Now that Peter Nicol has retired from competitive squash, we squash coaches can turn our attention to the lessons learned from his ascent from a top 8 junior to the World #1. I caught up with Peter’s former coach, Neil Harvey at the Starbuck’s in Princeton, NJ, where he was directing the elite weeks at the Princeton Squash Camps. Although Neil is available and still active as a coach in various projects, much of his energy is devoted to humanitarian work such as the Children’s Fantasy Fund.
In my 2007 interview with Neil, it is evident that developing world class technique goes well beyond the nuts and bolts of how to hit the squash ball. I first saw Peter play as coach of the Canadian Jr. National Team at the World Championships in Paderborn, Germany in 1990. He did beat our #1 Winston Cabell (ahead of our #2, 15-year old Jonathon Power) in our match against Scotland, but frankly, I did not think he had anything special other than good fitness and a sound, complete technical game – I thought Winston was definitely more “talented” than Peter. Neil’s insightful comments get to the heart of the dedication required to be #1.