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Relaxing on court

Published: 05 May 2009 - 09:27 by jimbob1965

Updated: 22 May 2009 - 08:14

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Any tips for teaching yourself to relax more on court?  I have noticed that I perform my best when I can achieve a more relaxed, natural style of play and perform worse when the body tenses up and I rush around on court almost 'trying too hard'.  When trying too hard, I can also feel my face tensing up and I must pull some really weird expressions on court, especially when striking the ball!

However, it has to be said that the more relaxed style comes when I play someone who 'allows' me to play that way,  It's when my opponent is able to upset my rhythm, e.g. by intercepting on the volley more or by being generally unpredictable, that my game starts to unravel, which becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy as I start to tense up, so you have to give credit to the opponent for that.

Any tips nonetheless appreciated.



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From rippa rit - 22 May 2009 - 08:14

I guess we have two things as far as our playing state, ie under aroused and overaroused being a mental skill.  There is also the aspect of technical skill, controlling the speed at which the game flows, and that is another learned skill. I remember the years when I either seemed to play like a dynamo or like a sleepy cat, often dictated by the way the opponent played their rallies, ie if they ran and hit madly so would I, if they slowed down so would I.  If that is happening to you, and you feel you are losing control of the rally, try practising some of these routines making sure your attacking shots are very hard and low, and your controlled shots are high and tight:

  • Pair routine - Player A attacks to length, Player B defends to length.
  • Pair routine - Players rally down the wall around each other in a controlled manner and then attack any ball that is not hugging the wall.
  • Pair routine - Drive/Boast/Drop Shot/Lob

At first you may find your hard shots are not hard and low enough, and your soft shots are not soft and high enough.  Just keep conscious of this and gradually it will come right.

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From adam_pberes - 13 May 2009 - 15:55

Then the trick is not to relax too much, like me. To stopp myself running too hard and aimlessly whacking the ball.. I slow myself right down. My shots become excellent, And I think about my shot alot more... But I slow down so much I start getting lazy, dawdling to the ball and this gives them time to get to the T - Every time, which then renders the good shots worthless.


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From rippa rit - 07 May 2009 - 07:36   -   Updated: 07 May 2009 - 07:44

Just another thought, how thick is your grip?  If you have a grip a bit oversize (bigger rather than smaller) that may relieve some of the tension too, especially in your arm. 

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From hamburglar - 07 May 2009 - 00:11   -   Updated: 07 May 2009 - 00:11

Thinking about where I'm hitting the ball rather than how hard I'm hitting it works well for me.

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From rippa rit - 05 May 2009 - 09:54   -   Updated: 05 May 2009 - 10:02

Jim this is a common problem.  The Library/Mental Skills/Arousal has various tips to help you settle down when you are getting rattled on court.  Once you have experienced what you consider to be your optimum level of arousal (feel very much in control) that is the zone you strive for during your matches - probably a bit similar to your arousal when practising with your training partner.  Sort of like a Cruise Control on a car which is automatic, as opposed to being controlled by the foot on the pedal!  The idea is to reduce your heart rate so your body and mind are in control which will help you think clearer and stop the choking (tension).  Have you seen players let their arms hang loosely and just shake out their hands trying to relax; taking your time in between points; breathing deeply and slowly (without letting your opponent know how you are feeling); don't focus on the score or the result of the match as that will distract you from thinking of the performance factors, eg keep ball above tin, hit ball to tight length, get to the T, volley, etc. .

There is a fine line between underaroused and overaroused.  When you play under pressure there is more overarousal usually happening, giving the need for these techniques.  For me when I play a lesser standard of play I become underaroused which is also a problem at times, even when you are getting beaten by these ordinary players (in my opinion!) so I then need to do the reverse, eg increase my heart rate, concentrate, take each point seriously, increase the speed of play, stop the errors, be patient, etc.

Because squash is a fast game, and the heart rate is continually going up and down depending on the rallies, it becomes harder to fine-tune your level of control.

Give these ideas a try and let us know what works for you.

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