James Willstrop insists keeping busy is key to success

npower - backing Team England.
npower - backing Team England.

From the podium to the playhouse, James Willstrop has credited his new career path as the perfect distraction from the mental grind of competitive squash.

Pontefract Squash Club’s Commonwealth Games singles champion is already back in action on Australia’s Gold Coast, returning to the court for the men’s doubles.

But while he maintains his on-court focus, his off-court time is being taken up by learning lines for his role in the upcoming production of Death and the Maiden at Harrogate’s Studio Theatre.

The June production may seem a way off but Willstrop has been practicing his lines to distract himself between matches at the Oxenford Studios.

“With the intensity of the competition, you have to get yourself mentally in such an intense space and the whole day leading up to these intense matches, bouts, races, are just incredible but you’re just wasting all that energy away with your mind,” said the 34-year-old.

“So when you do get back on the bus, or to your room, you just breathe a little bit. These things, like learning lines, are so key.

“I’ve done it three or four times when I can just switch my mind on to something completely different, totally away from the game of squash.

“It relaxes me, I enjoy doing it, I enjoy thinking about the play rather than thinking about what I’m doing on the court all the time.”

Back on the court Willstrop paired with Declan James to beat Pakistan’s Farhan Zaman and Tayyab Aslam in the pool phase of the men’s doubles competition.

The Team England duo eased to an 11-7 11-3 victory on Wednesday evening to top Pool D and qualify for the knockout phase.

npower is the Official Partner of Team England and is giving our athletes the power of support by recording a brand new version of their anthem, Jerusalem. To listen to the track visit npower.com/teamengland