Flow can be seen and described as an expression of what you currently know how to do. There is a match and symmetry between your skillset and the challenge that is in front of you.
In positive psychology, a flow state, also known colloquially as being in the zone, is the mental state in which a person performing some activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity. In essence, flow is characterized by the complete absorption in what one does, and a resulting transformation in one’s sense of time.
The concept of gratitude has been talked about and studied for some time now and the benefits that come with practising gratitude are undeniable. Gratitude used to be quite an anecdotal topic of discussions but now with world-leading neuroscientists combined with cutting edge brain scanning technologies, gratitude is now being presented through a more scientific lens and the benefits of this attitude are more tangible and accessible than ever before.
I coach, subscribe to, and am a big advocate of stillness, tranquillity, awareness, calmness and ultimately flow when looking to compete on the squash court, and in life for that matter. I believe working on, as well as accessing, these states can lead to achieving high levels of performance on a consistent basis in whatever domain you are operating in.
Goal setting has been talked about as this really big and important thing that we all need to do in our lives to attain success and to reach the dreams that we want. Often goal setting is done with the right intentions and passions at the start but rarely is it ever really and truly followed through with.
Personally, I have spent countless hours and tried varying different methods to goal set and I keep coming back to the same result. I never really follow through with it or achieve my goal. The intentions and the willpower are there. I am excited about my big dream and goal to achieve. I follow the methods I have read about and researched. But time and again it slowly fades, and that big ambitious dream is put at the back of the cupboard somewhere gathering dust. Does this resonate and sound familiar with you also? This may sound bizarre, but it is because I focussed on my goal, I never achieved my goal. Read on to find out more.
For most players, their squash is an activity they partake in and enjoy as a break away from the stresses and strains of everyday life. Running around the court a few times a week, getting stuck into drills and training routines, and playing in local leagues and tournaments, is exercise, social activity, and competitive pursuit all in one. What happens though when you hit a bit of a slump and your motivation wanes?
In computer science, Garbage In, Garbage Out (GIGO) is the concept that flawed, or nonsense (garbage) input produces nonsense output. Goes to figure, right? Simple to understand and comprehend? So why do we cultivate bad habits in our own lives for our mental state all the time?
Amor Fati is a Latin phrase that the Stoics used in their daily lives and kept it close to hand especially during difficult and trying times. The translation of Amor Fati is:
“A love of one’s fate”
This blog takes a more zoomed out view of a very powerful psychological tool – journaling. Journaling will not only begin to help you get better on the court but will also help your life in all you do and encounter day to day.
In part 2 of this deep look at nerves and anxiety, a practical toolkit will be presented for you to have and implement to help in addressing this debilitating state before and during matches. There will be mental, physical, and environmental tools laid out to you and some will work right away, and others will take time and practice to really feel the benefits.
Nerves and anxiety for athletes in competition is one of the most debilitating states that contribute to underperforming. This blog will attempt to look closer at why and how nervousness and anxiety appears before matches and to also put in place some tools and interventions to help you cope better with this unwelcomed, but often very present state in your competitive matches.
It is a very common trait and behavior to drop your level to a lesser opponent. I get asked this question a lot and do a lot of work with players around the current mindset to exhibit in order not be dragged down to this level.
Despite an upswing in recent years thanks to the efforts of the PSA and SquashTV, it’s still notable the relatively small number of amateur squash players who actually watch elite level squash – compared to many other popular sports, the difference in the number of regular players as compared to regular spectators is stark. Particularly for juniors still learning the game or adult players who are looking to improve their abilities however, so much can be gained from watching the very best in action.
Game planning is your roadmap, it’s as if you are going on a journey and want to get to the end destination in the most efficient way and by a set time. Not having a game plan can be thought of like you are standing in the middle of a jungle and you need to find your way to a specific clearing where a helicopter can land and rescue you.
Imagine a plane taking off from Los Angeles on route to New York. If during the take-off the pilot decided to adjust course just 3.5 degrees to the south, the plane’s nose would move just a few feet outside of the cockpit and no one on board would notice the small movement. But over the course of a journey across the country, the impact of the change would be considerable, and the confused passengers would get off from their plane in Washington DC and not New York which is about 230 miles away.
As much as you need a physical warm-up to prepare for practice, you need to perform a mental warm-up also in order to get the most out of each session. When your practice is effective, focussed, purposeful and intentional, you massively heighten the ability to transfer what you have been working on into the actual performance when it counts.
Carol Dweck, the professor of psychology at Standford, has spent over 40-years researching and conducting numerous studies to attempt to understand how we face and confront challenges in life and how our mindset plays a crucial role in success or failure. According to Dweck, individuals can be placed on a continuum according to their views and beliefs of where ability comes from. This continuum has a growth mindset on the one side and fixed mindset on the other.
Perfectionism is a highly common trait in the players I coach and work with. It is wise not to define perfectionism as neither good nor bad but purely a character trait that some players have, and other players don’t. I believe we all have some form of perfectionism in us and it is my belief to recognise this and to channel it in positive ways for better outcomes in our matches.