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Tai Chi and … squash?

February 14th, 2009 Leave a comment Go to comments

Yin and Yang are everywhere. The push and pull, give and take  can be found in nature, relationships, negotiations, traffic flow and Tai Chi, of course. But squash?

When I took up squash (seriously) to burn calories and keep potential diabetes at bay, I thought it would complement my Tai Chi by adding something hard and fast to something soft and slow. I also wanted to see what would happen if I brought a Tai Chi player’s perspective to a game generally played by Type A executives.

Then something happened. Barbara Cooper happened. Barb is the Pro at Mayfair Lakeshore club, and The Squash Coach. Not just at the club level, but at the National and World level. We’re damn lucky to have her.  I took a lesson with Barb a few months ago, and aside from the gems she shared with me (in that lesson) that have taken six months (it seems) to gradually incorporate into my game, she showed me a very important thing when stroking the ball:

How to relax.

It was stunning. Instead of tightening up, I should relax into the shot. Drop into it. Use gravity.

Sound familiar?

For anyone who swings a bat, racquet or club for fun, this should come as no surprise. Swing it, don’t push it. Relax. Then comes power. When I relax and stroke the ball, it feels bloody therapeutic. There’s a smooth flow to it. I feel the ball on the strings as it sits there just a little longer, and I get to know the ball. And to have that kind of power without excessive tension … what a revelation.

One more thing. The best position to be on the court is in the center, on a spot called the “T”, because the lines on the court make a “T” there. Naturally, both players want to be there, but they can’t be there at the same time. As a result, they perform a complex dance as they make a shot, retreat to the T, avoid the opponent, make a shot, and so on. When viewing two expert players doing this from above, they remind me of …

… a fluid, dynamic yin/yang symbol.


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