Having worn the Asics Blast and Blade models for a number of years, I was keen to try their newest shoe, the Fastball. I initially noticed a shape and composition similar to older versions of the Blade, which was a very light and low-cut shoe. The Fastball did seem more cushioned and reinforced to protect the ankles and provide lateral support. The added stability addressed the most common criticism of the Blade, while maintaining the overall light and flexible theme. I felt comfortable in the Fastball right away, and the "breaking in" phase was nonexistent; even the slips sometimes associated with brand new shoes weren't an issue. Similar to other Asics models, the fit is ideal for a narrower foot.
Having restrained my urge to pen a review of the IOC's decision to exclude squash from the Olympics (for the third consecutive time), I thought now would be an appropriate time for a preview of the new season. My 2013/14 campaign begins in just a few days with the $15k Nash Cup in London, ON. This tournament is held in high regard by PSA players for its great enthusiasm and hospitality. Big crowds populate the seats from day 1, players are given free meals at the club, and the members seem genuinely excited to have a Tour event in their own backyard. I am ranked as #5 qualifier, so progressing to the main draw would classify as a success.
The title of this post isn't an open invitation to vent your frustrations of the day, rather an important question about your thought process on court. This is an exercise in metacognition; thinking about your thinking.
I've discussed the concepts of deliberate practice and "10000 hours" in earlier posts, and those themes tie in well here. To review, several sports science/psychology studies have shown that it takes a minimum of 10000 hours of deliberate practice to truly master a sport (for reference, I am at about 8000 hours...and nowhere near a master).
I recently returned from a three-event tour of South America (Argentina, Paraguay and Brazil). I was quite happily into the main draw of all three without having to qualify, and in fact was set to play two qualifiers in Argentina and Brazil, respectively. This represented a good opportunity to win some matches and tack on precious ranking points.
Having learned the sport in a relatively "rural" squash area, and now living in the biggest hotbed for junior squash in Canada, the topic of junior development is very interesting to me. I often think about the best ways to groom young players into stars, and try to figure out what key elements make or break a junior's development. Hopefully there are some juniors or parents of juniors reading this!
I recently read a book entitled "Talent is Overrated" by Geoff Colvin. Clearly this is an attention-grabbing headline, and flies in the face of many people's beliefs about world-class performers in all fields. The notion of the book is that natural talent/gifts don't necessarily exist. Rather, greatness is a product of many factors conspiring to provide an opportunity for someone who is willing to dedicate almost their whole life to this task. The book goes to great lengths to dispel the myth that greats such as Mozart and Tiger Woods were simply gifted in music and golf respectively. The author explains that to become world-class, a person needs to complete a minimum of 10 000 hours of deliberate practice at their chosen activity (more on this number later). Even "child prodigies" like the two mentioned above had put in far more than 10 000 hours of study and practice before the age of 16; they weren't simply better than the rest by nature.
I recently played two tournaments near Canada's west coast, in Alberta. The first tournament was a 10k PSA event in downtown Calgary at the lovely Bankers Hall Club. I wasn't meant to be in the event, but due to a last minute withdrawal I was given a spot in the main draw.
I recently switched to the Harrow Spark after several years using the Black Knight Magnum Corona. The primary difference between these racquets is the lightness of the Spark. The Corona is, in my opinion, a fairly standard racquet in terms of weight and balance. The head is almost completely circular while the Spark is more oblong.
Now into the tenth month of the year, squash season is once again upon us. Leagues are starting up again and ever-present weekend tournaments have begun to dot the calendar. In this post, I thought it would be relevant to discuss some training methods commonly used by pros but often avoided by club players (due to boredom, time constraints, or difficulty). I will cover some on court methods as well as some ideas for off court training to improve your physical side.
The National Squash Academy Open was held last week and it would be my first tournament in nearly two months. I had put in a good, consistent summer of training and was very anxious to finally get on court and see what improvements had been made. It was a nice change to be feeling 100% physically and take some rest days before the match, as summer training is very high volume and taxing on the body; you're never quite fully recovered from your last session before you start a new one.