Each week we put an Essex squash coach under the spotlight for a quick-fire spot of Question and Answer. This week it’s the turn of former World U-19 team champion, PAUL ALLEN.
What’s your name: Paul Allen
Where do you coach squash: Lexden Rackets & Fitness Club and also currently various primary schools around the area.
When did you first begin playing and how long have you been coaching I started when I was about 5 years old but didn’t have any coaching until aged 7. I got into coaching part time from 16, then full time from 30.
Who is the best player you have ever coached I am lucky to have grown up at the same club as three past world top ten players in Del Harris, Chris Walker and Tony Hands. I often participated in feeding and drills sessions with them but I can’t really claim to have taught them much!
What is it about the game that you love: From a playing point of view it has to be the places you see, the people you meet and occasionally being part of something epic such as winning the U19 world junior team championships or the national league title with my home club. From a coaching point of view there are many things, obviously I love seeing my players progress, but more selfishly I love the thought process, no session or day is ever exactly the same. I wish as a professional player I knew as much as I do now!
Do you coach any other sports: No, just squash and racketball, I studied sport development at Cardiff university and also worked for a short time at Essex university sports centre so I have gained a few other coaching certificates along the way, but I don’t use them now.
Who is your favourite professional player: Currently Nick Matthew but previously Peter Nicol. It’s their relentless work ethic and mental strength I admire most.
Any training tips for club players: Serves and returns’, it’s my most common request. Practicing and improving your serves and returns of serves can take you up several leagues.
Other than your own, what is your favourite squash club and why: Surrey Sports Park, six glass backs and a Starbucks, what more coach a coach want!
Egypt is producing some fabulous young players. How are they doing it: Egypt are currently ‘riding a huge wave’, in the past Pakistan have had it, Australia have had it, England seem to have always had it and now it is Egypt’s turn. They have had some exceptionally gifted and high achieving players in the modern era, starting with Barada, then on to Shabana, Darwish and Ashour more recently. This has given their juniors something to idolise and emulate over the past 20 years. They clearly recognised this and got to work on a pathway for juniors to progress and fulfil their ambitions. Oh, and the P.A.R scoring helps their attacking ethos to!
England Squash has a new chief executive starting soon. What advice would you give him: England Squash and Racketball is in a great place, it has great players at the top end, promising high performance players coming through and exciting juniors with great ambitions on the way. Just continue to raise the profile and the keep the funding and support coming.
Have you ever deliberately drilled an opponent with a ball? Come on, be honest No, although as a junior I did accidentally drill the same opponent twice in one game, in the same leg. Ouch!
Pasta or potatoes: Potatoes
Steak or chicken: Steak
Beer or wine: Beer
Football or cricket: Football
Monarchy or Republic: Republic
Favourite football team: Spurs
Least Favourite football team :Arsenal
And finally, if the Dragon’s Den asked why they should invest in squash, what would you tell them: I think I would need more than 60 seconds, but ultimately if they could assist in getting squash in the Olympics, over time they will eventually have squash players with the same high level profiles as we now see with Bradley Wiggins, Chris Froome and Mark Cavendish.