OK. Yes, like most players, I’m in holiday recovery mode, which means unexpected twinges in my shoulder, a hot message from my Achilles and all that.
Fine. It’s just for a week or so.
But levitation? That’s something else again.
We were playing doubles last night. Struggling to put our game together, or at least look like we’d done this before. Not much luck: our opponents won very handily. Then, in a fit of indifference, we switched sides.
I am lefthanded and don’t get to my backhand very much, but whatever. At this point we weren’t in it for the glory. Anyway, I was up at the short line when the ball went past. Knowing it would come of the back wall I started to turn around to get it. But I turned towards the T instead of towards the wall. Pivoting on my left foot – except my left foot wasn’t on the ground, so it just floated away and there I was hanging in midair. Briefly.
Then there it was. Reassuringly solid. Unfinished birch. Very hard wood it is, too.
Posted on the run!
Location:New York (where else?)
I guess it’s old news now. Players as young as 25 are doing it, so it must be, right? To me, it looks revolutionary, but maybe it’s not. Maybe it’s just a refinement of what the best shotmakers and touch players have always done, an extension of their instinctive compensation for a physical constraint.
That carving. The reaching for the far outside surface of the ball and then the simple, straight follow through. Sure, it’s obvious now, but when I first saw it, I thought it was something extraordinary. I’d watched Graham Ryding and Jonathon Power working each other on that side of the court for hundreds of strokes, but I hadn’t really seen it.
Now, of course, it’s de rigeur, which means everything has shifted slightly. Footwork, upper body, head, free hand. It’s so much more open now, so much more about what your hand is doing than what your arm is doing. Honestly, it is finally starting to feel like my forehand!
There are great contributions being made to the theory and practice of squash in the US by a number of individuals and organizations. Off the top of my head (currently attached to my body and wandering around New York City), I reckon we all agree that CitySquash and StreetSquash are dynamic, effective and worthwhile programs which deliver far more than the sum of their components.
Personal development. That’s what I’ve always thought was the most valuable result of a squash program. No matter the age, level or aspiration of the individual player. It’s a game that teaches self-reliance, while rewarding hard work, creativity and good judgement.
As with any untelevised sport, we worry about how to keep interest alive. The answer is simple: more, more, more! High school programs, college teams, recreational and competitive tournaments, leagues and challenges, ongoing training series for league players. Generous portions of opportunity at every level. Without these, there are too many cracks for players to fall through. They disappear for months or years or forever, even though they love the game.
Imagine the kid who starts out on the old American courts at Fordham, plays for a bunch of years, gets through school, gets to college and plays for the second team there. Is she done after that? Probably (sadly), but not necessarily. Maybe if there’s an affordable club with a pro running a good variety of programs, if there’s a city league up and running that gives her a team to play on, and beer and pizza after her matches, and if there are open clinics she can get to to help her move up on those teams or in the house leagues at the club, she’ll make the transition smoothly. Perhaps she’ll continue to grow into the game instead of out of it.