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Squash Report: When the Pro’s Came to Town
An afternoon of coaching for the Bollington Squash juniors, followed by an enthralling exhibition between England Squash National Performance Coach Josh Taylor, and PSA professional Patrick Rooney!
Bollington Health & Leisure is a small and unassuming community Leisure Centre. We have two (very) well-heated Squash courts. Bollington Squash Club is an open club which participates in the North West Counties Squash Leagues (NWCSL), with 4 senior teams playing on a Thursday night, and 1 ladies team, who play on a Monday. There are activities throughout the week such as Club Nights, #SquashGirlsCan sessions and Fitness4Squash classes. Two Coaches are on hand for anyone wishing to book private sessions. Outside of organised activities, both team players and social players can make use of our Squash Ladder, which adds an extra competitive element to those friendly matches. We also run a thriving Junior Section, which sees a total of 40 kids and teenagers active at the club, including: ten 4-6 year olds children, six juniors aged 10 – 18 who play NWCLS, and 26 who regularly attend weekly coaching sessions with an age range of 8 – 17 years old. A number of these juniors are also involved with the county set-up and participate in county level events.
On Saturday 10th February 2018, the Club was lucky enough to receive a visit from Josh Taylor. Together with Patrick Rooney, the two of them ran an afternoon of coaching for 26 of our juniors; after which they played an Exhibition Match for the whole Club. Both as the National Performance Coach for England Squash and the Chairman for the NWCSL, Josh’s knowledge and passion for the game made for a very fun, enjoyable and educational afternoon for all involved!
The afternoon began with a quick meeting with Josh to discuss all things Squash. It was a great opportunity to talk him through the work we are doing, the things that are working well and the things that are not working so well. Josh was then able to offer advice from his wealth of experience on how to develop further and continue to grow. While only a small part of the overall afternoon, it was an invaluable discussion which gave Josh an insight into our club, while at the same time answered any of our questions or concerns relating to Squash and the programs we run.
At that point, the first of the juniors arrived for the first session of the afternoon. Once all the juniors had turned up the session could get underway with a fun warm-up, before then taking their instruction for the session: Taking the Ball short!
The wonderful thing about the sessions to follow was, not only did the children get the chance to learn from two exceptional players (one also an exceptional coach), but our Coaches had the chance to pick up tips and ideas to implement into their Coaching in future – form key teaching points to session structure.
In total there were 4 sessions. As the first 2 sessions went on, with 6 Juniors in each group, the kids were keen to learn and work on their short game; Josh and Patrick on hand to guide them through the technique.
Two sessions down, two to go! It was first the turn of 6 of our older improver players before finishing with our 8 more advanced Junior’s. These two groups were in for a more challenging session; looking at ways to add a little deception to their shots, and being able to show their opponent they could go long or go short from the same position. Keeping the groups small and with a maximum of 4 per court, the kids were always working and always engaged. Both Patrick and Josh were fantastic role models for the kids; teaching them from their own high level of experience.
When the last session finished at 6 O’clock, all the juniors, parents and club members started to arrive for the Exhibition Match. We invited all the kids on court and held a mini trophy ceremony! Up for grabs were:
- The Josh/Patrick SuperStar award – One junior per group who impressed Josh and Patrick the most in their time on court!
Winners were: Harry Seldon, Lewis Robins, Georgia Buckley, Annie James, Bea Lomas
- Players Choice Award – The previous week we had asked the juniors themselves to pick who they thought had improved the most over the past year in their respective groups (an interesting insight)!
Winners were: Tom Richards and Dan Jordan
- Coaches Choice Award – After many discussions, our two coaches picked their Players of the Year! Probably the hardest choice as it could have gone to any one of our juniors with a justified reason!
Winners were: Connie Dewar and George Lomas
- Most Improved Player – A special Award that went to one of our juniors who, having come through our Junior Coaching program and with a lot of hard work over the past year, is knocking on the door of Division 2 in the North West Counties Squash League.
Winner: James Walton
A final award (a bottle of beer no less!) went to one of our club members who, off his own back, has taken the time to play some of our juniors and bring them on by giving them the court time they need! Every club would benefit from more people giving a small amount of time to help develop Juniors by giving them games – even 30minutes pre or post their usual friendly games. Well done Gareth Ainsworth!
After the formalities, the Match could get underway! We had one brave junior who was willing to mark the match with the aid of the Coach (not that he needed it). The quality of Squash was immense! Both juniors and club members were able to watch in awe as the two battled it out on the Squash Court; many remarking that their own training would start on Monday! During one of the games, they invited two of the juniors on court to play some doubles with them; sharing the workload and keeping things fun! In-between games the two opened up to questions from the crowd, allowing them to probe into what life is like as a professional Squash Player. It also gave Josh a chance to catch his breath!
At the completion of the match (3-2 to Patrick), and right on cue, Pizza’s arrived from the local Pizzeria. The club was able to socialise, have a drink and a bite to eat and reflect on a fantastic afternoon of Squash. One of the parents lovingly provided a homemade Squash cake which went down a treat! The atmosphere was brilliant and as a whole the club came together as one; it highlighted the community spirit Squash seems to create and hopefully never loses.
To summarise, the feedback of the day has been great! The juniors loved the coaching and they have all taken a lot away from the sessions. They have all been inspired and motivated by the whole experience. The Club was busier than it has been in a long while! With just as many people upstairs on the balcony as downstairs in the bar, there was a total (just shy of) 50 people there to watch the Squash. That includes juniors, parents and club members that all came together as the Bollington Squash community. From here there are talks of holding regular “Squash Socials”. They will be good ways to generate revenue for the club and strengthen the community spirit. In coaching terms, we have already had 7 new enquiries about Junior Squash. Related to the session or not, having such a positive event is sure to spread by word of mouth; especially as the children went back to school on the Monday and reported to their classmates and teachers what they got up to at the weekend!
Finally, from the meeting with Josh, we are more confident about being able to start a Primary School Squash Program in Bollington, which will see even more junior activity on the Squash Courts at Bollington Health & Leisure.
We can only thank Josh and Patrick for coming down and running a brilliant session for the juniors, and for providing the club with a great Squash spectacle to finish off what had been a top-notch afternoon of Squash! I hope they enjoyed it as much as we did!
To find out more about the work we are doing at Bollington Health & Leisure, visit: https://bollingtonleisure.co.uk/activities/squash
Follow us on Facebook: Bollington Squash Club – www.facebook.com/bollingtonsquash/
Follow us on Twitter: @Bolly_Squash – https://twitter.com/bolly_squash
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