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?
Whatever level you play at, there will inevitably come a time when you go through a period of low energy/enthusiasm. The reasons for this can be many – maybe you’ve lost a few close matches, perhaps you’ve had a bit of an injury niggle or your fitness levels have dropped, or you might just be going through a cloudy mental patch and your squash has stopped being the release that it once was.
Regardless of the root cause, it’s important to first of all acknowledge how you’re feeling, and then perhaps even more crucially, recognise that it’s not an uncommon thing to experience. Accepting these periods of lessened enthusiasm as perfectly normal can help give you the motivation to change course a little to help address those feelings.
So what can you do to help rekindle your drive?
One simple place you could start is to take a look at what you actually want to achieve with your squash. Going through a goal-setting process can be a great way to refocus your mind on exactly why you play the sport. If you’re the competitive type, sit down by yourself or with your coach, and pick out some players you’d like to beat, or box league you’d like to reach, or club team level you want to play at. Alternatively, if you play just for health and exercise, set some corresponding goals in respect to ideal weight or body fat % you want to achieve. Once you have those goals laid out, you can start identifying what you need to do as regards training and practice to reach them, thus giving yourself a bit of renewed direction.
Another approach to switching things up and rekindling your drive is to shift your focus away from match play and competition and instead zero in on your physical conditioning. Stepping away from actually playing competitively for a few weeks and instead using that time to go on a real fitness kick, can help rejuvenate your game. Your training time might still include some on-court drilling, but the major emphasis of everything you do should switch to boosting the 3 S’s of physical conditioning – strength, speed, and stamina. Combining your fitness regime with a healthy eating plan can work wonders in refreshing both mind and body, and help promote a renewed zeal in your play.
Further to the idea of using a fitness push to help shake you out of a squash funk, you could go further and actually set yourself an outside challenge to give you an even greater shift in focus. Depending on your current level of fitness, this could be anything from training for a 10k run, to entering a triathlon, to climbing a mountain!
A different approach to rekindling your enthusiasm for the game is to go back to the grassroots and get involved in some junior coaching. It may not be something you’ve considered before, but getting involved in your club’s junior training programme and engaging with children who are having a great time embarking on their squash journey, can be a wonderful reminder of why you got started playing in the first place. Most clubs will require you to gain some kind of certification and/or go through a background check if you intend to make it something you do more regularly, but offering a helping pair of hands on court for a couple of sessions will likely be very warmly received by your local junior coach!
Whatever is causing your slump on court, accept that it’s perfectly normal and don’t allow it to become something that causes you excessive frustration. Take a step back to have a think about what it is that’s triggered it, maybe chat through it with your coach or regular playing partner, and then consider trying one of the approaches above.
B.Sc.(Hons), CSCS, NSCA-CPT, Dip. FTST
SquashSkills Fitness & Performance Director
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