Parents, coaches and juniors will all be very familiar with the realities of the effects of competition on the mind of junior players. Having been through the junior system at elite level, all the memories of those days when my mind and character was tested to the limit are still crystal clear. I can remember my parents massaging my legs before the British junior open final because they literally didn’t work, had turned to jelly. Now 28 years later I have become the parent watching his child playing in his first event this month, my heart in my mouth as I watched him attempt to navigate the intense pressure on his 9 year old mind. Now I understand what my parents had to go through.
Competition is part of life. And we can use squash to develop our children’s ability to face, negotiate and learn from competition and I prefer this approach over chasing rankings and trophies. After all the silverware will come if the player and coach is growth focused.
On our upcoming camp we tackle and break down the most successful mental attitude and habits which bring success at tournaments. Everybody would rather win in competition but the desire and pressure to achieve this will often block the opportunity to learn and approach the occasion with the most productive attitude
First of all, losing is absolutely ok providing full effort has been given to maximise the opportunity on and off the court, before during and after the match. Often players, parents and coaches choose to ‘move on’ after a loss and avoid the difficult discussion around what happened and why, and I completely understand this because it is a difficult discussion!
We don’t need to dissect every detail, but instead pull out the main parts which were most impactful on the performance. On the camp we will use specific questions with the juniors to pull out the answers needed to ensure progress from the experience in practice and match play.
For those wanting to know more about this month’s junior competition preparation camp please follow this link.