It's not about the racket

What makes the difference between winning a losing a squash match? This is a question all players ask themselves and there are many factors to consider. Our junior players in particular have to overcome older more experienced and “craftier” players than themselves as they climb the squash ladder.

In an effort to share experiences and so that we might all improve Hadrian Stiff our National Coach will answer any useful questions you may have.

You can e-mail your questions to Hadrian at and we’ll post the responses to the most interesting ones.

Food questions

What should I be eating — and when — as an aspiring young squash athlete? Both generally and around tournaments?

  • A healthy balanced diet most important for development of the mind and body. It will help to reduce injuries, improve growth development and help to avoid many illnesses. 5 x fruit and veg per day and at least 2 porttions of white meat and fish each week. Avoid red meat if possible. Many top players are now on a vegetarian diet as they feel it is helping performance. Prior and during a tournament just be aware of eating and drinking enough. Drink plenty of water and use isotonic drinks for quick recovery after matches. I like powerade and Gatorade but there are many products out there that claim to boost energy etc. Avoid caffeine drinks completely! Try to eat soon after matches especially if you have more than one per day.

Handling a loss

I feel disheartened and like giving up after losing a match to someone I know I should beat – what can I do?

  • Losing to someone you expect to beat is never a good feeling so it important to be able to rationalise what has happened. Firstly the idea of ‘knowing you should win’ is better to keep out of your mind. Good, consistent performances involve staying inside the process of what needs to be done throughout the match. This means the warm up, the game plan and any other key elements that bring good results, like staying relaxed. If you apply all these things well and you don’t win then either your opponent has had a very good day or you are simply not good enough on the day. If you have lost but know that you have been distracted from the process then you now why you have lost and can improve and learn from this. Focusing on the result too much is one the most common reasons for poor performance.

How should I play against someone with a similar ranking that I haven’t played before?

  • The answer to this question is above. If you can find any background information on the player then you can use this in your game plan. Otherwise focus on what you need to do well to produce a good performance. It is so easy to be distracted by rankings, players you know or big events but none of these is within your control. What you can can control though is your performance and the processes involved in making it a good one.