What is the point of a junior squash tournament?
In a city where squash is still barely known, the best way to explain something is to just do it. But for those who have not been to one of our tournament, here’s a first pass at why we host them.
Squash is a very hard sport to learn. It requires a great deal of individual commitment, because ultimately you are the only one you can rely on during the match itself. There is no hiding behind teammates when it comes to match-time. You must learn every stroke, you must learn how to move efficiently in the court, you must learn how to respond to every situation you are faced with in the rallies.
It is a tall order to learn these things, especially for a young child. The fact is, children really can’t appreciate the urgency of the learning challenge until a tournament match reveals it. Thus the tournament becomes a teaching aid. A child who runs up against a tough opponent with a good serve or great court positioning will suddenly understand why it is important to work on these things and how to defend against them.
Children also gain a sense of camaraderie from tournament play, especially when parents and coaches are constantly reinforcing the progress of each child, not just those who win. Kids come to see that they are engaged in a learning process with their peers and that makes it more fun. That drives the learning process.
A child’s powers of concentration are also tested and strengthened in tournament play. Squash is a 1 on 1 sport, played in a glass box, with spectators watching and the score announced at each point. It requires great mental focus for a child to stay on task in this environment, especially when the going gets tough. Thus tournament play is an aid in develop calm and strong critical thinking skills as well as emotional maturity.
Lastly, tournaments can dramatize and reinforce the importance of character and values. A squash match presents a child with a running string of options that can build up a child’s character and core sense of values. There are moments when a child can choose to be honest or to try to get away with a call the ref did not see; to be brave and fight on, or to wilt and give up the effort; to get angry or to hold one’s emotions in check; to compliment one’s opponent or to seethe on the inside; to stay at the matches to encourage one’s teammates, or to leave the courts early because all you care about is your own match. These are just a few of the choices that are presented to a child in a tournament match. In our program we encourage our children to make the choices that will build them up as young people.
Through the sport of squash, we strive to build life and leadership skills in children from across the city. And tournament play is one of important ways we do this. As our model matures, we will strive to host a junior tournament every other month. We hope to see you in the stands and your children on the courts.