Squash Revolution 2020 Virtual Camp – Sport Science Page

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Virtual Camp Forms, Notes & Downloads

Overview: Our goal this week is to help you, the squash camper, to develop your own mental training program and tools.

If you have missed or will miss a session – no problem – the material we covered is listed below – just go ahead and complete the items you missed.

Monday, June 15, 2020 Noon Session 11:30-12:30

  1. Complete IPS Rating Form for your “Finest Hour” (Best-Ever Squash Performance):  IPS Rating Card.
  2. Read Jim Loehr’s article on the Ideal Performance State: Ideal Performance State (Loehr 1983).
  3. Zoom session summary: Focus, being positive, and calmness were the three IPS ingredients mentioned most often by our group after completing the IPS Rating Form for our finest hour.

Monday June 15, 2020 Afternoon Session 3:30-4:00

  1. Complete IPS Rating Card on “Worst Hour” : IPS Rating Card.
  2. Anxiety and negativity were the “worst hour” items mentioned most frequently by our group.
  3. Tim reviewed the key point from Jim Loehr’s article: that all squash feelings and emotions can be classified on a scale according to their level of energy and “pleasantness” (positiveness):

IPS Model Dimensions

IPS Model Emotions

IPS Performance Chances

4.  Tim discussed the 3 steps in developing a mental training (psychological skills training) program:

steps

5.  Mental Skill Training – Relaxation Breathing: Tim took the group through the use of controlled breathing to stay relaxed and calm. Key points were:

  • use a 1-2-3-4 count for inhale, hold, exhale
  • use your diaphragm (belly breathing) to keep neck & shoulders relaxed
  • breathe out tension from neck and shoulders on exhale.

6. Homework for tomorrow’s session:

Complete the Squash Reflections Form:  Squash Reflections Form

Download and look at the Squash Focus Plan Form:  Squash Focus Plan Form

Tuesday, June 16, 2020 Afternoon Session 3:00 – 4:00 p.m.

Topic: Mental Skills Training

iCRAP –  The five basic mental skills:

  • imagery (or visualization)
  • Concentration
  • Relaxation
  • Activation
  • Positive self-talk

Here is a video of Tim and Wesleyan Head Squash Coach Coach Shona Kerr demonstrating the five mental skills in a quiet setting   and on-court .

Tim led our group through some mental training examples:

  • “meditation” on a squash ball;
  • relaxation breathing in a standing position
  • imagery of mid-court forehand drops

Homework for tomorrow’s session:

Complete the Squash Reflections Form:  Squash Reflections Form

Download and look at the Squash Focus Plan Form:  Squash Focus Plan Form

Wednesday, June 17, 2020 Afternoon Session 3:00 – 4:00 p.m.

Topics:

1. Developing a Squash Focus Plan (Tactics plus Mental)

2.  Video Tactical Analysis using Tim Bacon’s Zone Model© or Egg Model©

3. Homework:

Part A: Bring your completed Squash Focus Plan (form above to download) to show the rest of our group (on a piece of paper or through screen share if you typed it out).

Part B: Read this blog post on Back-Court Defensive Tactics (watching the video) and answer these questions: 1. What did Nicole David do when she encountered a difficult ball in the back of the court? 2. How successful was she in avoiding errors (give the actual percentage based on the shots you saw).

Part C:  a) Watch this video on Front-Court Tactics and answer these questions: 1. What shots were used MOST frequently from the front; 2. Which player had the better front-court drop shot? 3. Which player won the most points from the front?

Part D: Do you have one of your own games on your phone, tablet or laptop?  If so,  bring it to our session and we will help you analyze your match in a systematic fashion.

Zone Model for Squash Tactics

Egg Model for Squash Tactics

Thursday, June 18, 2020 Morning Session 11:30 – 12:00

Camper presentation of Squash Focus Plans (brief 1 min. presentation)

Topic Video Tactical Analysis (continued):

  1.  Questions on tactical models.
  2. Camper brief presentation of squash match statistics.

Example of squash match statistics from last year’s (2019) Squash Revolution Camp:

PA Shab Gault

Thursday, June 18, 2020 Afternoon Session 3:00 – 4:00 p.m.

Topic: Visualization Examples & Individual Mental Training Plans

  1.  We discussed a few examples of how visualization could be used:

slide1

2.  Sharing of Focus Plans:  Several squash campers briefly described their initial Squash Focus Plans – great job!

3. Match Analysis:  We charted a few points from  a Gawad/Willstrop match emphasizing how important it is to be VERY SPECIFIC when analyzing one’s own matches. This document outlines how to focus in on a specific match analysis topic using the Zonal Model (graphic above):  Squash Tagging Panels Zone Model.

Friday, June 19, 2020 11:30-12:30

Topic One: Plan B

Squash campers discussed “what to do, and what to focus on” when everything goes wrong in a match. Tim pointed out that these ideas are placed in the “Distraction Control/Refocus part of the Squash Focus Plan.

Topic Two: What to do after a bad loss

Squash Campers discussed their approach to practicing and playing the next tournament after a bad loss or “bad” tournament.  Here are two forms we can use to help evaluate our performance, focus plan and mental performance after a match (we have already seen the IPS monitoring form in our “Best/Worst” discussion above):

IPS Rating Card

squash-match-evaluation-form

Topic Three – Your attitude towards the importance of winning in squash.

Squash campers rated the importance of winning: the average for the group was about 6-7 on a 10-point scale.  Tim stated that sport psychology research indicates (paradoxically) that placing too much importance on winning (versus the process/task of improving) can lead to problems such as:

  • not trying when losing – giving up – not fighting till the end
  • getting highly anxious before important matches
  • not practicing hard when things are not going well

Here is a link to a very short online questionnaire to help you determine (in a scientific way) how much importance you put on winning (“Ego” scale in the questionnaire) versus the process of improving (“task” scale in the questionnaire):  Task & Ego Questionnaire.

Monday, June 22, 2020  12:00 – 12:30

  • Tim reviewed last week’s session and reinforced the main goal of our work together:  to use mental skills to help us perform better and be satisfied with our squash training.
  • We all went to the Task & Ego Questionnaire link and completed the TEOSQ to determine our attitude towards the importance of winning  (Ego scale) versus the importance of focusing on the process (Task scale) of improving & playing squash.

What do your results mean?

  • a High Ego and Low Task score may indicate the possibility of “problem behaviors” (getting angry or anxious, giving up or not trying as hard) when losing or not doing well.
  • a High Task and Low Ego score indicates more of a focus on effort and learning which will usually result in fewer “problem behaviors”.
  • Low scores in both categories may indicate a need to put more emphasis on developing a higher level of self-motivation and seeking encouragement from others involved in your squash development.

Homework for tomorrow’s session:

1.  Read Tim’s article (just scan – no need to memorize or take notes) on how we integrate mental training into the rest of our squash technical, tactical and physical training:  Bacon, Tim . Periodization of Mental Training

2. Complete this slightly longer questionnaire (15 min.?) which will help you decide on the mental areas you need to work on:  Pages from The_Ottawa_mental_skills_assessment_tool_OMSAT-3

Tuesday, June 23, 2020 12:00 – 12:30

Topics:  Brief Interview with Karim Abdel Gawad about his mental performance.

Key Points that Gawad made:

  • in his best (World Open) he was NOT thinking about winning – just about playing well and his game plan – he has 2-3 backup game plans in case the first does not work.
  • before a match he doesn’t get that nervous because he chats with his coach about his game plan & strategy and with his wife about mental.
  • he is task-oriented so does not get that nervous in a match – if he is playing badly he focuses on hitting tight length to the back so he can get an opportunity to attack (and uses his backup plans if needed).

Wednesday, June 24, 2020 12:00 – 12:30

Topics:

1. How you respond to “pressure to win” from your parents, coaches, fellow squash players.

2.  What are your mental, technical, tactical and physical squash goals for the upcoming season?

How you respond to Pressure to Win

On a 10-point scale (1 = no pressure; 10 = very high pressure), how much pressure do you feel to win from:

1     2     3     4     5     6     7     8     9     10

None                                       Very High

Parents (one or both):  ____

Coaches:  ____

Fellow squash players:  ____

What do you currently do (or think) to to help control any pressure you feel?

Key Learning Point:  The pressure you feel is a function of your Win/Task orientation AND the Win/Task climate established by your parents, coaches, & fellow players.  In addition, the pressure you feel (and your subsequent behavior – either positive or negative) also involves “how good you think you are as a squash player”.

So:

How good do you think you are as a squash player?

How important is it to you (right now) how good you are as a squash player?

What are some strategies you can use to:

Help yourself become more Task oriented (or less Win oriented):

What can you say or communicate to parents & coaches to get them to emphasize a Task focus more (or less of a Win focus):

Shift your self-perception of your squash ability to a higher level (or place less importance on your ability/skill/current level of play).

ny-resolutions

Squash Goals

Set 2-3 Goals in each of the following areas for the upcoming year:

Technical

1.

2.

3.

Tactical

1.

2.

3.

Physical (Stamina, Speed, Strength, Suppleness (flexibility), Speed-Strength (power)

1.

2.

3.

Mental (Psychological)

1.

2.

3.

Positive Self-Talk Training

Type 1 – Countering Negative Thoughts

1.

2.

Tip: In a stressful or negative situation, take a breath to clear your mind & stop the negative thought – then use your “positive thought”.

Type 2 – Using Affirmations to Stay Positive & Increase Motivation

1.

2.

Tip: For each of your goals (these could be long term or short term (daily?) develop a short positive statement (affirmation) you could use to remind yourself and stay on track with your goal.

1.

2.

Homework:

1. Complete this Goals Form (just  the first page):  goals-forms

2. Complete this Positive Self-Talk Work Sheet (using squash examples):  positive-7steps

3.  Reminder:  here is the homework from Monday’s session – complete these:

Thursday, June 24, 2020  12:00 – 12:30

Topics:

  • Take up Homework & Questions
  • Relaxation:  Learn how to turn “breathing COUNTING” into “breathing with relaxation CUE to use in a game”
  • Visualization – Visualize “emotions – turn things around – angry to calm”
  • Homework:  try 5-10 min. of mental training 5 x week:

Mental Training Program

  1.  Before practicing set a DAILY GOAL.
  2.  When stretching before going on court do 1-2 min. of relaxation breathing while stretching.
  3. When stretching, take 1-2 minutes to to visualize/see yourself working on your daily goal.
  4. When playing points:  A) for 5 serves, take a relaxing breath to clear your mind and focus BEFORE SERVING; B) for 5 returns, take a relaxing breath to clear your mind and decide what type of return to hit before returning.

Monday, July 6, 2020   3:00 – 3:30

Topics:

1. Review 1-2-3-4 counting breathing to “breathing easy”.

2. Set mental goals (short, mid-, or long-term) for:

a) practice (before, after or during) Q: when will you evaluate these goals?  ____________

b) match   ____________

c) off-court “squash world”  ________

2.  Visualize 3 working on 3 technical goals:

  1.  Write down 3 technical goals:
  2. Relax, switch on court scene, do 10 reps for each goal.

3.  Homework:

a) bring tennis ball & stretch rope to next session (self-massage, tension release with breathing). Here are some of the regeneration techniques we will try:

FullSizeRender

b) bring “Psych-Up Song” to next session – you will play us 30 sec. or so.

c) Do 5 min. of Breathing Easy (Tutko, & Tosi, 1976):

IMG_6526

IMG_6528.jpg

Tuesday, July 7, 2020   3:00 – 3:30

Topics:

1. Take up homework:

a) “Breathing Easy”: how did it go?

b) Technical Visualization: how did it go?

i) Vividness of imagery (1-10):  ____

ii) Control of imagery (1-10):  ____

IMG_6536

2. Take up “Mental Prep Music” – reverse alphabetical order, unmute & play 30 seconds form your music clip.  Here is a link to some suggestions for squash music:

How Choose a Pre-Game Music

3.  Tennis Ball Self-Massage: We’ll do #1, #2 and #15 from chart above.  Place ball in general area and try and find a “tight” spot.  Sink in to ball, or move around gently on ball in slow “massaging” motion for about 30-40 seconds. Then do it again a SECOND time, sinking or pushing in to the tight sport with the ball more deeply – use your relaxation breathing to try and “breathe” tension out of the area.

(If you do not have a ball, use a stretch rope for stretches #10, #11, & #12 in chart above, applying the same procedure).

These guys are a bit corny, but they are both highly qualified physiotherapists  – -here they go over 8 different tennis ball massage techniques:

8 Tennis Ball Massage Techniques

Homework

  • Bring a foam roller to next session, along with tennis ball and stretching rope.
  • Do 3 minutes of relaxation breathing this afternoon or evening;
  • Then visualize 10 reps each for your 3 technical goals;
  • Then spend 4-5 minutes visualizing a game situation where you use your 3 technical skills in your match against an opponent “who you know well”;
  • After visualizing, rate the quality (vividness & control) of your visualization using the chart above.

Optional:

Here is Tim’s “go to” mental prep song before a tough match (does actually feature Ringo Star and George Harrison from the Beatles:):  I Won’t Back Down (Tom Petty)

And here is the song along with the lyrics (Tim chose for music AND lyrics):  “Won’t Back Down” Lyrics (Tom Petty)

Thursday, July 9, 2020   3:00 – 3:30

Topics:

  • Tactical visualizations – make a list of tactical situations you need to visualize

Where do we get the information for this list?

1. Homework Take-Up

  • How was your tactics visualization?
  • Any more psych-up music?

2. Tactical Visualizations – Make a list of tactics situations you could visualize:

  • Under pressure – opponent hits to front – lob high into back
  • Going correct way after being faked out
  • Back-court: shaping for adrive: then hitting a drop
  • Hitting more accurate length (tatical/tech)

Where can or do we get our list topics or themes from?

Periodization of Squash Visualization

2. Progressive Relaxation Training

A relaxation technique involving tensing then relaxing muscles – to become aware of excessive muscle tension, and then being able to relax tight muscles quickly.

Written instructions:  suinn-1986-7steps-prt

YouTube Example:  YouTube Progressive Relaxation Training

3. Using Breathing to relax more deeply while foam rolling lower body

Quick YouTube Example of foam rolling lower body:  Foam Rolling Lower – EXOS

Homework

  1.  If you play or exercise later today – using breathing while you cool down (stretching, tennis ball massage, or foam rolling).
  2. Use relaxation for 4-5 minutes (breathing and/or PRT) then visualize for 4-5 minutes: your 3 technical goals or somoe tactics during game play.

Friday, July 10, 2020 10:30 – 11:00

Topic:  We discussed homework for the next few days: a mental training practice review of what we have done so far.

Homework for Saturday, Sunday, Monday morning:

  1.  Use relaxation techniques for 5 minutes:  breathing 1-2-3-4 counting, breathing “easy” (see July 6 session above for instructions), then some progressive relaxation training (here are the instructions from our July 9 session above:  suinn-1986-7steps-prt).  If you want you can mix the techniques or use a different one every day.
  2. When you are relaxed, switch on a scene of your “best-ever” squash performance – imagine yourself playing very well for about 4-5 minutes, then answer these questions:  If you want, on Sunday and Monday you can repeat the visualization for your i) Worst-Ever; ii) An “average” match.
  • What were you saying to yourself 5 min. before the start of the match?  ________
  • What was your level of anxiety 5 min. before the match?  _______
  • What was your level of activation/energy during the match?  _________
  • What were you focusing on during the best part of your performance?  _____
  • After your Monday session answer these questions: i) what would you prefer to focus on to play your best in a match ________;  ii) what level of activation/energy allows you to play your best? ____________; iii) what level of pre-match anxiety allows you to play your best?

3.   After visualizing your best-ever, set three (3) new technical (swing, footwork, etc.) goals for the next upcoming week, and visualize yourself doing 10 repetitions of each goal.  Following this visualization, complete the rating form above (see July 7 session above).

We’ll ask you how it went at our next session!  Enjoy your weekend!

Monday, July 20, 2020  –  3:00 – 3:30

Topic: How to Develop a Weekly Mental Training Program

We discussed how to set weekly goals in each of the four areas, then how to choose and schedule mental training activities to help achieve those four goals.

Homework: 

Download this “Mental Training Plan for the Week of July 20 – 25” and complete the mental training each day.  The plan is in both Word (if you want to type in your comments or change things) and PDF (if you want to print it out and fill in with pen or pencil):

Word Document:

Squash Revolution Weekly Mental Training Plan

PDF:

Squash Revolution Weekly Mental Training Plan

.

Tuesday, July 21, 2020 – 3:00 – 3:30

Topic:

Between Point Psychology

How to apply your mental skills in between points during a match – the average time between points in a pro men’s or women’s match is about 9-10 seconds (the Rules of Squash say “play must be continuous” but most take this 9-10 seconds).

Tim adapted the tennis research of Sport Psychologist Jim Loehr to squash and the result is the “10-Second Solution” – four steps that all of the top players perform between points to help them play their best.

Here is a form that summarizes the four steps that you can use to self-evaluate your own performance:

10-second-solution

Between Point Behavior Rating Form

The form asks you to rate yourself on each of the four stages “after winning a point” (we would expect your behavior to be good), and also after “losing a point” (this is where any mental “problems” might be likely to appear.

Information for this form can be used to help you set additional mental goals.

For more information on between point psychology you can check out Tim’s blog post on the topic: Psychology of Squash Between points

Homework:

  1. Complete the mental training assigned for today (see the schedule posted for yesterday’s session above).
  2. Find a video of yourself – preferably a close match – and use the “10-Second Solution” form to evaluate yourself.  I suggest watching a least 10 points to get a good average.  After completing the form ask yourself the following questions: a) How many seconds are I taking between points on average? b) Were there any stages that I need to improve – if so which stage needs the most improvement?

Wednesday, July 21, 2020 – 3:00 – 3:30

Topics:

  • Are you anxious (nervous) before important matches?  Is that a good or bad thing? Are you an anxious person? How can we manage anxiety?
  • A closer look at concentration and focusing

Anxiety

Here are two questionnaires you can complete to help you evaluate how anxious you are:

Questionnaire 1:  Helps determine if, in general, you are an anxious type of person:  Anxiety Trait Q SCAT

Questionnaire 2: Helps determine how anxious you feel RIGHT NOW, and also help identify some of your anxiety symptoms:  Anxiety Symptoms State CSAI2

Homework:

  1.  Complete the mental training for today as per our schedule.  Here is the plan in both Word and PDF format:

Word Document:

Squash Revolution Weekly Mental Training Plan

PDF:

Squash Revolution Weekly Mental Training Plan

2.  Find a video of yourself – preferably a close match – and use the “10-Second Solution” form to evaluate yourself.  I suggest watching a least 10 points to get a good average.  After completing the form ask yourself the following questions: a) How many seconds are I taking between points on average? b) Were there any stages that I need to improve – if so which stage needs the most improvement?

3.  Complete the two anxiety questionnaires above.

Thursday, July 22, 2020 – 3:00 – 3:30

Topics:

  1. Continue anxiety discussion – questionnaire results.
  2. Discuss concentration & focus in more depth.

Questionnaire Results

Concentration & Focus Explained in More Depth

Up until now we have only talked about one type of concentration – a NARROW type of focus where we concentrate on just one thing – for example a squash ball – while ignoring other distractions.  There are in fact 4 different ways a squash player needs to focus:

attention-1-small

images

Concentration Explained

Homework:

  1.  Complete the mental training scheduled for today.

Friday, July 24, 2020 – 10:30 -11:00

Topics:

  • Review Attention (Concentration)
  • Review Weekly Mental Training Program

Centering – breathing: belly breathing, relaxing neck & shoulders, focusing on breathing

1. Identify situations where we need to focus.

After a really long point – next point

Starting to lose – getting upset – focused on moving opponent

10-8 (thinking about after match), – “I haven’t won yet – focus on something specific

Back to basic stuff – use height

2. Take one centering breath to clear our mind.

3. Focus on “the task”: opponent, ball, plan, breath

Monday, August 10 12:30 – 1:00

Topics Today:

  • Centering: lying, walking
  • Visualization: back-court drives

Homework:

Wednesday, August 12, 2020 – 12:30 – 1:00 pm

Topics Today:

  • Progressive Relaxation Training
  • SMART Goals
  • Visualize Backwall Forehands

Example Technical Goals (SMART) for this week:

  • left leg in front on forehand
  • cocking wrist before backhand volley (& racquet face)
  • footwork into front – switching first foot in – depending on situation
  • keep wrist strong, firm (cocked) on backhand
  • forehand off backwall:  stay balanced – keep left leg solid
  • keep back straight when hitting attacking drops

“SMART” is an acronym on how to set “good” goals.  Here is a link to a post on goal setting:  Goal Setting Basics – SMART

Progressive Relaxation Training (PRT) – tensing then relaxing muscles

Here is a link to a YouTube video which youo can use to practice Progressive Relaxation Training:  YouTube Progressive Relaxation Training

Homework to do for Friday’s Session:

  1. Practice some progressive relaxation training (5-10 min.):  YouTube Progressive Relaxation Training
  2. Visualize back-court, off the backwall drives (5-10 min.):  Back-wall Pro Forehand Drives
  3. Optional: read about SMART goals:  Goal Setting Basics – SMART

Friday, August 14, 2020 – 12:30 – 1:00

Topics:

  • Visualizing match play:  El Weleily & Sherbani Slow Motion Match
  • 3 different ways to visualize:  External (like TV), Internal (looking “out” from own eyes), Kinaesthetic (“feeling” as if actually doing it).

Homework:

  1. Visualize some match play using each “perspective” for 3-4 minutes.  After your visualization session, rate the quality of your imagery:  IMG_6536

Monday, August 24, 2020 – 12:30- 1:00 pm

Topics:

  • ACT:  Attention Control Training

Measure:   1 (low attention or no focus)……5………10 (very focussed)

Now?  7 6 7.5 6  Important Match:  8/9  10

ACT 3 Steps

  1.  Recognize or identify situations where you lose focus:

Bored in skOOl

Studying and somebody calls your name

Test

Homework – text

Studying youtube

Thinking about outcome – lose focus on present

2.  Low energy – not negative:  motivation (remind yourself of important goals)  energy level

Move a lot

Hungry – low blood sugar (brain) – snack!

Game Plan + Positive Self-Talk (energizing self-talk)

Take a break and reset

Negative/anxiety:  centering breathing to clear mind –

3. REFOCUS on task (game plan)

Questions?

Wednesday, August 26,  3:30 – 4:00 p.m.

Topic:

Positive Self Talk Training

  1.   Sport Video About Self-Talk
  2.   Question:  What does Self-Talk have to do with Focus? Concentration? Attention?
  3. What were you saying to yourself or thinking 5 min. before your:

Best-Ever Squash Performance:  _________________________________

Worst-Ever Squash Performance:  _______________________________

4.

Positive Self-Talk Training – Two Types

Type 1 – Countering Negative Thoughts

List “likely” negative self-talk or thought:  match, practice, school/life:

1.

2.

Develop a SHORT positive or task thought to counter the negative self-talk

1.

2.

Tip: In a stressful or negative situation, take a breath to clear your mind & stop the negative thought – then use your “positive thought”.

Type 2 – Using Affirmations to Stay Positive & Increase Motivation

Write down 2 of your important squash goals:

1.

2.

Tip: For each of your goals (these could be long term or short term (daily?) develop a short positive statement (affirmation) you could use to remind yourself and stay on track with your goal.

1.

2.

Reference Materials  for our Zoom Camp

Reference #1

Most of the content of our camp is contained in the Mental Training Chapter of the Squash Canada Level 3 Coaching Manual that Tim Bacon developed for Squash Canada:  Squash.Canada.L3.Mental.Bacon.

Reference #2

Here is a link to the 10+ squash psychology articles that Tim Bacon has written for this blog – just scroll down to see the different articles and topics:  Tim Bacon’s blog posts on squash psychology

Reference #3

Here are two links to Tim Bacon’s blog posts on video analysis of squash tactics:

Video Tactical Analysis

Tim Bacon’s Squash Tactics Blog Posts

Thank you Squash Revolution campers for a great week!  Excellent job staying focused!  Don’t hesitate to drop me a line at squashscience@gmail.com or post a comment in the comment section below!  Hope to see you during the upcoming season or at next summer’s camp!  Tim

For more information you can:

  • email Tim at squashscience@gmail.com
  • sign up for e-coaching with Tim (from $50/hour) on mental, physical training or video analysis of your technique or match play

Tim Bacon, M.A., is the world’s leading expert on racquet sport science and coaching development having taught all areas of sport science as both a Lecturer at Smith College and as a Coach Developer for the Coaching Association of Canada while actively coaching (Squash Canada Level 4 Coach) and sport psychology consulting (25+ World Champions).  He currently runs his consulting practice out of Northampton, MA.

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