If you’ve ever seen footage of Michael Jordan taking a free throw with his eyes closed, to psyche out his opponents, then the answer to how he would have played squash surely would have been, at some point, with his eyes closed!
The more resourceful question though is how would he have trained for squash?
And the answer would be much the same as he did for basketball.
So how was that?
First To Arrive – Last To Leave
Jordan was known to be the first player at training. This is when he would give himself, for the most part, time to practice his shooting technique… jump-shots, 3-pointers, fade-aways, you name it.
Each shot he took before anybody else showed up to training was just a little more preparation for taking those classic game-winning shots in the dying seconds of a play-off game.
If he had been a squash player he would have been first at the courts to give himself time for 20-30 minutes of solo-practice – for the most part drives, or rails, which are fundamental for any squash player to maintain pressure on your opponent and keep it off yourself.
And after an hour or two of playing, after all his training partners had cooled down, had showers and headed off to wherever, Jordan would have still been there…
- Running squash court sprints or ghosting drills…
- Or giving himself more time for solo-practice to really hone a particular shot like a volley cross-court nick…
- Or he would have given himself 20 minutes for static stretching (plus some active relaxation) so his body was recovered & ready for the next day
Note: Being the last one at training doesn’t count if you’re just standing around chatting! 🙂
Natural Talent? More Like Work, Work, Work
It’s well known that Michael Jordan didn’t make his high school basketball team. He wasn’t considered a natural talent. But he did prove to everyone that he was willing to work hard.
Natural talent will get a decent junior squash player through the rankings.
After he/she turns 19 though and moves into playing open tournaments, if they are not willing to put sustained hours of training in, they will soon be overtaken by others who are willing.
Players with potential who have the drive to work hard might not have been at the top of the rankings as a junior – just like Michael Jordan wasn’t in his high school basketball team – but once they commit to their squash goals and are able to control who they surround themselves with and where, then it’s often just a matter of their mental fitness.
Michael Jordan had to be mentally strong whereas the players who made the basketball team in high school, probably had less of a need to be mentally strong:
- Maybe they were just naturally tall from a young age…
- Maybe they were just physically strong from a young age…
- Maybe their father or uncle or friend’s parents were a basketball coach so they had one-on-one guidance from a young age…
But none of those guys had the inner-drive and desire to get better that Michael Jordan did… not at basketball anyway.
So if you have just a little bit of potential on the squash court and the desire to improve, target your practice by…
Working On One Thing
The Michael Jordan training ethic described above of being the first to arrive at training and the last to leave is wrapped up in the idea of working hard.
And working hard, day-to-day, often means focusing on one thing at a time.
When I began playing again after a long break since my junior years, it was because I had the inner-drive to want to be on court. And my time on & off court is much more focused now.
As a player I am keenly aware of what the weakest link in my game is.
And as a coach, I am keenly aware of what the weakest link is for my student.
It doesn’t matter what standard of player I’m coaching or what standard of club player you are – the process is the same.
How To Be Like Michael Jordan On The Squash Court
If you’re a smart squash player, even if you’re not the most naturally gifted athlete, you can model your training ethic after that of Michael Jordan and maximize your potential…
Be the first to arrive, the last to leave, because
you want to work hard and practice.
Remember – practice does not make perfect, only perfect practice makes perfect. So identify your weakest link at any given time… then work on that relentlessly!
If you do, you’ll actually enjoy your time more because you will feel your squash skills getting better as your mind is clearer and more focused.
Have fun & play your own game!