There really is a silver lining to the cloud of despair when you lose a tough squash match. The silver lining is that you have a great opportunity to learn from your loss. You can often learn much more by losing than by winning. Here's how to get the most out of your tough losses, so that you advance rapidly and gain new skills and strategies in squash.
Time Required: As Long As It Takes to Gain Perspective
- Look at the patterns of the match and the score to see what happened. Ask any knowledgeable observers about the match and what they saw. Patterns can reveal whether you became physically tired, or whether you started slowly, or whether you changed tactics at a certain point.
- Examine your preparation for the match. Were you prepared, warmed up, healthy, rested, well-fed, hydrated, equipped with all necessary gear, and outfitted with a game plan?
- Analyze your opponent's strengths. Did he or she beat you with one particular shot? With footspeed and athleticism? With soft drop shots or dying length to the back corners? What was your opponent particularly good at?
- Analyze your opponent's weaknesses. Where did you win your points? Given that you lost, was there a weak chink in your opponent's armor that you found at all? What might you attack next time?
- Honestly look at your own strengths and weaknesses. You must have lost a lot of points somewhere. Did they happen in the front of the court, or in the back corners? Are your volleys as good as your groundstrokes? How are your serves and serve returns? Does your serve give your opponent some difficulty? Does your return go straight down the wall or cross-court right back to your opponent?
- Develop a hypothesis about what you need to improve. There was a bad combination in that match between your opponent's strengths and your weaknesses. Figure out how you can eliminate or reduce your weakness, and bring your strengths more into play.
- Share your hypothesis with a coach and ask him/her how to improve this aspect of your game. A coach can help validate your ideas, and will certainly be able to suggest drills to remedy specific weaknesses.
- Do the drilling, the fitness work, and the training required to improve your play. This will take repetition before you should even attempt to execute it during match play. For every time you get on court to play, you should do one drilling session. Otherwise, it is impossible to groove new patterns and add new shots to your repertoire.
- Remember that you are the same person, win or lose. This is a very important point. You are not a bad person if you lose. Conversely, you are not a great person if you win. Rudyard Kipling had it right. You should treat loss and victory as the imposters they are, and remember that it's just a game.
- Having assured a sound perspective, try your new approach in a match. What do you have to lose?
- If at first you don't succeed, try again. It may take a while to add new shots or a new pattern of shots to your game. Keep at it, and do more drilling.
- If at second you don't succeed, try, try again. Squash is a very fast game, and certain patterns of shots need to be reflexive in order to work their best. Performing enough drills so that the right shot comes reflexively takes time and repetition. Keep at it.
- Always keep studying and analyzing. Your initial hypothesis may have been wrong. Find out what else might have been related to that problem, and then work on that.
- Try again. Squash is a lifelong game. If you don't like solving puzzles, you may need another sport. There is always something to work on.
- If you hit more weakly on one side of your body than on the other, fix that. You need to be strong on both forehand and backhand sides.
- If you are impatient and try to hit winners too early, get fit enough and mentally strong enough that you can play a more patient game.
- If you are losing because you are thinking about the score too much, try thinking 'squash thoughts' instead. Use simple thoughts like 'good depth' or 'quick to the T' or 'hit deep' or 'serve return straight'.
- Remember that everyone loses sometime. It's NOT the end of the world.
What You Need
- Time to Practice
- Good Opponents