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Controlling squash temper and anger on the court

Squash can be a very frustrating game, particularly when one is training hard but not seeing any results. As soon as you start to smash racquets and scream, it usually means that you are trying too hard to get things perfect when you are physically and mentally not 100% ready.

Anger is the result of deeply rooted frustrations that have accumulated over time. You are like a pressure cooker letting off your steam once in a while. The solution is to avoid letting pressure build up in the first place. In squash, this means training smart. The more time you spend practicing, then the more you expect to see results. When the results do not come, you get mad and let off your steam. Analyze your game and do not be shy about being self-critical. Try to find the root cause for why results are not paying off.

Unfortunately, this is not black or white. It is hard to distinguish between a wrong technique versus the growing pains of learning a new technique. What I find helps is comparing my rate of progress to younger kids. If you are not improving as fast as they are then there is something wrong with the technique you are practicing. Or it could be something you are neglecting to practice.

Many doctors agree that all adults, regardless of age, can learn new things just as quickly as children. The problems arise from mental blocks we impose on ourselves. Keep an open mind and embrace change. Understand that it is better to experience a few weeks of "growing pains" than experience years of frustration with a bad technique. If you can understand this, then there is nothing to stop you from learning as fast as a young kid.

Realize that if you lose the game, you just lose a game. If you lose your temper, you lose your image too and which is far harder to regain. This will motivate yourself to control your temper, which is important because your emotional faculty of your mind "wants" to express the anger for temporarily relief. > Your partner is looking for fun too. Don't ruin his/her day. Of course, I am not telling you to give up and let your opponent win! Just make it a good game.

Another point to remember is that squash is a hard sport to be consistent at. One day, everything goes in just the way you want it, and the next day, you can't hit anything at all, and you get angry because the shots that were going in aren't, and it was just a day ago. You are just going to have a few bad days, and so you have to keep that in mind. Basically, you can just try to tell yourself how to fix the next shot and not blame yourself on the shot you just missed. Or try to keep to things that are working, or keep playing the shot you missed, and try to be analytical about what went wrong.

A squash coach used to tell me that when I found my concentration was waning, I should "look for the dots on the ball" - in that way, you are looking for two [or one] little yellow dots on a little black ball not a little black ball against a big white wall - what happens is that it brings your focus back into the court and helps to clear the head.

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