India fast-growing destination for squash: British coach

A diminishing talent pool is possibly the biggest obstacle that a sport which is not among the most popular ones in a country can face. However, in case of squash in India, there is no dearth of talent or technically gifted players at the age-group levels, according to British coach Chris Ryder.

"India have produced some world class juniors... It's all about getting that consistency in all areas because if one wants to be a good squash player, one cannot have obvious weak spots," Ryder told IANS.

A former professional player who played against India's Sourav Ghosal, among others, Ryder has been coaching since 2014. The 38-year-old is currently in India for a two-week camp aimed at training the 32 best players from the U-13, U-15, U-17 and U-19 age groups for the Asian Junior Championships and later the World Junior Championships.

This is Ryder's fourth visit to the country and his first as a coach.

"The players, although quiet young, are very inquisitive and like to know every small detail about the sport. Some of the junior players, they are good with technique, some are physically strong, some of them are good movers and some are mentally robust in their game, as is the case throughout the world," Ryder said.

When he is not running his club back home in England, Ryder helps the junior national team there. "Young players in both the countries have good and dedicated attitude towards the sport though during my experience at the High-Performance Camp here, the junior players are far more inquisitive," said Ryder when asked what difference he finds between the attitude of young Indian and British athletes towards squash.

"The way of learning is different in different countries as well as for individual players -- some learn by copying, some by listening or doing, and in my experience the Indian junior players seem to learn more by listening and practicing," he said.

The game of squash has not been immune to changes. "The pace of the game has changed, there have been improvements in strength and conditioning of players," Ryder said when asked how the game has changed since he stopped playing professionally.

"Players today are evolving their game strategy and technique and also adopting a more attacking style of play. Additionally, with the wide use of video analysis and elite coaching, players are learning to add all the extra layers into their game which were probably unnoticed previously."

In India, Ryder feels that squash is benefitting from the fact that more importance is given to university sports. "It means that players can have ambitions which can convert from junior level to university and then professional level. I believe that India is a fast-growing destination for the game of squash," he said.

(Rohit Mundayur can be contacted at rohit.m@ians.in)