There’s a phrase in English, and perhaps other languages too: “Dress for the job you want, not the job you have“. It comes from a time when being smart and well-dressed was considered a reflection of your character. Nowadays, very successful people can be seen wearing chinos and polos, but back then it was all about suits and ties.
So what the heck has this got to do with the 3 adjectives? Well, I believe you should “play like the player you want to be, not the player you are“. Hear or repeat something enough and you will begin to believe it. Say to yourself you are inconsistent, unfit and hit terrible drops, and you will believe it.
One of the most relentless squash players ever - Jahangir Khan
Suddenly saying I hit great drops, certainly won’t mean you WILL hit great drops, but saying “I hit drops at the right time” can change the way you think. We have two elements that are key here. Firstly, being able to honestly assess your squash and plan a way to improve and secondly, self-belief.
The Current You
So, take a moment to assess your squash. You can use adjectives to describe your physical condition, your technical ability, your tactical awareness, or even just an overall characteristic. You are not trying to be negative, just honest. Ask yourself if your opponents would agree with your assessment. Better yet, actually ask them. Is what they see, the same as what you see?
The New You
Now think about what 3 adjectives you would like to be known for. Be as ambitious as you want, or even fairly conservative. Just make sure they are positive attributes. You now have something to aspire to. It might not even require any training, it might just be a change in attitude – which I know is easy to type and much harder to do, but you have to start somewhere.
Now that's fighting spirit - Gregory Gaultier
I haven’t played competitive squash for many years, in fact in the last 3 or 4 years I have been on court less than 10 times, so in my case, there is no “Current Me”. But I can tell you how I would like other people to see me and if I ever get on court again, I can behave in a manner that displays those characteristics.
Relentless – I want opponents to hate playing me because they know that I will fight for every single point, whether the score is 1-1 or 0-10. I’ve seen less fit, less skilled and less tactically aware players win squash matches purely because of their fighting spirit. There are other adjectives that mean more or less the same thing: competitive, spirited, determined, motivated, but to me “relentless” reminds me of a Terminator that just won’t stop.
Ruthless – This means that if I can beat you 11-0, 11-0, 11-0 I will. When I am on court playing you, I’m not your friend, I’m not your coach, your neighbour, your colleague, no. I AM YOUR OPPONENT. it may be mean-spirited to say this, but all softness must be ignored. In my case, I use this word because my whole time playing, I was too friendly, too nice, too interested in enjoying the experience, not in winning.
Smart – I want people playing me to understand that I change my tactics based on them and what works best on that day. Each time they play me is a new challenge. Sure, I play mostly the same shots in the same way – there’s only a few “ways” to play squash, but I don’t want to be the kind of player that once an opponent figures out how to beat me, it will work every single time we play.
Be patient, don't go for a winner just becasue you are tired.
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I can’t tell you which adjectives to sue, because the key point about these is that they are personal. But I can say at least one of the three below are probably useful for 90% of readers.
Patient – Too many club players go for winners when they shouldn’t. yes, that is very closely connected to their fitness, but by simply being more patient in matches, you will actually improve your fitness!
Defensive – At the right time. Again, not enough club players, play defensive shots when they should. Simply staying in the rally 1 shot longer may be enough to win the point. You’ll never know until you try.
Straighter – This may seem like a strange one, but is related to your straight shots. I remember playing a player who although wasn’t a great player, he played mostly straight shots. It made me understand that even short but tight shots can be very effective. It’s easy for me to sit here and type “straighter”, but actually doing it is a lot harder. By making this something to focus on you can be the journey to improving your straight drives.
Be honest with yourself and assess your squash. Then imagine how you want to play. You now have a vision to aim for. Perhaps it means more training, or coaching, or perhaps it's just a change in approach.
Become the type of player you want to be by behaving like the player you want to be.
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