So today I thought I would share some of the things I learned from the squash camp I ran this week. I normally work with a little more advanced and older kids so I learned a lot. This week I had beginner to intermediate level players ranging from 10-14 years old. I believe that all or at least most of the kids had a lot of fun and some even improved their squash game a little bit. Thankfully there were no injuries and seeing that the kids had fun I consider the week a success. I was lucky that I had a lot of help from some of the high school kids I work with. I think the younger kids really enjoyed getting on court with them and interacting with them.
Here is a list of some of the game I came up with that the kids enjoyed the most.
Squash baseball: I like baseball and I remember as a kid loving soccer baseball so this was a no brainer. We played with a sponge ball that was still able to be hit a long ways. For the racquet the kids used a 30 year old Unsquashable racquet and we alternated having to use forehand for some innings and backhands for others. There were 6 kids on a team and they would all bat each inning regardless of how many outs there were. The kids enjoyed this but had enough after about 4 innings.
500: this is a game I remember as a kid and I always liked. Sometimes we played it with the sponge ball and the old Unsquashable racquet while others we used frisbees. The person hitting the ball or throwing the frisbee says how much each toss is worth if caught. When someone gets to 500 they switch and are now the tosser. The frisbee toss is a good activity for working on their backhand swing, so I tried to incorporate it into a few activities this week.
Team relay races: I did this a number of ways. Sometimes they had to dribble a soccer ball or basketball through some pylons and then throw some frisbees to a teammate before returning through the pylons with the ball. I would time the team total and then the other team would try and beat them. I also had them go through the pylons bouncing a ball on a racquet. And other times we had relay races with various squash racquet and ball skills: such as balancing the ball on the racquet, bouncing it on the forehand side, or the backhand, or along the sidewall of the court. We also did one where they had to share the racquet and ball so they would have to pass it off to their teammate.
3 people alternating shots with 2 racquets: I've done this before with 1 racquet, but not all of the kids had enough ball control to hit a nice high shot and pass of their racquet to a teammate. They did seem to really enjoy this and had some funny and interesting rallies. The goal was to get the longest rally possible but they always had to hit the ball in the same order. I liked this game because they had to work together, it kept them thinking and on their toes!
Various squash ball games: on one of the days I put each of the kids into groups of 3 and they had to play one another a game with 5 different balls. One was a large Karakal ball with no dots, the other was a slightly smaller blue ball that was quite bouncy, a sponge ball, a green ball that was about equally as bouncy as a one dot, and a white ball that was challenging to see. They kids had fun playing and experimenting with the different types of balls.
Dodgeball: this is always a popular game. We played with the foam squash ball again. Didn't know it would come in handy so much time week. Everyone is at the front of the court and one person hits the foam ball at them from behind the short line. I had the kids still wear their eye protection just to be safe. If you got hit with the foam ball you were out until there was only 1 remaining.
Race to 5 points against the high school kids: I had 3 older and strong squash players help out. I arranged the kids into 3 group. One of each of the helpers were on a court and played against one team at a time. Each team sends 1 player in at a time to play a game to 5. If they won 1 or 2 points their teammate then starts the next game at that score until the get to 5. This also made it fun and challenging for the helpers. After the first team got to 5 we rotated them around so they each got to play the 3 different helpers.
It was a good learning experience for me. I think it was for the kids as well. Although I felt more like a PE instructor than a coach this week it was challenging and fun. I gave some of the kids that seemed eager a coupe of tips about their game, but it was a different role than I'm accustomed to. Overall I'm happy with how the week went. Most of the kids will probably not play squash at competitive level, but if they enjoy it and keep playing that is the important thing. And who knows, maybe a couple of them will make squash their main sport at some point. If I had even a small part to do with that then I feel like that is just a bonus from the week,