In the latest instalment of the ‘Get to Know’ series, former World No.1 and Chair of the Coaching Commission Sarah Fitz-Gerald speaks to Singapore’s WSC Level 3 Coach and Level 2 Tutor Della Lee.
After a playing career that included an Asian Games bronze medal as well as gold, silver and bronze medals in the South East Asian Games (SEA), Lee has gone on to be one of Singapore’s most successful coaches, coaching the national side as well as countless junior players.
Della, great to chat to you again. Can you tell me about how your squash journey began?
I played basketball for my secondary school and one fine day [four-time Asian Squash Championship winner] Mah Li Lian gave me a squash racket she won from a junior tournament and got me to try squash since basketball is a team sport.
I fell in love with the feeling of hitting a squash ball over a ping pong ball, shuttlecock or tennis ball. No turning back since…
What inspired you to become a coach?
I enjoy teaching and taking on a leadership role to guide and nurture players. Most of all, familiarity with what I’m doing, flexible timing and the most natural progression after moving on the pathway as a player representing Singapore for over a decade.
Where do you coach now?
I currently coach at our academy, Team Ultimate Squasher, with Sandra Wu and a team of 15 coaches.
Mostly as a pipeline and development arm for our national squad. Previously, I coached the Singapore Women’s Squad for the SEA Games and a Junior College.
Can you describe a good memorable coaching moment?
Many! I remember a young learner player who could not hit off her backhand corner for over a year no matter what coaching cues and tools were used.
During one particular session, I got her to imagine “going into a small tunnel” (a reference used during spin classes where the instructor says “under the tunnel!” and spinners go down onto a drop). Thereafter she got her breakthrough and started hitting the ball off the backhand corner!
How about a difficult coaching moment?
Well, I guess when players are unreceptive to change are difficult coaching moments!
Do you have further plans for your coaching career?
After coaching for over two decades, I feel the next progression along my squash journey would be tutoring.
Better coaches make better players to achieve better reach for squash. After my WSC Tutor Level 2 certification, I’m looking forward to Level 3 by the end 2023!
What’s your number one tip for aspiring squash coaches?
Keep on learning and upgrading your coaching skills. Discover your own coaching identity and style. Always exercise patience and humility. To teach values, to coach squash skills and to empower your players through the game of squash.
Find out more about World Squash Coaching, head to the WSC page.
Learn more about Singapore’s Team Ultimate Squasher Academy.