Monday, January 27, 2020

Hitting Straighter On A More Consistent Basis

One area that almost all squash players have in common is that we are always trying to hit the ball closer to the sidewall on a more consistent basis. Most people when they start playing just get the ball back ands a lot of their shots tend to end up in the middle of the court. With a lot of practice and patience we eventually start to get shots within the width of the service boxes and after a few more year ideally right along the sidewall.

There tighter we hit a shot the less likely it is that your opponent will be able to attack. The closer the ball is to the sidewall the further your opponent has to to go from the T to play their shot and it will also limit their ball control. When the ball is right on the sidewall only the top inch or two of the racquet will be making contact with the ball and this makes it quite challenging to get back let alone control. Even at the pro level there are countless points won every match because a ball was glued to the sidewall.

Even with this early understanding and relentless pursuit of hitting the ball tight, it's still something we can all improve upon. As we are under pressure the way we have to adapt our body and swing to play a shot makes it even less likely that our accuracy will hold up and we often pop out shots towards that dangerous middle area. This is where many swing break down because people don't have the correct swing mechanics or the they lack strength and mobility to get their body into the ideal hitting posture at top speed.

In the most recent episode of Squash Shots (episode 37) I demonstrate 3 solo drills which are geared towards intermediate players which focus on hitting the ball straighter and tighter. Below is the video of the episode and then I will follow it up with a brief description of each exercise.

In drill #1 I am trying to hit the ball into the service box without letting the ball hit the sidewall. For many years of playing squash I didn't pay attention to where my length was hitting the sidewall. Even at a pretty high level I was using the sidewall to help straighten my shots up, but as I now know this slows the ball down and it often won't get to the back wall against a top level player. You'll easily notice this if you play on a court with sticky sidewalls where the ball doesn't tend to slide down the wall like it does on some courts. A glass court is a good example of this where the ball just pops out towards the middle of the court.

In drill #2 I have a target (cone) around the short line. By doing this I don't have to worry about the back corner (which many people struggle with up to a certain point). So this is a drill that allows you to really concentrate on the direction you are hitting the ball and also focusing on the weight of shot. If your short drive clips the sidewall it will likely pop out and not hit the target so this simple drill can be very effective for keeping your swing going straight through during the contact part of the swing. When I do this drill with very new players I have them start up by the front wall and every time they hit a target I get them to move back their target by 1 racquet length.

In the third drill I am doing sidewall drives, but aiming to hit the short line with each of my drives. This another good way to work on technique and the angle of your shots without worrying about the back corners. This can be modified to hit into the widths of the services boxes too. It also doesn't allow the use of the sidewalls to subtlety straighten up your drives.

At the end of the video I demonstrate a couple of ways to practice hitting the ball to focus on your posture. Our alignment as we hit the shot will play a large factor in the accuracy of our shot. If we line up parallel to the sidewall as we hit and can maintain this posture throughout our swing we have the beast chance of hitting the ball straight. Many players crowd the ball and open their hips and shoulders when they swing, like a baseball player who pulls the ball when they want to hit for power. When you do this you tend to pull the ball out towards the middle of the court and this is a big reason many amateurs play more crosscourt shots than straight ones. If you practice hitting a shot balancing on 1 leg or on your knees you won't be able to spin with your swing making them ideal teaching tools for understanding and improving ones hitting posture.

There are a pile of drills and condition games which can also allow you to learn how to play straighter, and even begin to win by playing straight shots. The most common drills would have to be boast, drive or rotating drives. A lot of players do these drills regularly which bring the focus to hitting the ball tight on a more consistent basis. As for condition games I'd have to say the my favourite 2 are: alley games, where every shot of each rally has to be played on the same half of the court for both players. When I was in university I had a lot of difficulty playing straight and deep on the forehand side and this exercise really helped me. The second condition game is where 1 player has to hit only straight and the other player can hit anything. Sometimes when I do this in training the player who has to only hit straight can only hit to length and they 2 players don't switch until the player with the condition has won a rally. If you do this against a strong opponent this can take upwards of 1-2 minutes so it's also an excellent way to improve your physical conditioning.

Often times at the beginning of my matches I start off just playing straight drives knowing that if I can get a lead and create pressure with just this 1 shot everything else is going to fall into place once I decide to open up the court. It's also something I resort back to when I'm in a tough patch in the match and I need to get back on track. Even though I am an attacking style player, I still play best when I am hitting the ball tight and applying a lot of pressure with my straight drives, drops and kill shots.

Here are some links to where else you can find Serious Squash:
IG @SeriousSquash

Monday, January 20, 2020


I watched almost every match on Squash TV at the recently completed Tournament of Champions. There were some amazing matches and as a player and coach I'm constantly analyzing and marvelling over the ability of the top players. The level of the game has never been higher and each year the bar raises. I thought Momen was going to take the event, but he had a few mental spats against Marwan Elshorbagy, Ali Farag and in the finals against Mohamed Elshorbagy.

What I watched at the TOC inspired this week's episode of Squash Shots and also today's blog post. Episode 36, titled 'Improvisation,' can be watched on the Serious Squash Instagram account:

I was impressed with how fit and strong both Paul Coll and Joel Makin were. They hit so few unforced errors and with how well they move and for how fit they are, they must be a nightmare for almost everyone on tour. There's very few players in the world that can hang in there physically and mentally with those guys. Even still Makin and Coll haven't won a major title. Will they be able to with the style that they play or will they have to adapt their game? Can they adapt their game at this stage of their careers? Surely they can't get that much fitter, stronger and faster, can they?

In my opinion there are a number of players who possess the ability to hit anywhere at anytime. Players like Farag, Momen and Gawad are so smooth and are nearly unreadable. Diego Elias is also a guy who you could put into this category. Elias was the better player, but eventually succumbed to the physicality of Makin. So clearly being silky smooth and having world class ball control is not enough without an incredibly high level of fitness.

Gawad, Momen and Farag, just like the great Ramy Ashour not only have an immaculate short game, but they can also adapt their racquet preparation under pressure meaning they're nearly impossible to read. They play with very little tension in their arm which allows them to generate a lot of whipping action in their wrist so they can flick the ball to any part of the court. Coll and Makin on the other hand have a couple of very set, rigid preparations and they are more easily read by the top players in the world. It's this contrast of styles which is so enjoyable to watch, but I certainly prefer watching and cheering for the smooth moving and hitting Egyptian players.

Mohamed Elshorbagy's game is transitioning from a hard hat, Nick Matthew style of play. For years he basically played at a pace the rest of the field couldn't handle. Now there are a few that can and with the aging of Elshorbagy he has no choice, but to begin to refine his game. This is what Nick Matthew did as he aged. Matthew was able to find a few areas to be more deceptive with his shots. He couldn't continue to dominate with simply being super fit, disciplined, mentally tough and accurate. Would Matthew in his prime be able to be world #1 with today's pool of players? He'd be one of the top competitors, but I don't think he would win more than 1 or 2 titles per year as the depth of talent is simply too deep and talented now.

Nowadays there are a loads of players who are hunting the volleys, playing a high T position and are super fit. Back when Matthew was playing there were very few players who had this effortless style of play and the racquet skill that the top few do now. The ones that come to mind are of course the GOAT, Ramy and the maestro, Amr Shabana. When either of those legends were fit enough to hang in with Nick or Greg Gaultier they would have the edge. But when they're not 100% fit, healthy or strong they would have trouble hanging in there.

How do these top Egyptian players develop the uncanny ability to have such a relaxed, accurate and unreadable swing? A lot of it has to do with their decision making. They understand what their opponent is reading and they know how to create space on the court by having countless options from a variety of set positions.

Many other players prepare the same way every time they move to a specific part of the court and have maybe 2 or 3 options, but they can be fairly easily read compared to the players who have adaptability in their swing. The ability some of these squash magicians have to accelerate and decelerate their swing at the last second to change the speed and angle of their shot is what makes them so great to watch. Doing this means their opponent has to wait longer on the T and expend more energy to move off the T, which also dictates that they will be at the ball a little later and generally keeps their opponent off the volley. Squash is a sport where fractions of a second make all the difference and dictates if a player has to defend or attack and how hard they have to work. Even the top movers and fittest players in the world can only take so much.

A good example of being unreadable and smooth was first two games of Farag and Coll. Farag was reading Coll like a book and was on the ball so early. Coll on the other hand was under a lot of pressure trying to just get the ball back and hang in the rallies. Coll's tenacity and fitness was almost enough to be able to come back and win the match, but ultimately Farag had just enough in the tank.

If Gawad was fitter would be have beat Elshorbagy? What if Momen got better calls or was mentally a bit stronger and handled those decisions better? I would say they are technically the two best players in the world and when Momen is in the right mindset and Gawad is fit they are almost untouchable. The reason why? In my opinion it's their ability to use all 4 corners with tremendous accuracy and their ability to adapt their swing to hit into the open space. Have they practiced more than the other top pros or have they just practiced differently and if so what exactly was it that let them develop their world class racquet skills?

Back when I was doing my masters I did my final project on decision making at the front of the court for professional squash players. So this is a topic that has always interested me. Can you teach a player to make better decisions and be tougher to read at the front of the court? Definitely yes, but I've never seen a top player successfully change their style from a grinder to a smooth attacking player. Some ideas I would try is relaxing the arm, varying the timing of hitting the ball, having 4 or 5 different set racquet preparations and doing a lot of shot option drills and conditions games. Part of it will also come from video analysis of watching their matches and seeing where they are being read and where a new shot or two could be helpful.

Is the future of the top of the PSA be based on speed, strength and fitness? Or will players with superb racquet skill dominate? Or will a mixture of the 2 be what is necessary to win major titles? If a player is at the highest end of racquet skills can they ever be as fit and fast and strong as Coll and Makin? And can players like Makin and Coll ever develop magical racquet skills? I don't have all of the answers, but it is sure a lot of fun to watch.

 With so many amazingly talented players right now, there is 1 thing I do know for sure. TO be world # 1 for any length of time is going to take the consistency of results that will only come to those that are fit enough to back up big matches and mentally strong enough to pull out close matches. In these situations do you back the super fit or the more relaxed and technically gifted? Beating 3 or 4 of the worlds best in consecutive days it's not going to be easy to win any big trophy and that's what is going to make in 2020 so much fun to watch.
Squash Shots:

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Mostafa Asal and Other TOC Observations

I have watched quite a few of the women's matches and there's been a number of surprising results, but today I'm going to focus on the phenom, the Raging Bull and some of the strange calls I've witnessed.

I've mentioned Mostafa Asal in a few previous posts as I saw him play at the World Juniors in India in 2018. He won the individual event without losing a single game. Now under 2 years later he's top 20 in the world and at the Tournament of Champions he had some huge wins. Asal beat Ramit Tandon, who I have also seen play in person in straight games. I didn't get to watch this match, but I saw his next 3. In round 2 he upset one of my favourite players, Mohamed Abouelghar who again I have also seen play in person. Yes, Asal played well in that match, but I thought Abouelghar was pretty flat and was probably a bit edgy and nervous playing a young up and coming junior from his native land.

For some reasons when 2 Egyptians match up they don't always play their best squash. A great example of this is if you look at the Tarek Momen and Marwan Elshorbagy match which was quite scrappy and the ref was far too involved. We don't always know the background and hierarchy back in Egypt, but there seems to be something holding some of them back from focusing on their squash when they compete against one another.

Asal against Gaultier was one of the most hyped matches in recent memory. Gaultier had a long delay after being off with a career threatening knee injury. Gaultier is one of the greats and the oldest player  that's still competing at the highest level. The last time he lost to a junior was probably closer to when he himself was a junior. The match lived up to the hype and was quite entertaining. Gaultier started off strong and looked the superior player in the first, but lost the momentum due to a minor blood injury delay between games. Asal looked nervous to be on this stage at this moment against this player, but the extra time seemed to give him some time to settle down. When game 2 started Gaultier's game slipped a bit and Asal was more relaxed. It was fantastic to watch 2 greats who are on opposite stages of their careers.

I heard that Asal didn't start playing squash until he was 11 years old. If that is indeed true, it's hard to fathom how he got to the level he's at in just 8 years. Absolutely unreal. Certainly his size and strength has something to do with this, but he strikes the ball so clean and has some beautiful holds. I'm also impressed how quick is racquet preparation is for having such long arms. His swing can be big when he wants to crack it, but he can keep the pace up under pressure with the best of them.

I can't recall any other junior player who was able to overpower top seasoned adult pros. His hard hitting is right up there with the likes of Mohamed Elshorbagy and Simon Rosenr. Asal reminds me a bit of John White. White had the power, but also great soft touch. Being world class at both extremes is a rare quality and is a big reason why he's playing at a top 10 standard.

Some people have questioned Asal's movement. He's not the most fleet of foot and he's a big strong boy. How is someone at that size going to hang in there for 60+ minutes against a fleet flooded Ali Farag or Tarek Momen? Can he hang in physically with the likes of Paul Coll? Those who saw Asal go down to Momen convincingly in the quarters will know this is a question that will be continually asked until he is able to do this. About his movement, I have never seen someone play so many shots with just the split-step +1 more step. Some players have quick feet, but Asal seems to have the luxury of the strength and reach.

Asal is like a heavyweight boxer and like most I'm curious to see how his career is going to unfold. With the retirement of some of the greats recently retired (like Nick Matthew, Ramy Ashour and Amr Shabana) we need some new players to fill these shoes and Asal in his different coloured shoes definitely does that. I bet most of us believe it's only a matter of time until he's world #1, but I think it's going to take a few years until he is going to be able to beat 3 or 4 of the top 10 players back to back to back; Diego Ellias is still trying to accomplish this. I can't wait to see him play Mohamed Elshorbagy since they are both such powerful players, but are very different in terms of their technique, tactics and movement. I also can't wait to see him play Paul Coll and Gaultier later in the season when he's back close to his best. Will he be able to beat Momen? Moment has shown to be a nervous player, so if he goes down a game to Asal he's got a real shot. I think every Egyptian senior will feel some pressure when they step out on court with him and Asal will be playing with house money.

One area I feel is unfair for Asal is having to wear eye guards. I don't believe anyone regardless of age should be forced to wear eye guards in a PSA event. I know it's not a major disadvantage, but he's not a normal 18 year old and I'm sure he would be fine playing without them.

Here's a few of my other thoughts about Asal. At his size there are going to be some traffic issues, plain and simple. I've heard complaints about his movement and on court behaviour. I've heard of 1 event where he was whining and used a fake injury timeout to make a phone call, presumably to his coach. I haven't seen all of his matches on Squash TV, but I haven't seen much to warrant a debate during the TOC. Back when I saw him play at the World Juniors he was so much better than everyone else the ref was never an issue. I've worked with juniors for a long time and I know sometimes you have to give them some slack. Learning to behave appropriately on court in the heat of the moment is something that takes a long time to develop. Just because Asal doesn't look like a junior, it doesn't mean he's not still one. Learning to clear properly is something that is still rarely done on tour and it's up to all of the players and refs to improve this.

I loved watching James Willstrop and Joel Makin play. Those 2 went through and played almost every ball and it produced far more enjoyable rallies. The sweat on the court floor was a bit of an issue and is something they need to find a way to fix. Almost every other match I watched players constantly took advantage of certain positional situations. The one area driving me nuts is when a player hits a straight volley drop (normally on the backhand side) and their opponent moves sideways into them and gets a stroke because the drop isn't right on the sidewall. I don't see many of the players moving to the T too quickly or sticking their back leg out, blocking a direct path anymore. I do however notice this new stroke position so much that some players are changing their shot selection. If there isn't a path, prove it by trying to go through to play the ball. There's also still a lot of players shaping their racquet around another player and exaggerating their preparation to show that they are being interfered with.

Willstrop and Makin demonstrated that the players have the ability to play around each other, but most of them have gotten into the habit of taking the cheap stroke instead of doing the work to play through minimal interference. It's so hard to win a point at this level, so any cheap stroke is happily taken. I think they should start fining players for fishing or playing the man/woman. It's still crazy how refs sometimes give no lets for a shot when their opponent is directly in their path. Is this not an easy fix? If they don't have a DIRECT path it's a stroke regardless of shot quality? If they did this people would get out of the way or not hit it into the same corner when they're not able to properly clear. Pros know where their opponents are and are moving from, so they can easily provide a direct line if they were going to be punished accordingly. Are the amount of type of let decisions frustrating to anyone else? 'Lets' clean up our game and make it greater!

Follow Serious Squash on
Instagram @SeriousSquash
Check out the and Squash Shots at

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Why We Should All Purchase A Squash TV Membership

A couple of blog posts ago I wrote about the troubling state of squash in many countries across the globe. Today I'm going to write about a way that we can all pitch in to make the game a little stronger and that's by purchasing a Squash TV membership.

I should start off by stating that I do not work for Squash TV nor am I associated with them in any way whatsoever. In fact I've been trying to get some footage from them to analyze for Squash Shots and have offered to pay for this, but I haven't heard back. So my opinion in this post is purely my own and the only interest I have is in promoting squash and to see it flourish. I have had my own Squash TV membership for as long as I can remember and some years I watch it more than others, but I will never cancel it.

I recently did a poll on the Serious Squash Instagram account and only 40% of the people who answered it had a current Squash TV membership. I'm going to try and do some research and figure out why the 60% don't have one. My guess is that they don't want to, or can't afford to spend the money. Or perhaps some people get enough squash from Youtube or don't care about watching full pro matches and tournaments. I know there's a few things about professional squash and Squash TV that could improve and if more people subscribed we would be doing our part to make that happen.

The quality of the production and the amount of matches filmed on Squash TV is quite impressive in my opinion, especially considering how limited watching professional squash was when I was growing up. The commentating is clever, well informed and easy to listen to. The caliber of the players is also amazing and the game is constantly evolving because of the filming production and ease of access. Players, current pros and up and comers are able to make better game plans and analyze squash in a way that was not possible prior to Squash TV. But it's not only for those keen on improving their squash that I believe should purchase a Squash TV membership.

I haven't had cable in over 8 years. It's too expensive and I don't want to sign a contract for an over priced service. All I would normally watch on cable was sports and much of that is now available online. I mention this because I know a lot of people don't want to pay the monthly or annual costs associated with a Squash TV membership. Some people may even share accounts because their interest is simply in saving themselves a little bit of money. But by doing this these people are not supporting our game at the highest level and we all know there is not enough publicity or money in the pro tour.

I don't know the statistics, but if the Squash TV membership somehow doubled I imagine it would allow them to majorly increase their production value and it would be more appealing to potential sponsors and tournament hosts. Squash has always had a tough time getting on television. As as small close knit and supportive community, we basically have our own channel and by not supporting it we are also not doing our part to give back to our game and to help it flourish at the pro level. If there is no professional circuit, or a less funded one it is bad for the entire sport; I truly believe there is a trickle down effect right to your home club and for many of the members in it. Imagine if they took away the NBA, NFL or NHL and what type of impact that would have on their respective sport and the kids who look up to their role models?

Hopefully you can agree that the simplest way we can support the PSA World Tour and the professional players that are trying to make a living playing squash is by buying a membership. We can't all attend or sponsor a pro tournament, but most of us can afford to purchase a Squash TV membership. If you don't have a Squash TV membership and you're reading this I'd be curious why not. You're clearly into your squash if you're reading a squash blog. So I'm making a plea for the good of our sport to give Squash TV a try. Even if you don't want to use it this is putting money back into our sport and potentially you can purchase it for someone who would love to have an account and watch all of the matches. It's my understanding that Squash TV is run by the PSA so by supporting it you are also supporting the tour. If the PSA World Tour thrives over the next decade and beyond I have to imagine the state of our game globally will be in good hands.

Here's the link for those that want to purchase a Squash TV membership:
I know it's not cheap as the monthly subscription is more than my Netflix bill. But I also have an MLB annual pass which is higher than both. I know we could all do with saving a bit of money and cutting out unnecessary expenses, but I believe this is a good cause that goes beyond our local squash club and unifies us all. If Squash TV made an extra million dollars I highly doubt it would just go into the pockets of anyone in particular, it would go back into the sport and the service and make it all that much more impressive. If Squash TV had more paying members than the Tennis Channel or NHL season pass I have to believe this is something that would get big corporations on board for sponsors and may potentially impact a future Olympic bid. We may not have the vast majority or numbers, but we can be the most dedicated and passionate!

Another great part about Squash TV is that you can go back and watch replays of matches and tournaments. There are also some old school matches featuring some of the best from the last decade. Some of my favourite players to watch are Shabana, Power and of course Ramy.

 You can subscribe to this blog by email to be alerted for future blog posts. Also, you can find Serious Squash on Youtube, Facebook and Instagram for the most regular posts. Plus there is a Patreon account where subscribers receive exclusive weekly videos for $3/month. You can check it out at but if you are only going to subscribe to one, pick Squash TV :)

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Lofty Childhood Dream Goals

It's that time of year where people are using the start of a new year to set goals in an attempt to change a behaviour pattern. Making short or long term behavioural changes to improve our quality of life is terrific, but how often are do they last? Today I am going to be discussing the peak of of goal setting pyramids, dream goals. Dream goals do in fact have something in common with New Years resolutions and that is that most are doomed to fail. Does this mean we should not bother setting or pursuing either type of goal? Let's find out.

Through emails and Serious Squash social media platforms I get a lot of messages from players all around the world. I recently had a 12 year old boy message me and tell me how his goal was to become world champion. It made me think about what it was like when I was that age. Twenty-six years ago I was wearing similar shoes as I was extremely driven to become the best in the world (I'm the little guy in the photo below).

When I was young I kept a journal where I logged my daily training sessions and I wrote out analysis from my matches. Some weeks I was on court more than 20 hours and solo hitting for 2-4 hours at a time. Nobody told me I should do this, I just instinctively knew that I had to do more than the competition to get the results and life that I dreamed of.

It's normal for young kids to have ambitions and dreams. A lot of kids dream about being the next Lebron James or in squash, Ramy Ashour. If we look at squash for an example there are very few world #1 ranked players in the history of our sport. Let's say there's been around 40 total (just a guess). Out of 40 total world #1's ever what are the odds of any child making this select group? If I was a mathematician I imagine it would be close, but not quite impossible. Yes just like the infamous scene from Dumb and Dumber, 'so you're saying there's a chance?'

I'm guessing many of the world top athletes all had these big dreams at one point or another, but 99.99+% of us never reach our dream goal of becoming the best in the world. And for the selection few who do reach their dream goal after a decade plus of dedication what is left to drive them forwards afterwards?

This is one of the most difficult things about squash. When you're an adult playing on the PSA tour there are no weight, age or height divisions. There is always a winner or loser so we can generally definitive say who is better than who. For something like music this is far different. Who is the best musician in thew world? I would argue it's not whoever sells the most albums and it would depend on personal preference. But for sports there's less of an argument, you either are or are not world #1. Which means at the time of writing this article only Ali Farag and Raneem El Wilily can say they are living their dream childhood goals while the rest of the pack are giving everything the have to experience that glory. Although it's an amazing feat I can't imagine many kids grow up dreaming of being world #2.

So if you are a parent or coach should you support your child's overly ambitious dreams of becoming the next Ramy (pictured above)? Or should we ensure that they have something to fall back on for they inevitably fail? I recall my parents saying 'what if you get hurt?' That's what parents are supposed to do; they're supposed to worry about your future and they tend to have a lot more common sense. When you're a kid (at least for me) I didn't care what anyone else said I could or couldn't do, I was going to be the best in the world; even though as you can tell from the photo above I was one of the smallest kids in my grade. I believe I was 12 in that photo and that was take n after beating my good friend and childhood rival in the final of the U13 U.S. Open.

Breaking news, I did not become world #1. I know it's sad, my dreams which I war absolutely convinced would happen didn't. But I did get to a pretty high level because of my dedication, work ethic and passion for the game. And it's because of what I was able to accomplish I learned that if I want to do something in life I can do it if I really put my mind to it.

As I get older it's not so simple resurrecting that same type of passion and dedication for a new goal that takes over your every thought and motivates each of the daily decisions you make. This is probably why I was a pretty serious coach for the first few years. How could anyone not put their everything into trying to become the best they can? It took probably close to 8-10 years of coaching to learn how to allow kids to be kids and have fun and to understand and most importably accept that they are not all (in fact very few are) the crazy self driven kid that I once was.

As a coach I think that trying to become the best I can be is something that motivates me most similar to that young version of me who lived for squash. And I've learnt that being the best coach does not mean just knowing the techniques, tactics, etc. Being a great coach is much more about dealing with different types of people, handling challenges, planning a variety of fun engaging practices which will also enable skill development.

Let's discuss outcome squash goals for the moment. Over the past decade I knew I wasn't going to play on the PSA tour, but I still trained a lot and tried to improve my game? There is this innate curiosity about still trying to improve oneself and as you improve various parts of your game you can't help but feel like your best game of squash is still ahead of you. I have also learned how to actually enjoy pushing myself hard in training and in matches. When I was a kid that is something I was not great at.

As I got older I also have learned to accept losing better, although I'm still not too good at it. When I was young I focused so much on winning that it put a lot of pressure on me and I focused on the wrong things (the outcome vs. the process). There are a lot of factors that are outside of your control when you play squash. Plus if you want to become the best you can possibly be you have to get spanked by better players along the way. How many matches do you think Ramy Ashour lost in his entire life? And how many tins do you think he hit in his career? A LOT!!!

I know this post is a little all over the place, but I really want to focus on motivation, perseverance and dream goals. It's not always easy finding things in life that are enjoyable when you lose something that you are so passionate about or when your goals change. When I was chasing world #1 I had a purpose each day. That purpose is so motivating and inspirational and it forces you to make a lot of sacrifices. That's why I love hearing someone else tell me that they have the same dream I once had. When kids set their goals too modestly they will not dig deep and grind it out and miraculously become a great champion some day.

A number of years ago I ran a camp with many of the top juniors in western Canada. Only 1 out of these top juniors said they had a dream goal of playing on the PSA tour. Some of their dream goals were things they could already achieve and had little meaning. I was so perplexed and upset as a coach. I wasn't sure if they didn't really want to put in the work needed to get to the top level or if they only wanted to set goals they knew that they could easily achieve? A little better than mediocracy is what I believe most kids, at least in Canada are striving for these days. We aren't brought up wanting or needing to work extra hard for something and getting uncomfortable enjoying that process of the daily grind. This is why it was quite refreshing when this recent junior shared his goal.

For a few years as a child I lived with purpose where my lofty dreams fuelled me. At school or lying in bed all I thought about was squash. Why does this happen to some kids and not others? Does it have something to do with the environment or genetics? Likely it's a mixture, but as a coach there is nothing better than working with someone so motivated and driven. It's easy to spot this type of dedication and dreams in athletes. There are many parents who are more motivated for their children's squash potential than their kids themselves; this rarely ever works out and the kids eventually will lose their motivation to play squash. Intrinsic motivation, persistence and a dare to dream is what it takes and those are things that someone else cannot wish upon you.

Do you think it's healthy to have dream goals even if they more than likely won't come true? Someone has to be the next Nicol David (pictured above), why not you?

What do you do when you finally have to give up on your dream goal? That I don't have all of the answers for, but I know I didn't feel as alive and as driven to do other things with the same focus and passion. Finding new goals or passions are certainly important. Wether it's training, improving a variety of skills on or off court, taking up a new hobby or what I thoroughly enjoy it helping someone else achieve something special.

Squash was what I've been most passionate about so that's why it's hard to envision doing anything besides coaching. Squash is what made me and it's how I feel I can pay it back to other people, especially the young motivated dreamers. I can't imagine being happy doing a random job that didn't interest me and I wasn't passionate about. I know that's what most people do, but I don't know how they do it. I would never go the extra mile (or for that matter do the bare minimum) for something that doesn't interest me. If I was doing something to make a living that didn't engage me I will admit I would not hire me.

Have you ever or do you currently have a dream goal? Even if other people think they are unrealistic, what keeps you working towards your dream? Do you have someone you aspire to be like? Role models who you can relate to can be extremely motivating and this can prove that what you want to do or where you want to go too is indeed possible. And here's my take on the popular quote, you may shoot for the stars and end up on the moon. But if you only aim for the moon you may not get far off the ground. Do you use the naysayers to motivate you to prove them wrong? Do you have a team that is supporting you with your dream goal? Because if there is 1 thing I do know for sure, it's that you can achieve much more with support than you can on your own.

I wish there was a way to see what past squash champions are all up to nowadays. How many are still involved in squash? How many are helping the up and coming future squash stars (like Jonathon Power and Diego Elias or Thierry Lincou and Amanda Sobhy)? Same goes for world champions in other sports. What do these former champions do to find meaning now that their time has come and gone? I'm sure family has a big impact on this and can help put things in perspective. Even still there's a reason Tiger Woods is still out there competing and training even though he's had countless surgeries and his back is a mess. Tiger sure doesn't need the money, but something keeps him teeing it up. I bet it's still his childhood dream of being world #1 and winning majors and these goals still have a stranglehold in his life.

I suppose this is we are so transfixed by athletes who do defy the odds and end up achieving their childhood dreams. There's a long list of books which attempt to get to the bottom of how and why elite performers achieved the results they did. All top athletes begin their sporting journey with a dream and there is nothing quite as intrinsically motivating as that dream. And for a few select hard working athletes dreams do once in awhile become a reality. Someone has to be world #1 so why not you?

Check out Squash Shots, the weekly exclusive coaching video platform at You can subscribe for as little as $3/month.

Instructional films, the Serious Squash racquet, video analysis and more:

Serious Squash on social media:
Instagram @SeriousSquash