Everything you never knew you needed to know about the World
Meet Roger Flynn
"The more I learn, the more I realise the less I know" sang
Barbra Streisand in Yentl. Well, thatís exactly the feeling that
overwhelms me every time I cover a tournament, and discover that
I know so little about the world of squash.
example, did you know that Roger Flynn, Irish origins,
born in England, raised in Australia, and Scottish National
Coach since October 2006, was Sarah Fitz-Gerald and Anthony Hill's
Roger used to scare me a bit, as he makes sure his sensitivity
and passion is well hidden behind a very thick shell of feinted
detachment and coldness. It did fool me for a whileÖ
The man is bright, generous, but most of all, passionate.
About life in general. About squash, of course. But most of all,
about his players, for whom he just likes finding solutionsÖ
"íTeamí is a funny word in Squash. A
team doesnít play, individuals do. So, coaching a team is about
managing people and handling interaction. And of course, itís more
difficult when the team is full of rivals."
"Former Scottish Coach Paul Frank made sure that the players, from
a young age, are taught that winning for Scotland is a priority. A
win for yourself is good, a win for Scotland is better. Scotland
has always been historically protective, the Romans stopped at Scotland
"So itís a bit the same for sport, there is a real culture about
wanting to win for Scotland. And if there is rivalry, itís to get
into the teamÖ."
About detecting young
I look at young players, I always look for the usual "speed kills"
and other characteristics, but also for the "cute ones"
the non UK readers, meaning kids that are a bit cheeky in the sense
they are trying different things with the ball, donít play really by
"But of course, to be gifted is not enough, and as their career
advances, discipline and work ethics play a big role at a latter
Although he is thinks he is not that special, that all athletes want to excel in everything they do, and thatís why he
likes doing things to the best of his abilities at all times, Roger
also does a lot of "little things" like building houses, making
furniture, and oh yes, was about to forget, he was initially a
systems analyst, where he gets his "lateral thinking" from.
not so much about solving problems than actually knowing that there
is an answer. And it applies to coaching. Itís all about optimising
"For example, you have a player, with qualities. letís compare it to
cooking - you have some ingredients, and you try to make the best
pie, a perfect pie. Then you have another player, with other ingredients,
with whom you are also going to try and make the perfect pie. It
will be a different one, but a perfect one tooÖ"
Commitment to carry out the
For Roger, itís all about finding a game plan for his player,
and making sure that they trust him enough to apply it.
about looking in their eye when they get on court, and seeing the face
of someone who believes that he can win, because he trusts the
game plan you gave him. ĎTrust the planíÖ
"And itís that smile they give you when they win, telling you that
they were right to trust you. Thatís what coaching is all about."
Dealing with defeat
Difficult to deal with the rush of emotions that spread through
a playerís veins when defeat strikes.
is different in reacting after a defeat, but one common point all
the top athletes share is the hatred of losing. People talk about the will
to win, thatís rubbish, they just loathe losing.
"So, how to come to terms with defeat? First, if you are not
prepared to lose, donít play. But that doesnít stop you from hating
"You need to give your player the motivation of not having to deal with
it again, and getting him to the point where he can rationalise
thing in his mind. The time it takes to get him to that point can
vary, of course.
players, you can talk to them right after, and look at the points
that went wrong, didnít follow the game plan, not patient enough,
etc. And heíll think, OK, next time, Iíll have to do this, not do
"Other players, it takes more time for them to get over their
emotions. Then you have to find an explanation, you can use
statistics, videos, talk, or just draw the answers out of them."
Best and worst about
"The best moment for a coach is when
your player, the underdog, wins a match he/she wasnít expected to
The worst is of course the reverse"Ö
A German Volunteer, to Thierry Lincou, as he was
talking in French to me:
"Aren't you that Ukraine
David is famous in the world as the
English Assistant Coach, but he is of course also James
Willstrop's half brother, and Malcolm Willstrop's step son.
You, the young generation, were you aware that he was here in
1990, in Paderborn, and that he was the runner up against Simon
Parke in the individual Junior finals Ė that was the
last time a nation provided all four semi-finalists (until Egypt in Herentals this year).
Also, he had to play the deciding tie in the final of the Team
Event against John Williams (who was at the time
representing Australia, and now still plays for Switzerland at 39).
At the time, Jonah Barrington was coaching the England
Team, and a few years back, predicted that a team of Simon
Parke, David Campion and Peter Marshall (who unfortunately
was two months too old to participate to that event) would bring
the World Championship title to England.
On that occasion, Jonah thought it would be in the best interest
of David Campion to let Malcolm coach him. And apparently,
that was an excellent move.
"I was so nervous, so nervous, so much
pressure on me, I didnít want to disappoint Jonah, I didnít want to
break his dream.
"But when I saw Malcolm, a bit scruffy as he can be, very calm,
looking his normal self, business as usual, it suddenly put
everything into perspective, and my nerves seem to vanish."
And the rest is history, of course, as
England won the title thanks to Campionís victory over WilliamsÖ
First ever selection for Ramy's older brother, as Shabana
stepped down from the Team. But how did it happen? And what
does it mean for Hisham to play for Egypt...
My last tournament - I actually won it - was in Montreal in March.
After that, I had the longest off season ever. I kept on thinking it
was going to end, and it never did...
I went from the Cayman Islands to Greece to Hong Kong, and much much
more, I only got back in training like 20 days before the Malaysian
So I worked hard, and was not perfect for it, but going up the
ladder slowly slowly, thinking I have plenty of time before the next
I get the call telling me that Iím now going to play for Egypt, so I
climb the stairs veeeeeeery quickly now, Iím like a student to who
you say, your exams are tomorrow! You get the books out, and study
hard, very hard, because the last thing I want is to look ridiculous.
That was about three weeks before the World Teams, and Iím happy, Iím
back to the level I was playing before the off season.
Now Iím here, Iím 100% focused on all of my matches, I want to win
them all, I wish I could play the semis and the final, I wish I
could get the title for Egypt, thatís how strongly I feel about this
My time is now, Iím 30, so itís about time that I get up in the
ranking, I'm hoping to reach 5/6 in the world....
Paul Assiante (US Coach), watching the Egyptians
practising up on the glass court:
"I'm watching, I'm learning.
Thirty-five years in the business, and I'm still learning, every