Thursday, December 1, 2011

How far will you go to win?

The title says it all really..where do you draw the line on winning? Many athletes will do anything they can get away with to win. Why is it so difficult to accept that someone is performing better on a given day? The rules are often not enough and in squash, the referee can be vital to ensuring that both players behave fairly. But we don't always have a ref, let alone a good one. And even when someone is technically playing within the rules, some people can get into an opponents head by stalling, talking, arguing calls, being physical and so on.

As terrible as I have seen some people behave, I don't necessarily blame them. I think society overemphasizes winning and losing in sport. Also coaches are usually paid to get results and people that win get sponsorships, more attention, make provincial or national teams, get into colleges, etc. So how can we possibly tell someone that they should play within the rules no matter what..if they're match point down would you still call your ball down if the ref didn't see it or would you offer a 'let'?

It's a very fine line between being competitive, playing hard and fair and doing anything to win. I think the main thing to do is to focus on an athlete's process and how they are playing. I also believe that winning and the benefits of being an elite player will come to those who deserve it. By playing hard, yet fair, you might not win a match that you could have if you cheated, but you will always have someone to practice and play with. And by focusing on your own performance and process, winning will follow as a byproduct.

I also believe that psychologically it will be easier focusing on the process of your performance (as opposed to winning). Worrying about an outcome puts pressure on you by thinking about something that is in the future that isn't under your control. So does that mean I don't like winning? Of course I do, but I'm not satisfied with just winning, nor am I upset just because I lost. I always try and focus on what I did well and what I could have done better..where can I improve to become the best I can be.

On a final note, focusing on winning means that people tense up when things get close and they start thinking about what could be or might (or might not) happen. This thinking takes you away from what they should be doing and concentrating on.

So..how far will you go to win?

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