version of this approach can be found at a tennis coaching site run by Wayne Elderton. The rest of the world has recently been made aware of this approach under the name of Teaching Games for Understanding (TGfU), Games Approach or Decision-Training (DT). Bob Callahan, Gail Ramsay and I developed “System 3” and used it to run Princeton Squash Camps in the 1990’s.

.Jonathon Power & John White