Being positive and focussed on the task at hand is one of the key characteristics of the Ideal Performance State for squash. However being positive is a skill or ability that cannot necessarily just be turned on or off at will – particularly in very important, closely contested, stressful matches when one is not playing their best.
In order to be able to keep thoughts positive and focussed on actual squash performance (versus “how bad you are playing” or “that was a horrible referee call”) in an important match, squash players need to practice controlling their thoughts in practice and training situations – “you play the way you practice”. This idea of using mental skills in progressively more stressfull and match-like conditions is one of the principles behind a periodization approach to implementing a psychological skills training program.
Squash coaches need to be able to coach their squash athletes on these mental aspects in addition to their regular technical-tactical coaching. In this short video clip I introduce my team to the idea of using positive self-talk during practice. At this stage of the season (specific preparation period) I am suggesting they tailor their self-talk to their technical goals (e.g., “lead with the butt on your swing”).
Application for Squash Coaches:
- Give your athletes a chance to use mental skills in practice before expecting them to use them sucessfully in matches.
- Help the athletes develop self-talk to use in practice that is related to their squash goals.