India established nation in squash like England, says renowned coach Ryder

Ryder, England's junior National coach, trained Indian players for 14 days at the Indian Squash Academy ahead of the the sub-junior and junior Nationals.

England squash coach Chris Ryder training junior cadets at Indian Squash Academy on Tuesday.   -  R. Ragu

Chris Ryder alternately observes from outside and drops by each of the adjacent courts to instruct. Occasionally, he pulls all the players out to sit and listen to him.

He’s divided the junior players at the Indian Squash Academy (ISA) into two groups - “young and old”. He’d been training the players since September 25 for the sub-junior and junior Nationals to be held at ISA from Oct. 16-22. Tuesday was the last day of the camp.

“The old group trained for roughly two hours in the morning and evening. Similarly, the young group had two one-and-a-half hour sessions. I think we had, say, three classroom sessions - we discussed goal setting, self analysis, and preparation for big events,” says Ryder.

He’s the England junior National coach, who has also coached in “Canada, South Africa, and Ukraine”. He has also worked with “some National senior and junior squads” and in “some private camps, more so in the United States”. He’s being regarded one of the best junior coaches and he acknowledges it. “I enjoy working with juniors,” he adds.

He’d visited in early June to coach the National junior squad at the preparatory camp in Delhi for the Asian junior c’ships. “India and England squash have a relationship - we share information with each other, and try and improve both sets of juniors together,” he says.

Asked what he makes of the young talent and style of play here, he says, “I think India has become a more established squash nation, producing top junior players. There are some World class juniors here. And that’s been happening for a long time. So, it’s not like it is just a new thing.

“And when you get a more established nation, you get a real mix of styles. It’s not just one style and I think it’s the sign of a more sophisticated nation - in that, it’s not just a fit, intense style. I think when I came here I was expecting a more sort of dominance of physicality. There’s some high level of skill here. There’s a range of abilities of technique, movement, and understanding. It’s becoming kind of quite similar to as it is in England.”

He’s conducted “pressure sessions” in the camp here. “Well, you’ve just got to learn to cope with pressure. So, you’ve got to learn to cope with stress - both physical and mental stress.

“For instance, we were doing the two ball-feeding where two balls will come at you, but not at the same time; you get one ball fed on the forehand and one on the backhand, but they’re very quick.”

He’s also conducted “movement practice”, for he says the movement is something specific for the sport. “We call it (the practice) ghosting, where you’re moving around without a ball. And that’s quite hard. I was trying to make them work on the correct feet positions and balance.”