Nigerian squash has been a fringe sport. Some Nigerians think it is a boring sport. However, the perception has changed in recent times with high-quality tournaments organized in the country like the Chamberlain Squash Open and the Lagos International Squash Classics. These events increase the awareness of the sport.
Squash is a noble sport which requires constant practice and talent, along with high-level athleticism.
Historically, Egypt has been big producer of top squash players. Although, other countries have also started taking keen interest. Nigeria is not exempted.
In the world, no Nigerian player is in the top 200 in the men’s category presently. But who says Nigerian squash cannot catch up? Who says in the next 4 years, one or two of our players cannot be in the top 100? And who says in the next 5 to 8 years, Nigerian squash cannot have a player in the world’s top 50?
Yes we can! Top Media Nigeria tells how:
If you are serious about a career in squash and taking your play to the next level, you should have some structured and strict physical training in your schedule.
There is a wide variety of exercises, sessions and programmes covering the entire spectrum of fitness needs and goals.
You should not joke with Stability Ball Strength session, single leg box, box jumps, weighted twists and service box hops. Some others are walking lunge mobility drill, single leg squat, hip mobility circles and stability ball roll-in.
Then, for the fitness activities, there are programmes such as ‘bolt-on’, circuits, strength, bike-sprints, endurance, footwork and coordination, mobility and repeat-sprint endurance.
When you follow this routine religiously, then you will be a top performer.
NIGERIAN SQUASH PLAYERS ENLISTING IN PSA WORLD TOUR
Despite having over 50 bonafide Professional Squash Players Association of Nigeria (PSPAN) members, only 3 male players are PSA-ranked, while Yemisi Olatunji is the sole Nigerian female face on the PSA World Tour ranking.
Now that the PSA World Tour has been rebranded into two individual circuits – the PSA World Tour and PSA Challenger Tour, Nigerian squash players who are lowly-ranked have a chance to play in tournaments relevant to their ranking.
Before the restructuring of PSA’s professional squash tour, Nigerian squash players enjoy local slots and wildcards for tournaments taking place locally. Now, Nigerian squash won’t benefit from that opportunity anymore if the players are not signed up on the PSA World Tour.
PRUDENT USE OF SPARE TIME
The best athletes in the world are always conscious of the way they use their body, what they take into their body system and how they spend their free time.
Similarly, some fallen sportsmen and sportswomen find themselves down because they are careless about the way they live their life.
Some coaches restrict their players’ sex life. They know what they are doing.
Aside sports, an athlete has his personal life, yes. Afterall, they are normal people like everybody.
Nobody says athletes should not have fun. But anything we do, should be done responsibly.
England football national team skipper, Harry Kane is sustaining top form over the last couple of years. He abstains from drinking alcohol during the football season and he doesn’t go clubbing.
Apart from his hardwork, dedication and talent, Cristiano Ronaldo is one of the best soccer players in the world because he ensures he eat right and doesn’t consume alcohol.
Our own Babatunde Ajagbe is a model too. By simply refraining from consuming alcohol – among other factors, he is able to maintain his status as number 1 since 2014.
Ronaldinho’s penchant for partying ‘killed’ him! Unarguably talented, the Brazillian preoccupied himself with late night outings. There were many stories of him being spotted in bars even in the early hours.
As gifted as he is, his lifestyle was not befitting of an athlete and that apparently made him drop.
Factually, alcohol is detrimental to sports performance because of how it affects the body during physical activity.
Ask a fitness expert!
SENDING JUNIOR PLAYERS OVERSEAS TO TRAIN
French player, Enora Villard, who is number 62 in the world, leaves her country to squash powerhouse, Egypt, to train. Apart from individual sponsors sending Nigerian players abroad to compete in tournaments, they should as well #GiveBackToSquash through funding players to training outside Nigeria.
Nigerian squash young players – most especially – need to be exposed to better facilities and the best squash education to be able to reach the standard of the El Shorbagys of this world. The likes of Abdul Azeez Rofiat, Isaac Blessing, Busayo Olatunji, Abel Shedrack, Gabriel Olufunmilayo, Adegoke Onaopemipo and Michael John should be sponsored to go and train in say, Egypt.
NSF SHOULD HAVE LONG-TERM GOALS
The Nigeria Squash Federation (NSF) need to think about where they want the players to be and what they need to do to get the players there.
One year on, thumbs up to the NSF as led by Boye Oyerinde. However, they still need to do more in order to improve Nigerian players’ PSA ranking. They need to work more on creating a standard national team, training programmes and structured avenues to monitor players’ progress. These are the deep-rooted objectives that needs sustaining.
PROFESSIONAL PLAYERS SHOULD SET SMART TARGETS
By SMART, we imply Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timed goals.
A serious squash player should be precise with what he or she wants.
Think about what elements of your game you want to work on, and identify exactly where you want to be with it.
Reducing the easy points you give away by resolving not to make more than 3 unforced errors per game in your matches is a goal.
Meanwhile, don’t forget to set recordable and measurable targets that can be used to truly gauge your improvement.
You should have a certain world-ranking goal you set to reach.
Your goals should be challenging enough to spur you on, but not so broad and vast that you will be overwhelmed.
Assess your current abilities and set goals beyond where you are to challenge yourself and make you want to work toward them, but not so far beyond your current ability so as you are likely to get discouraged.
Furthermore, as much as goals are there to provide motivation towards achieving your highest sporting aspiration, it is important also to be realistic both in timeframe and in scope. If a professional player ranked 300 in the world settled on a goal of reaching the world’s top 30 within 6 months, while technically possible, they are setting themselves up for a fall by shooting too high.
It is crucial to aim high and shoot for the stars, but to be realistic is important.
Lastly, set a specific time or deadline for your goals.
It is noteworthy that you need to imbibe the habit of writing your goals down. You could pen it down on a sheet of paper or on your phone and it could be in your diary.
Nigerian squash will get there!
Written by: Ridwan Adeola Yusuf
Facebook: Ridwan Adeola Yusuf
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