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What to look for in a coach / playing partner

Playing Partner Coach

Why is it that some people absolutely love playing squash, while others don’t? It all comes down to choosing the right coach or playing partner.

Coaches have long been recognised as having an influence on whether people keep up, or give up playing sport. Achieving the long-term behaviour change necessary to fall in love with squash requires the conversion of extrinsic motivation to intrinsic motivation. This is where a skilled coach / playing partner knows how to make this happen.

Having someone bark orders and yell at you is an unpleasant experience and it creates more external pressure. While this can stimulate an immediate response, this type of motivation won’t last forever and it can be detrimental to creating long-term change. You are therefore more likely to fall in love with squash if you steer clear of this type of coach / playing partner.

Instead here’s what to look for, someone who:

  • Wants to connect with you – they take time to learn your name, understand your goals and show a real interest in you.
  • Explains why – when you understand the benefits you’re more likely to embrace the game with enthusiasm.
  • Allows you to feel in control – they encourage you to challenge yourself appropriately and slow down when you need to.
  • Is on your team – they don’t say “you have to”, they inspire you with terms like “let’s…”
  • You can relate to – someone who empathizes with you and feels your pain when it gets tough.
  • Recognises your efforts – they give you genuine feedback and praise which builds your confidence.

This coaching approach (How to Coach) is central to our Coach Development Framework and helps achieve motivation that is self-determined – meaning you will ‘choose to play’ rather than feel like you ‘have to play’.

Find out more about coaching here.


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