Sacrifice, the pain to live through a tough training regime and a clear-cut goal - these form the key to making a champion player. And David Palmer knew exactly what he meant with those words of wisdom. For he was a champion, a world champion, and one who had successfully been a top 10 player for 10 long years without a break.
A characteristic Australian who does not hold back anything, Palmer had a nice interaction with a set of Indian coaches and other officials on the web. This was part of the Squash Rackets Federation of India and Sports Authority of India's initiative to make the best of the unexpected break brought about by the COVID-19 break.
Palmer said he took up the squash racquet at the age of 5, which increased his hunger to do well. That kept growing as time went by, and at the age of 18 he decided he had to get away from New South Wales to squash-friendly areas if he hoped to rise in the sport.
"I always believed I had good fitness and my job was to ensure it remained that way," he said with a touch of pride.
Palmer's determination eventually propelled him to become one of the best to come out of Australia in squash. Reaching the World No. 1 ranking was the pinnacle, but that's not to forget the World Champion status he enjoyed twice in his career.
Palmer is someone who believes that it is not the hours or coaching that make a great player but the quality time spent in training. He is fully aware that a good player is one who always has a Plan B on a bad day.
"Not everyday can it be good for any great player, but the underlining need is to get over the bad phase in a match and win. You win five to six matches and you are assured of a tournament title," he said with a twinkle in his eyes.
What delighted him the most as a player was that he got the chance to play against three generations - from John White (Scotland) and Peter Nicol (England) to Gregory Gaultier (France) and Mohamed Elshorbaghy (Egpt). Incidentally, all these four were ranked World No. 1 at one time or another.
Palmer added that the standards have improved and challenges have become tougher, and that some exciting players have come up recently. He said all was well for the sport, where today he has risen to become a renowned name in coaching.
Many top players go to him for advice, including the World No. 1 Shorbaghy himself. Indians have also approached him for tips to fine-tune their game, and Palmer had high praise for some of them; he mentioned players like Saurav Ghosal, Harinder Pal Sandhu, Joshna Chinappa and Vikram Malhotra among others.
Currently at the Cornell University, Palmer now takes care of another Indian, Veer Chotrani, who is easily one of the best juniors to have emerged from the country in recent times.
The Australian coach believes Ghosal has the ability to catapult himself not just into the top 10, but even the top 6. Currently, the Indian is pegged at 13.
All told the webinar was an enriching experience for the Indian coaches. Palmer fielded some searching questions from the moderator Cyrus Poncha, the SRFI Secretary General, after his near-72 minute long talk. He touched upon various aspects of his coaching, and elaborated on the beliefs and mantras for success that his style is backed by.
They say adversity can sometimes bring good times, and the coronavirus pandemic brought this opportunity for Indian squash - which the coaches made the most of. India's squash fraternity will now look forward to Palmer's further involvement with the country.
Palmer was supposed to be with the Indian squad for the Asian Championship in March, before the pandemic denied that moment. But there will be other times in the future too.