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High level concentration, skill, fitness required to be a Champion Squash player
20 April 2012
by Jesse Phillips
After a poor assumption of the location for the day’s proceedings, I gathered my focus and dove into the life of a Squash Player at Squash World, Mirrabooka. There were 15 athletes to present to, all of whom were eager to learn skills and develop their abilities to help them on court. The area of focus for the group at the workshop was about game preparation and on-court awareness:
a)  The key of a warm-up (pre-game) is to ready the body first and foremost, but it also activates the mind to commit the athlete to competition from the first second. This ensures that players are not relying on the match to warm them up half way through the first set – which can result in poor play early on in the game resulting in ramifications (+ or -) down the line.
b)  For the best athletes on the world stage competition is: letting their training/practice form the foundation for their "high-pressure expression”. The skills of the game drift into the background - they become automatic, and the awareness of subtle environmental conditions become more apparent. For example: the demeanour, which Usain Bolt carries, is confident and strong (a great tool to psyche out his vulnerable opponents). He does not concentrate hard on the leg muscles he must use to sprint out of the blocks. Usain isn’t thinking about yesterday’s argument with his coach, he is in the moment connected with his physical form, ready to do what he has trained. By executing his pre-race routine he has the capacity to enjoy the moment with the crowd and absorb the energy around him – this powers his journey down the track, very, very quickly.
Squash is a game of concentration and skill (much like chess), with the test even more severe due to the physical exertions required. Like chess the game has rules and the players are expected to follow them, all the while trying to outwit their opponent with their next move.
The critical element to achieving this "chess-like” game play is having the capabilities to pre-empt plays by your opponent well ahead of their occurrence. Preparation of body and mind is the building blocks to produce this performance.
The commitment to the program from each squash athlete shows the testament to the great coaching and programming they have behind them. I understand that squash players, like kayakers live out their sporting lives, reasonably inconspicuous in society, well in Australia at least. This aside, the enjoyment of the sport must be of greatest importance to continuing to strive for excellence in any avenue in life. Furthermore, the healthy competition amongst the squad is a great sign that the fire is well lit in each player for future success.

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