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The Mental Game Of Squash

Manage Your Mind To Win

Bill Cole, MS, MA

Many years ago I taught squash at the college level and I enjoyed playing the game as much as possible. Over the years I have been mental game coach to squash players ranked as high as #3 in the US, and I have learned a number of mental approaches that work well with squash players. Make no mistake about it, squash is a very mental game. The player who commands their mental powers in the correct ways, wins more and gains more satisfaction.

How is your mind in your squash game? Do you have the levels of focus you need? Do you have the communication skills to not get pushed around by the opponent? Do you have the ability to remain calm in the face of unrelenting match pressure? Do you enjoy the battle and have the will to win?

Here are four mental strategies you can use to gain more traction in your mental game.

  1. Assert Yourself And Know Your Rights: Do you let opponents push you out of the center of the court? Do you allow them to crowd you when you are swinging? Do you let them block you on your way to the ball? They will do these things as long as you tolerate them. So stop letting them get away with this behavior. Stand up for yourself. Either hold your ground, or call for a let. Brush the opponent back physically if need be. Even tell the opponent in passing, "Stop blocking me". Complain to the referee. As you stand up for yourself, not only will the opponent respect you and yield more often, but the "word will go out" that you are not someone people can push around. If they do, you'll stand up for yourself.

  2. The Point Is Won Before It Begins: You need to learn how to relax after each point. This period between points if your "mental vacation". You must be able to let go of the last point, mentally and emotionally, so you can recover, refresh yourself and be ready to play again. Far too many players "stay wired and intense" between points. They never let go, and they then suffer from many performance-killing results—muscle tension, mental tiredness, low energy and other signs of stress. To play at 100% in each point, recover fully between points. This way you'll give yourself a fighting chance to win the next point.

  3. Use A Laser Pointer, Not A Floodlight: To watch the ball, don't just watch "the ball". That's too general. Pick out a piece of the ball, and watch that. You can pick out the inside, outside, top or bottom of the ball. Every time you strike the squash ball, your strings are indeed touching one of these pieces of the ball. If you choose the correct aspect of the ball to strike, your racquet face will automatically be angled perfectly, sending the ball precisely to your intended destination. So instead of aiming a floodlight at the ball, use your laser pointer. Get it?

  4. Make Your Competitive Instinct A Weapon: If you show the opponent how much you want to win, and how much you are willing to fight to gain victory, you will be a force to be reckoned with. These competitive vibes you send out will be palpable to your opponent. They'll know you're there to win and that you mean business. How can you do this? Pump your fist after a good point. Keep your game face on. Never let them see you sweat after a mistake. Take all errors and points lost in stride. Run like crazy for everything. Make them think you will do anything to win.

Now you know how to pump up your mental game of squash better. You have some mental strategies that will keep you calm, yet pump you up. You have the ability to laser target your focus. You know how to show your competitive fire and will to win. And you have the confident communication skills that let people know they can't push you around. Make your mind your strongest weapon out there. Take your mental game of squash to the next level.

Copyright © 2014 Bill Cole, MS, MA. All rights reserved.

This article covers only one small part of the mental game. A complete mental training program includes motivation and goal-setting, pre-event mental preparation, post-event review and analysis, mental strengthening, self-regulation training, breath control training, motor skill training, mental rehearsal, concentration training, pressure-proofing, communication training, confidence-building, breaking through mental barriers, slump prevention, mental toughness training, flow training, relaxation training, momentum training, psych-out proofing and media training.

For a comprehensive overview of your mental abilities you need an assessment instrument that identifies your complete mental strengths and weaknesses. For a free, easy-to-take 65-item sport psychology assessment tool you can score right on the spot, visit This assessment gives you a quick snapshot of your strengths and weaknesses in your mental game. You can use this as a guide in creating your own mental training program, or as the basis for a program you undertake with Bill Cole, MS, MA to improve your mental game. This assessment would be an excellent first step to help you get the big picture about your mental game.

Bill Cole, MS, MA, a leading authority on peak performance, mental toughness and coaching, is founder and President of the International Mental Game Coaching Association, Bill is also founder and CEO of William B. Cole Consultants, a consulting firm that helps organizations and professionals achieve more success in business, life and sports. He is a multiple Hall of Fame honoree, an award-winning scholar-athlete, published book author and articles author, and has coached at the highest levels of major-league pro sports, big-time college athletics and corporate America. For a free, extensive article archive, or for questions and comments visit him at

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