Self Talk

It's time to have your junior squash-player start to think about their..."self-talk!

An important factor of positive self-talk is that it must be possible and believable. Making a drop-shot or hitting the perfect length drive is just as much a possibility as missing one, so this message can be believed by your junior squash-player. (1) There is immediate feedback to reinforce that possibility; (2) The message may not be believable and therefore this type of negative self-talk is unlikely to improve self-esteem and to produce a desired effect. Research supports the theory that a squash-player who continually practices positive self-talk will improve his or her performance. Succumbing to negative self-talk is a sure way to reduce performance and playing success. Simple steps for having your junior squash-player develop positive self-talk habits include...

1. Having them choose a word or group of words that makes them feel good about themselves.
To get started with creating more positive self-talk, have them choose one or two phrase they can use during their training. This could be a simple affirmation such as "I feel strong," or "Go, Go, Go," or another simple positive phrase they can repeat over and over.
2. Have them practice multiple scenarios...
Once they've developed the habit of repeating this type of phrase during practice and/or play, to the point where it is automatic, have them start expanding the dialogue so that they have familiar and comfortable statements for a variety of situations when actually playing a squash-game or match. For example, if they are playing a tournament match, remind them what strengths they bring to their own game, i.e. I'm strongI'm quickI'm fastI have a game planMy serve is going to beat him/herI can get to every ball; etc. If they're in a tough match, have them tell themselves,  “I’m definitely not out of this; or... “Don’t let up."

3. Have them create a positive mental image and visualization...
The phrases and words they choose should be those that they can immediately identify with, call up and create a visual picture of themselves doing exactly what they say, i.e. executing the perfect set of ghosting drills, executing perfect strokes, being planted at the tee, etc. These images, along with the words, are a powerful combination that can create a positive message of self-belief. Practicing this sort of sports psychology is one way for them to take their squash-play to the next level.