The importance of not standing still

Travel can have many positive effects on our minds and bodies including excitement, wonder and relaxation. Even just being taken out of our routines and environment can have the power to start the brain off on different thoughts and questions which otherwise don’t happen when we are too busy getting through the daily grind.

Something happens when the environment around us is new and not predictable. In the bustle of the airport or train station there are many different people, travelling to different places with various purposes. Travelling for work, visiting family or going to discover somewhere new, it’s a scramble of different destinies. It’s often a fast tempo but can be strangely relaxing and interesting if seen through eyes of excitement and wonder. And this is what brought me to write these words, this feeling of energy and purpose from the environment around me, a kind of wake up call and reminder that the mind comes alive when its stimulated and asked to move outside of its regular patterns.

Squash coaching and playing requires innovation and fresh perspectives to progress and move forward as does any sports or business industry. Coaches and players need to feel stimulated, energized and free to be forward thinking and creative. Its not acceptable to keep doing the same thing without asking every day; is this the best it can be? But sometimes days can race by, even weeks then months and nothing has changed for the better for anyone. In a regular environment, with no fresh perspective in front of us this happens and it often takes something quite dramatic to push things out of the comfort zone and produce something special. Sometimes a player has a big success and helps motivate and enthuse those around them or a coach meets someone who inspires them to reach higher and push boundaries.

Movement with travel on trains or planes even a walk around the block means we are not standing still mentally or physically, we are going somewhere and it can be powerful in helping our minds and bodies free-off. Like a still pond without movement in the water, eventually the algae will begin to grow and the surface of the water becomes green and stagnant, movement is needed to prevent stagnation.

So this weekend, while coaching new juniors and adults and also helping develop coaches in the fantastic club Malta Squash in Poznan, Poland, I will make it my mission to communicate this important truth: keep the body and mind moving, make routines open and random, ask questions and be ready to adapt ideas and plans to the coaching program. Help players stay free during sessions; don’t let their feet stay still and create challenges and puzzles for both coach and player to solve together. Avoid mental and physical stagnation.

Squash can often get trapped in its long history of bureaucracies, routines and traditions. Great nations and collectives in sports don’t do this, they look for the next thing, the way of coaching and training which moves the sport forward and asks everybody else to catch up. Squash needs this and in some departments its definitely happening. But as the desire for short term outcomes take hold or the fear of risk is too strong, its far too easy to default to what has historically worked and is safe. We all need shaking up sometimes in order to progress. Egyptian squash, spearheaded by Amr Shabana and Ramy Ashour has done just this to the sport: switched the style of play, the techniques, the training and coaching. Through their highly skilful and attacking styles they have changed the way the sport is played for the better. Its more exciting and unpredictable now and asks everyone else to find a way to combat this and therefore created a new direction.

So keep moving out there squash people. The basics will always need to be solid and that won’t ever change but challenge, question and reinvent the surrounding environments to find the next level of squash players, clubs and businesses. If nothing else its a lot more fun and interesting for everyone and that can only be a positive thing.

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