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Alan Clyne on leading from the front in Scottish Squash

Alan Clyne has been on the squash circuit for over a decade. There are very few athletes who have been able to maintain the level of consistency that Alan has repeatedly produced on the squash court.

As a veteran of Scottish and World Squash, Alan has seen the game grow, change and evolve from when he started off.

In this feature, we chat with Alan Clyne about his career, the state of squash in Scotland and what the future might hold.

Alan Clyne plays a shot on the squash court
Alan Clyne plays a shot on the squash court (Source: Supplied)

Sarah Fatima: Tell me a little bit about how you got into squash?

Alan Clyne:I got into Squash when I was very young, around 5 years old. My dad played the game at university and my parents exposed me to a lot of different sports when I was young.

Football was the last sport for me to stop and I just concentrated on squash when I went to university when I was 18. I was a decent junior in Scotland but it was only when I started training as a professional alongside my studies that my game really improved.

However, I’m definitely of the view that being a generalist rather than a specialist in sport in my early years has helped me to love squash so much throughout my career and I’m sure my life.

Scotland has a great history of squash. We have had many players competing at the top of the game and also we have clubs with a lot of history. Squash is far from a mainstream sport in Scotland so it is always fighting for media coverage.

Squash is a physically demanding game and players need to increase their physical fitness. What is your fitness routine like?

I still enjoy that aspect of training a lot and like to put the very hard sessions in but I pick and choose those a bit more now.

I have done well over 10 years worth of strength training 3 times a week and conditioning training 3 times a week. I have tried to input more squash into my training load with still 4 or 5 physical sessions during the week. Those sessions could be on the treadmill, rower, circuit, speed or strength. I believe that the years of physical training that I’ve put in has helped me to avoid many serious injuries and will hopefully allow me to perform into later years.

READ: Katriona Allen talks Scottish Squash, her highlights and the game

Who are some of the players that you look up to, in your country as well as other global players?

I think it’s very impressive and inspiring to have players like [Gregory] Gaultier and [James] Willstrop still performing at the highest level for so long.

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Squash player hits a shot
(Source: Supplied)

How has Scottish squash and squash at a global level changed since you first went pro in terms of viewership?

To be honest I don’t really know what the viewership is of squash at any point in time. I’d like to think that people are desperate for live squash and we will experience a bounce however the pandemic will be a challenging time for all sports and especially squash.

What is the local reception of squash in your country and you think there is enough being done to grow the sport?

Scotland has a great history of squash. We have had many players competing at the top of the game and also we have clubs with a lot of history. Squash is far from a mainstream sport in Scotland so it is always fighting for media coverage.

That’s why massive events like the Commonwealth Games are huge for our sport and ones we need to look to capitalise on. We got great exposure especially when the Commonwealth Games were in Glasgow and I remember many positive comments about the sport from people who didn’t know much about it but whether that’s translated into numbers playing the sport I’m not sure.

To me, it’s just trying to get people onto the squash court because I’m confident if people play it they’ll love the game.

The rise of squash in the USA has been very impressive. I do remember playing a few early events in my professional career in the States and in fact my first pro title was in Charleston, South Carolina. But it feels like from those days to now it just seems to have grown exponentially.

What are some techniques you recommend to someone wanting to improve your squash game?

Without being able to relate to a specific player, I would say just to get on the court and experiment.

Solo practice can be great for that, trying different spins and paces on your shots. Seeing what works for you and what you can discard.

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As a veteran of the game, how do you feel squash at a global level has changed since you first went pro, in terms of participation?

The rise of squash in the USA has been very impressive. I do remember playing a few early events in my professional career in the States and in fact my first pro title was in Charleston, South Carolina. But it feels like from those days to now it just seems to have grown exponentially.

There are more and more courts and facilities being built and more and more juniors playing for fun and competitively which is fantastic to see. Although when I started in 2007 there were the likes of [Amr] Shabana, [Ramy] Ashour and [Karim] Darwish, it does feel like Squash has continued to grow and grow in Egypt throughout my career.

They keep managing to produce world-class players playing a variety of different styles which makes it very interesting.

Alan Clyne on the court
Alan Clyne on the court (Source: Supplied)

You represented your country in the 2010 Commonwealth Games in both singles and doubles. How would you describe the training for this tournament?

It was in Delhi, India and I remember it was an amazing feeling to be representing my country on such a stage.

Having doubles in the Commonwealth Games is an intriguing prospect as it is not played very much throughout the year, so at the time in 2010, it was seen very much as an opportunity.

We, as a team, had put in a lot of hard work and also a lot of specific focus on the doubles.

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What does the future hold for the game in Scotland?

It’s going to be a challenge for the sport in these times as it has been months now that people haven’t been able to play a game against their friends.

I’m optimistic that we as a sport will continue to thrive but I can’t plan anything more than a week in advance right now so to judge what squash will look like in the future is impossible.


Follow Alan Clyne on Twitter and Instagram.
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