Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Is Squash Dying A Slow Inevitable Death?

It's hard to believe it's been over 3 months since my last blog post. I've still been quite active on the video side of Serious Squash on other platforms, but I do feel I need to get back to the blog more frequently in 2020. I'm going to start this trend by talking about the current state of squash.

As someone who has been a part of squash for 3 decades I have seen a lot of improvements and also some worrying signs for squash. The job the PSA does now filming the top events and interviewing the players is world class and has brought our sport forward by a substantial amount. When I was young we had a few expensive vhs tapes that we had to order and we'd watch these over and over. This was the only way you were able to watch professional squash back then.

The style of squash is something that has also improved greatly. Back in the 80's and 90's the racquets were heavy, the scoring promoted fitness and the higher tins meant the rallies and matches were generally long and boring; it was a battle of attrition basically. This began to change at least from our vhs player with players such as Rodney Martin and Jonathon Power. Chris Dittmar was also a favourite who just couldn't seem to crack the steady Jansher Khan (pictured below).

As squash players become more explosive, equipment improved, the tin was lowered and the scoring was changed, attacking squash began to become a fixture in the game. All professional sports have spent a lot of their resources recently to speed up play to keep viewers tuned in and interested. This is something squash has done quite well in my opinion. That being said squash gets little attention on sports news shows or on tv. Although I haven't had cable in about 8 years now, squash is failing to reach the mainstream. Would things improve if it got into the Olympics? Probably a little, but I don't think by a lot. There are lots of sports that don't get much airtime during the Olympics and which people don't ever consider playing anyways.

Squash is possibly the toughest sport on the body. To play at a high level you not only have to maintain an insanely high fitness level, but you also need to be healthy and have good mobility. For someone who is 38 now I know the challenges of this. I can only imagine how difficult it is for the weekend warriors. People who sit around staring at a computer or their phone all week now have to exert themselves to the max. Once injuries come into play the future of that squash player is in jeopardy. This is where hardball doubles is an excellent solution and having a social network at a club can keep squash members paying their membership dues even if they are not so active on the courts anymore.

I feel like every week or so I go on Facebook and see some story about a court or squash club closing its doors. Are the numbers of people playing really declining? Should we be worried about the future of our sport? Should I be worried about my chosen career path? If I had to answer those honestly, I would have to say, yes most definitely.

Let's think about the simple math for a second. A squash court and club takes up a lot of space. Only 2 players usually book a court that could fit 20+ into a fitness class. Most courts are only booked from 5pm-8pm. There is the occasional lunch game and some clubs will have some activity on the weekends. This is not an effective business model and owning a squash club seems like one of the worst investments you could make. And I'm saying this from a passionate and optimistic squash perspective.

Is having a successful squash club not possible anymore? It certainly is, but it takes a lot of work and a major commitment from both the coach (or coaches) and the owners or the of directors. For some people they want to just exercise and have fun within their small group of friends. Others like receiving coaching and meeting new people to play with at their level. If the average squash membership in Canada (excluding country clubs) is around $80/$120 month. How much on top of that do the members want to spend on extra things like tournaments, pro shop items, coaching, etc? People who go to yoga, spin or some other class will pay around $15/$25 for a class. It's clearly a cheaper (although some would argue less fun or skilled way to exercise), but there are a pile of these types of classes available all over. Cheaper and more convenient and injures are rarely an issue for this types of low impact classes.

Those of us that really enjoy competing know that squash can take over our life. It's what we think about and are willing to spend above and beyond what is reasonable to improve. Very few of us are going to play professionally and make a living at it, yet still there is a squash core that has an addiction to learning and becoming the best they can be. Squash to me also is a measuring stick for how fit I am and it helps me live a healthier lifestyle than if I was say a golf coach where fitness was not so vital to your ability to coach or play.

Many people have told me how pickleball is the fastest growing racquet sport. Most racquet sport players are older. We've spent 1000's of hours pushing ourselves to the limits and still not quite getting the results we've envisioned. There's also pressure in the expectations and the results we place on ourselves every time we step on court. I've met very few good losers at any level. When we switch to a different sport which we are somewhat competent in we can relax more and enjoy the sport for what it is. There isn't a hierarchy we have to mold into and obviously injuries or mobility doesn't play as much of a factor in pickleball. I also have to say any new sport will be faster growing than a more deeply rooted sport. So maybe we don't need to be worry too much about people switching to pickleball, but perhaps about the lack of new people trying and getting hooked on squash.

So what do I see is the future of squash? Is there a future for squash? I feel like it's becoming more privileged again. Only fancy country clubs and schools will be able to afford to not make money on their squash programs. I do believe an excellent coach can create a sustained successful program at a given club, but there are not enough of these types off coaches that are willing to do the work for what many clubs are willing to pay. I've never made above the median national income in Canada and I certainly don't now in Turks and Caicos either. Eventually coaches have families or want to stop paying rent and many will either take a cushy fancy job or flock to the U.S. so they can make ends meat.

The U.S. was so brutal at squash when I was young. Nowadays the U.S. is where the top paying coaching careers are. U.S. Squash is what's keeping squash alive in my opinion. The U.S. has the resources and finance their sports far greater than most countries. They send huge junior teams to international events and the College Squash Association (a match at Yale pictured below) is basically the PSA minor league system. School squash is not only the future of squash, it is squash. Most clubs aren't producing enough juniors to keep their courts booked and the bills all paid. This is why I would love to see more schools in Canada build courts and hire squash coaches. Not that many years ago there used to be a battle of the border where Ontario juniors would take on the US national team and team Ontario was stronger. Eventually they caught up and now they are beating us even when we send our top national juniors.

So what is the future of squash clubs? I believe they will continually struggle and they will soon be nearly as extinct as the dinosaur. That being said I have seen some successful squash clubs and what they have done mostly well is retained top coaches who have a passion for coaching and they also have a huge social network within their club. If your squash club feels like a home away from home it has hope; as long as there are enough people that feel the same. As most Canadians will know, Goodlife chose to shut down their squash courts last year. I think there's 1 or 2 still fighting to keep their doors open. But it's a fact that almost all of us would rather operate a successful business than a struggling one. Unless your club is run or owned by a seriously crazy squash enthusiast the future growth and success of that club must be a concern.

I also think squash clubs need to be creative and use social media better. There are very few clubs, programs or coaches that have any social media presence. There also needs to have perks that keep members coming back. Maybe having a bar, a ping pong table, a badminton court, a decent gym, a sauna, etc. can all make memberships more appealing. But one of the most challenging things is getting a non squash player into the doors and having them sign up for a membership and decide to pay for lessons to learn how to play properly. A lot of us started playing because someone helped us get into it and got on court with us when we couldn't keep a rally going.

One of the clubs I grew up playing at (Ajax) used to be busy and had a lot of top players, but now it's a ghost town. Pine Valley had the largest house league in Toronto and eventually was bought out and closed. The Victoria Squash Club is another one where one of the best coaches in the country couldn't keep the doors open. There's plenty of other examples all over the world. How can we all do our part to keep squash alive? Is it dying a slow inevitable death? I haven't given up hope yet so wherever I'm coaching I'll keep trying to do my best at growing the game 1 person at a time and hopefully I'll keep some of you around the world motivated and interested in squash through this blog and from my more regular posts on Youtube, Facebook and Instagram. I also believe that a lot of coaches (me included at times) focus so much on the top juniors or players that we don't put enough time in growing the quantity of people picking up a racquet and keeping them engaged.

Do you have some other ideas on how we can improve our sport? Should we go permanently to 2 out 3? Should we try RAM scoring? I mean really, if Rmay couldn't save our sport who can? Should we lower the tin even more? Should we change the bounce of the ball? How can squash get more attention on sports networks? How can we get more schools to get their kids to a squash club to try it out?

Do we need to promote crazier and fun types of rallies? It's boring watching a low scoring hockey, basketball or baseball or soccer game. How can we make squash more explosive and entertaining for fans? I'm all about good sportsmanship, but do we need a new explicative Jonthon Power? What if we took away lets? What if we made squash more physical? Should we promote the audience to be vocal during a point? Should we do more video replays? Should we have timeouts? Does the PSA need to do a better job showcasing their players outside of the rectangle? Do government bodies need to do a better job on promoting memberships and tournament participation? Do we just need to get the Olympics nod? We have to try something because what we are doing for the most part isn't working.

If you want more Serious Squash:
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Monday, September 9, 2019

Serious Squash Summer Updates

As I prepare to head back to Turks and Caicos this weekend I thought an update on all things Serious Squash was long overdue. I've been back in Canada for 6 weeks and a lot has transpired. Let me walk you through it.

Squash Shots
I've finally got a logo and intro video produced for Squash Shots. Here they are:

If you'd like to check out what Squash Shots is all about you can do so at Patreon.com/SeriousSquash
You can register for as little as $3/month and you will receive an exclusive coaching video every Monday. You can also opt out at anytime. 

Serious Squash Custom Racquet 
I finally received my Custom Serious Squash Racquets from Harrow! I've been selling them in person and also online at SeriousSquashShop.com. Here's a pic

2019 Turks and Caicos Squash Open
I've got a lot organized for the upcoming Turks and Caicos event (see below for tournament poster). It's limited to just 32 players as we only have 2 courts. It's running from October 24 - 26. There are only 13 spots left as I write this. If you'd like to register you can do so in the Serious Squash Shop. Please email me at squash@gracewaysports.com if you would like information about local resort discounts. All participants will also receive a pair of Serious Squash/Turks and Caicos flip-flops (see below). If you are unable to participate you can purchase a pair of these beauties in the Serious Squash Shop.

Amazon Influencer
A lot of people are always asking what products I use for squash and training so I've decided to create an Amazon Influencer page. This page I've titled as 'Everything Squash' and only includes products that I currently or have previously used and recommend. You can check out the page at https://www.amazon.ca/shop/serioussquash

I'm also running an Airbnb in Turks and Caicos. If you want to take a squash holiday in Turks and Caicos this season consider staying at my place. Here's the Airbnb link https://abnb.me/DPxThVTgPZ?fbclid=IwAR0t4avctNA2MPziO-WlHA7j17Q3yPfhcO1CCAkPA5yo3-8x5dIcx_AJCJ8

You can see it has been a pretty busy summer! Back to the island this weekend. Be sure to follow Serious Squash on Facebook, Instagram and Youtube for the most regular updates! 

Thursday, August 8, 2019

Train And Stay With Serious Squash In Turks and Caicos

Have you ever wanted to travel to a beautiful island for some world class squash coaching? Now you can come train with me at the Graceway Sports Centre in Turks and Caicos on Providenciales. Graceway has 2 squash courts, a basketball court, tennis courts, a full gym, a crossfit style area and loads of various group exercise classes.

I know Turks and Caicos is expensive. The prices are in USD and the resorts are beautiful, but expensive. If your budget is tight I may be able to help. I'm currently renting a house not far from the club, which I am also subletting on Airbnb as I have somewhere else to stay when the entire house is rented out. I am also open to renting out a room or 2 to friends, families or those wanting to come down and train with me for a specified period of time.

The house is 3 bedrooms and 2 baths right on the canal. Renting out 1 room is $150/night or $900/week. If you want to stay in a small group I could rent out the 2 rooms for $200/night or $1,200/week or of course you are welcome to rent out the entire house! This is much more affordable than hotels and resorts on the island, plus you get to pick my brains about your squash game at your leisure!

Here's the link to the house if you'd like to see more information or make a reservation: https://www.airbnb.ca/rooms/37522746?s=67&shared_item_type=1&virality_entry_point=1&sharer_id=17132121

Here are my coaching rates (member rates listed which is $65 for a 1 month membership):
45 Minute Adult Private Lesson - $60 or 10 for $540.
45 Minute Junior Private Lesson - $50 or 10 for $450.
* please note that if you don't join the club the lessons costs are a bit higher and you would have to pay a $15 drop in fee per day. 

I'd be happy to build a custom squash training package if you'd like to have longer daily training sessions. 

Don't forget the 2019 Turks and Caicos Squash Open is fast approaching. It's from October 24th-26th and is also going to have a fundraiser for our national junior team. Entries are limited to 32 players and so far we are almost half full. 

Have a fun and productive holiday on one of the most beautiful islands in the world! 
Chris Hanebury - info@SeriousSquash.com

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

2019 Turks and Caicos Squash Open

Save the date! October 24th - 26th will be the first ever Turks and Caicos Open! Since we only have 2 courts the event will be limited to 32 participants. There will be a mens, ladies as well as a junior division. Of course Serious Squash will be a sponsor along with the local brewery, Turks Head, Harrow and Graceway IGA.

During the tournament there will plenty of drinks and food provided as well as some fun, unique prizes. Participants are guaranteed 3 matches. Matches on Thursday and Friday will start around 4pm and Saturday we will finish with a local bbq or dinner party.

During the event we will also be doing a raffle and/or a silent auction to raise money for our National Junior Squash Team! I am planning to take our team to the 2020 Caribbean Junior Squash Championships. If you have an item you'd like to donate for this please reach out to me.

Registration opens August 15th. You can register online at https://serioussquashshop.com/collections/turks-and-caicos-tournament-entry-fee There will likely be only 1 junior division, 1 mens division and 1 ladies division since this a small event.

It's been a busy summer for Serious Squash! Have you heard about the new Serious Squash Signature Frame? That's right! Serious Squash now has it's own squash racquet! It's a Harrow Vapor model and it rocks a retro music theme. It's now in stock and available to order at SeriousSquashShop.com

Squash Shots episode 11 was posted yesterday. If you'd like to subscribe or read more about what Squash Shots is you can do so at Patreon.com/SeriousSquash

Good luck to all the Canadians participating in the World Juniors in Malaysia!

Friday, July 26, 2019

Serious Squash Signature Racquet Is Now IN STOCK!

The long anticipated Serious Squash Signature Racquet is now here! It's a retro music themed style frame on the ever popular Harrow Vapor. This is one of the most popular frames by Harrow of all time, but none are so uniquely decorated. It's 140 grams and the Harrow racquets have a unique and comfortable rectangle shaped grip. Here are some pics of the new Serious Squash Signature Frame!

(guitar not included)

Like what you see? You can order one at SeriousSquashShop.com and if you're a member of Squash Shots you can get one for 10% off!

Monday, June 24, 2019

Off Court Off-Season Summer Training

Off court off-season summer training has changed a lot over the years. When I was young a lot of people didn't even play over the summer, but eventually the competitive nature to get ahead in the game led to the need to train pretty much year round.

I always enjoyed having more time to focus on training off court during this time of year. Over a 3 month window you can make a significant impact in a specific area of your training. A lot of people think they need to be fitter so they take up running or cycling. If that is an area that is holding you back that makes sense. But I believe that strength training for most squash players is what we should be focusing on. 

Professional squash players are more stronger and better overall athletes than they used to be. They aren't built like marathon runners anymore as the game is far more explosive. I know when I was younger I could do all the endurance training I wanted, but I should have done more to get on the ball faster and in a more stable position. As you get stronger you can also improve the pace you can generate and the distance you can stay away from the ball which makes the court play smaller. Additionally strength training can help you avoid injuries. So much of what should you do?

In season I recommend 2 strength sessions per week. Obviously they may not be as encompassing as off season sessions, but it's important that athletes are not only maintaining their strength gains over the summer, but that they are increasing it during the season. A week with a competition I would probably only have 1 session early in the week. During the summer I'd like to see 3-4 strength sessions per week. Of course this depends what else you're doing and how hard you're pushing yourself. 

So what type of strength training is not good for squash players? Well you don't want to be too big like a body builder obviously. You need to maintain proper mobility without adding too much mass to carry around on the court. So when you are doing reps you would want to do 5-15 reps of most exercises. Those wanting to get a lot bigger you are looking at higher weight and lower reps. I also personally enjoy doing exercises that use a multitude of joints, so it's more geared towards core and overall body strength gains. Bicep curls are really not going to help your squash game and that's what I see most men doing in the gym.  

I remember being told when I was younger that if I didn't have a lot of time at the gym and I could only do 3 exercise I should do benchpress, deadlifts and squats. I believe this is still good wisdom. Obviously you can add in some other exercises too. Over the past couple of years I've done a lot of work with kettlebells. Swings, getups, carries, deadlifts, squats, split squats, etc can all be done with kettlebells. 

My trainer back in Canada gave me some tips when I was moving away and said to always try and include the following types of exercises: hinge exercises (like a squat or deadlift), explosiveness (which is something that cannot be done slowly), push/pull exercises and carries. The goal is to include at least one of each of those in each of my sessions. My trainer also said I should be focused mostly on the posterior chain, so doing deadlifts and swings. He said most people focus too much on squats and improving quadriceps strength and omit the hamstrings. So this summer I've been doing 2 posterior sessions per week and 1 squat session. You can obviously do squats and deadlifts in the same session if you like too. Basically all of these exercises are also keeping your core engaged and will vastly improve your core strength. 

So during the summer you could do strength sessions every second day and between those you could be on court or doing some cardio. If you're pushing yourself hard in your strength sessions you are likely getting some cardio from this too. I always tried to keep on court at least once per week in the summer, possibly twice. It was always a good time to solo hit as well because you can do this later after your strength workouts. It's also when the courts are generally quieter so it's easier to get an hour to solo hit. 

Do you write out your summer training? Or do you have a weekly routine? I definitely think this is a good time to set some goals and to understand why you're doing what you're doing. Some of my best seasons were set up from a good base of summer training that included hill sprints once or twice per week and 2-3 strength sessions and 1-2 on court sessions. The trick is how to keep some of that training going once the season begins. The question will be if your gains are sufficient enough that you only to sustain them or if you still want to see more improvement. If you're only looking to sustain you can cut back to once per week when the season hits. 
Last point is that I highly recommend working with a trainer or signing up for some strength group classes. Knowing how to do everything safely and correctly is very important. They can also push you harder than you can normally push yourself. If you're serious about your training this is a good investment. I know they are more expensive than squash coaches, but it's a critical part of the sport now. It's a tool I wish I had available to Mme when I was a junior. 

Hopefully this gives you an insight into some of the things I've learned over the years from my own training. If you want specifics it's best to get it straight from the horses mouth (a good trainer). Maybe now you'll see the importance of what it is. Or will you try and mimic Paul Coll and try out Crossfit? It's not for everyone and you already need a good strength athletic base to perform some of those exercises properly and safely. 

Okay that's it for today. Other Serious Squash updates: 
Serious Squash Signature Harrow Racquet is coming out this summer! You can check it out and place a preorder at SeriousSquashShop.com
Squash Shots is a new coaching platform where you receive weekly exclusive coaching videos from me. A subscription starts as low as $3/month and I've just posted episode 6 today. If you'd like to learn more you can do so at Patreon.com/SeriousSquash Members also get free downloads of previous released Serious Squash films and a discount on the new Serious Squash racquet. Alright time to get to my gym session! 

Friday, June 7, 2019

What Squash Shots Is All About

It's been a busy first month in Turks and Caicos. As most of you know, I've started a membership based weekly coaching video platform on Patreon. Want to see what Squash Shots is all about? I put together a short clip on some of the videos I've filmed so far. Here it is:

If you'd like to subscribe you can do so at Patreon.com/SeriousSquash

Also, the new Serious Squash Signature Harrow frame will be released soon! Preorders have already begun. This one of a kind music inspired racquet will definitely get lots of attention around your club. The Vapor is also a great model. If you'd like to grab one you can do so at SeriousSquashShop.com

Stay tuned for another update on life in Turks and Caicos...coming soon!

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

An In-Depth Look at Squash Shots

Squash Shots is in just its second week, but there’s been lots of progress made. I’ve set up a page on Patreon that allows people to subscribe to Squash Shots and they will receive weekly exclusive coaching videos. I will cover all areas of squash, from tactics, technique, best practices, the mental game, movement, on and off court fitness, solo drills and more.

Upcoming episodes include forehand technique, figure 8 Volleys, lunging exercises, backhand volleys nicks and more. Here’s a short clip on some of the footage I’ve collected so far:

Memberships start at just $3/month and there is no length of term commitment. If you decide to join a tier of $5+/month you can also submit requests for future video topics. Below is a short glimpse into an upcoming episode on Figure 8 Volleys.

If you’re a fan of Serious Squash I’m confident you will enjoy these clips and find them helpful. There’s plenty of other great perks too! If you’d like to register you can do so at Patreon.com/SeriousSquash

Lastly, if you haven’t heard yet. Serious Squash has a signature frame coming out this summer. Here are some pics of how the prototype. There’s only 35 left so if you’d like to preorder one you can do so at SeriousSquashShop.com (FYI Patreon members get a 10% discount!)

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Squash Shots

As most of you are aware I just started a new weekly coaching platform through Patreon which I have titled ‘Squash Shots’ (thank stingray). The goal of Squash Shots is to share all of my knowledge gained over the last 30 years with those of you that are also Serious about their Squash!

Through this platform I will be releasing a weekly coaching video on a key area that I find useful and which will benefit your game. Many of these areas are based on pointers I teach when I’m in lessons or working with a group and things that have also helped me get to the level that I’m at. 

I want Squash Shots to be very affordable so that anyone who wants to be a part of it can. For this reason you can join for as little as $3/month. There are other perks besides the weekly coaching videos so I believe the value is fantastic. There is no length of term obligation so if you don’t find my videos helpful you can opt out at any time.  

Here’s a sneak peak look at Episode 9 on backhand volley nicks (one of my favourite shots!) :

Here’s a little taste of what I’ve recently filmed on one of my favourite lunging exercises:

In the first episode I discuss the ‘Ready Position.’ In some of the other soon to be released episodes I’ve discussed the forehand drive technique, the forehand drop shot, lunging exercises, the preserve routine, the wrist action on the backhand drive, backhand volley nicks and more. If this sounds like something you would enjoy I would greatly appreciate your support! 

Register for Squash Shots at: Patreon.com/SeriousSquash

Saturday, May 18, 2019

Subscribe for Exclusive Weekly Serious Squash Coaching Videos

I have some exciting news for all of the Serious Squash fans out there! Yes I’m producing a signature racquet, but there’s more...I’ve decided to join Patreon! If you’re not quite sure what Patreon is I will explain.

I’ve been contemplating doing this for awhile and I finally feel prepared and happy with the platform.  Patreon.com/SeriousSquash is where you can find my account. What you can do there is become a member/backer/subscriber of Serious Squash. This means that for as little as $3 per month you will have access to a weekly coaching video year round. These videos will be posted on a private Instagram account (@SeriousSquashShots) and also on private Youtube links which I post each week. You will also have free access to the 3 full length instructional films (The Secrets Of Solo Hitting, Mastering Deception and The Advanced Secrets Of Solo Hitting (and Movement). A final perk will be a 10% discount on the new Limited Edition Signature Serious Squash Racquet as well as all other future Serious Squash products.

Episode 1 is now posted and the topic is the Ready Position I want to see on the T and some of the common faults I come across. Episode 2 is on the Split Step and will be posted early next week. Future episodes will include all of the important key points I discuss when I’m coaching from the grip, movement, training tips, drills, strategy, the mental game plus much more.

There are 4 tiers you have the option to join. The first is the basic $3/month and it gives you unlimited access to all of the weekly posts. The $5 tier is limited to 25 followers and it allows you to submit topic suggestions for my future videos. The $15 tier is ‘Squash Love’ is limited to 15 patrons and it enables you to message me with your specific squash questions. And finally the ‘Gold Member’ tier is $50/month and on top of everything mentioned above I will also do a video analysis from one of your matches every 6 months.

If you are a Serious Squash fan I would greatly appreciate your support!Learn more a out my new venture at Patreon.com/SeriousSquash or click the bottom button below and if it isn’t for you not to worry as I will still be posting regularly on the standard Serious Squash social media accounts.
Become a Patron!

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Serious Squash Signature Frame Unveiled

It’s official, the Serious Squash Signature Frame has been ordered and will be in stock by the end of the summer. I used Harrow and ordered the Vapor frame with my own personal fun, music style twist on it. The Vapor frame is 140 grams and when I used the Dread it was my favourite racquet of all time. The shape of the Harrow racquets are slightly rectangular and quite comfortable in your hand. I also like trimming off the bumper guard to make the frame more headlight,  it this is a Limited  Edition frame so if you do this it obviously means it won’t be as durable.

I’ve only ordered 50 and this is a 1 time chance to a collector Serious Squash frame which is also a high quality racquet. At the time of this post only 40 remain. If you’d like to preorder one you can do so now at SeriousSquashShop.com If you live in the Toronto area you can contact me directly to reserve one and you can pick it up this summer. Here it is:

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Life On Turks and Caicos

As many of you know I just moved to the island of Providenciales in Turks and Caicos (TCI) to coach squash at Graceway Sports Centre. If you've never heard of it, don't be alarmed as I hadn't either until this job opportunity opened up. I arrived on the afternoon of April 29th. I thought the biggest challenge of my move to was going to be driving on the lefthand side of the road and the warmer climate, but as you're about to learn these have been the simplest transitions thus far. 

My apartment is still being built and even though I was assured it would be ready for my arrival, unfortunately (yet not so surprisingly) it was not. No worries though, this is the Caribbean and they take care of you. I was put up in the beautiful Wymara Resort for 2 nights before renting an apartment from a nice lady on a street with no name or street number. That’s right, no address!

Turks and Caicos is a popular tourist destination and it is built up to suit tourists, but that is mostly around resorts. When you get off the main highway and onto any side street you have no idea what to expect Some are dead ends, others have a big private villa. A lot of the side roads aren’t paved, and the one I’m living on has the biggest pot holes I’ve ever seen in my life..and I’ve lived through 2 Moncton winters! 

Well I found somewhere to stay and it’s more than I would have spent at my new apartment, but I didn’t have much of a choice so 'don’t stress' I kept telling myself. This unit I’m renting was supposed to include internet, but as you’ll get the picture, things don’t always go as planned and when they don’t, they often take a lot of time and patience to get fixed. Another strange thing where I’m staying is that I hear dogs barking at all times of the night. I have no clue why they don’t seem to bark during the daytime and why people leave their dogs out overnight or if this is a mixture of wild dogs. But again, this is another thing that a tourist would never have to experience. 

Did I mention that I saw Usain Bolt here? Well it was at Digicel which I had been at 2-3 times per day for the first week of my arrival. I was trying to switch my phone over to a local company and for some reason it takes 24 hours for your data to kick in and then it still didn’t work. If I didn’t have so many issues with my new plan I never would have known Bolt was in town signing autographs. 

My phone is working now, although apparently you can’t text someone who uses a different company other than Digicel omg..are you kidding me? Well I was told I can, but it will be 11 cents per text, but it isn’t working on my phone yet anyways. There are only 2 mobile phone companies on the island and half the people I can’t message or I have to pay to talk with them? How’s that going to work being a squash coach? For now I’m going to try WhatsApp as that seems to be what most of the locals do to get around this issue. A lot of people actually make phone calls here too and seem like they enjoy talking on the phone. They seem surprised when I saw I never talk on the phone back in Canada and that only phone calls I normally ever received were spam. 

I know I may be painting a poor picture on my experience thus far, but I’m really just telling it like it is. There are plenty of good parts and I’m also learning to be more laid back and easy going; give me a few more months and I’m sure I’ll have the lifestyle down pat. 

If you’ve ever been to Turks and Caicos you’ll know how friendly and outgoing everyone is here. When you walk into a room everyone greets you with a ‘good morning’ or ‘hello.’  It’s an amazingly friendly place. I’ve never had so many strangers speak to me. When I’ve traveled to other parts of the world you’re always a bit cautious about overly friendly strangers, because you fear they want something from you as you’re an easy target. It’s tough to let your guard down, but it really is much different as people are quite genuine, honest and don’t hold back if they are unhappy about something. 

Let’s go back to when I first arrived and I’ll take you through my experience at the local dmv. After checking into Wymara I went to pick up the scooter I had bought, sight unseen. It’s a 2013 Honda NCH50 that came without a working speedometer or odometer, but hey the speed limit is 40 miles per hour on the highway and my scooter tops out at 40 so it’s not a concern. This was my time driving a scooter so it took a little bit to figure out how to use it properly, but once I did I absolutely loved it. It’s so fun and incredibly cheap on gas; I haven’t been able to get more than $4.50USD into the tank and gas here is around $5.15 per gallon. 

I’m going to do my best to recall all the steps so far getting my scooter ready to ride legally. I first went into the Department of Road Safety with my bill of sale to get plates. They gave me some paperwork and sent me off to get it insured and said that I had to get it inspected at a place ‘across from Hertz’ which of course has no address or any recognizable feature for that matter. Making this all the more of a challenge, I was trying to do all of this with no working data plan!

I had called a friend of someone about inquiring insurance, but he said he normally didn’t insure motorbikes. He did provide me with a company that he was certain would. I called up and the lady on the phone said they do indeed insure scooters and told me where to find them by telling me the colour of the paint on their building. After only about 10 minutes I found it (for the record it was 200 feet away) and I was feeling good about my progress. 

I got to the insurance office and said I was here to get insurance for my moped. The man working the front desk said they ‘we don’t insure scooters.’ After I told him the lady on the phone had just told me that they did, he went around back to look into it and eventually he unwillingly took my money and started the paperwork...which was $270USD for the year. 

After getting insurance I went to get a safety for the scooter. I managed to find the place, got the safety in under a minute. He checked the signals and other lights and he said I was good to go back to the ministry, but that I may have to get a Turks drivers license too. When I got back to the ministry it was almost closing time (3:30pm). The lady was very nice and helped me fill out the paperwork for the new plate and license and told me to come back in the morning and it would all be completed.

The next morning I woke up and it’s pouring rain. Once the rain stopped I drove down to the ministry and arrived around 11am. They said I was too late to get my photo taken for the license and that I had to do this prior to getting my permit and license plate. So the next morning thankfully there was no rain and I was back there again at 8am to get my photo taken for my license. By 9:30 I had gotten my photo taken, with some very messy hair from my scooter drive I should mention. But they told me they were out of license plates and I had to come back before 3pm to get my permit because the paperwork for it was being transferred from somewhere else.

I head to the club for a meeting and then go back home for some lunch. Back to the ministry I go to get my permit and license plate; I thought. When I arrive they hand me my permit, but confess they are out of license plates and I should try again in month! A month from now is also when I should be picking up my new drivers license with the photo. Somehow I don’t think either will be ready in 1 month, but I am open to being proven wrong. 

This is kind of how everything has been going down here. I have a moderate amount of patience, but it has still been a big challenge. This is the curse of growing up around Toronto and the east coast work and rush to get things done mentality. It always drives me nuts when I see people speed walking after work to get to their train, subway or bus. What’s the rush? I never liked that way of living, but it’s groomed into you through teachers, your family and the chase to be better and more successful than the next guy. I think this is a big reason for wanting to make this move; to live somewhere more laid back, with happier people and less day to day stress. So although this way of living has been quite an adjustment and it hasn’t always been easy, I think it’s a good test for me and I certainly prefer it over the crazy chaos of big city life. 

I know I painted a bleak picture on my first week, but it’s just a culture shock. Living in any new city, yet alone a new country takes time to adjustment. Maybe, just maybe I found a place that feels more like the pace of life I enjoy. I know the island isn’t going to change for me so I can either let it bother me or I can accept it for it is.

I actually had a job offer in a big city in a different part of the world, but I don’t think the big city way of life is for me. Yes I could have made more money and the squash would have been better, but there would have been more stress and more pressure to get things done quickly and with better results and I too may have become that guy speed walking to catch my bus after work. I honestly think results can be better without the extrinsic societal pressure. And I’m also old enough now to know it is more about the journey and enjoying the path I’m on than it is the finish line anyways. 

So what’s next out here? I've started working this week and I've spent a lot of time playing guitar, reading and going to the beach. I have a lot of group classes scheduled and hopefully I will be able to do lots of private lessons. The club also just put in some new air conditioner units which work super.

Even though the pace is super slow, life isn’t cheap on Providenciales; it’s a strange blend. I do really enjoy waking up early, going to the gym, riding my scooter, spending time at the beach and just spending a lot of time outdoors. I've already created an 8 level Squash Skills Checklist to monitor the juniors development and let them know many of the areas that I believe are vital to becoming a successful competitive player.

Besides growing the local squash community another area I’ll be working on over the next few months is putting together a travel package for squash players. I will try and coordinate with local companies and put together a package for you including accommodations, fun outdoor trips and of course the squash training! With my daily growing knowledge of the island I’ll definitely be able to assist any of you coming along for as visit, but not with addresses. If you’d like to stay learn more about this please feel free to email me at info@SeriousSquash.com or Squash@GracewaySports.com

Stay tuned for my next rant, be it squash or the adjustment to the island life. Oh and I do have an exciting squash announcement coming very soon! Follow Serious Squash on Instagram or Facebook to be the first to learn about it. 

Online store: SeriousSquashShop.com

Monday, April 15, 2019

Serious Squash Is Soon To Be Turks and Caicos Based

It's been awhile since my last blog post, but I'm back today with a big announcement. I've taken a coaching job in Turks and Caicos on Providenciales starting May 1st. I imagine half of you have't heard of it so here's the wikipedia link: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Turks_and_Caicos_Islands

It was a difficult decision to leave my current position at St. Michaels as I have been there for 8 years and there are a number of dedicated and strong juniors. That being said, sometimes you have to do what you think is best for you and I believe that is what I'm doing with this move.

What lies ahead in Turks and Caicos and for Serious Squash? The club Graceway Sports (http://gracewaysports.com) has 2 courts and my main job will be to build up numbers in their program. I will be focusing a lot on increasing the junior development and eventually taking a team to some international tournaments.

I intend to do a lot more video analysis, blog and social media posts. Another main goal of mine will be to set up tourist packages for people who want to go to a place with beautiful beaches and also get in some high quality squash coaching.

Serious Squash will soon be stress free living on island time. I did visit for a few days in December to see what I would be getting myself into. Here are a few pics from my trip.

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Serious Squash Workbook: A Guide To Winning Squash

Since my competitive days playing varsity squash I've always written squash tables, charts and documents. I've posted hundreds of my opinions, thoughts and facts about squash and coaching on this blog over the past few years. Recently I was going through my computer and I discovered piles of documents I designed over the years. Many were for coaching purposes or simply out of interest. 

I completed my bachelors in kinesiology and my masters in coaching studies. Even though I wasn't too fond of school in high school, I always loved learning more about squash, training and sport at the post secondary level. Learning about things that are interesting and that can actually help you become better at squash are great. The more I knew, the better the squash player I could become and when I started coaching, the more I information I could pass on to my students. 

As I got into coaching I started constantly designing various excepts which you will find in this manual which I've titled 'A Guide To Winning Squash.' They are meant to be thought provoking and lead an athlete through the process of designing an individual tool and skill set they can use for a specific part of their game.  

Here is a glimpse of the 'Routines' chapter. I discuss the importance of prematch and between rally routines and guide you through he processionals of building your own

Some of you have already purchased my masters final project which was extremely comprehensive. I've recently posted it in the Serious Squash Shop as a digital download. That document took a LONG time to write, edit and get to a point where it was approved by my academic supervisor. 
Now I haver finally finished compiling my squash tables, charts and articles in a 17 chapter and 70 page working document. It's a bit of a scrapbook for athletes or coaches to use. Some sections go into great detail, while others are brief and just touch on what I feel is interesting or valid. 

Here is a small sample from the 'Technical Testing' chapter. In it I show how to design a chart to track various areas of yours (or if your a coach your athletes shot ability and consistency)

If this is the type of thing that interest you, you can download a digital copy in word and pdf format for $9.99CDN now in the store at SeriousSquashShop.com/collections/squash-documents It comes with a no questions asked money back guarantee. 
Here are a few more clips from the document. 

Here's a look at the 'Strategy and Tactics' chapter. Understanding how you want to play and learning from your matches are extremely important parts of improving your squash game

The chapters in the workbook are as follows:
Chapter 1: Developing a Coaching Philosophy
Chapter 2: The Process of Performance
Chapter 3: Goal Setting
Chapter 4: Imagery
Chapter 5: Focus
Chapter 6: Motivation
Chapter 7: Key Performance Indicators
Chapter 8: Match Situations
Chapter 9: Technical Testing
Chapter 10: Off Court Aerobic and Anaerobic Fitness Training
Chapter 11: On Court Circuit Training
Chapter 12: Fitness Testing
Chapter 13: Footwork and Court Movement
Chapter 14: Routines
Chapter 15: Drills and Best Practices
Chapter 16: Strategy and Tactics
Chapter 17: In Conclusion

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Using Targets

When you practice, either in condition games, drills or solo hitting, do you ever use targets? After 30 years of playing and coaching squash, I realize how frequently people hit a shot with no given target in mind.

We all know to start with that we want to hit the ball straight and tight, at least most of the time. But you're going to be a better squash player if you can hit the ball where you want it, plain and simple. Less focused on is the weight of shot or height of the shot.

Let's start with angle/direction. One of the most common flaws when people hit length is that they use the sidewall as a crutch. I  can hear you asking me, 'Chris, what does that mean?' Well it just implies that people hit their length into the front wall and then the sidewall to hit a straighish type of drive. But hitting this sidewall too early slows the ball down and doesn't get to the back of the court quick enough and gives your opponent more time to take the ball early.

How can you improve the angle of your drives and drops? Awareness is a big part of it. At the World Juniors this summer, the top few boys hit the ball so straight. They didn't always hit the ball right on the wall, but they rarely hit the sidewall early. Doing this well means you have great awareness of your racquet face and you have fantastic control of how angled the racquet face is at contact.

When almost everyone plays a drop, they aim for the nick and the ball seems to always hit the sidewall. If you change your focus to hitting the floor before the sidewall, or getting the ball to finish tight you will improve the angle of your drops and they will be much tougher to retrieve, no matter how quick your opponent is. You can also use targets in creative ways (see the video below).

Okay, so you understand how to work on improving the angle of your shots. What about the weight of shot? A simple method is just putting a target on the floor against the sidewalls. The stronger the players, the smaller the targets should be. You could use a racquet, a shoe, a target that you get to keep if you hit it (like a $5 bill or protein bar or squash ball box). Sometimes I'll play timed games where only targets count as points. This makes it competitive. You could also use a target for simply bonus points in a game. In solo hitting you can alternate between weights of shots. If you've seen The Secrets Of Solo Hitting, you'll know that one of my favourite weights of shot targets are the back corners, but for the second bounce. This is an attacking drive and is quite difficult to hit. Again you can use various targets in the back corner.

Working on attacking drives you can either aim for them on every drive or anytime you get an opening. And this is how a lot of top players play; when you have time and space, even from the back of the court you should be aiming for a drive, second bounce into this back corner. Think back to the angle though. If you hit the sidewall too early you have no chance of getting the second bounce into the back corners.

Want to improve your squash game? Start using targets and start visualizing a target in your rallies. I know for me if I just place the ball around the court, even if it's into the right areas of the court I'm not going to be nearly as effective if I'm not hitting targets into the right areas of the court. The right weight and angle of shot makes the court play a few feet or inches larger and take time away from your opponent. What is pressure in squash? Time and spacial pressure; reducing yours by increasing your opponents.

Want to learn my most difficult solo routine using targets? Check out The Advanced Secrets Of Solo Hitting (& Movement). SeriousSquashShop.com/Collections/Coaching-Videos

Friday, January 4, 2019

Serious Squash Online Video Analysis Services

Have you ever wanted someone to professionally analyze your squash game? Do you live somewhere that doesn't have a top active coaching professional? Or do you simply want another perspective on your game?

Since starting Serious Squash a number of years ago I've had a lot of keen squash players contact me seeking advice. I've assisted players from a beginner level all the way up to a top international junior level.  I've done video analysis for juniors and adults living in the U.S., Canada, Australia, Hong Kong and India.

Do you want to know which areas of your game I think are the strongest and which areas you should concentrate on improving? I can also provide tips on how you can best improve these areas. I organize my feedback in terms of physical training, mental skills, technical skills and tactics.

After your purchase you will have to email me your footage video at info@SeriousSquash.com

You can send whatever footage you like; a practice game, some solo hitting, a drill session or a match from a tournament.

You won't be able to send large video files through email so pease upload your video to Youtube (you can mark the video setting as private if you don't want anyone else to see it). I will get back to you with your report within a few days (unless I'm away coaching at a tournament then it may take a little longer).

Learn more at about the Serious Squash Video Analysis Services at:  https://serioussquashshop.com/collections/video-analysis/products/video-analysis-1-game

Best of luck on and off the court to all of the Serious Squash fans across the planet in 2019!