My family hate me at Christmas. They claim that I am the most difficult present-person to please, as I have everything a Squash fanatic needs, so they have to revert to music, books or beer. Conversely, I think I am the easiest person to please. Buy me anything sport-related, and I’ll convert it to something with squash value ! What follows, therefore, are some gentle hints for those who struggle with squash dopeheads in their family.
If you really want to tickle the heart strings of your squash loved one, your first point of call is a new racquet, a squash bag or shoes. A new weapon, or a spare weapon in the bag is new motivation that will have that squash freak, itching for a knock, shortly after guests have disappeared from the Christmas table. These are gifts, that like wands can create magic and have the potential to raise your stakes, and rocket them to new year squash glory. And every time they use them, they will think of YOU. But racquets, like underwear, are very personal choices, and you will do well to check their preferred brand, make and weight. Debates over whether size matters will rage on, but when choosing racquets, weight does matter and 10g, makes a difference to performance and satisfaction
Squash players, generally, are not very fashion-conscious, and squash clothes, do become a bit pongy ( especially after being left in the bag over-night), so additions will always be welcomed. But be careful of chucking stuff out as we are sentimental folk and become attached to outfits that took us to famous victories. A new outfit might, however, create a subtle opening. Very few Squash brands market their clothing but Tecnifibre has launched an impressive range which will soon be available in PE. And don’t forget those Puma Shoes, highlighted in last month’s column, which could also double up as “hunk/chick”pullers
With squash being described as “Physical Chess”, we like to think of ourselves as an intelligent cerebral breed. Sadly, squash literature is scarce, so popular South African, Rod Durbach’s “SQUASH… with the Pro’s” is a welcome drop of wisdom. Aimed at both beginners and seasoned players, it offers advice , not only on basic technique but also addresses tactical problems, shot selection, opponent analysis, and much more. Another great read is “Run to the Roar - Coaching to overcome fear” by Paul Assaiante - a coaching memoir which can be applied to all walks of life as it tracks how the author brings a cosmopolitan group of individuals at his university and gels them into a record-breaking team. Running parallel to this, is his trauma at home, as he deals with a son who has gone off the rails. And then there is Richard Millman’s “Angles’ – an anthology of squash poems !
On the DVD front,David Palmer’s “The Making of a Champion” has routines and footage to make your eyes water, and your muscles cringe ! And if your squash-freak is really fanatical, he might also be interested in a DVD, entitled “Let Please” which will take him through a range of real-match let/stroke situations.
Heart Rate Monitors are useful, and not just for over-weighters, heading for old age homes . If you are serious about squash, you should be measuring your fitness and your progress, and they can also be useful in gathering information about opponents and how far they make you run. Stop-watches are key to training properly and useful for handicap tournaments and Summer Leagues when matches are time-based.
Some of the most valued gifts are those which have a personal touch. Download some squash pictures, and design your own 2012 squash calendar. Alternately, personalize a Diary/Log Book for your Squash Freak to plan the season and track progress with comments on training, matches and opponents. And spice it up with action pictures and motivational quotes. These gifts take time, thought and creativity, but are relatively cheap, and guarantee you front of mind attention for the whole year.
Parents who have taken their children onto squash courts will know the frustration of getting the ball to bounce sufficiently so their eager offspring can somehow make contact with the ball. Ever-innovative, the Australian Squash Coaches have developed a soft, slow bouncing foamy yellow ball which is an absolute dream for beginners from a confidence and a safety perspective. A consignment is “on the water” Expensive , and not dog-friendly.
While golfers cling to coaches for advice, Squash players seem to think it “infra dig” to seek assistance, and blindly bliksem forwards, trailing their own path and imprinting faults indelibly into their psyche. A couple of lessons with an experienced coach may just give your squashaholic some direction.
I could go on but time, space and the divine Ms. M stare fiercely at me. Some other ideas – Lisa O Grady’s Calender Girls’ Recipe Book, on the internet, look for K Tape and S2H watches, for Coaches - Ball Machines, video cameras, reaction balls, training ladders and as stocking fillers, skipping ropes, towels, both hand and bath ( but clearly identifiable so they don’t get mixed up with the guest bathroom towels ) squash glasses, bandannas, wristlets, grips, balls, scissors, vaseline ( for blisters), and pumice stones for calloused feet
As we prepare for the helter-skelter of Christmas, and Summer Leagues clatter to a close, for about 4 weeks, there will be no official squash activities. Cold Turkey time and cooked turkey time but also time-out time to bronze our beautiful bodies and bond again with families and friends. Thank you to those who have squished their way through these squashy columns. Hopefully, they will have asked questions, generated discussion, remembered a memory, planted an idea, and hopefully, raised a smile.
And oh, if anyone wants a run in this “dead period”, I am always available.