Massaro Hails Improved Fitness and Changes to Game after Taking Top Spot
New Women’s World No.1 Laura Massaro has pointed to key changes in her fitness regime and an alteration to her style of play as the main reasons for her incredible surge to the summit of the World Rankings for the first time in her career.
The Preston-based 32-year-old became the first Englishwoman since Cassie Jackman in 2004 to claim a place atop the World Rankings after a runner-up finish at last month’s Cathay Pacific Sun Hung Kai Financial Hong Kong Open, combined with PSA World Series victories at the Delaware Investments US Open and Qatar Classic events earlier on in the season, allowed her to head in to the New Year as the World No.1
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However, after winning the prestigious World Championship title in Penang in March 2014, Massaro went on to endure a title drought that would last for over 12 months, leading her to take a break from PSA World Tour action in March of last year before returning to the court at the Allam British Open two months later. Massaro credits the work done around that time as crucial to her later upturn in form.
“As much as someone at my stage of my career can change, I have embraced some subtle differences in how I train and how I play,” said Massaro to Squash Mad.
“Around the time of the British Open in May. I discussed my fitness training with Mark Campbell [English Institute of Sport Senior Strength and Conditioning Coach]. With Mark it was a case of getting back to training harder on a more consistent basis. It’s not that I didn’t train hard before, but the changes suited my approach to life.
“He was setting me plans and that suits my personality to follow a plan. It was extremely hard work, getting through the tough sessions, but that had an impact on everything else I was doing. Being fitter helped me to do what my coach, David Pearson, was asking me to do.”
In addition to Massaro, Pearson also coaches three-time World Champion Nick Matthew and coached 1999 World Champion Peter Nicol to the sport’s biggest prize in a career that has seen him become one of the most respected and recognisable coaches around.
Massaro highlighted Pearson’s assistance in altering her style of play to combat the change to a lower tin in September 2015, resulting in a more attacking game plan and a return to form.
“With David, I was working on subtle differences in my swing, my movement around the court and dealing with the lower tin,” she said.
“That was an interesting time because when we started playing with a lower tin we didn’t know how it would affect my movement. I’ve been chipping away with David on my movement and the changes we have made have suited my game very well. We have worked on being a bit more positive at the front of the court.
“My basic English game was very solid but we have layered an extra percentage on all areas of my game. The outcome was to be more positive when I have created an opening and to take the opportunity I have created to finish the rally. I am playing more positive squash and have the confidence to protect those shots.”
Aside from an increase in her fitness and a different game plan, Massaro also revealed the efforts of her nutritionist which has enabled her to turn her attention to her diet.
“I saw a nutritionist last year and took a fresh look at things,” Massaro explained.
“That helped me to get a little lighter which again helped my movement. I have always been keen to learn a little more about diets but what I learned recently is that different foods produce different kinds of calories that have a different effect on the body. The nutritionist was a little nervous at first and wanted to make sure we were going in the right direction but as I got a little leaner that helped to instil more confidence.
“That helped me with my movement, which helped to improve my technique, and then it was just a case of going on court and playing your best squash. Then it was down to me.
“It’s hard to pick just one element for my improvement in 2015. All those things worked in harmony. Every area we worked on was part of a team effort and it feels good to have a team of experts around me, people I trust.”
Massaro heads to New York later this month to begin the defence of her World No.1 ranking at the J.P. Morgan Tournament of Champions, the first PSA World Series event of 2016, which takes place from Saturday January 9 – Thursday January 14.
Watch Laura Massaro in action at the JP Morgan Tournament of Champions live on SQUASHTV from January 9-14. Click here to subscribe