The mind has the ultimate power to effect performance on the squash court and when the mindset is at its best the body will follow. No matter what level of payer, anyone who competes and wants to win will have experienced the ups and downs of success and failure. The players we teach vary from beginner juniors and adults to world class professionals and one of the most interesting parts to coaching such a broad selection is how so many of the themes are the same for all standards. The worlds best suffer the same forms of anxiety, confidence loss and frustration as everyone else. The difference is how elite level players respond to these challenges, and then what they do to make progress in every way possible.
For club level players the reality is there are only so many hours that can be put into improving their squash. And each week at the team match or box league games there is an immediate pressure to produce a win for the team and themselves. The most important thing, win or lose is to approach competition with a mindset that looks forward to the challenge as an opportunity to improve, not a ‘pass or fail’ situation. Champions thrive in difficulty; others would rather avoid or make excuses. Anyone can be a champion at their relative level.
Possibly the most common frustration which club level players bring to the coaching lesson is playing the opponent which does all the things they aren’t good at dealing with. A common example is players who hit everything hard and randomly in a kind of wild but effective way. I have seen many people, men and women who literally take offence to this and develop a strong dislike towards these opponents. This is one of the harsh realities of a sport that takes place in a box with often two contrasting styles and personalities! However, these realities aren’t going to change so what can be done to develop a attitude ready to tackle all possible circumstances?
In order to produce a good performance and also be able to learn during and after competition, the mindset needs to be open to accept the situation, no matter how unconventional and tricky that opponent might be. This means a clear mind that is in the moment aware of the opponent but clear and relaxed, not focused on the possible outcomes or the multiple reasons why you may not win. Winning is a by-product of a quality process which includes a mindset hungry to learn and be tested beyond the desire for the result. This attitude can be developed in practice, competition and life in general. Once we can accept the most difficult challenges and believe that these will be what makes us become better at what we do then feelings of dread and frustration of that nightmare opponent or slippery court will soon change to a desire to challenge ourselves and therefore win no matter what the result.
Our adult camp this weekend will focus on mindset and it will be exiting to see how we can help each attendee to respond to these techniques.