Put it into practice: Concentration and attention with Shayne Duncan

3rd February 2020

We’re pleased to welcome elite Australian sports psychologist Shayne Duncan to SquashSkills for our latest featured playlist, in which he breaks down and discusses two of the key mental attributes crucial to our success on the court – concentration and attention.

Much of our featured output here at SquashSkills relates to the technical and tactical aspects of the sport, which is underpinned by the large range of physical content we have over on the fitness side of the site.

The fourth key area often somewhat overlooked by the amateur, however, is our mental skills – how we think, respond, and behave on the court. For a lot of players that work extremely hard on all of the other technical/tactical/physical elements and still feel that they’re not quite performing how they would like, this can very often be the missing link.

In this fascinating new playlist then, Shayne covers a variety of areas related to our concentration and attention, highlighting the importance of focusing only on those things that we can control 100% – ourselves, our effort, and the here & now.

It’s very easy in a sport such as squash to get caught up in things like the result and the occasion when you’re playing your competitive matches, when actually we should be making an effort to strip it down and focus far more on just executing our skill set – our concentration and attention should be on performance, not on outcome. Achieving our desired results can be a great motivation in training, but come game time focusing on something inherently uncontrollable as ‘winning’ is not conducive to optimal performance.

Shayne also takes an insightful look at ‘time’ in our psychology, and the importance of focusing on the present. The role that other people play in performance is examined as well, along with our environment, injuries, and the idea of ‘natural talent’.

We’ve had some great sport psychology content previously featured on the site, from both a player’s perspective with Egyptian superstar Ali Farag and from a coach’s perspective with US College legend Paul Assaiante. Having a more specialised playlist now from Shayne really adds another layer to the examination of what is such a crucial, yet often underappreciated aspect of the game.

The purpose of this blog is to give you some ideas for exercises you can use in your training to not only boost your technical skills but to increase your mental acuity also. We’ve put together a series of sessions based around some challenging conditioned games and high stakes solo practices, as well as a gruelling ghosting workout designed to test your focus and mental toughness!


Put it into practice

Solo session

This session focuses on hitting attacking shots in an artificially created pressure situation and provides a good tie-in with our ‘playing like you practice’ article.


Partner session

This pairs session works through a series of conditioned games, placing unique demands on your focus and attention which will pay dividends in your match play.


Physical session

Develop your squash-specific mental toughness and fortitude, with this long, gruelling ghosting session!



Related content

Zero to Hero: Mindset with Jesse Engelbrecht

In this playlist, Jesse discusses the importance of mindset when playing squash and how to focus on the different areas when in a game.


concentrationThe mental game: How to develop mental toughness with Paul Assaiante

In this series, Paul Assaiante explains everything you need to know to improve your mental toughness during matches.


concentrationInside the mind of Ali Farag

In this series, we get inside the mind of World Number Two, Ali Farag.



Let us know how you get on with the sessions, we’d love to hear your feedback!

Haven't seen the full series yet?

The mental side of the game and is crucial to your success as a squash player. Shayne offers some brilliant advice that’s relevant to players of all levels.

Watch now