January 2018

Hi Squash Fans,

Chet Blitzer, fourteen-time world champion, back to answer more of your questions about squash, sportsmanship and how to live your life aspiring to my example. We’ve received a few questions about player development. Open your hearing holes and get ready.

Dear Chet, I would love to see my kid become an elite junior player. Do you have any advice for me? She is currently nine years old and has been taking lessons for two years. How many tournaments should she be playing?

Time to pump the breaks a bit here. Remember, an eaglet doesn’t become a beacon of freedom and strength by flopping out of its nest on day one. Now is the time to make sure she is enjoying herself on court and is being exposed to a bunch of different sports and activities. She’ll build mental and physical skills along the way, and if she decides to go heavy on squash down the line, she’ll be ready.

Young athletes should focus on the Chet F’s:




Pay attention to these, and she’ll thrive in whatever she ends up doing. Squash wasn’t my only focus growing up; I would have been a track & field world champion, if not for an unfortunate 1981 incident that left me short one javelin and the Prince of Liechtenstein in the hospital.

Best of luck to your daughter. I hope she continues to have fun playing squash and other sports. Don’t let me turn on YouTube and find you’ve posted an Eye of the Tiger training montage of her thumping a side of beef with her squash racquet with you yelling “harder” in the background.

Dear Chet, I’ve seen other players, after an accomplished junior career, either stop improving or even drop the game all together. How can this be avoided?

It always makes me sad to see great players not enjoying themselves anymore or succumbing to overuse injuries that could have been avoided. Burnout isn’t always bad—it’s pretty sweet in my ’85 IROC-Z Camaro (no spoiler)—but it’s certainly not cool in squash.

At the end of the day, a player must want to be great to be great. Pushing an athlete to become Chet-like against their desires will end in burnout and unpleasant family holidays.

Emphasizing basic fundamentals before jumping directly into lots of tournaments can help build a base of skills. When playing tournaments, athletes should focus on playing with sportsmanship (which is more fun), competing their best and enjoying the camaraderie of the squash community. Personal goals should be about improvement, not beating a higher seed or attaining a particular finishing position.

Being a multi-sport athlete can help improve athletic skill and also avoid later overuse injuries. Players will benefit from different social interaction and avoid the psychological effects of focusing solely on one activity. For instance, it served the Karate Kid well to participate in car washing as well as karate. Interesting Chet sidenote: Karate Kid is my ninth favorite movie. The top four: Top Gun, Die Hard, Rambo, and of course, Dirty Dancing.

Keep the questions coming: askchet@ussquash.com

Ask Chet: October 2017

Hi Squash Fans,

Chet Blitzer here—Eighties icon, fourteen-time world champion and official US Squash spokesperson. Those of you who know me—and if you don’t, welcome back after a forty-year sojourn in your cold war bomb shelter—understand that the only thing I love more than the USA and bald eagles is great sportsmanship on court.

When is the time to practice great sportsmanship? As Lionel Richie says, “all night long.” Also, all day long.

Let me be honest. For younger Chet, fair play was a challenge. When you are winning nearly every point, losing a single point is totally lame. I hated it. I would throw racquets and go all “Teen Wolf” right there on the T. But after being banned from several clubs, two restraining orders and substantial damages in a civil trial, I learned my lesson. I needed to bring respect to the game in a big way, and I brought it like a bald eagle brings terror to an unsuspecting salmon.

Throughout this season in Squash Magazine, I’ll be here to answer all your sportsmanship questions. I’ll teach you how to be classy on court like me, Chet Blitzer. Everyone has a hand in making this rad sport fun and ethical—players, parents, coaches and fans.

Check out my sportsmanship tips at www.chetblitzer.com/blog, and send in your questions to me at askchet@ussquash.com. I look forward to answering them, in between obliterating my opponents (with class).

Hi Chet,

My daughter is fifteen. During her last tournament, the players refereeing her match made a series of bad decisions that probably cost her the match. I asked for the referee to be replaced during the match but no change was made. What can I do next time?

It’s tough to watch when we think our little eaglets are getting a raw deal. That said, the rules don’t allow us to replace a referee we aren’t happy with.  I learned that one the hard way after I choke slammed that ref in the Faroe Islands (though I did apologize after I was released!). Remember, refs are doing their best, dissent of any kind is against the rules, and at most, let the tournament team know if you think the referees aren’t focusing their eagle eyes on the match, or may need some help.

But let’s cool our jets and look at the bigger picture. Chet has a couple mind-blowers for you, so it’s best you sit down:

  1. Those player referees may know more about the game than you!
  2. Your opinions of the calls may be biased—after all it’s your daughter!!
  3. You aren’t a part of the match, you are there to watch and support your kid (and hope they grow up to play like Chet).
  4. This is a good time to drop your own knowledge-bomb. Maverick could only move forward from losing Goose once he accepted his role and learned from it. Help your daughter understand that all she could control in the match is how she played and her own behavior, not the referees.

Again, remember the Faroe Islands… NO ONE other than the players should say ANYTHING to the referees during or after the match other than “Hey ref, thanks for doing what you do.”