Put it into practice: Mental approach

2nd March 2020

SquashSkills co-founder and all-time great of the sport Peter Nicol is back centre stage this week, as he introduces a brand new playlist that examines his mental approach to the game, and details what players at all levels of the game can learn from his experiences.

Peter is one of the most decorated squash players in history – winning multiple Commonwealth Games medals, British Opens, and numerous other major events, whilst also being crowned world champion in 1999 and going on to hold onto the world number 1 spot on the PSA rankings for an incredible total of 60 months throughout his career. In this new series of videos, he takes us on a fascinating journey and shares with us some of his insights into the mental side of the sport.

The mental aspect of the game is usually given far less weight in the amateur player’s outlook for their development, particularly when compared with elements relating more to technique and fitness. If you talk to most professional players however, they’ll tell you that this is a big mistake. What goes on between the ears when you’re playing and training, is every bit as important to your success as any other area of the game.

In the playlist, Peter discusses the importance of getting into a good mental rhythm any time you’re on court, and how this will help you optimise your performance. He breaks this down into his thoughts on how best to mentally approach different types of practise sessions and then goes on to discuss how this changes within a match environment.

For practice, Peter emphasises the importance of thinking about nailing the basics but to not get too caught up in perfectionism. ‘Control the controllables’ is the message here, and to try and keep your focus on the primary areas you’ve been practising to avoid succumbing to the inevitable frustrations when things don’t go quite to plan. Peter discusses how practice matches, in particular, can be very dispiriting at times, even for him – the key, however, is to stay focused on exactly what you’ve been practising and thus what you’re trying to achieve within each game, therefore taking the pressure off of yourself and allowing the different parts to all mesh together.

From a matchplay perspective, the playlist breaks down what you should be concentrating on during your warm-up, the knock-up, the start of the match, between games, and then finally post-match. Each area has its own unique set of mental challenges, which affect the way it needs to be approached – from the game-planning and tactical focus of the warm-up, to the trust in your abilities and control of your nerves as the match begins, onto the awareness of the potential need for mid-game reviews and adjustments, and then onto post-match reflections and evaluation.

The purpose of this blog is to accompany Peter’s playlist content and to give you some suggestions for further reading surrounding the crucial topic of the mental approach to squash:

Related content

mental approach

Post-match analysis sheet (with a downloadable PDF)

We’ve put together a sheet to help guide you toward the most important performance-related elements that need to be evaluated and appraised.


mental approachConcentration and attention with Shayne Duncan

Shayne takes us through his process for improving the foundations of your mental game.


mental approachZero to Hero: Mindset with Jesse Engelbrecht

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


Character development with Hadrian Stiff

Hadrian discusses the fact that all players are different and need to be treated as individuals in order to get the most out of the sport.


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

Haven't seen the full series yet?

Check out the full series where Peter Nicol takes us through the mental preparation needed to succeed and stay focused when building up to a match.

Watch now