Baseball season is over, school has started, and it’s time to decide what after school sports your children will play. Participation in football may not be a viable choice any longer. Did you ever consider squash for your kids? Have you ever even seen a squash match?
Sport & Health on Capitol Hill, which has four squash courts, has revitalized its children’s squash program. It hired Squash Revolution, a company that promotes, teaches and develops the game of squash, and hired squash pro James Reiss to run the program.
“We inaugurated a junior academy last month,” said Shahier Razik, Squash Revolution’s program director. “We offer private lessons, clinics and fitness training. We start children as early as 6 years old and work with them up to college. No experience is required.”
On October 5th you can see a squash match, talk to squash pros and learn what it takes to be a college squash athlete. Sport & Health is hosting, “Squash Your Road to College,” a free event starting at 5 p.m.
After talking to both James and Shahier, I learned a number of surprising facts about the game of squash. Squash was voted the number one healthiest sport by “Forbes Magazine” in 2004 ahead of swimming and rowing. The average 45 minute squash match can burn up to 700 calories. Squash can be played year-round, in all kinds of weather, by players of any skill level and any age.
The United States has the fastest growing squash participation worldwide. More than 200 colleges and universities have courts including 23 of the top 25 colleges in the country. “Every Ivy League school has a varsity squash team,” said Shahier. “Top ranked juniors went to Harvard, Yale, Princeton, George Washington University and University of Virginia as well as other top colleges and universities around the country.”
More than 20 million squash players participate regularly world-wide in more than 185 countries.
Benefits of Playing Squash
One reason why Forbes voted squash the number one healthiest sport in the world is because of the safety of those who participate. “It’s not a contact sport,” said James. “You can get fit without a big risk of injury.”
It improves cardiovascular conditioning. It also improves agility, hand/eye coordination, reflexes and concentration. “From start to finish your eyes are sharply focused on a ball at all times. Where it’s hit and how it will bounce ensures mental and visual concentration.”
Playing squash also improves self-confidence and allows players to develop a sense of accomplishment. It can alleviate stress and compel flexibility. “The constant movement especially outside the typical range of motion allows the joints and ligaments to stretch which promotes elasticity and blood flow in the body. It can improve flexibility in the core and back because of twists, lunges and turns necessary to keep the ball on the go.”
Squash is also easy to learn. The game is played with two to four players in a four-walled court with a small hollow ball. It can be either a leisure or competitive sport.
James, who has been at Sport & Health almost a year, has been focusing much of his efforts on educating parents about the sport. “This a sport that kids can play throughout their lifetime,” he said. “The sport is competitive in high school and college. After school playing squash can be a way to make inroads in the community. You can meet great people along the way. They even have squash courts at the Pentagon.”
Squash is also a sport both parents and children can play together. James is currently training a Senator and her son. “Squash requires strategy, not strength nor youth. You have to know where to hit the ball versus speed and endurance. You have to play strategically and not rely on athleticism.”
The event on October 5 is a great opportunity to get an introduction to the sport. Or you can contact Shahier or James any time to come to the gym and try the game.
Never seen a squash match? Here’s a YouTube link showing men’s and women’s highlights from recent Professional Squash Association events: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A9sNnVtaI2Q.
For more information email: [email protected] or call Shahier at: 416-526-5554.
Pattie Cinelli is a health/fitness professional who offers information about subjects on the leading ledge of health and fitness thought. She has been writing her column for more than 25 years and welcomes column suggestions and fitness questions. Pattie also provides lectures, private sessions and group classes. You can contact Pattie at: [email protected].