Nick Matthew podcast

037: Nick Matthew on becoming world squash champion

In this episode, Steve talks to Nick Matthew, a three-time British and World squash champion, about his journey in the sport. They start by discussing Nick’s post-career activities, including his squash academy, and what it takes to prepare for elite level squash. Nick shares regrets about not identifying his ‘super strengths’ earlier in his career but notes that working with sports psychologist Mark Bawden in 2008 helped him do so.

At 19, despite already being a top youth player, Nick changed coaches and refined his technical skills, underscoring the importance of continuously improving. He shares insights on avoiding quick fixes and the importance of process, revealing that his super strengths lay in his physical abilities and work ethic, which he used to adapt against various playing styles.

Nick and Steve discuss his rise into the world’s top ten, and Nick reflects on the strategic moves and key rivalries that shaped this period of his career. He also shares his experiences of becoming world number one in 2010, sustaining performance, and overcoming challenges like knee surgery just before winning Commonwealth gold. Nick expresses immense gratitude for his support team, particularly his wife Esme.

The episode concludes with reflections on Nick’s career, the current state of squash, its absence from the Olympics, and Nick’s future plans. Overall, Nick’s story is one of perseverance, strategic growth, and immense gratitude for the people who supported him along the way.

Show Notes

4:40 – Nick and Steve meet down at Hallamshire Squash Club in Sheffield and begin by discussing his squash academy and post-career squash training and competition levels. The conversation moves onto the preparation required to meet the demands of elite level squash.

10:29 – Nick wishes he was able to identify and develop ‘super strengths’ earlier on his career. In 2008, whilst overcoming injury and working with sport psychologist Mark Bawden, he was able to do this after plateauing in the top ten in the world.

14:45 – At the age of 19, Nick changed coaches and went back to basics, learning some fundamental technical skills despite being at the top of his game at a youth level on the national and international stage.

20:30 – Nick highlights the importance of not seeking the magic fix. He gives insight into the confidence he gleamed from the results he began to obtain, the process he was focusing on and the plateau’s and learning curves he faced that accelerated his learning and ranking.

28:51 – Nick expands on how he used his super strength, his physical abilities and work ethic, to his advantage on the court versus many different styles of play. He details the training regime required to deliver this intense physical style of play.

39:50 – Steve and Nick explore his breakthrough into the world top ten, focusing on some of the strategies he used to get there. Steve then asks Nick about some of the key challenges and rivalries he faced during this period.

51:38 – In 2010, Nick became world number one. He shares his experiences and insights with Steve from sustaining performance in this position, including overcoming knee surgery 5 weeks prior to winning Commonwealth gold. Nick shows immense gratitude for his wife and the support staff in the English system.

1:08:00 – Steve and Nick round off the conversation by gaining perspective on Nick’s career and discussing the current state of play in squash, the Olympics and future plans.

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