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THE ECCENTRIC GENIUS
"I love squash. I love the game."
What do you say, or would you say to your players before a match?
I tell you what, what I find helpful when I’m not there is text messages. By nature, they are concise, to the point.
Let’s take the example of Lee in Bermuda. For some reason, Lee has got problems with [Joe] Kneipp. So I remember I gave him specific advice on how to play like, break his rhythm, as bit of tactics, and also I told him “you will definitely beat him” because Lee probably needed confidence boosting as well (I knew that the previous matches had been tight), things like “you’ve got a good draw, don’t waste the opportunity”.
Lee doesn’t respond to my texts, he is not a responder, but he likes getting them. For the final, Dave [Palmer] had had a hard five setter the night before, so my message was “seize the moment, it’s your chance for another big title, make him run, no mistakes, and think positive”. Quite heavy but positive stuff.
And for James?
With James, I’ll text James about matches, but he will nearly always ring me, because he is much more of a communicator, so he will actually ring me before a match when I’m away. We’ll talk briefly, and he’ll ask the tactical advice but he knows how to play most of the main players in the tactical sense because we discuss it.
For instance, in Kuwait, when he beat John [White], I’d said to him, for several months, that I fell that the first of the big players he could beat was John. He knew I believed that, I think he believed it himself. I always felt that John was vulnerable to James, John plays a slightly open game, and if you open a game, I believe that James is probably one of the best in the world, no disrespect to John.
When a player is not playing at his best,
what do you advise him to do?
I always tell a player “you are not going to play brilliantly for five games, or even three games, it doesn’t happen, because there is somebody stopping you, preventing you from producing the complete performance in terms of sustained brilliance.
There is no reason why he should be brilliant all the game, and if he starts badly or whatever, things can turn and change, as long as you don’t start shaking heads, and giving the wrong signals. Just play through it, do the right things and from a bad spell will emerge a good spell. And when they are practicing I do the same.
So if they have a series of practices where they are not getting tight, or straight, whatever they are working on, I say “that can happen in a game, now you’ve got to rectify that, and get it on course, on line.”
So they do it in practice, and they transfer that into the game, same mental process. And you don’t give up on it just because you started badly. You often see games where somebody loses the first game 9/0 or whatever, and comes back, if they have a right mental approach.
|THE LAST WORDS ...
Anything I missed?
I wouldn’t like anybody to think I don’t coach average players. In my club, I coach everybody. I just hope that in all things surely, the whole conversation we just had shows that I love the game.
Still passionate about the game then, Malcolm?
Oh yes, I love squash, I love the game.
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Malcolm ] [ About Malcolm ]