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10 year old Daniel Tiwana

Lockdown Training at 10: Joey Speaks to Daniel Tiwana

Meet Daniel Tiwana, a 10-year-old from Canada who has dedicated his time in quarantine to hone his squash skills and has been busy preparing for the return of squash following the global COVID-19 pandemic.

Daniel has filmed his training and published the video to YouTube, which has been greatly received by squash fans and players alike.

SQUASHTV’s caught up with Daniel to discuss his exploits during lockdown, his favourite PSA World Tour players and his attitude to training.

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Joey Barrington: “Hi guys, you’re all the way over in Vancouver, how is it all going?”

Tabs Singh: It’s pretty good Joey, we’ve had lockdown and now things are starting to open up again and squash courts are also starting to open up again.

JB: “Daniel, your video that you put out everywhere was fantastic, it’s got a lot of recognition and interest, which is wonderful. I was very taken aback by it, I showed it to my father, Jonah Barrington, and he thought you did a fantastic job. If your squash doesn’t work out, I think you could be a very good tv presenter! Would your ideal situation be to become a professional squash player on the PSA World Tour?”

Daniel Tiwana: “Yeah, one day I would love to be on the PSA World Tour and be on SQUASHTV. One day I’d love to play at the Tournament of Champions or the Pyramids in Egypt on the glass court.

“I’d love to travel the world and play the sport I love.”

Grand Central Terminal's JP Morgan Tournament of Champions

JB: “Tabs, have you got any plans to take Daniel to watch one of these amazing tournaments in North America or perhaps further afield?”

Tabs: “Absolutely. The tournament that I would really like to go to, and I’ve spoken to a few of the pros and they really liked the venue, is Chicago in the Cathedral Hall [of the University Club of Chicago]. I really like there’s such a proximity to the court and we’ve been to Chicago as a family, and I think it’s such a great city.

“Something like that would be really good for Daniel, I think it would be really inspiring for him to meet some players and watch that level of squash.”

JB: “So how far are you away from the squash club now? I managed to play in Vancouver at the Evergreen Club, I know there is also the Jericho club, which one do you guys play at?”

Tabs: “Our home club is the Arbutus Club, and then we also get some coaching, I’ll let Dan explain.”

Daniel: “I have two coaches right now, Marco Toriz at West Coast Squash Academy and Viktor Berg at Vancouver Lawn Tennis Club. I see them once a week, but I mainly hit with my dad and I think that’s helped me to improve quickly.”

JB: “It’s good you’re getting some guidance, does your older brother like to take you through the physical side?”

Daniel: “He does lots of training, he mainly focuses on strength and core training as well as the arms and the back. He’s trying to bulk up right now and get a bit stronger.”

JB: “On a typical day, say in the holidays when you haven’t got school, how much training do you do?”

Daniel: “Since my brother came back from university to do the online schooling at home, he just started training and I started training with him. I didn’t really have anything else to do and I thought it would be a good opportunity to keep myself healthy and fit for squash.

“William and I got into this routine where usually at 15:00 or 16:00 every day we would do some core training or an exercise of some sort for about two to three hours.”

JB: “The nutritional side of things is something that interests you a lot. Just tell us a bit more about that side of what you’re doing at such a young age.”

Daniel: “I usually eat oatmeal with a bit of fruit in the morning. For lunch I’ll have chicken breast for protein and pasta for carbs. Then for dinner I have either meat or fish and I’ll usually have it with vegetables.

“I like to make sure I have some fruit before and even during my sessions. I also have protein shakes, protein bars after I work out and I make sure to keep a balanced diet and not eat any junk foods, too much sugar and no fried foods.

“I make sure that what I put into my body is nutritional. Even as a toddler, I never really ate junk food, I’ve always been careful about what I eat, even before I got serious about squash.

“I never really eat any pizza or burgers and fries.”

Tabs: It’s actually quite challenging because at parties when he was two, three or four years old there would be pizza and he just wouldn’t eat it. We’re trying to put more calories into him and I think he understands that he’s got to start eating more just to become stronger physically.”

JB: “What about chocolate?”

Daniel: “I do have some dark chocolate every once in a while!”

JB: “Tabs, Daniel has been practicing in the garage area, are you quite a handy man? You’ve managed to do all the bits with the front wall and a tin.”

Tabs: I’m not actually that handy myself, but I had some plywood kicking around and I bought another couple of sheets. I basically got some 3/4 inch plywood and just screwed it into the wall.

“I put a service line and tin in so he has some sort of reference point. That was for a week or two then I realised that I could put a back wall in, so I got some more plywood and stuck it up at the back.

“Then he could hit full-length drives as well.”

JB: “So out of the pros, who would be your ultimate pro that you’re really inspired by?”

Daniel: “Ali Farag. He’s a fair and honest player and has lots of sportsmanship.”

Ali Farag at the JP Morgan Tournament of Champions

JB: “My father always told me that if you’re going down the route of sport, you’re basically a warrior with a racket in your hand, but you’ve got to live by the warrior code. You need to be tough but also honourable as well, so these are good things you’re picking up on. There are some players on the PSA World Tour who are not as honourable but have still achieved amazing things, but that’s a really nice code for you to read by.

“Do you enjoy reading? You’ve spoken about the ‘Art of War’ and things like that, do you enjoy your books?”

Daniel: “Yeah, I love reading sports autobiographies. I’m reading Hank Haney’s book about Tiger Woods right now, and it surprised me that Hank Haney has coached many of the world’s best golfers and said the one thing that blew him away about Tiger was that he could be at the driving range for hours but he never took a shot at all.

“He always set up perfectly, took a practice swing and made sure he was focused on each and every shot. I think it all came down to training with intensity, focus and purpose.

“A quote from the late Kobe Bryant that I’ve heard is: ‘It’s not how many hours your at practice, it’s how many hours your mind is at practice’ and I think that’s so true.”

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