Back to basics: Professional squash player Nicol David visits

Members of the Denison women’s squash team with the eight times world champion Nicol David (pictured fifth from the right), who came to Denison to work with the squash teams during their winter training. “Nicol David is considered to be one of the greatest women’s squash players of all times, which makes her an incredible inspiration and role model.”

ZOE PEARCE, Features Editor Emeritus—The Denison men’s and women’s squash teams have elevated their game recently in anticipation of going varsity next year.

With this mindset in place, the team was able to have a very special guest come to campus: eight-time world champion Nicol David.

David is from Penang, Malaysia and has been a huge advocate for not only squash but also women in sports.

She is considered by many to be one of the greatest women’s squash players of all time. She was also the world’s number one for 112 months and nine-time Asian champion.

David has won every major title there is to win, making her an incredible inspiration for collegiate squash players.

During the Denison Squash team’s winter training in early January, David came with her assistant Mariana de Reyes for the second week to help the team to get in shape, work on key techniques and provide insight and guidance.

David was great about taking the time to help each individual player while also allowing for helpful group discussion about the physical and mental aspects of squash.

Co-Captain for the men’s team Mike Ferrick ‘20 reflected on the training, “It was a once in a lifetime experience to be trained by a world number one athlete. I also really enjoyed getting to know Nicol and her assistant Mariana, they were very down-to-earth and genuine people.”

Each day of training had a different focus, allowing for the team to zero in on specific aspects of the game of squash.

Day one was devoted to the importance of movement, which included discussing common misconceptions about movement, basic tips and the proper warm-up routine before a match.

Day two focused on movement with the incorporation of strength. David taught the proper ghosting structure (when players mirror shots around the court to further ingrain proper shots), as well as stabilization drills and strength exercises using resistance bands.

Day three was dedicated to the mental aspects of squash. The game of squash is 80% mental and 20% physical, making this day crucial for the Denison team.

The team took the time to develop a list of feelings and emotions felt before, during and after a match and discussed how to overcome the negative and use the positive to their advantage. After this exercise, each teammate played each other and wrote down on a chart what they were feeling.

This helped the team come to terms with what they felt and how to cope with it.

And finally, Days four and five consisted of match play exercises.

Overall, this experience was a motivating factor for the Denison Squash team especially in the process of becoming a varsity team.

Coach Pam Anckermann stated about the session, “We were so lucky to have Nicol working with us. She’s not only the best squash player of all time but she’s kind, humble and gracious. Such great qualities of a true champion and leader. We all learned so much from her and I believe the team really enjoyed this amazing opportunity!”

As the team heads into their last competitions of the year and squash nationals, they are extremely excited to incorporate Nicol’s wisdom and mentality into their final matches.

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