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I Have Tamed The Wild Dog

Published: 18 Apr 2005 - 21:22 by theguru

Updated: 08 Apr 2011 - 17:47

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I have noted with interest replies to the Dr Jeckyl and Mr Hyde post on this website as well as a reply to one of my own scribbling, involving the effect Squash can have on one's personality.

Although I am not officially qualified on the subject, one of my areas of interest has been the workings of the brain and its effect on performance. Extensive reading along with many hours meditating on court in the lotus psoition, has provided me with an view into my own unique personality and an insight into that of others.

Apart from coming to the conclusion that everyone but myself is crazy, I have been able to manage my personality weaknesses with simple mechanical processes. Now when I say manage, this refers to more of a guiding process, rather than a clearly defined path.

If I can make the analogy of driving a car to a predetermined destination, it is less like using a street directory for precise directions and more like using a small scale map which may contain the major arterial roads, but not suburban streets.

Occasionally, I crash the car and have to walk some distance before catching a train or bus, then stop to ask passers-by the exact location of my required destination, at which I eventually arrive.

Now while this may not seem ideal, it is preferable to setting off in the wrong direction and being set upon by a pack of wild dogs, then, after lying bleeding at the side of the road, being discovered by a good samaritian who takes one to a hospital, where a limited recovery is made and one's life is spent as a shadow of one's former self.

If you are like me, and require some measure of controlled self guidance (so you do not end up behaving like the aforementioned wild dogs), you may find what I do instructive. These simple practical steps may take some time to master, as with any skill, but once adept, it can help in all forms of endeavour, not just Squash. This is what I do:
  1. Tame The Wild Dog
    • I imagine the most peaceful place I could be and that I want to enter that place.
    • To enter, I must get past a demon, ogre (or wild dog) which is actually my troubled inner self.
    • I imagine I can pacify this wild dog and so enter my nirvana.
    • Whilst I practiced this visualisation many times when first trying this technique, I now only ever pactice it occasionaly when I feel I am having trouble managing my emaotions on court.
    • If your visualisation is "real" you will find, as I did, that taming or pacifying this beast may not be that easy.

  2. Mental Rehearsal
    • I identified (and continue to do so) the areas in my game where I was unable to control my mental process (eg not concentrating, losing one's temper etc etc.)
    • With each situation, I identified the desirable behaviour - how I should do things - then visualised the steps I should take and associated the process with a cue word and cue action. (eg. notice how tennis players bounce the ball before serving.)
    • I concentrate hard on the ball as I throw it up to serve or, when recieving, think of my "4 C's"
      1. Concentation
      2. Committment
      3. Courage
      4. Consistency

    • I practice these mentally many times over
    • I start using the technique during my practise game.

  3. Hang In
    • I hope you are staying with me on this as the benefits can be great. Finally, I incorporate what I have visualised, into my competition game.

  4. During The Game
    • During the warm up and the hit up I use cue words to remind myself of key points of my game and the game plan.
    • I use the cue words and actions during the crucial stages of my game. They are:
      1. The beginning and end of each rally (I quickly evaluate what has happened in the rally and decide on appropriate action, then, with this thought in mind, prepare myself for the coming rally)
      2. Especially after I have played a poor rally or my opponent has played well - reminding myself that I must be physically and mentally strong during the next rally.
      3. At times when I have recieved what I percieve as a bad referees call
      4. When something has upset me during a rally.
      5. When attempting to close out a game or match

    • This process is repeated for the duration of the match
    • The process, on each occasion, should take no longer than a couple of seconds
    • This works best when it is totally automated - using cue actions helps the process become subconcious after a while. When things start to go wrong, you may need to start conciously managing the process again for a short while.

If you are committed to producing your very best, you can use this process, but it does take some practice.

When restarting tough competition Squash a short while ago after a few years break, I found that I was unable to carry this process through the entire match. As I got tired and pressured, my brain did not recognise the important cue points above. I would finish the match on the losing side, castigating myself for not giving myself the best chance of producing my best.

Losing against players half my age is not fun, but each week I make some progress, identifying key areas where I have failed and improving on it the next week. I will return to top form shortly and repay those defeats in kind. Past experience has shown that it takes 6-8 weeks to adjust to good quality competition.

I beseech you to use my experience to improve the quality of your game and to prevent Mr. Hyde or a Wild Dog from spoiling the enjoyment of your playing partner or opponent.squash game squash extras How to add images to Members' Forum posts and replies here... PSA Squash TV - North American Open 2012

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From drop-shot - 19 Apr 2005 - 18:25

Guru Guru,
Excellent topic. Quite often we forget that squash is like athletic chess game. The more we know the further we go, so all the mental/ meditation/ psychological preparation is more and more important. And how many times we have seen top seeded players losing their nerves on court? A lot. A bit too much, huh? So, there is the next point to reach in our amateur squash. Mental preparaion and thinking. It is really not that fast game as most of us are thinking. Fencing or chess comes to my mind too often when I talk about squash.

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