by Dave Langley - level 2 coach from Nottingham
What do we mean by “Planting the seed of doubt” … well the answer is simple, give your opponent confidence and it is likely that that confidence will grow into a flowering flamboyance that will be hard to curtail. Conversely, to plant the seed of doubt into your opponents mind promotes the decay of confidence and results in a degraded performance, which should result in victory.
Consider this … You have just started to warm up against your opponent in round 1 of the local squash competition. Your opponent has arrived on court wearing a pair of basketball shoes, skin tight lycra shorts and a sleeveless vest top. The first ball he hits is a miss hit and the next one he hits hardly goes to a length. What would you be thinking? Would your mind be full of fear at the thought of a potential defeat or would your confidence grow as you realise you are playing someone that appears relatively weak. Squash is a game where confidence, coupled with mental strength and tenacity, are key contributors in the delivery of success.
Let us consider now, another opponent. This time the opponent comes on court in a full warm up tracksuit and embarks on three or four warm up jogs followed by some very specific ghosts thru the front, middle and back of the court. The first ball he strikes is hard hit and goes to a great length. He repeats this and then hits a cross courts which heads your way at speed hitting the side wall at the back of the service box which you find hard to return. You have noted whilst preparing to hit your first difficult return shot, that your ball hungry opponent has stepped up the court ready to lap up your cross court. Are you still brimming with confidence or are the embers of your doubt now glowing like hot coals. One thing is for sure … this guy means business and you are going to have to take victory from him because it certainly won’t be handed on a plate. Let’s imagine that the two opponents you have encountered are actually of similar standard. Lets imagine that these guys know each other and most of their games go to the wire. The difference between the two players is that player 2 showed intention when he warmed up. He gave off a spark of real confidence, which if not handled correctly, could turn into a raging inferno that will rip through your game and lead to certain defeat.
The next time you go on court for the pre-match warm up, remember to plant that seed of doubt in your opponents head by showing intention. Remember, the strongest survive and the weakest fall by the wayside. Don’t become squash’s next victim of natural selection … be the warrior you need to be.
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