September 13th

For some, the number 13 is unlucky, not for me. In fact it’s a very special number.

When it comes to sports psychology, there is a fine line between rituals and superstitions and what I call “routines” for success. The former create a false sense of certainty (with no benefit) whereas well designed “routines” significantly improve your chance for success because YOU control them and they are directly tied to the outcome you want.

A superstition can be:

  • Not walking on the white lines of a tennis court after a rally is over
  • Placing your water/juice bottles with the labels all facing one direction
  • Not leaving the squash court without hitting a nick
  • Always being the last player on or off the court
  • Tying and untying your shoes 3 times each time you put them on

A routine can be:

  • Making sure you have no less than 3 wristbands in your sports bag
  • Having 3 or 4 rackets strung at the same tension
  • Warming up for 15 minutes at least an hour before your match
  • Getting up 2 or 3 hours before a morning match to be fully awake.
  • Taking the time to tie your shoes properly

When superstitions get out of hand, you’ll slip into Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)… That is something you want to avoid at all costs. It IS preventable, but breaking the superstitions as soon as they “Start”.

Coaches and parents should STOP this behaviour immediately in young, junior players who don’t fully understand the long-term ramifications of developing OCD tendencies. Many top players now afflicted with OCD readily admit (in their published biographies) that they shouldn’t have started them in the first place, but are now “stuck” with them.





Squash At The 2020 Olympics?!?!?

The are many reasons why squash should be in the Olympics. Believe it or not, squash is still in the bid for the 2020 Olympics. If you want to see squash in the 2020 Olympics, click on the LINK below.

Make sure you forward this link
to as many of your squash buddies as you can -


Concentration Of Focus

I just presented sports psychology principles to squash players at Vancouver’s prestigious Jericho Tennis Club. One of the many excellent questions asked was “With all the books available on the subject, how do you know what to ‘listen’ to as good versus bad advice to avoid confusion”

First, you need a framework to work with – a set of guiding principles that you believe in and that you KNOW work for you. Consider them the corners of a puzzle. One example of a guiding principle is “Positive self talk”, another is “Having an outcome or goal for your performance of development”.

Puzzle Pieces - FrameworkWithin those guiding principles, you start to read and assemble the pieces of the puzzle IF THEY ARE CONGRUENT within the “four corners”.

For example, in squash, there are two schools of thought: (1) you should always try to hit the ball with your FRONT foot in front of you, versus (2) ‘back footing” the ball in certain circumstances.

You need to PICK which one YOU believe works for YOU, then discard, ignore the contradictory suggestions. You MUST make sure you coach(es) are aware of this so they don’t give you conflicting directions!

Dabblers – people who read anything and listen to everyone’s suggestions get quickly confused and dissipate their focus to their detriment they are interested in superficial knowledge.

Knowledge is deep when it concerns the central ideas of a topic or discipline, which are judged to be crucial to it. Deep knowledge involves establishing relatively complex connections to those central concepts. Thin knowledge is shallow or superficial when it is not connected with significant concepts or central ideas of a topic or discipline and is dealt with only in a simplistic or procedural fashion. Knowledge is also shallow when important, central ideas have been trivialised and simplified to an extreme.

It is acknowledged that information and knowledge is extensive and wide-ranging. There is a balance to be achieved between trying to know everything about everything (A Jack of all trades) versus “everything about one thing” (a specialist).

Admittedly, this is not an easy concept to grasp. It’s a skill and aptitude that I developed over 10+ years when I was also confused by all the conflicting information I was reading in all the books I read. (I am a speed reader and have read over 1,000 business books and over 100 on mental toughness and sports psychology alone).

Here are some steps you can start to use to CONCENTRATE YOUR FOCUS when it comes to your learning and development.

  1. Establish your guiding principles (the 4 corners of the puzzle)
  2. When something new “comes up” – determine if it fits “withing the puzzle”. I suggest you  stick to what you are doing until someone gives you a COMPELLING reason to consider switching.
  3. If it sounds promising (in that you think it could help or assist you to achieve your goals or outcomes), then give that option a MINIMAL assessment and if that MINIMAL assessment provides a positive outcome only then should you consider it. Otherwise, I ignore it.
  4. Most people assess, evaluate to death each and every idea they hear about and most turn out NOT to be worth it. By NOT getting distracted, your concentration of FOCUS will increase instead of dissipating. It’s hard to explain, but if it does not serve you to ACHIEVE YOUR GOAL, don’t let the distraction “in” – if you do ADD it to your arsenal, it has to ADD to your EXISTING framework of strategies. It needs to “FIT INTO” the puzzle so-to-speak if it doesn’t, discard it and wait for the next one – WHICH WILL COME AROUND.

The best advice I can give you is to make sure you have a coach or mentor to assist you in your quest. There is no better way to achieve your ultimate outcome.


Two secret words to win the British Open Golf Championship

Rory McIlroy looked out at a room packed with reporters and knew he was going to disappoint them.

All week, he had talked about two secret words he used as his trigger for the shots he played. Even as he stretched his lead to six shots going into Sunday, he said he would only reveal them if he were to win the British Open.
Rory McIlroy

In the hours before he teed off, the media put one pound ($1.70) in a pot and tried to guess the two words. “Very simple,” McIlroy said, the claret jug at his side. “It’s going to be a big letdown for everyone. It was ‘process’ and ‘spot.’ That was it.”

And the meaning? “With my long shots, I just wanted to stick to my process and stick to making good decisions, making good swings,” he said. “The process of making a good swing, if I had any sort of little swing thoughts, just keeping that so I wasn’t thinking about the end result, basically.”

The “spot” was about his putting. “I was just picking a spot on the green and trying to roll it over my spot,” he said. “I wasn’t thinking about holing it. I wasn’t thinking about what it would mean or how many further clear it would get me. I just wanted to roll that ball over that spot. If that went in, then great. If it didn’t, then I’d try it the next hole.”

I highlight this because non-champions (1) don’t do this, (2) try to make it more complicated than it is, (3) are not quite sure how ‘this’ works, and (4) don’t educate or inform themselves on how to develop their mental game.

That’s why they aren’t the ones holding the trophies, standing on the podium, accepting the awards, winning the championships.



Every sport has rules or does it?

This video is one of those instances where you can choose a pro or con argument. I will pick the pro argument.

What I admire is that he doesn’t stop – he keeps on going – no matter what.

That is what I choose to focus on – the perseverance and desire to win.*

YouTube Video:

* I am NOT advocating cheating and winning at “all costs”. I am mindful of the intellectual challenges of the contestants, but maybe, just maybe we can learn something useful here.


  • Don’t give up.
  • Do it your own way.
  • F_ _ _ the rules! Sometimes it’s the only way to get things done.
  • Give it your best shot.
  • Give 100% each and every time.
  • Leave it all out there, don’t hold anything back.

And to the list with a comment below.


Success is a lousy teacher…

…It seduces smart people into thinking they can’t lose. This is true in sport as it is in business and life in general.



Minutes make a difference

If you weren’t sure if practicing makes a difference, here is an interesting chart showing that minutes make a difference.


Of course if you are going to practice, you need to use Deliberate Practice techniques to make sure you are improving while you are practicing.

Practice does NOT make perfect – Practice makes permanent.

Only perfect practice makes perfect


Network analysis applied to soccer

Technology is changing sport is countless ways. Ray Keefe of Successful Endeavours in Melbourne Australia sent me the following article from the MIT Technology Review that shows how network analysis can reveal a soccer team’s strategy… Very interesting.

Soccer network




The 5 Best Skate Events in the World

Skateboards, PennyOriginally deemed to be just a fad, the art of skateboarding is now satisfyingly ranking around the same level as rap and video games for sheer piss-off-your-parents ability. But that’s not the reason why people take up this sport – well for some maybe. It’s about creativity, expression, freedom, triumph when you accomplish that trick and above all – pure destruction.

Because of its staying-power and ever-increasing popularity, it’s only natural that many competitions exist for skaters, seasoned or amateur to show off their skills. If you’re a professional skateboarder or just a happy spectator keen to keep an eye on the competition front, here is some of the best competitions to add to 2014’s calendar.

Dew Tour

While the Dew Tour may only be in its ninth year, it has made a huge impact on the world of skateboarding. The free four-day action and lifestyle festival has three separate events throughout the year focusing on different types of extreme sports from snowboarding to skateboarding. The summer series is where professional skateboarders and BMX riders come together to shred up the other competition. Along with live music acts and an MTV television broadcast, fans get the whole interactive experience with pro athlete meet and greats, sponsors freebies, and the opportunity to ride the skate and BMX fan courses.


Nearing its twentieth year, the X Games is the epitome of extreme sports. It features the biggest collection of alternative sports including skateboarding, mountain bike, surfing, race car riders and roller blading in the summer and snowboarding, slope-style and snowmobile in the winter. Thousands of fans gather together for each event with the aim of witnessing a moment in sporting history. The X-Games boasts a carnival atmosphere with a multitude of tents and booths, along with the unavoidable expensive stall food, souvenirs and another sport related goodies.

Mystic Sk8 Cup

Regarded as the best skateboarding competition Europe has to offer, the Mystic Sk8 Cup not like any other. It’s not because of the $40,000 prize packet nor the fact that it offers both men’s and woman’s rounds. The Mystic Sk8 Cup is unique for one reason: each year the organisers like to spice it up by building a brand new skate park to meet the latest trends. This makes it interesting as competitors never know what to expect; it inspires them to perform at the top of their game and perform ground-breaking tricks. The contests include both men’s and women’s street competitions, prizes for vert and best trick. The Mystic Sk8 Cup is usually held in early July in Prague, Czech.

The Tampa Pro

Every year Tampa, Florida plays host to one of the most widely broadcasted skateboarding competitions, the Tampa Pro. Much like the Mystic Sk8 Cup, the competition is held at the Skatepark of Tampa where a new course is designed every year to keep the contestants on their toes.

There you have it, four great skate board championships to add to this year’s calendar. Interested in taking up skateboarding? Don’t make your first board one of those poorly designed creations from a department store. Make sure it’s a good quality skateboard from reputable brands like Penny Skateboards. With boards like this, you’ll be able to master awesome tricks in no time at all.

This is a guest post – if you would like to submit one, please contact us and we’ll send your our terms and conditions and writer”s guidelines.


Turning negative self talk into positive affirmations

Negative self talk is hard to stop, but at least now you have a fun way to stop it!

Sports psychologists have known for decades that the mind can:

  1. Only have one thought at a time and
  2. It cannot focus on the REVERSE of an idea or thought.

What that means if you are a squash player, is that if you say “don’t tin the ball, or don’t choke or don’t boast“, the brain only hears “tin the ball, or choke or boast.”

You need to replace your negative statements with positive affirmation statements, as suggested below.



Negative self talk Positive Affirmation
Damn it! OK, next point.
F$@##$#%#!!! FOCUS!
Idiot /Stupid C’mon, you can do better!
Bad shot Think of the RIGHT shot
Shot is too good Next time I will be ready
Can’t get there I almost got to it
Lucky shot I’m next to get lucky
Bad call (by the ref) The next call will go my way
No let?!?!? Next time I will strike the ball
Stroke?!?!? OK now I know how he’s calling it (the ref)
It was up! I know it was up, the next time he will too!
(Serve called down/out) Focus – this is an EASY error to fix!