Sunday, November 9, 2014

2014 Ivy Scrimmages

Today I'm on my way back from Yale where I brought 4 kids to watch the Ivy League Scrimmages. I'm not going to talk about the results, you can go to the CSA website for that. Instead I'm going to discuss a few other aspects of the college squash game.

College squash at times reminds me of other American collegiate sports. Some players get pretty intense, heated, fiery and are short tempered. There is a lot of pressure playing for a team and a school that has recruited you. At least that's how it appears to some of the players. There are a few, and very few that looked like they were having fun and enjoying their squash.

No doubt that squash is a good release from all the hard studying and exams the players do during the school year. I know that squash greatly helped me get through university. I trained pretty hard and too my squash pretty serious. Even though I was a pretty calm character once in a while you would play someone that got under your skin and it was tough not to let it get to you. I don't know if that was what they wanted or if that was just how they were. Anyways, I saw some of that this weekend and it brought back some memories.

Of course refereeing a teammate is always an issue and there were some iffy calls. It's difficult to ref 2 fiery players that are not clearing well and making a scene, let alone if one of them is your teammate. Besides this problem I saw a few others. More than a few times I saw kids fist pump and yell directly at their opponent. This is something I wouldn't tolerate if I was a college coach. Sometimes it was completely over the top. A few players did this after almost every rally. While their teammates are cheering after every single point. Even after someone makes a poor mistake early in the rally it doesn't affect the cheering.

It's great to have some emotion in the sport and to have a crowd involved, but there is a fine line in squash. If they are doing it it seems easier to justify doing this right back to the opposition. Thankfully we don't see anything like this on Squash TV. This is only the College Squash preseason and I can only imagine what may happen at the team finals.

Some parents can be just as intense and I couldn't help but notice a few that were living and dying with each point. I think it becomes more than a game and there is too much pressure. Especially for the men there is a lot of testosterone out there. If I was coaching a college team I would do some yoga and relaxation and meditation practices. I think to play your best squash you have to have control of your emotions. Also for the longevity of your playing career I think people will play more squash and for later into their life if they truly enjoy the experience.

I've always said that squash can open a lot of doors and this is true at the college squash level. But if that is making someone not enjoy squash and putting pressure on them you have to ask if it's really worth it?

My last point from the weekend is about the style of squash. Besides a handful of players the game was still up and down the wall, hit it hard, avoid mistakes and grind it out. You can tell which players are American. They have some great players, but you can tell their styles are all similar. Low risk and they are normally quite physically strong and fit. They will dive, run into their opponent and do anything it takes for the win. Even with all of this athleticism they are too predictable and get toured against the international players.

I noticed that many people overhit the ball and hit the ball relatively tight on the backhand side but either don't volley (or do much with it), or they can't find the depth to put any pressure on their opponent in the backhand back corner. I should say there were a couple of Americans who did impress me though, this is just a general statement. It will be interesting to see how the college game change over the years as the recruiting continues to become more international.

Do you have fun playing squash? Do you play better when you are intense? Do you try and hide your emotions when you play? Do you like your crowd being loud and boisterous or quiet or somewhere in beteween?

That's it for today. Tomorrow is another travel day so it may be a couple of more days before my next post. For my next post I want to talk about 'focusing on the positive.' I find that most of us (yes, me included!) are too quick to point out our errors and what we need to improve. We don't give ourselves any slack and and success or strengths we have are overshadowed by our losses and deficiencies.

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