It is terrifying how quickly the weeks speed by. Here we are at the beginning of October and not only are the pumpkins already out on the porches with Halloween candy crowding the grocery aisles, but we are getting into the thick of it with tournaments (which to some, might be scarier than those Halloween ghouls).
If you have yet to play in your first tournament of the season, I am sure you are about to embark on one very soon. Sometimes starting a season is daunting and can be rough on the body and the brain. If you want to avoid some of the strain on both, it might help to prepare for the oncoming season accordingly.
First and foremost – WHAT ARE YOUR GOALS?
Are you looking to peek for a certain tournament? Are you aiming to have a specific seeding or standing by the end of the season? Are you defining success by beating that ONE person you have struggled with over the past few seasons? Or are you just looking to perform well and have fun? No matter what your goals may be, it is good to have awareness of what they are before you head off to compete. These objectives will determine how you prepare for competition.
Secondly – MAP OUT YOUR SCHEDULE.
Depending on your goals it might be essential to hit specific tournaments throughout the season. Make sure you check out the schedule in advance and book those calendar dates. Blocking out the schedule should show you when you need to rest and recuperate and make some decisions on whether certain competitions should be on your schedule based on your needs.
Thirdly – ACCLIMATIZATION TAKES TIME
No matter what your goals are, sometimes the start of the season can be rather bumpy and somewhat ugly. I for one played in a tournament this past weekend and was rather disappointed by my caliber of play. It was sloppy, undisciplined and unfocused. Thankfully I was able to scrap my way through, but even with the goals of tournament being to “just having fun” and “warm up for the season ” the lack of quality in my performance was disappointing. So I had to remind myself, of a few things:
- A competitive frame of mind is a hard thing to hold. It takes practice to maintain that focus. Give yourself a few tournaments to build up the discipline required to keep the focus necessary to perform well.
- The body also reacts differently in a tournament atmosphere than it does in league or casual matches. You can have a casual match that pushes you to the limits and you don’t feel as fatigued as after a tournament match that maybe didn’t feel as physically challenging. You should be prepared for this, and be a little gentle with yourself during the adjustment… (not easy to do, I know).
Last but not least - ENJOY IT!
Squash is such a wonderful sport with a fantastic community of people.
In the words of the late great Jim Mason, squash is the triple “F” – Fun, Fitness and Friendship. Don’t deprive yourself of some brilliant life experiences and connections. Get out there and get into the action!
If you haven’t checked out the Ontario schedule yet… here you go: http://www.squashontario.com/tournaments/
Squash Pro & Program Director
Brantford MOVATI ATHLETIC