No Olympics for Squash 2016 – Bad News for Squash Scientists

August 14, 2009

The bad news is that squash did not make it into the 2016 Olympics.  Making it in would have meant a massive injection of funds into elite player development – and therefore into the sport science interventions and research behind such development.  Specifically, it would have meant more funding for squash-specific research of all kinds:  physiology, biomechanics, notational analysis, sports medicine, and sport psychology.  Currently, in terms of the number of scientific publications, squash lags well behind its sister sports of tennis, table tennis and badminton.

The at least not catastrophic news, is that there will still be a continuing significant need for squash sport scientists to interpret and apply general and racquet-sport specific research to assist the squash coach to develop their players.  I regularly monitor the major sport science journals for those findings that can be applied to squash.  This requires not only a pretty good knowledge of the different sport science disciplines, but also a good knowledge of the sport in which the research was conducted.

Karim Darwish & Squash Olympics

I have been lucky enough to have been a sport science consultant with three different Canadian National Team Programs (Squash, Tennis, Racquetball), each of which has won (or had) at least one world championship or Olympic Gold Medal during the period I worked with the program.  It would have been very exciting to have made it into the Olympics, but at the end of the day, it really is not going to affect the search for excellence by squash coaches and their players.


Do you have innovative squash coaching ideas? You’re worth 40K+ (sterling)!

March 8, 2009

Fuelled by fear of not performing well at the 2012 London Olympics, the UK is absolutely throwing their Sport Lottery money at their Sport Science and Coaching systems and organizations.  Measured by the number and variety of jobs, the UK is starting to make the Soviet and East German sport system of the 70’s and 80’s look like a  small Mickey Mouse operation. If you are a Sport Science or Physical Education recent graduate there is only one place in the world to be right now – Great Britain.

Take a look at this advert from the UK Sport Job listing – being paid to come up with new ideas?

head-of-innovation

If you go the the Jobs page on this blog, you will  see from the first four links that I have been able to track Sport Science and Coaching employment opportunities in the UK for the last few years. Separate jobs for Talent Identification, Performance or Notational Analysts, Biomechanists, Strength & Conditioning Coaches, Regional coaching Coordinators, Nutritionists, Lifestyle Consultants – the list goes on. What can we learn from the astounding number and variety of sport-related jobs? Read the rest of this entry »


So who did win the 2008 Olympics? Depends…

August 29, 2008

It depends who you ask!  You can see for yourself – we asked Spain, Switzerland, Britain, Canada, Cuba and the U.S.A.:

Application for Squash Coaches

This will be my last U.S.A. bashing for a while, the point of this post being that American society in general, and also sport – government, the NCAA, colleges, administrators – are very Amerocentric and spend less time than other countries (except perhaps the U.K. in squash) looking outwards at other ways of doing things.  This actually is not true of the Americans  I know personally, but appears to be a characteristic of the culture in general.  Bigger and more are not necessarily better as we have learned on a world-wide scale in the last 20 years.  Should squash become a full-fledged NCAA sport?  Should the College Squash Association forge closer ties with U.S. Squash.  These are questions which require critical reflection, not a knee jerk, jump on the bandwagon response.


U.S. Sport System Fails at Olympics: Lessons for Squash Coaches & Administrators

August 23, 2008

In a previous post I highlighted the importance of not simply copying the coaching and training of “winners” or #1 ranked teams or athletes, but instead advocated a more scientific and logic-based approach to coaching and training our athletes. As the 2008 Beijing Olympics draw to a close, we can look at the current data that support this approach. Although squash is not an Olympic sport (on the short list for 2016), the conclusions of this analysis can have implications for squash.

Olympic Medal Count - Aug. 23, 2008

Olympic Medal Count - Aug. 23, 2008

Looking at graphs of the Olympic medal count and economic data, the picture seems clear – a “level playing field” does not in fact exist at the Olympics – the richer the country, the better it will do. Better food, better facilities, more money for athletes – these things have at the same time a lot to do with, and very little to do with actually being better at sport. If we want to get better at a sport, whom should we emulate – the team that ends up in first place, or the teams that perform much better than they should?

Although the U.S. leads the overall Olympic medal count, when we examine economic data such as GNP and GDP we see that they should in fact be well ahead of all other competitors, since there appears to be a clear and direct relationship between economic resources and number of medals won at the Olympics.

World Ranking Gross National Product (GNP) 2005

World Ranking Gross National Product (GNP) 2005

To examine this relationship, I used Excel to perform a correlation analysis on the current medal count and the country’s 2007 GDP (similar to the 2005 GNP in the Table above), and got a correlation coefficient of .43, which considering the complexity of the variables involved, suggests a meaningful relationship. Although the overall data support the economic wealth-Olympic success hypothesis, examination of the raw data can lead to some interesting directions.

Read the rest of this entry »