Outside interest: coaching squash

Written by: Jez Abbott
Published on: 25 May 2016

Emily PenkettEmily Penkett is both a player and coach on the busy squash circuit across Gloucestershire, which is what she does when not working as a planning assistant at Hunter Page Planning. 

How did you get into coaching squash?

I started playing squash aged five and by the time I was 18 I was competing at county and regional level. After my A levels I got into coaching in clubs, schools and leisure centres. Squash is not massively popular with girls so if you're good, you can go far.

What does it involve?

I play a couple of times a week and have coached girls under age 13 at county level. Coaching takes up most weekends and I teach both groups and individuals, from starters up to junior county level. There's been a recent drop in girls playing squash, so I'm keen to get more youngsters coming into the sport. We do out-reach work in schools and I'm part of This Girl Can, a national campaign run by Sport England to encourage girls to take up sport.

Why do you do it?

I want to give something back to Gloucestershire squash; I've met lots of people through playing and coaching and spend lots of weekends and evenings doing a sport that is self-funded, so it's good to get involved even in jobs like marking, which many people don't like doing. 

What’s the toughest thing about it?

Levels of skills vary and trying to balance them all can be tricky. Some players have learning difficulties, others play for the county and you have to make training interesting and challenging to them all.

What’s the most rewarding thing about it?

It's great seeing young players progress, not just to reach competition finals but improve their game in a small way, such as finessing a back-hand shot. The reward is seeing their faces light up at having got the hang of it, even if it's just once over many failed attempts.

Are there any similarities between your day job and coaching squash?

The element of communication and developing mutual understanding  with everyone involved – be it parents and players or clients and councils - is important. You also have to set goals for both, plan ahead and be able to adapt and adjust to new situations that may crop up and catch you off guard.

Do you have any unusual interests or hobbies that you would like to tell us about? If so, please email planning@haymarket.com