I wanted to start off today explaining how I write my blogs. Often my ideas come from who I've been working with recently, while others (such as summer training) are just written at an appropriate time of the season. I originally started this blog to reach the athletes I work with and supply them with some extra tools if they want to find out how else they can improve. I've received a lot of positive feedback from people I don't coach and I'm happy that I've been able to reach a wider audience.
When I was young I would do anything to get better at squash, and I thought more was better so I'd spend most my waking hours at the squash club. I would keep a journal and keep track of what I did each day and how many hours I spent hitting balls. I didn't like asking for help and still don't. But it's a long tough road if you try and find out all by yourself (e.g., by trial and error).
I'd also like to say that often I write a post and publish it without editing it. Sometimes I'll have a new thought or drill and go back and add little bits here and there later in the day. Sometimes when I go back to add stuff in I end up editing the whole post. So you may notice some changes if you go back and reread a previous post. They are all evolving articles and hopefully as I continue learning I will continue to reach a wider audience and be of greater assistance to you. I know many of you would like to see some pictures and videos and this is something I will think about when I get a new phone (I still have an old iPhone 3gs and the battery dies 3 or 4 times per day). I know this tools would help with some of my explanations and drills.
Lastly, I'd like to put out a request, if you have a topic you want my opinion on let me know. Or if you have a different opinion than mine feel free to say so. I am not always right and am happy to rethink my opinions and philosophies.
I would like to give some final advice for those young coaches out there. These are different points than I posted in 'Top 10 Things I've Learned About Coaching.' This list is focused about the professionalism and development of a young coaches career. Something I feel is missing from coaching courses.
Here is my professional development list for young coaches:
1) You may not enjoy having to take coaching clinics and complete the certification process, but just do it. You will always learn something.
2) Have set days off (1 or 2 a week in the winter and 2 for sure in the summer). I keep a flexible schedule for my athletes, especially the kids I work with as they are so busy. But you need to plan days off and set times where you are unavailable. This will keep you fresh and give your body a needed rest.
3) If you're on court a lot, you can't train as much or the same as you did when you played. I did this and ended up getting injured. To be the best coach you can be you have to make sacrifices in your own game.
4) If you do play competitively still, be sure to walk the walk. You are a role model to your athletes and you are responsible for setting a good example on court. If you can't do this, than maybe you shouldn't be playing competitively anymore.
5) If you can, find a place to coach alongside a more experience coach. This is probably the best advice I can give you.
6) In your lessons you don't need to run as much as they are. I thought I was being a lazy coach if my athlete did all the running, but when you have a lot of lessons you need to manage your energy and you can only do so many lunges and sprints on a daily basis.
7) Don't coach just because you are a good player. If you don't enjoy it your athletes won't either.
8) You need to have good energy while you're coaching. I find fresh air during the day and having lots of small snacks helps keep my energy level up.
9) Finding a position with health coverage and a decent salary is necessary for your longevity in this field. The last thing you want to have to do when your sick or injured is to continue working to pay the bills. If your income is mainly based on lessons and clinics you will not be able to miss much time at work.
10) Attempt to set up lessons back to back so you stay warm. Also set a limit to how many lessons you will do in a day. This creates demand for you and keeps your body fresh.
Not on the list, but just a personal preference. If you can develop and motivate some good juniors to me it is the best part of the job. They are the future of our game and it is a great gift to be able to help shape their lives both on and off the court. So I highly recommend investing your time and energy into building a junior programme.
So that's it. A bit of an all around post today. Some points for squash players and a list for young coaches. If I missed something let me know...because I still consider myself a young coach!