SPA-tlight: Lyall Paterson

image5(1)Lyall Paterson: Head Coach, Scozzie Squash, King of Prussia, PA

I was born and raised in a small town called Stonehaven, in the North of Scotland, the same region as Peter Nicol. In the summer of 1997, aged nine, I was asked for a game of ‘squash’ by my next door neighbor and best friend. As a first-timer and avid soccer player, I immediately investigated the rules and was hesitant with what I heard; individual instead of team sport? In a confined space indoors? Using a racket instead of your feet?! Reluctantly, I agreed as a favor to my best friend and along we went to the local three court facility, which had a total membership of 39 players. Within ten minutes of hitting, I’d fallen in love and had a new favorite sport!

The Squash Culture in Scotland is very different. From a junior development perspective, Scotland has a very long-term focus of establishing its most prominent junior players into prospective professionals who can go on to represent (and hopefully win medals for) Scotland at major events – the Commonwealth Games, World Championships and European Championships. The focus at the majority of junior events in Scotland is targeted towards learning and rehearsing, with a Nationals being the exception. In comparison, the US has a very unique squash culture centered around college, an experience which exists nowhere else in the world. With aspirations of playing college squash, kids are motivated from a young age and the team environment mirrored at High and Middle School Nationals provides an exciting taste of what’s to come.

I earned 1st Class Honors in Kinesiology and won the University Medal in Sport Coaching when I graduated in 2010. It definitely provided a platform for my development as a coach. The degree had three primary components; sport physiology, sport psychology and biomechanics. All three have given me a great insight into how the mind and body function in sport specific environments and allowed me to develop my coaching philosophies. The degree also made me realize I enjoyed teaching more than playing competitively.

The Scozzie Squash Academy was founded in 2011 to provide an accelerated development pathway for juniors looking to progress into their next level of achievement. The word Scozzie is a playful portmanteau of the combining of Scotland and Australia (Ozzie) – the director is Paul Frank, who is Australian. The 2015/16 Academy moved to a four-tier system with JBS (Just Beginning Squash), Scozzie Lite (for weekend only training), Scozzie Academy (full time junior training program) and SAS (Scozzie Academy Select). The Scozzie Methodology has been successfully used for 20+ years worldwide and currently we have either the #1 or #2 player in seven of ten age divisions in the US rankings. The methodology involves a Scozzie Playbook which lists drills specifically targeted toward technical/tactical development as well as providing an off-court conditioning program for physiological development and injury prevention.

The Fairmount Athletic Club has been a pivotal host for the junior academy, providing 14 singles courts with the best coaching layout in the world and access to high-tech conditioning equipment. The location is prime for all the local schools and we’ve been very fortunate to attract/retain staff with the same enthusiasm and vision for the club and program.

Quoting John Wooden, ‘A leader’s most powerful ally is his/her own example’. One of the concepts I have carried over from player to coach is to try and better yourself every single day. Read, listen, learn and constantly reflect on how to become better. Experience is everything in squash. I’m lucky to work alongside seven squash professionals every day. To teach the sport you love brings natural passion and enthusiasm, and hopefully it passes through to the kids in their own individual pathways and careers. I went from being a hot headed teenager, to a 21-year-old in the Commonwealth Games, to a retired pro at 23 and now an aspiring squash coach.

If I’m not coaching you will find me a long way away from a squash court! If you haven’t experienced a Movie Tavern yet, immediately add it to your bucket list! One recently opened in Flourtown, PA, with full reclining seats, full dinner menu and drinks list which they serve as you watch your movie of choice. I recently went to see London Falling at 7:00pm on a Saturday night and absolutely nothing beats watching a movie with your feet up and cold beer/pizza delivered on cue! It was actually so good, I immediately went to the next door 9:30pm screening of The Revenant! Let’s just say at 12:30am the next day I was glad my fiancée was the designated driver!