Squash Tips with Barry Gifford

Get into the Zone with the Magic of Rituals

In the last article we had you utilizing positive cue words or positive cue statements prior to the serve and service return. If you use these positive cue words/statements each time you are serving or receiving a serve you will begin to develop a ritual. You can improve your ritual by adding a physical component by, for instance, bouncing the ball three times prior to every serve. For my ritual I like to bounce the ball three times and repeat “grip, breathing, ball” in my mind. Since I have done this ritual for over a decade I have discovered that I can enter the “zone” quite quickly now. Whereas prior to practicing a ritual it was a rare occasion that I entered the “zone”.

 

Yes it’s true; you can be taught how to get into the “zone”!

 

For those of you who are new to this “zone”, it is a place of complete present focus where time seems to stand still and nothing seems to break you out of this hypnotic-like trance. When you are in the Zone all your shots are proper tactical choices without you actually thinking about them — your breathing is non-laboured and natural — your footwork is like that of a cat — and your emotions are “Vulcan-like” (for any Trekkie fans), that is, nothing seems to phase you.

 

Can you stay in this Zone? Yes, sometimes. Is it easy to get into this Zone? Not always, but with regular practice it does get easier.  The key to the Zone is not thinking about it, but focusing on the ritual, doing it over and over again. I’ve found for myself that the more that is on the line in the game and the harder that I am working, the easier I get into the zone. In advanced level squash we are physically working-playing at a high physical & mental level, so it is not always easy to get into the zone if you are not consistent with your ritual.

 

If you are consistent with your ritual you will find that time has suddenly slowed down… and you may stay in this slower state of mind/body until the match is complete.

 

Start practicing now and you will find yourself in this higher state of consciousness on a more regular basis — get zoned in with rituals!

 

Next Article: We will look at the winners and losers of the game (P.S. you need never be a loser again!). Until then, happy squashing!

 

Barry Gifford
TCC Squash Professional

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