In many Squash coaching sessions I have delivered over the years the subject of control has been a key focus or theme. Some examples are developing more accuracy and ‘control’ over the direction of the ball, a vital part of squash. We would also work on a player’s ability to have control over their speed of movement which adds better timing and efficiency into their game. Another example is helping players learn how to control their emotions and lessen the negative influence our emotions can have over our performance, particularly when in competitive and high pressure situations.
Very frequently when running camps or meeting new groups of players for the first time I explain that to become a better Squash player is to achieve more control in your game. Areas such as stability, ball placement, good movement timing and emotional regulation to name a few. As you become better and better at achieving this and move up the levels the speed and intensity of the game increases and therefore the demand to keep control is still there but in a more pressured situation due to the less time you have to respond, think and react. Squash is a very fast reactive game where quick clear choices and natural movement responses are a must! This very fast reactive sport particularly at the highest level means the majority of what you do on court needs to be instinctive and subconscious particularly in relation to movement. If the movement is free without thought then the brain can focus on the tactical and mental aspects with ease.
So with this in mind is there a conflict between control and our ability to be effective movers and performers? In some ways yes it can be, that is why it is so important how you as a player interpret this topic and the same importance exists for us as coaches in how we explain and communicate this topic to our players.
When you can truly settle into that mindset of allowing in your matches it is at that moment that you will truly see the results you want. Not only will your movement and responses be light and quicker but you will be able to take in so much more external information as you are no longer internally focused.
The key things to be aware of here are – 1.) As a player you must trust the work and effort you have put into the training to develop new techniques which you have made your own. 2.) The coach must be a guide and direct the player to find the form or technique desired but then give space for the player to feel and find their way to the desired outcome, avoid over communication or technical input after a while otherwise you just create the same over conscious pattern in your player.
All the best and enjoy! If you have any insights or experiences you wish to share on this topic we would love to hear them 🙂