often talk about the best sportsmen and women in the world as talented or
gifted in relation to their chosen skill. Those who use the word talent with
regard to anyone often imply that they have come across their ability somewhat
miraculously, rather than having achieved it through hard graft. In my opinion,
talent is a word which can only ever be associated with those who have the
character and determination to get up each day and work.
January 2012, I reached the ultimate in my sport, holding the number one
position on squash's official world ranking list. Some may attribute this
success to a degree of innate talent that 'just has to be in the genes'. In
reality, this could only be true to a small extent. It was instead the
culmination of years of training, travelling, and coping with losses and
setbacks; of constantly plotting how I could better myself; of years of
discussions with coaches, physios, nutritionists, and trainers.
thing I am clear about, and I admit it's cliched, is that the path to success
is continuously being paved. My development as a squash player took time and
patience and it will continue to do so if I want more. After 20 years learning
my trade and after many highs and lows, at 28 years old, things came together,
but not by accident or because of genes.
points I have made can be applied in the physiotherapy world. Some athletes
have more inclination to avoid injuries
than others, but no one can possibly be spared them for life, especially if
they take part in a demanding sport.
have worked with my physio Alison ever since my professional squash career
began. I am happy to say that my body has served me well during ferocious
spells of back to back squash tournaments at world levels, in which I am
constantly stressing the joints and muscles, playing a game full of unnatural
movements. I don't get through these intense periods of sport because of luck
or talent, but I have often managed to remain standing because of all the work
I have done with Ali in the physio room.
often come in to her practice in Leeds in between tournaments even if there is
nothing wrong; it is important that we continuously work hard to make sure
there remains nothing wrong, and so we go through exercises and movement
patterns that I can do when away at tournaments, which will help to keep me in
shape. The treatments help to correct any imbalances playing squash may bring
simply, staying injury free is down to smart planning, expertise and
dedication. It is about hundreds of hours of work and application, and not just
by the athlete. Even then, there are no guarantees. So for the sake of your
career, whatever the level, don't neglect this part of the process, and reap
the rewards in performance and the longevity of your sporting life.
James Willstop's excellent new book 'Shot and a Ghost' shows that James Willstrop has whit, charm and determination off the court as well as on. James has been a regular writer for the Leeds based paper, The Yorkshire Evening Post, writing colums on the life of a squash player. Now he has taken that one step further and with a lot of hard work he has produced a fantastic and wonderfully written book, you will not want to put it down.Review by Alison Rose-
"James's book is a thoroughly enjoyable read- I couldn't put it down. Written
from the heart, it made me want to laugh, and cry, and it gave great insight
into the brutal world of elite level squash, as well as the events and people in
his life that have made him who he is today. Well written, I would recommend
this to anyone."
You can purchase James's book directly from his website www.willstrop.co.uk