Friday, June 20, 2014

Benefits of Keeping a Journal

I'd like to talk about keeping a squash journal. If you're a competitive junior or take your squash serious this is an easy way to improve your development. The most difficult part is making this part of a daily routine so I suggest doing this before you go to bed each night or maybe after each practice session or match. If you're a coach, maybe you need to make a set time at the beginning or end of practice for your kids to make an entry. You can also just write when inspiration strikes!

Now I'd like to discuss some areas that I recommend writing in your journal and you will see why this is such an effective learning tool. 

1. Writing out your goals and monitoring your progress. After a tough loss or a disappointing day, or even if your motivation is feeling low, take a look at your goals, most importantly your long term and dream goals as these can give you the boost you need. 

2. Writing out your strengths and areas you are currently working on improving. 

3. Write out a great quote from someone that you find empowering and motivating. 

4. Keep track of your daily training, what you did, how long you did it, how well you performed, were you satisfied with your session, etc. This is a good one to look back at if you feel really well (or not so well) prepared for a tournament. Were you overtraining, not focusing on the right areas, or did you feel and play great? You can also monitor your things like how you performed in fitness tests, track your heart rate and recovery rate which I will cover in a future post. 
5. Keep track of tips you get from your coach or top players. This can help reinforce what you are working on so you can practice it even when you're not in a lesson. This also makes sure you clearly understand your own squash game and you are taking the initiative over your own development. 

6. Write out how you want to play, does it change depending on the opponent, the court or tournament condition? Do you perform better against certain opponents and not so well against others? Keep track of how you played against these players and if if it was successful. Either you can keep playing the same way and stick to your game believing that you just need to improve and better execute your plan, or you can try to play slightly different and see if this improves your result. This is a very important area for learning more about squash and becoming a smart player that can very their game. 

7. You can monitor you nutrition. This is very important to perform at your best. Are you eating enough carbs? Are you hydrating before, during, and after properly? What do you eat while on the road at tournaments? Does this hinder your performance? Also good idea to track your weight. You can weight yourself before exercising and after to see how much fluid you need to replace (1.5L per kg of body weight lost). 

8. You can also monitor your sleep. If you are sleeping too much or not enough it will difficult to perform your best. If you are tossing and turning the night before a big tournament match then write about this. Maybe you should try some breathing and relaxation techniques to help calm your mind and body. 

9. Use it also as a personal journal/diary to track your feelings and thoughts. This doesn't have to be just about squash. You can express yourself in your journal and even without sharing this it can help you feel better. Maybe you are playing squash for the wrong reasons or maybe you don't enjoy competition but feel forced into it. Maybe you are trying to live up to someone else's goals for you. These all create pressure on you and writing about these can help sort out why you are doing what you're doing. Hopefully you can get yourself back in a better frame of mind and if you do I guarantee you will play better.

Hopefully I've outlined some of the benefits of keeping a journal. This can be done with pen and paper or on your computer. If you really want to improve your squash game and be the best that you can be, start writing! 

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