Q&A with squash superstar, Laura Massaro

20 April 2017 by
First published: 14 June 2016

Discover performance-boosting secrets in this Q&A with squash superstar, Laura Massaro.

Ever wondered what keeps an elite athlete on top of their game? Consistent training and good nutrition are the first assumptions, but for number one world squash champion, Laura Massaro, it was in fact yoga that kept her feeling both mentally and physically strong for the build-up to the World Squash Championships earlier this year.

The 32-year-old is the highest ranking women’s squash player in the world. After winning her first grand title at the German open in 2004, she went on to slay championship titles at world competitions such as British Open Championships 2013, which is her biggest title to date, and conquered being the first ever Englishwoman to win the tour for 22 years!

As well as being a three-time silver medalist for England at the commonwealth games, the squash sensation also triumphed at world championships in 2014, making her the first Englishwoman to hold both 2013/14 titles!

Laura Massaro explains how finding yoga helped her reach the top…

How did you discover your love for yoga?

I heard that the likes of Ryan Giggs and other professionals were using it as an aide to their training. I thought if it’s good enough for them, then it’s good enough for me. Particularly as I’ve gotten a little bit older, I’ve definitely found that it’s aided my performance and training.

What benefits has it made to your performance?

The biggest thing it’s helped with is the injury prevention. The constant lunging that we do in squash and the dynamic movements all add up. Being strong in those positions off the court has enabled me to be strong in those positions on the court. It’s also prevented me from stressing my body too much while I’m actually training and playing.

Do you engage with the spiritual aspects of yoga?

I’m not a hugely spiritual person, but I really like the way that yoga sessions start and finish. When I have my own personal yoga sessions the way we start is very calming for the mind, it gets you in touch with your body. If you’re not 100 per cent on board with that then you’re not going to get the most out of the physical side of the session. The meditation side has helped to quiet my mind and helped me focus a bit more – that’s definitely helped me on court as well.”

Have you thought about looking ahead to a potential career in coaching, in the near future?

I haven’t thought too much specifically about what I’m going to do, but I would like to go into the coaching side of things. I feel if I was coaching I would try and get the youngsters into yoga, particularly earlier than I did, just from an injury prevention point of view. I’m sure squash is always going to be a part of my life and I’d like to be able to pass on that knowledge and yoga would certainly be a part of that.

Being world number 1 champion, what advice can you give to aspiring sport professionals?

I would definitely say that you need to write some goals down to start with. Ask what it is that you’re actually trying to achieve and then go after those goals. That’s been huge for me particularly the last three or four years of my career. You just need to make sure you train hard consistently on a day to day basis. That’s what’s going to get you to the very top and you need to get your head around that as soon as possibl,e in my opinion.

What does the rest of 2016 season have in store for you?

So my next tournament is the British Open in Hull, which is the ‘Wimbledon’ of squash. From there we’ve got our rescheduled 2015 World Championship, so that’s on in Malaysia in April and I normally do quite well in Malaysia! I’ve got the European Team Championships – representing England – in Poland and then the tour is pretty much finished. We have our World Series Finals, that’s really exciting because that’s the first time the World Series Finals has been in Dubai and it’ll be really great to get out there and perform without the pressure of points and rankings. I’m excited for that and also I’ve got a holiday before the 2016/2017 season kicks in.

Read Laura’s full interview on HFE’s blog.