Be a coach and at the same time a confidant. If there is no relationship, there are no results.
This week we share an article from the Czech Squash Magazine “Squash Revue’. They interviewed Shaun Moxham on how he works with players and how he has experienced his career so far. Thank you Petra Fabianova and Squash Revue for sharing this interview with us.
Successful squash coach Shaun Moxham trained former World Champion David Palmer for 10 years, and has been guiding many other international players. Although he considered quitting coaching one time, he never gave up. He now lives in New York where he guides players on how to have the right mindset, movement and match strategy. Get inspired by an exclusive interview from Squash Revue with Shaun Moxham on his player and coach perspective and the relationship between the two.
Shaun, how did you get to coaching? Why did you choose for squash?
My father introduced me to the sport when I was 11. By the the time I was 15 I had stopped school and was only interested to be a professional player. I played a few years on the tour before stepping into coaching. I really enjoy the coaching side of squash, developing players and working together as a team towards reaching set goals.
For more than ten years, you were coaching David Palmer, who won several titles and was the world’s number one. How would you describe David Palmer?
David is a very determined and fiercely loyal person. These two qualities are standouts in his career and success. In his training and his matches he was always determined to give his best, every day. With this mindset he gave himself every possible chance to succeed every time he stepped on the court for a match. His loyalty to his family, friends and things that he believed in kept him focused, grounded and consistent.
It is said that David belongs to the best 10 squash players in history. Who do you think will be his follower?
To be honest I am not sure. Squash is at an exciting junction where there are more countries competing and it’s not always the typical powerhouses such as England, Australia, Pakistan and Egypt that are winning. Participation in the sport worldwide is at an all-time high and we are seeing players from India, Malaysia, South America, and Hong Kong really making a mark. I am currently based in America and the game here is also very exciting. The level of junior players coming out of America these days is world class. So I think the future is very exciting and very open.
“The level of junior players coming out of America these days is world class. I think the future of top squash is very exciting and very open. “
Have you ever wanted to quit coaching? When and why?
Yes! After I stopped working with David. After 10 years of such high levels and high expectations it was difficult to adjust for me. It took a year or two to adjust but that time also allowed me the opportunity to re-discover my passion and feel re-born again. I work with all levels and ages of players and enjoy understanding what their goals are and helping them to achieve them. The only thing I demand is the right attitude. Otherwise both player and coach are wasting their time.
You worked also with other squash players. Many of them were women. What is the difference between coaching men and women?
I have indeed worked with as many female players as male players. I enjoy both equally although they are two different styles. With female players listening to them and understanding them is very important. Boys can be more aggressive when showing their emotions but they are faster to leave them behind and move on. Also the game and shot selection is different for female players compared to male players so the training drills must be adjusted. With both male and female players the most important thing though is to be there for them as a coach, a confidant and someone that they can trust. If there is no relationship there are no results.
When the confidant – the player – is sad or unhappy, do you have a proven method to get them thinking positive again?
I think it’s important to sum up the situation and make a decision from there. Sometimes when a player is nervous I will make them laugh, do whatever silly thing that I can to get them to relax. When players are not concentrating hard enough I can be hard on them and remind them of their responsibilities to themselves. It’s important to know when to be soft and when to be hard. Sometimes you want your player to talk and other times you need to tell them to be quiet and listen. It’s a mixed bag really, experience helps in making the right call as the only thing that is proven is the end result, before that its using your experience to make what you think is the right call.
“It’s important to know when to be soft and when to be hard.
Sometimes you want your player to talk and other times you need to tell them to be quiet and just listen.”
Do you have any squash experience you will never forget: a specific match, moment, or even mayne a coaching error that you will always remember?
It’s hard to pick an exact moment as squash has been my full time existence now for 32 years. It has shaped me into the person who I am. I guess the most special experience for me was coaching David at the 2006 World Championships in Cairo in front of the Pyramids! To win a major tournament in Egypt is very challenging and to do it in front of the Pyramids is a memory that stays with you forever.
You started your Academy ‘MSquash’ more than 15 years ago in Antwerp, at a time there were little squash academies like that around. What was – and is – your thinking behind the Academy?
I was looking to solidify my coaching style and systems into a easy to understand and definable package. The brand name MSquash and the way we work in the Academy represents how I see the game: Mindset, Movement and Match Strategy. Without the right mindset as a basis you won’t even start to improve and grow. After this the next important thing is to move and move well. Players focus too much on the hitting but without good movement you can forget about the hitting. Finally if your match strategy is wrong than all the hard work you have done will be wasted. The coaching that we give at MSquash to all our players is centered around this philosophy.
How does MSquash Academy work? Who can sign up?
At its core MSquash is for junior players looking to develop their mindset, movement and match strategy to give themselves every chance to perform well each time they step on to the court. We also coach pro-players and senior players. We work with domestic and international players.
You have blogged and posted videos of beach training on your website (click here). Why do you think that movement in the sand is good?
The sand is a great surface to train on. It offers a surface which works your legs twice as hard as a flat surface and at the same time reduces the chance of injury to virtually zero. The sand surface is great for improving explosive power for acceleration, deceleration and directional change. Plus it’s a great place to train outside rather than always inside on the court, which is a nice variation for the players too.
What should one do to become a top squash player? Can you give our Czech readers some tips ?
Start as early as possible. Kids starting from as early as 6 years of age have a good advantage over later starters. After this playing consistently is key. It’s a game where the more times a week you practice and the more weeks per year that you can play the better you will become. That is not to say they should only play squash. Other sports can help develop other muscle groups and make sure kids love sports in general. When you do play squash, have a varied training program, don’t just take private lessons with a coach, do training drills with other players, get match practice sessions in with a variety of players and playing levels. Compete in tournaments regularly as that’s where you will be ultimately tested. Most importantly learn to judge your performance not solely by the score but by the improvement in the performance. Success is a journey, it’s not a destination!
‘Learn to judge your performance not solely by the score but by the improvement in the performance’
You visited Prague many times. What brought you here? A good beer?
Of course the beer is excellent however I was attracted to Prague through the vision and mindset of Tomas Cvikl. He shared with me his thoughts and dreams for giving Czech players every chance to train and compete at the highest level. I was sold on his vision, passion and commitment to make it work. I have a long standing relationship with Tomas and have enjoyed working with him and many Czech players. The ultimate success of a team, a club or an association is determined by the vision, the support and the stability of the governing body. Czech squash owes a lot to Tomas.
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