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WA SQUASH, Advanced Elective workshop
8 July 2015
Story by Trent Mitton, WAIS Athlete, Hockey Australia (Kookaburras) athlete, Commonwealth Games, World Cup representative
A small group of developing champions met us at the WA squash centre this past Wednesday July 8th. For most of the athletes involved it was not their first seminar so they already had an understanding of what myself and Kate Bobridge are about. The small group size contributed to a quiet beginning with not many of the participants answering questions or sharing their thoughts. Fatigue could have been the reason as they had a hard couple of days of training and competition in the days prior.
Squash is a high impact, fast paced game which puts a large amount of strain on the body.
Identifying this, Kate and I helped the athletes understand the importance of replenishing the body. The first topic we talked about was nutrition, which for this particular group of teenagers it was very necessary as the temptation for not eating well is prominent. We began speaking about an athletes food requirements and how they vary from an average person their age because their energy expenditure is a lot greater. Everyone learned a lot about the right sort of food to be eating in between training or competition, and also the importance of preparation when heading to an event.
We then moved onto to a conversation about supplements and other aids when competing at a high level. The majority of the information we were trying to get across was how potentially dangerous taking supplements is because of the anti-doping policies in sport these days. Unless you're 100% sure what is going into your body is safe, it is better to stay away. We did speak about the flip side of that scenario and how, when taken correctly supplements in sport can be very beneficial. I added an example of how we do this in the Australian Hockey team. We are required to take protein shakers to matches or training sessions which we use immediately after and for the ride home, so we can get nutrients back in our body after a hard session.
After a quick break the group got back together to discuss mental skills, which is obviously a vital part of squash but all sport played at an elite level. I have written in previous stories about the techniques that we try and encourage the young athletes to use. In this session we got the students to jump out of their seats and practice some mental imagery with their serve. With eyes closed and not even having a racquet in their hand we asked them to practice their swing. The purpose of this lesson is to help the players concentrate on particular elements of the serve and identify some areas of improvement. Whether in a training session or competing at the biggest tournament the aim is to be able to perform well under any circumstance and execute skill the same, therefore, mental skills are often utilised. The idea behind teaching these skills to young athletes is to hopefully instil those habits by the time they are playing at the top.  
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