Today I'm going to discuss something that sounds so simple, but as we look into it is isn't. Today I'm going to talk about not making up any excuses, ever. This isn't only done by kids, I hear a lot of people make excuses. It's as if they are sparing their ego from the outcome. It wasn't their fault they lost or may lose. And it wouldn't be the opponent that played better and won, no that couldn't be it. It's human nature to internalize winning and externalize losing.
I have to start off by saying that I am not a saint either. Especially when I was a kid, I would always make an excuse for a loss, real or imagined isn't the point here. Often our excuses are based on some relatively valid point. Maybe we didn't get enough sleep, or we had a hard draw, whatever it is, yes that may be the case. But I don't like hearing people say or think these things. This gives them an out a reason to accept defeat if things start going wrong. Not only that, but your focus is self-destructive and negative. Instead of preparing for you match and on your squash game you are spiralling further from where you need to be psychologically when you step out on court. If you start the match thinking how there is a conspiracy against you, you're in trouble.
Squash is an individual sport. This is normally what people love about it. What happens is directly influenced by how you play. When you play well you don't overthink things and you're generally positive. When you have a self-destructive thought in your head you don't have any hope of playing your best squash.
Some people don't even realize they are making excuses or complain, it's so ingrained. Here is a list of many of the complaints I've heard before even stepping on court.
- I'm so tired
- I don't feel well
- ______ hurts
- I have a terrible draw
- I didn't have enough time to recover between matches
- this is too late
- I don't like these courts/ they don't suit my game
- I'm not fit enough
- I don't like this shirt
- I don't like wearing my eye guards
- This person is in the wrong division/ this person is too good for me
- This is too early/late to play squash
- This is too many matches in 1 day
- That person has been training really hard and playing well
- My opponent just beat this person, I can't beat them
- I have a test tomorrow/I have so much homework
Here's some I've heard between games
- I'm tired
- I don't feel well
- They hit so many lucky shots
- That's the worse I've ever played
- The ref is blind
- My opponent is blocking/I keep bumping into them
- My opponent isn't calling their shots down/out
After the match is over I've head
- I didn't play well
- They were lucky
- I didn't feel good tonight
- The reffing was brutal
- The courts were terrible
- I never play well against this person
- The floors were slippery
- The ball was bouncing weird
- Something was wrong with the ball
- I really don't like playing that person
You get the point. And regardless of what is true, suck it up and play on. If you can just accept that different challenging situations and look at them just as that, you will handle them better. Getting flustered and angry doesn't help. You still have to go out there and play the match. Go and compete. That is all that you can control. You go and give it your best and see what happens. Maybe you'll surprise yourself and handle a tough situation really well. The more positive you can interpret these the better you will do and the less they will rattle you.
Some of the things I listed above can be solved by preparing properly. Warming up, having back up racquets, new grips and the rest of your equipment is all stuff you can control. The stuff outside of your control, like being a little banged up, your draw, who you play, the ball, the facility and the ref are no under your control. Many of these also are the same for both players. Maybe the court isn't great, maybe its too cold or warm, or the ball is skidding; but this is the same for both of you. Normally whoever can accept this and focus on adjusting to the conditions will play better and win the match. Focusing on things outside of your control is a waste of time. So take notice when these thoughts do come up. Slap yourself out of it and have a positive attitude.
If you do end up losing. Congratulate your opponent, thank the ref and let any companies go. They only make things worse for you. Many people have difficulty accepting defeat. If you can't think of something nice to say, don't say anything.
Life is filled with things that are unpredictable, that we can't control. The same goes for squash. When you learn to accept this you'll be better off for it. Even if it's an extreme situation and your opponent serves out at match point and the ref doesn't call it. Just put your finger up and play the rally out. Many people in this situation just stop altogether and lose the point. Of if they do play the rally they are distracted and keep looking back at the ref. I know this is a tough spot as the ref and your opponent are responsible for calling this shot out, but it's outside of your control. How you handle the most difficult of situations like this one reveal the type of character you have and the person you are. I know this is incredibly tough to do in the heat of the moment, but it like everything else is a learned behaviour and skill. Learn to let these things go and you'll be happier, play better and focus on simply playing your best squash possible.
When you win, be humble and gracious. We like to internalize victories, which is fine if you do the same for defeats. Sometimes it helps to have someone blunt in your corner so they can tell thing like they are.
The goal is to become the best you can be and become more consistent at your weekly matches and in tournaments. If you can stay eivenkeeled before, during and after your matches, win or lose, you are well on your way. If you learn to just play and never look to complain about a situation, it's just one step up you have on all of your opponents. It's also one less thing to distract you from your match. This is what it takes to become a top pro. Pros have to deal with so many variables at every event. If they give an inch mentally it will likely be the difference between winning and going home.
Enjoy the competition and the challenge of your matches. No Complaining, No Excuses, Just Play!