Some of Scotland’s top junior players got to ‘live like a pro’ during Pro Experience Week held at Oriam Performance Centre last week.
The Scottish Squash programme gives junior players the opportunity to experience how professional squash players go about their everyday lives on and off the court.
As well as training and competing against some of the professional players, the juniors also spent time in Oriam’s state of the art gym and were put through their paces during rigorous circuit training drills.
The players also were given time to focus on their studies during the week and were hosted in accommodation by some of the elite senior players including Fergus Richards, Katriona Allen and Tino Mackay Palacios.
Overseeing the week-long programme were coaches Paul Bell, Kylie Lyndsay and Kevin Moran as well as Sports Scientist Katrina Gibbon.
Senior Performance Coach Moran said: “Pro Experience Week is really to give the juniors an understanding of what it’s like to be a pro squash athlete on the Scottish Squash Elite Performance Programme.
“The juniors play tournaments and take part in JEP (Junior Elite Programmes) which are intense 10am-4pm days but it’s not how you train and compete as a professional.
“So this gives them an understanding of how you manage your everyday life like balancing studying and training in the early years as a professional.
“It’s about learning how to become self-reliant and we gave them a lot of freedom to organise some of their own hits and to look after themselves during the week.
“They experienced our different variations of training at Oriam, Katrina Gibbon had them in the gym and they did some circuits and played matches against players a lot more experienced than them.
“We put them through the wringer over the five days and hopefully the intensity our professionals brought to the week on a daily basis will be the thing that kicks them on.
“They enjoyed it and as coaches we find it a really useful tool.”
The players also got a tour of Heriot-Watt University and Edinburgh University to give them a flavour of what life would be like studying and training in Edinburgh in the early years as an elite athlete.
It’s something Moran had first-hand experience of as a youngster and drove him on towards joining the Scottish Squash programme and ultimately competing in two Commonwealth Games for Scotland.
He continued: “When you are a young professional in squash, you are rarely staying in fancy hotels rooms and during Pro Experience week, some of the players were accommodated by the professionals and sleeping on coaches.
“I used to go and stay on Alan Clyne’s couch when I was at school and during the Easter holidays, even though back then I didn’t know him that well.
“It enabled me to get access to facilities and coaches which then really motivated me to study hard so I could go to University and be part of the Scottish Squash set-up.
“Hopefully this Pro Experience week inspired our junior players to take a similar route. They seemed to really enjoy the experience, the different types of training and the camaraderie generated between players at Oriam.
“I’m sure the week will benefit them all greatly going forward.”
The players taking part in the latest Pro Experience Week were: Andrew Glen, Alasdair Prott, Lucy Murchie, Beth Moglia, Jennifer Riches, Rowan Niven, Andrew Torbet, Huzaifah Ali, Finlay McDougall, Ruadhri McDougall, Harry Barron and John Meehan.