It's squash tournament season! Tournaments can be stressful and it's easy to start second guessing yourself before you begin to play. Here are a few tips for preparing mentally for a tournament:
Find what relaxes you. Do you need to focus? If so, you may want to find a space where you can be alone with no distractions… and where you can't see ongoing matches. Or, do you prefer to stop thinking? In this case, you may want to search out distractions that will occupy your mind and stop you from overthinking things. Perhaps walking around and talking to fans, friends or family will do the trick. Many people find listening to uplifting music can help them to find enough distraction while still getting them pumped up for the upcoming game. If you are still having trouble relaxing, try deep breathing. The important thing here is to develop an approach that fits you as an individual.
Prepare for the crowd. If you know that your opponent has a crowd full of fans, prepare yourself. If you know what to expect and practice overcoming it, you will do better when the time comes.
Prepare for your environment. Familiarize yourself with the courts and think about how they will effect your game. Are they lively? How can you use this to your advantage? If possible, practice on the court you will be playing on before the tournament. Make sure you know the temperature so you can dress accordingly.
Prepare for your opponent. Football teams spend hours and hours watching footage of how opposing teams play. The more you know about your opponent, the better prepared you will be to win. Think about strengths, weaknesses, pace, shots, tactics. Analyze your own strengths and weaknesses. Remember, your opponent is doing the same thing, exude self-confidence and do your best to throw them off.
Make a game plan. Know it inside and out. Rehearse it over and over. Live it. This is your playbook.
Visualize the game. See yourself in your mind's eye making hard shots and winning. Mentally run through any problems you may encounter and how you are going to handle them. Visualize your feet position, your ball toss, your serve, your volley, everything you possibly can. This will help boost your self-confidence and work to connect your mind and body. Believe you can win, and you can.
Equipment. Make sure you have every piece of squash equipment you need.