By Richard Millman, Owner- The Squash Doctor Corporation
You need a positive Mantra from your personal Angel. Something simple and non critical. Something that helps you to get your maximum edge. For me it’s one word: ‘Focus!’ I repeat it time and time again—during the warm up and during the match at key times. That word means more to me than the simple idea that it represents. When my inner voice hears the word ‘Focus’ it is directed to all the ideas that I have developed as a player. All the positive ideas, such as: ‘Good work brings it’s own rewards.’ I can’t tell you how many times I have repeated that word when I have been on the edge of a precipice. I didn’t always win, but I always gave it my best shot when I used that word.
We have to face the fact that sometimes we just don’t have what it takes on a given day. But we can always perform at our best in the face of danger if we dig deep within and listen to our positive Angel.
This continues to be the case during the game. That Devil gets inside your head so that you think it is really you speaking.
‘I can’t do it!’ Maybe you can’t but is that a reason not to try? What do you learn from giving up? You certainly don’t get any inkling of what more you might have to do to succeed next time. You simply learn that you have failed.
Trying, on the other hand, will teach you a great deal and may well give a glimpse of that promised land that you seek and an indication of the progress you have made— however limited. And knowing that you gave it everything will make you walk tall, full of aspirations for the next time.
So don’t listen to that old Devil when, in the middle of a tough rally, he starts telling you to give up. Your personal Angel will tell you: ‘If we’re going down, we’re going down fighting and we’ll never quit until someone tells us it’s over. And even then—after we’ve given our opponent respect for today’s victory—we’ll get right down to working on improving so that we can do better (whatever that means) the next time.’
In reality there are no finite goals. There is just one promise to yourself: to do your best everyday until that day you hang your racquet up for the last time. Then and only then can you look back.
If you listen to the Angel and shut out the Devil, you will look back and say, “I am happy, because I gave it my best shot.”
Even champions don’t remember all their victories. Mainly they remember the journey and whether they fought well.
Don’t fear losing and don’t become too desperate about winning. By all means plan, organize, execute, review, learn, reevaluate, re-energize and re-commit.
Just fight with everything you’ve got every time you’re out there. The results will look after themselves.
The accompanying poem is reproduced from my book Angles (www.lulu. com). I wrote it after watching James Willstrop persevere in a match where the referee seemed hell bent on making every decision against James.
Of course James is now the World No. 1, and so everyone expects him to personify the Angel voice and not the Devil. However, when I wrote the poem he was still languishing in the lower ranks with no guarantee of success.
I am proud to say that after watching that match I predicted that James would become No. 1—not just because of his wonderful genius as a Squash player—but because nothing, but nothing, affected his focus.
Perhaps James actually has a personal Angel. Whatever the case, his attitude is extraordinary and for me epitomizes the way that we should all strive.
Next month: Slingshot mechanics— how movement seamlessly powers your shot production.