In 2016, the county of Essex was praised by the Sports Minister for being the only county in the country to include squash in its annual Schools Games event.
The popularity of squash is continuously growing, thanks to coaching programmes provided by bodies such as Off The Wall Squash Academy in Essex, and the government is actively encouraging other academies to follow suit and get more children involved in the sport.
Sports Minister Tracey Crouch said: ”I love all sports and used to play squash myself. It’s a great game. To hear that it is being played by more schools is wonderful. Congratulations to everyone concerned.”
So, why should squash become part of a school's sports programme? Newitts takes a look at 7 of the health benefits associated with the game of squash.
1. Agility levels are increased
Squash is an active sport that involves a complex amount of moves to include leaping, spinning, stopping, bending, jumping, sprinting and running. As such, squash players must be nimble and light on their feet. Children are the perfect advocates for the sport because of their high energy levels and shorter attention spans. Kids are agile enough to be able to quickly stop, start and change direction whilst squash also teaches children how to maintain equilibrium around the court.
2. Improves hand-eye coordination
Developing good hand-eye coordination is an essential trait for children's development in any sport and squash is the perfect activity to promote it further. Players must repeatedly see the ball and adjust their body and hand to hit back under competitive stress, which forces the body to hone in on target and destination. The coordinated control of eye movement along with hand movement and the body's ability to process what it sees further boosts accuracy and finesse of movement.
3. Increases flexibility
Constant movement is an essential requirement in squash, in particular movement outside the typical range of motion. Children's joints are able to stretch, promoting elasticity and blood flow in the body, therefore constantly playing squash will help to improve flexibility and ensure muscles get the most stretch out of every game.
4. Improves concentration
Children often lack concentration meaning they only have the ability to focus on something for a short period of time. Playing squash teaches children to pinpoint concentration. From the very start of the game, eyes must be sharply fixated on the ball at all times. Focussing where the ball hits and knowing where and how it will bounce back requires mental and visual concentration at all times.
5. Improves fitness levels
Like any sport, squash is a great advocate for boosting fitness levels. Children will gain the ability to apply force by applying the swing of a squash racket to hit the ball as hard, fast and accurate as possible. The strength required in a squash game helps children of all ages to tone their bodies as well as maintain a healthy weight.
6. Improves social skills
Sports create a welcoming environment where children can feel confident in making new friends therefore Squash is another great advocate for improving a child's social skills. You need at least one other person to play, and schools have the advantage of organising friendly tournaments and games with other neighbouring schools allowing players to mix with a wide variety of children as well as compete against them.
7. Improves self-confidence
A game of squash can evoke feelings of elation whilst on the pitch and satisfaction at the end of the game, particularly for the winner. Regardless of whether you win or lose a game, players can feel a sense of accomplishment as well as develop their confidence. Players can be safe in the knowledge they have tried their hardest which enables a boost in self-esteem and a feeling of sureness in their ability.