I’m sure some of you will have some New Year's resolutions for the coming year which is great. They can be a great way to get into something new, push yourself a little bit further, or just make your life a little bit better.
I’ve recently been thinking about my own goals for the year and I came up with a few squash-related things that I’d like to work on and achieve, so, I thought it’d be fun to focus an article on this topic.
In this blog post, I’ll go through a few of my own squash-related New Year's resolutions for the year and will then give some advice on figuring out your own goals and achieving them too...
Below are my four squash-related New Year's resolutions, the first three are quantitative and measurable so I'll definitely know if I manage to achieve them.
The last goal is a little more general and, although it can't be specifically 'achieved', it gives me something to focus on consistently throughout the year.
1. Compete in at least five tournaments
This is a big one for me and I don't think it will be that difficult to achieve since I love playing in tournaments so much.
Tournaments are so beneficial to your game for a number of reasons, you often get to play brand new players who will challenge you and help you progress, you're also forced to learn how to adapt to new courts and new environments, plus, they're a great way to meet new people and make new friends in general!
I'm already entered into two tournaments in 2023, both of which I'm incredibly excited about. The first is the famous Edinburgh Open which is in a week's time.
Every time I've played this tournament it's always great fun, plus, the professional draw is extremely strong and I'll get the chance to watch players like Greg Lobban, Joel Makin, Patrick Rooney, Joelle King, and Sarah-Jane Perry battle it out.
I'll be playing in the A draw and it looks like I'll be against the one seed if I win my first round, so I've got my work cut out!
My second tournament of the year is at my local County Closed in which players from my local area play for their place on the county team, so there's a lot at stake in that one.
Anyway, that means I only need to enter three more in order to reach my goal! Perhaps I'll do more than five tournaments, but five is definitely achievable without being unrealistic.
Since I'm based in the UK, I'm lucky enough to be a short to medium drive away from many large cities and tournaments, plus, my friends are always keen to come along with me for a nice weekend away!
2. Get tickets for and attend at least three professional events in 2023
As I just mentioned I'm based in the UK, so I'm also very lucky to be near a number of large PSA events that take place throughout the season.
The Manchester Open and, of course, The British Open are the main two that spring to mind, but there are also other options.
I've always wanted to attend a semi-final or final of a major PSA event in person to experience the atmosphere (as well as the amazing professional squash).
Technically, the Edinburgh Open could be classed as one of these three professional events, however, I'm not going to count it because I don't have to buy tickets to main draw matches (since I'm already playing in the tournament).
This is a pretty important goal for me as in the past year I've become absolutely hooked on watching tournaments and matches on SquashTV and, every time I would watch a massive clash or an epic five-setter, I'd always wish that I was there in person to see it.
Although tickets can be on the pricier side, I've convinced myself that it's worth it to get to see the best squash in the world live.
If/when I do attend these events, I'll be sure to post and feature content and updates about my experience (whether that's in the On The 'T' Newsletter, on our social media channels, or both).
3. Get back to over 8000 on Squash Levels
I've briefly mentioned Squash Levels a couple of times in other blog posts, however, I'm aware that it isn't used everywhere in the world so I'll quickly go through what it is so that this resolution makes more sense.
Squash Levels is essentially a data-based ranking platform for squash players. You gain points and lose points based on your own level, your opponent's level, how many points you gain, and how many points you lose.
It's pretty accurate and I think it's really helped team captains and tournament organisers rank players, although not everyone loves the platform, I'm definitely a big fan.
It's important to note that winning a match doesn't necessarily guarantee an improvement in your Squash Levels ranking. If you have a close match with a player that the algorithm believes you're better than (and win 3-1 for example), you may still lose points as, according to Squash Levels, you should have beaten that player 3-0.
Anyway, I was recently in Canada travelling for around 6 months and my Squash Levels has taken a hit from this.
Also, since I'm currently trying to get back up to the standard I was playing at before I went to Canada, I've had close matches with some players I should have beaten easily meaning my Squash Levels has gone down quite a bit.
As I write this, my Squash Levels is 7,278 but it was over 8,000 before I went to Canada. I'm very keen to get back to this level before the end of the season if possible, so that's going to be my goal.
If not, I will aim to do it during the start of next season. As long as I get back to that point before the end of 2023 I'll be happy!
4. Improve my consistency and patience when hitting lengths
This one is a little more general, however, it's a very specific area of my game that I believe I need to improve.
I've never been a particularly patient player and have often relied on shot-making to win rallies which works well against players at my standard or lower, however, if I want to reach the next level, I think that improving my patience and consistency of my length game will help me a lot.
I've been working on this when drilling and playing during the Christmas period and I think I'm making some leeway, however, when it comes to a match situation, I've got a long way to go.
Essentially, I struggle to hit drives with consistent accuracy so I will resort to taking the ball into the front to try to end the rally, which, if my shot isn't good enough, will then give my opponent the upper hand and put me on the back foot.
I think all length-based drills and games will help me work on this resolution for example, alley games, back-of-court games, and conditioned games in which everything has to either land in a certain spot or be hit above the service line on the front of the court.
To step this up a little more I plan to use targets to up my accuracy too.
Advice and final thoughts...
So, those are my squash-based goals for the year. I have spent a decent amount of time thinking about these and, in comparison to how I first worded these goals when I started thinking about them, they've ended up being very different.
I've tried to keep them mostly measurable so I can be sure when I have reached each goal which is an important element when it comes to setting these targets. If they're too vague, it can be very difficult to know if you've really achieved them.
If you're thinking of setting some squash goals for yourself too, my number one tip is to try to focus on making them achievable. It's quite easy to fall into the trap of setting very high expectations for yourself and then being disappointed if you fall short.
Improvement comes in small steps so there's no need to set unrealistic expectations, you will always get there in time.
Initially, my first goal was to compete in one tournament every month which, in hindsight, is a little optimistic. Once I gave it a little more thought, I realised that there aren't many tournaments near me in the Summer period, plus, I also thought about how much this could end up costing (as I need to pay for tournament entry, travel, and hotels each time).
Finally, one tournament per month would generally take a lot of time out of my week, so I ultimately I decided that this goal was too optimistic. Similar things happened with resolutions 2 and 3.
My last tip would be, once you have a specific resolution in mind, to then break it into smaller goals. This will give you the stepping stones to reach each goal and will reduce the risk of that goal being too overwhelming.
This might also lead to you changing the initial resolution once you get a better idea of how easy it will be to attain. For example, regarding my second resolution, I originally wanted to get tickets for four PSA tournaments before the end of the season.
However, when I checked tournament dates and locations on the PSA website to map out a rough timeline, I realised it would be very hard for me to find tournaments that are close enough to me to attend before the end of the season. So, I then extended this resolution to the end of 2023 and reduced the number to three.
Anyway, I hope this article was an interesting read and that it has helped you in some way. If you've figured out your own squash-related New Year's resolutions, please feel free to send them over, I'd love to hear them!
To finish off, I wish you all a very happy New Year, let's hope 2023 is another great year for squash!
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