The Art of Winning
A new approach: just win!
Many players get so involved with trying to improve particular parts of their game and technique that they forget the most important thing. That is the ultimate objective of playing in the first place: winning!
How many times have you gone onto court and tried to implement what you were working on in your last lesson? Or found yourself concentrating on trying to get that shoulder turned? Or to get the racquet head up? Or to play every ball on the correct foot? Or to get to the T after each shot?
How many times have you found yourself in a match situation trying to perfect something you thought you'd got the knack of during a solo practice session? Only to find that suddenly you have lost several points because of your stubbornness in trying to get it right? “I AM going to play this bloody drop shot until I get it right because I have been practicing it and it was working perfectly well then!”
Here's the dilemma:
The more you concentrate on something like this, the less you concentrate on the game itself, and that reduces your chances of winning. The only consolation you will ever get after losing, if your focus is not on the real objective of winning, is that 'at least you did eventually play that perfect drop shot you'd been practicing' or 'at least you did turn your shoulders most of the time.' Is that satisfactory? No… I don't think so. I would rather come off court having lost but given everything trying to win. That gives me motivation to keep working on my game.
Getting my shoulders turned successfully might be an excuse for not winning, but I am just kidding myself if I think that's why I didn't win. If my opponent is too good then he is too good. It's that simple, and I need to work harder!
The only exception would be when you deliberately use a friendly game to practice refining your ideas, but be careful because it is easy to fall into a comfort zone of using every game to do that!
You need to condition yourself mentally to try 100% to win. Anything less conditions you into compromising your best competitive performance.
So what is the secret to implementing new strategies without compromising your ability to win the game? It is all about shifting your focus. Instead of thinking about those new ideas you have recently been working on, you should just get on the court and try to win. Focus on winning. The rest (the wrist preparation, shoulder turn, the new technique, the shots you are developing) are all peripheries to your main objective. And winning requires total focus!
The key to succeeding with this strategy is to do the work on different areas of your game when you have a lesson or practice session, but forget it all as soon as you go on court to play a match. Sounds crazy but it is in fact the best way to incorporate new ideas automatically. If you work and focus on those key areas of your game while in a lesson or practicing, as sure as God made little apples, the key areas will all gradually become incorporated into your game when you are playing matches and focused on winning! It just takes persistence and repetition.
A final important note to emphasize:
In your weekly squash schedule, spend a majority of your time practicing and focusing on the technique and not just playing. If you think about it, it makes perfect sense. The more you practice correctness then the more 'engrained' in your muscle memory this correctness will become until finally you venture on the court. Then it will be second nature.
Who said you can't teach an old dog new tricks!