By ALAN THATCHER (Squash Mad Editor)
Liz Irving has poured a lifetime of energy into squash. While reaching a highest ranking of two in the world, she was part of the strongest Australian women’s squad in history, with team-mates including Sarah Fitz-Gerald, Michelle Martin and Carol Owens before she switched allegiance to New Zealand.
She then became a hugely successful coach, guiding Nicol David to eight World Championship titles.
When that chapter of her life closed, she then set about exploring new territories to conquer and came up with the idea of the SquashLab App.
After launching, she and her team have spent more than two years in development and have just upgraded their entire platform to provide an impressive set of resources.
These are designed to help players, coaches, clubs and federations. The part I like the most about SquashLab is that Liz realises that too many resources are aimed at the 0.5 per cent of people who think of themselves as elite players, to the exclusion of the rest of the playing audience.
“Yes, that’s right,” said Liz. “I’m always amazed at how so many people in squash simply ignore the vast majority of our players. They may not be world beaters or team players, but they are the ones keeping the game alive.
“Too many federations are focused on elite players and talent pathways and simply ignore the grassroots, which is the all-important base of the squash pyramid.”
As for the SquashLab reboot, Liz added: “We have made a major pivot from the original SquashLab Training App. We have worked over the last two years to upgrade, add more content, have more features and hopefully be one of the main apps that squash players would want to enjoy in the squash community.
“Squash has limited relevant resources for the average player and we definitely tick those boxes. All of our coaching content is filmed specifically to allow the user to understand and follow instruction clearly, with simple language that anyone can understand, whether a total newbie to the sport or a seasoned player.
“We have designed this for the 99% of global squash players at grass roots level to top grade players.
“In particular, the lessons and videos I have developed are also incredibly helpful for early learning coaches, with sound techniques and lesson formats they can utilise for their players while also helping them to Learn, Connect and Play.
“That is the SquashLab mantra.
“In addition, we are working with Squash Australia, several states and numerous clubs offering club management software that will help them in so many areas of their operations.
“All of this has been thoroughly tested and we are looking forward to making this a global platform, not just one for the southern hemisphere.”
Irving currently splits her time between Brisbane and Amsterdam, and has just arrived back in Australia in time for SquashLab to help clubs prepare for World Squash Day.
Irving added: “We are really proud to be partnering with World Squash Day. Both platforms are aimed at revitalising the grass roots of our game and I hope we can encourage as many clubs as possible to be creative in how they set out to attract a new generation of players.
“Here in Brisbane, I am delighted to be working with some very impressive innovation groups who like the idea of reimagining traditional sports and siting them in prime urban locations.
“With all the discussions about outdoor squash, that grew louder during lockdown, this is an absolute must for the future of our game, and especially in warmer climates like Brisbane.
“With the Olympics being held in Brisbane in ten years’ time, this could be a pivotal moment for squash if we can create an exciting outdoor venue to attract the attention of passers by.
“We all know the IOC is looking more and more at urban sports and activities, so this could be a transformative opportunity.”