By Peter Nicol
The player recently that has made the most dramatic rise in the world rankings is Miguel Angel Rodriquez. Up until just a short time ago, Miguel was an exceptional squash player but had not made the progress into the very top of the sport. I would love to hear from Miguel directly on his transformation, but there are a couple of areas that he has dramatically improved on, and we can all learn from his development.
Setting out goals and intent, Miguel made a choice to work with David Palmer a few years ago and has maintained that for a long enough period to really make some significant shifts in the areas he was slightly lacking. There are not normally shortcuts to become the best at a sport and the consistency of work over the course of years has shown to really benefit Miguel.
There is always a need to perform well (or better) on a continual basis, but too much focus on short term goals can really curtail any long-term improvements. I’ve seen all too often a really talented young player stagnate and fail to improve throughout the senior ranks due to relying on their strong qualities and failing to improve areas of weakness—just to maintain a short term standard of squash.
Every time I see Miguel I think of the term “Power is nothing without control.” Five years ago, I would say Miguel was the athlete, full of natural energy and ability but lacking the control—both physically and mentally—to make the necessary improvements in his game. Wow, has that changed!
I’ve watched some of Miguel’s online videos highlighting some of his amazing physical abilities. However, what is obvious in his more recent videos is the level of accuracy and focus that are brought to bear on each exercise. Where before raw physical energy was the obvious quality, now you can see Miguel’s understanding and concentration on his movement, positioning, and balance combined with his natural ability.
Making a shift always requires an inward look at what you need to do to change yourself, so ask some hard questions and then set a path of improvement. It is never easy to do and knowing the process could take one, three or even five years to really come to fruition is tough mentally. This is exactly what Miguel has done, and the long game has benefitted him greatly. Who knows what he could end up achieving. My feeling is with his physical ability and desire to improve; anything is possible for the highest ranked South American ever!