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Introduction to Mental Skills Training

Updated: Apr 15

Welcome to SquashMind and thank you for taking your first steps towards working on a healthier and more balanced mind both on and off the squash court.


As a player I felt I was not able to reach my full technical and physical potential due to my wavering mental side of the game. As soon as I thought I had figured things out and strung together some good wins, the cliff face seemed just around the next corner.


Lack of confidence, nervousness, the red mist, wavering focus, a drop in motivation, and an increase in anxiety would begin to appear all too regular and have huge detrimental effects on my performance no matter how hard I was training. And this lead me to a feeling of complete loss in what I was doing. Not a very happy time in my life. Maybe some of this sounds familiar with yourself?

Transitioning to a full-time coaching career in 2012 after 10+ years on the pro tour, it bugged me that I let myself down mentally and have made it my goal and mission to learn more about the mental side of sport in order to pass on this valuable asset to players. I felt I was never given the right tools to appreciate the depth the mental side offered as well as being limited to having easy access to practical practices I could apply routinely.


I entered into a Masters research project with the University of Gloucester in 2018 attempting to uncover more about mental toughness in squash. It was a great experience and the depth of knowledge I gained was invaluable. Unfortunately, it also left me with a feeling of dissatisfaction as it was heavily academic, and I felt it was not as transferrable as I would have liked to the real world.

Having researched the power of mental skills training, and in particular visualisation for sports, the impact and effectiveness is undeniable. There have been numerous longitudinal studies conducted in this field as well as first-hand interviews from athletes who follow a mental training program.


My goal is to bring together all that I have studied and applied myself over the years from the experts and mentors. Alongside this, interleaving my own personal experiences along the way, and to be able to present a robust, easy to use, affordable, and accessible mental skills training program. This is where the SquashMind app was born.


SquashMind is the GYM of the MIND

Studies have time and again shown that our brains cannot tell the difference between an actual physical event and the vivid visualisation of that same event. When we experience something and when we visualise the same thing, we activate the same brain circuits. Being able to visualise effectively and to be taught how to do it in an easy and accessible way creates powerful habits that are transferred into performance.

SquashMind will help you to start to apply a mental skills training program for yourself. I am passionate about maximising peoples potential and to help anyone wishing to live a happier, healthier and more balanced life both on and off the squash court.


Topics such as dealing with pressure, coping with nerves, converting from in front, acceptance, goals setting, habit forming, the power of process, plus many others, will be discussed and practical tips will be suggested in order to attempt to maximise consistent performance under pressure.



SQUASHMIND PHILOSOPHY


The art of improving mental toughness isn’t a set of teachings or a formula to memorise. It’s a practice that requires constant work.


SquashMind is a tool, and like any tool, when it lays dormant and not picked up and used it is ineffectual!


A hammer will never hammer in a nail or a saw never cut wood or a paint brush never paint unless it is taken up by the user and used for its intended purpose. The same goes for working on mental toughness and mindfulness.


You need to get your reps in!


Turn words into work. Upgrade awareness into action.


SquashMind uses a very simple 3-step protocol in order to improve the mind. Just because it sounds simple doesn't mean it is easy!


1 - Get the theory
2 - Get the tools
3 - Get to work


HOW TO BEGIN


If this is your first time thinking about addressing your mental state, then can I direct you to the Intro Course in the SquashMind App. You will find this entirely FREE course at the bottom of the Home Screen on the app (see below picture) which will help guide you around the app and lays down some early and important fundamental lessons. The Intro Course will also help you understand how to navigate and get the best out of the app to make your experience much more enjoyable.


I am looking forward to seeing you at your first lesson and welcome to your amazing journey into the power and awesomeness of the mind!


Some really powerful recommended reading around some key mental aspects I would suggest:

The Inner Game of Tennis – Timothy Gallwey

Winning Ugly – Brad Gilbert

The Mindful Athlete – George Mumford


PRACTICAL TIPS TO USE RIGHT AWAY


- Start by becoming more aware of your emotions in a match and pay attention to them


- Journal for a few minutes each morning and evening to increase your awareness


- Start with some daily meditation using the SquashMind Meditation Timers in the drop-down menu to grow your mindfulness and presence



If you liked this blog, please do share with others that may be interested on this subject and find it of use. I work closely with players on all aspects of their game and mind. I offer online Zoom lessons and become a mentor and accountability partner for players. I find 1:1 online lessons immensely powerful for learning and am now using the court more so for practice. Being able to learn away from the ‘distractions’ of playing is proving to be highly valuable.


“Learn online, practice on-court.”


Please do get in touch by emailing me: jesse@squashmind.co.uk

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