Arthur Gaskin - life of a professional squash player

Do not let the soft spoken tone of his voice fool you. Behind that gentle nature there is a determined and confident man that has a clear goal: “as I am now reaching my peak years this is the time to make it happen, so a spot in the top 50 best squash players should be feasible in the next year or 2 and from there my goal is top 20!”. So certainly there is no lack of ambition here!

In this member profile we put Arthur Gaskin in the spotlight. A CLTC member since his early teens he started off with tennis. Due to resurfacing the tennis courts, which stopped him from playing tennis, he played a squash game instead. From the moment he picked up that squash racket he has not looked back and he has never been on a competitive tennis court since. We have picked a great day for the interview. Sitting outside on a sunny terrace sipping a coffee is a very rare occasion. He is eating a Belgian chocolate bun. “I am having my summer break so I have two weeks off my diet”, he says. It becomes obvious very quickly that the life of a professional squash player is not as glamourous as it seems. “Its a full time job but its a results based income, you don’t get results you don’t get paid”.

What does a week in Arthur’s life look like? “Well, most of the time is training on the squash court. Theres also the hours off court, stretching, yoga, gym work, cardio training, massages (the painful kind), and then a little administration. All in all you’re looking at 25 hour weeks and that is before all the travel to the different events. In a year I play about 10 to 12 PSA events and 2 to 4 Irish events. That means registrations and travel arrangements so a little bit of paperwork has to be done.”.

Do you consider your squash career work or passion? Arthur quickly answers: “100% passion. Every time I get on the court I love it. It does not matter how often I play. If that enjoyment was not there it would be a hard life. With all the travelling etc tournament winnings and sponsorship takes you to break even point. So the financial rewards are still small. Something I hopefully will change in the coming years, but that is certainly not guaranteed. Being a professional squash player does take over your life as you tend to lead a certain lifestyle. You want to bring yourself to a physical and mental level where you can win the big matches. That means sacrifices as well. Get the right foods in, plenty of rest and recovery (so theres not too many nights out) though squash players do tend to have a few drinks from time to time and for me I think that’s healthy - its such an intense sport and lifestyle it’s important to let the hair down and take it easy. Relationships can be tricky. As a professional I’ve learned there are times when you have to be selfish and put put your own priorities first. For a partner, that is not always easy to deal with and it can lead to tension in a relationship.  So yes there are restrictions and sacrifices to be made but i wouldn’t change it, there are just as many perks if not more that come with the territory”

To supplement his income Arthur is involved in coaching. And he particularly enjoys working with juniors. “Working with juniors is brilliant. Not only can you help them with their game on a technical and physical level, you can also help them mentally. Help to deal with the emotions of winning,losing and everything in between and tournament pressure. Children are open to learn and change their ways and if you help them with all elements of the game they will keep enjoying it, whatever level they reach.”

Arthur himself had a great start as a junior as well and was fortunate enough to grow up in Carlow at a time when squash was all the rage. Driven by Dermot O’Brien, junior squash at CLTC was at its peak in the nineties. “A lot of kids were playing squash in Carlow at the time. We must have had 100 kids playing actively. Every spare minute, we were at the squash courts. I have great memories of going to tournaments in both Ireland and abroad with all me friends. Staying over at guest parents, meeting new people and of course playing squash. We would come back from a tournament on a sunday evening and it wasn’t uncommon to go straight to the courts when we got back before the monday blues took over! That was the basis for the success of many players and it is the reason that we still have 3 CLTC players in the men’s and women’s Irish teams today. We see the same thing happening today at Sutton Squash Club. Lead by Eoin Ryan a whole new generation of talented squash players are now being trained there and that helps the squash game in general. So I see a bright future for squash in Ireland.”

When I ask him what his own future will look like he answers: “This summer I will be around in Ireland to enjoy some time with family and friends. Also I picked up surfing so I’ll head out to the West coast at some point before i start pre season training! I do however have a big decision to make this summer. Until now I have been living in Bristol in England but I am looking for a change. Possibly I will base myself in New York. Living in the States means I have a lot less travel time and can play more American tournaments. But besides that, New York is a great place to live and I have a lot of friends living in the area.

At some point in the future I’ll simply not be able to play squash on a professional level anymore. At that point I would like to move back to ireland and get into coaching full time. At that stage I could see myself taking over the ‘batton’ from Dermot (though hell probably be still going strong till hes 75!) and continue to build a squash academy at CLTC in Carlow.”

Wouldn’t that be a nice idea!

You can follow Arthur’s progress in professional squash on his own website, facebook: or Twitter.

Carlow Lawn Tennis Club (CLTC), Oak Park Road, Carlow  - Tel.: 059 9143775  -

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