When you think about doubles squash, a pro that every doubles player knows in Manek Mathur. Manek made the transition from singles to doubles squash. He is currently the world #1 and there are already discussions of Manek going down as the greatest doubles squash player of all time. His combination of power, size and racquet skills separates Manek from the rest of the pro field.
What I love about Manek in this interview is that his confidence comes through in the definitiveness of his answers. A few takeaways from the interview that you can use today:
- A winner’s mindset is defined by the unwavering belief in yourself
- “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail. – Ben Franklin” Visualize yourself in match situations to train your mind.
- In Doubles squash, it is better to over-hit the ball than to under-hit the ball. And commit to 30 minutes of active solo practice in the court. [An idea is 10 minutes basics, 10 minutes skill shots, 10 minutes situational practice]
To stay connected with Manek, you can find him at:
- Web: https://manekmathur.com/
- Youtube Doubles Tutorials: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL_PzjBBipVIHrwn-4Dc2ANfcbLqPnOmME
Mindset & Work
BossSquash: To be a champion athlete, how much is talent, and how much is hard work?
MM: Great question: I believe that talent gives you a head start, an ability to compete with the best. But the hardest worker in the room will always prevail as their self-confidence and trust in their abilities is second to none.
BossSquash: How would you describe a Winner’s Mindset?
MM: A winners mindset for me is believing in yourself to achieve your goals.
Set your goals and believe in your capability to achieve that goal, small or big
BossSquash: How much time do you dedicate to squash every day?
MM: A tough question during the current covid-19 situation… but my main focus is always my program at the Racquet & Tennis Club in Nyc. I try to find 2-3 hours a day to spend on the court or in the gym and if I’m lucky enough, to do both in a day.
BossSquash: Do you believe in sports psychology? Have you ever used it?
MM: I’m definitely a big believer and proponent of it. A lot of my takeaways from sport is confidence. Sometimes that doesn’t really come from within and having someone work with you to find that inner belief and drive/determination is extremely helpful.
BossSquash: When practicing, how do you simulate a match? How do you work your mental game?
MM: I do a lot of visualization and put myself in certain pressure situations. I try and emulate these crucial points (game to 3 points etc.) either in practice or in my head so often that they almost feel second nature and less high strung in the moment. Meditation has been huge for me in the last 5-7 years. I use a product called NuCalm and swear by it!
BossSquash: How do you think about solo practice on the doubles court?
MM: Like the singles court, squash players have a unique advantage to train by themselves. I always used my solo sessions to fine-tune certain angles, shots… or even try new things.
My solo sessions will last 20-30 mins (I don’t have the mental stamina to keep it productive beyond that) and will start with basics (Lengths, reverse, three wall boasts, ball control drills, some solo routines like a rail and cross) and then move on to straight kills, cross-court nicks, etc. You have to be creative with them if you want to work on particular shots and also emulating match situations.
Very often I’ll feed myself a certain shot to work on a reaction say down the middle… hit the shot, pick the ball up and start again.
BossSquash: You suffered an Achilles injury. We already know you are tough. Tell us about that experience and what you learned
MM: Haha, thanks! It was always something that worried me, but luckily, it has been my first and hopefully only major injury. 18 months or so later, I’m still working on getting equal strength between my legs!
The injury is a process. You really go back to 0, learn to walk again, build the basic strength in the leg that you took for granted, then to running and then finally feeling confident enough to jump and then play squash.
It’s a mental battle. You have your good days and your bad days, but finding even the slightest positive was what I looked for and have used that to fuel my days thereafter. Don’t sweat the small stuff, it can be way worse!
I learned that our bodies are unique- I took for granted what I knew and never evolved and more so, never trusted someone else with a fresh mindset to look at my off-court training to notice some stark imbalances that had developed over the years. I think it’s a must for anyone taking their training seriously.. I have used my time in these last few months to get some training certifications too to put my injury experience and training knowledge together.
BossSquash: You DJ on the side. How did you start? Who is your favorite DJ? (personal favorite is Erc Prydz, specifically the songs he releases under Pryda)
MM: Yes! That just made my day- we always have from Eric going in our proshop to keep the vibes and energy high!
Music has always been a big part of my life. I come from a musical family and electronic music, both producing and DJ’ing has been a part of my life since I was 15. It’s a hobby and a passion that helps me destress and decompress.
Looking Ahead for Squash
BossSquash: Where would you like to see squash in the future?
MM: I would love to see our game held to a higher stature- not only by governing bodies and the Olympic federation… but also by our community. We need to push and press forward cohesively to take this sport to the next level
BossSquash: What do you think about squash getting into the Olympics?
MM: No brainer- one of, if not the most physically demanding sport on the planet and for it to not be displayed on sports highest stage is a travesty.
BossSquash: What is your advice to juniors? What about club-only players?
MM: My advice to anyone is to ensure you enjoy the process. Whatever the reason you’re playing, make sure to have fun. Everything else will follow.
BossSquash: If club doubles players could only focus on 1 thing, what would that be?
MM: Hardball doubles is one game where I love to teach players too over hit. Coming off the back wall on the fly is much better than leaving it short in the service box. It’s also easier to pull back once you start over hitting than to try adding 10-15% to hit the perfect dying crosscourt/lob.