Spotlight Q&A with Elite Squash Coach, Richard King

As any sports person the world over knows, a time comes in their development, that in order to be the best player that they can be, it will mean enlisting the help of a coach that they can trust, respect and learn from.  Someone who will help them both physically and mentally to grow and get the most out of their game and achieve their aspirations.

Here at Elitesquash, we’ve got a fantastic team of coaching staff who’s aims are to help both our adult and junior squash players learn, develop, thrive and reach their greatest squash playing potential and reach their goals. Find out more about our coaching staff in this month’s blog post where we cast the spotlight on Rich King and find out what makes him tick as a squash coach and why he’s so passionate about inspiring many players, both junior and adult, to get involved in this fast action, highly skilled exciting sport.

Name: Rich King

Position: Junior Development Manager, Junior and Adult Coach – all levels

Coaching background: Coached international level juniors and world class professionals including Lucas Serme and Todd Harity. Richard is head of the Elite Squash junior program and adult programs in Bristol. Lead coach on junior and adult camps. ESR qualified level 3. Pilates instructor.

Playing history: Junior: Hampshire county team in all age groups. Reached top 20 in England in the under 17 and under 19 categories Senior: Avon and Hampshire county player.

Q&A:

1.       When did you get the Squash bug?

Roughly when I was 9/10years old after taking part in some taster programs run by my school at the local club.

2.       What do you like most about the sport?

It’s fast pace and the amount of variation and angles there is in the game.

3.       How long have you been coaching?

I’ve actually been coaching since I was 15 years old and fully qualified as a club coach when I was 16.

4.       And why do you coach?

I’m very social and really enjoy being around all types of people. In coaching you teach anyone from 4 year old children to mums and dads and even professional players. Every person is different and has different needs and personality’s and I love that. Generally though I love inspiring and sharing my passion for a sport with people, also the influence and positive effect that I can have on that person and in their game is very rewarding.

5.       Who’s been your strongest influence when coaching? And how have they helped you develop your style?

Well, I would have to say initially Ashley Read who was my coach up until 14 years old. Although it was a long time ago I’m sure in my subconscious a lot of his ideas and techniques have stayed with me. His approach was very open minded and professional and I respected how he always maintained a fun element to his coaching and still maintained his respect and professionalism which isn’t easy to do!

Then I suppose the greatest influence has to be when I joined Elite Squash 7 years ago and met Hadrian. We both are very open minded in our coaching so we were constantly bouncing ideas off each other from the start. We share similar passions for movement and how we felt squash coaching should be taught which was very exciting. Working in a very open environment was also great, effectively you have no limits to your creativity. We look at the players as an individual and see how they move and respond in many different challenges that you experience in the game, from there we guide and challenge our pupils to feel and sense ways to really unlock their potential instead of a one way fits all model!§re

 6.       Who is your greatest role model either personally or as a coach?

This is very tricky question! I feel personally I motivate myself a lot but I’m constantly gaining influences from many peers and professionals I meet or search out in my life. I’m constantly inspired by many people around me and I take the bits which I feel resonate and fit me as a person the most. Particularly Joanne Elphinstone has been a big influence on us at Elite Squash and I would also have to say Hadrian, Elite Squash founder and head coach, based on our journey together and where we’ve taken Elite Squash, so far. I admire his career and how he has translated that into being a great coach as well.

7.       Can you describe the high lights of the job?

Working with people and their many different personalities and doing a job I love!

8.       Who do you most admire in the sport? Who’s your inspiration?

Roger Federer. To achieve what he has is incredible and I think the dedication he shows to his sport is phenomenal and to come back and still win majors when so many top players are around him is very admirable.

Squash wise,  I loved watching Alex Gough play and also Stewart Boswell. Seeing pros in action at my local club was a treat for a young  keen young junior. It was more the way that they played than really their ranking which was appealing to me.

9.       What type of fitness and training do you use for those at Elite Squash?

We use many different techniques at Elite Squash but there is definitely a quality over quantity ethos. Our coaching can be very holistic in its approach as we look at the players as an individual and assess their needs based on this. Every player will have the components of movement assessed from balance, movement timing, agility, hip function and lunge technique, coordination, proprioception & rhythm. 

10.   How do you prepare players for matches / tournaments?

Week by week we will develop certain skills and key areas in our pupils games but as it draws closer to an event there will be more emphasis on match play and condition games. We try to create an environment more realistic to tournament experiences. The intensity of their training will generally build up week on week with the aim to prepare them for the upcoming tournament. We would also however work on the mental aspect of their game (tactical and emotional) as this is one of harder areas to simulate in a training environment. Continually keeping the focus to a certain goal or date gives the pupil real purpose in their pre-tournament practice.

11.   What would you say is your unique style of coaching and what are you looking for in a player?

I’m personally a very attacking player so naturally I like to develop this side of the game in a pupil. This style of play also comes from a very self-assured and confident person off court so it has a positive effect not only in their game but away from the court too. I love to coach a player who has a wide skill set and is not defined to one particular style of play. The versatility in a player is a massive attribute and plus ‘why would you not want to master all components of the game?! I  look for a players who have  passion and commitment to learn and challenge themselves.

12.   What is your philosophy on discipline?

Discipline is important as is structure, without this it’s very easy to lose purpose in what you are trying to achieve. However,  it’s important that it is used in a manner which does not restrict or demotivate a player, each player needs are different. If something isn’t enjoyable or fun you’ve lost the reason they started the sport in the first place!

 13.   What is one word or phrase that you hope former players use to describe you?

Fun, Inspirational

 14.   What are three things that your previous experience in coaching have taught you?

Be patient, Don’t overload the player with too much information, 

 15.   What are your best and worst memories in coaching?

Best memories: Teaching my first ever Mini Squash session. Being there to coach the UWE men’s team to victory in the BUCS championships. Travelling to the English open with a core group of Elite Squash Juniors for the first time.  First ever session with world no.5 Marwan El’Shorbagy – It was great to hear his opinions and experiences on court and also to feel and witness his ability’s and skill on court and help improve that!

Worst memories: Our PSL team losing the playoff round in the PSL 2015/16 season by 1 game! Leaving my home club for Bristol although it was for a positive outcome it was still very sad. Watching Todd Bennett lose a nail biting 3/2 to win the national championships I really felt for him!

 16.   What would you say to any youngsters thinking of starting out in the game?

Learning any new skill can be an exciting challenge and squash is definitely one of those! Squash brings you so many quality’s, and from a social perspective you meet lots of different people and can really feel part of something no matter what standard you are. It teaches you many values relevant to life, dedication, commitment, how to enjoy yourself. Its super-fast, exciting and a whole lot of fun!

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