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arrow pointing leftBack 13 April 23 - by England Squash

Inspirational coach wins Coach of the Year award

England's Georgina Kennedy with coach Zeb Young
An inspirational squash coach whose passion for the sport has encouraged hundreds of young people to pick up a racket for the first time has been named Coach of the Year by England Squash.

Zeb Young has spent more than a decade coaching squash in Surrey and Kent and now works full time helping young players realise their potential after quitting his day job to follow his passion.

Young, who was himself a talented junior player, stopped playing competitively as a teenager and was limited to the occasional social game before a representative from Kent Squash asked him to get involved with coaching.

He soon filled his evenings and weekends fitting in training around his job before taking the plunge and going full-time as a coach. He hasn’t looked back.

“I love coaching,” he said.

“I am on court at 10am every day and lock up at 11pm. My whole life is built around squash; it is my absolute passion.”

Young now runs his own successful coaching business and works with a range of clubs, including Tunbridge Wells Squash Club, which nominated him for the award after he helped double its junior membership in the last 12 months; he has also helped encourage more diversity within the sport, with 40% of Tunbridge Wells Squash Club junior players now girls – rare in a traditionally male-dominated sport.

He regularly works with clubs in Warlingham and Oxted, where he has helped coach two players to number one in the English age-group rankings this season at The Limpsfield Club, while his role at Sevenoaks School is credited with encouraging dozens of young people who have never played squash to pick up a racket for the first time. The school now boasts around 100 regular squash players.

It is partly that commitment to growing the game – together with the high-level coaching he is regularly provided to a growing number of players – which has seen him win the England Squash Coach of the Year Award.

“Squash isn’t as visible as other sports. You don’t tend to walk past a squash court like you do a cricket pitch or tennis court, so a lot of the battle is just getting people to try it.

“Once I get them on a court, I know they’ll love it – the way it feels when you hit the ball as hard as you can against the wall, the sound it makes, most people are immediately hooked.

“It is such a brilliant sport and as well as being a lot of fun it teaches children some important life skills, helps grow their confidence, and builds resilience.”

Although much of the focus for the award is on the work he has done encouraging children and young people to take up squash, they’re not the only group Young is helping enjoy the sport. While the youngest players he coaches are just five-years-old, the oldest is in their seventies. He also runs adapted sessions for players with autism or learning disabilities and he is working hard to encourage more women to take up the sport and ultimately move into coaching. Increasing the accessibility of squash and the diversity of the people playing it is something Young is fully committed to.

But what does winning the award mean to Young?

“It is great helping players improve their game,” he said. “But for me, just seeing people fall in love with the sport is amazing. I wake up every single morning excited about the day ahead and love the job I do. To win an award for that? Well, I am completely over the moon.”

Find out more about the awards.