Match #2: 2009 World Masters Games

I know you want me to get to the point so I will – The first game was scrappy, I didn’t have my range or accuracy of shots. Yesterday’s match yielded 25% winners and a low percentage of unforced errors. The first game today was the exact opposite. My signature shots that were up yesterday were down in the tin today. But if I lifted my game a notch, the accuracy should come back – so I told myself. I lost the first game 4-11.

Game 2 was more like yesterday’s games – my accuracy, pace and length came back and I won it ‘easily’ 11-7. It needs to be said that my opponent was formidable, in fact one of my squash partners was overheard saying he thought he had ‘too good of a game’ for me without meaning any disrespect.

The third game was very tight, well fought on both sides and I took it 11-8. So I’m up now 2 games to 1.

The all-important forth game went to a tie break 10-12 for my opponent who I handed the victory to on a silver platter – not quite sure why I didn’t put it away as I should have. I didn’t feel like I lost my cool, rhythm or focus, the points just didn’t go my way even though I held the lead for the whole game until the ‘tie break’ final two points. I will review the video and analyse why this happened because at the time, it just slipped away without knowing why – I didn’t feel I choked nor changed my game plan.

In the fifth game I came out firing on all cylinders and jumped ahead with a quick lead, 4-1, then he caught up 4 all. I dug in deep and stuck to my game plan to 7 all. 4 more points and the winner would be decided.

Then it happened at 8-7 – I got hit on the hand, my racquet hand. I got the stroke against me because I got in his swing – he hadn’t delayed his swing all game and caught my pinky finger square on with a full swing.

Yes – OWCH!

I requested a 3-minute injury break (which I know is allowed, got an ice pack thrown to me on the court) and started breathing nice and deep to re-set and recover my wits. I know from a previous match injury several years ago that it rattles you. You need to take the time to re-set, otherwise your body chemistry can get upset enough with a mixture of pain killing endorphins and adrenaline flowing through your blood stream. Your brain wants one thing, your body another. the whole match gets decided in the next few points.

We had 3 or 4 lets in the last 3 points alone, I took the game and the match 11-8.

A match hard fought and won – overcoming a totally unexpected challenge and a formidable opponent – he is ranked #2 in the first division after the open.

I earned the match and was the best player on the day – I should have and could have won it in 4, but as I said yesterday, it’s about ME playing MY game and having the confidence that whatever that is (of course it’s my little secret) it’s (more than) good enough to win.

Then I have to trust and believe that all the drills, preparation and routines will play themselves out when I need them on the court during the key points in the match.

They did – both today and yesterday’s matches would have had a completely different outcomes months, maybe even weeks ago.

That is the beauty of the 1 percent improvement doctrine – once applied, the BEFORE and AFTER contrast is like BLACK and WHITE, ON and OFF.

2 of my regular squash partners watched both my matches yesterday and today and they were witness to the improvements – many of them slight nuances that they too could see have made a difference in me as well as IN THEIR GAME…

That’s why competition at this world-class level is so important. It’s the only way to gauge, monitor and track progress. Anything else is a compromise, a substitute.

Wish me luck for tomorrow’s match!

2 Responses to “Match #2: 2009 World Masters Games”

  • Hi Marc,

    well done again. And an excellent example of perseverence.

    I was particularly impressed with your handling of the unexpected racquet impact. I recognise that I sometimes fail to take that step back and recompose myself when it is really what I should be doing. I suspect this is actually a lot more than a 1% improvement.

    I was also wondering if your failure to be flustered by the incident but instead carmly composing and resetting yourself might have actually created leverage against your opponent since they would have probably expected the dual combination of a stroke and an impact to have rattled most players.
    When you weren’t then the psychological edge might have shifted toward you in their mind.

    It is also an excellent example of keeping you thoughts focussed on the outcome you wanted and not on issues that arise along the way.

    Good fortune with match #3

    Ray Keefe

  • In a recent competition, I saw a guy ‘lose his sight temporarily’ from lack of oxygen, in the fifth game, game and match ball. He could have, should have called for the 3 minute injury timeout, breathe and re-set. Instead, he gave the match away, getting his ‘sight’ back within 1-2 minutes = he could have played on. That was my lesson – I promised myself IF it ever happened to me, I would kick into automatic mode and let the pre-determined process take over. That is one of the business ‘bullet-proofing’ or ‘recession-proofing’ lessons I teach my clients.

    To have a system or process in place to take over in moments of ‘crisis’. So that nothing is left to chance. It’s all about being prepared and ready to deal with practically anything.

    Thanks for the on-going support – it means a lot when I’m on the court – I’m not there on my own, I can feel everyone’s support and I am playing every point to win for ‘all of us’.

    It’s weird, I didn’t really set up this blog for that purpose, but it sure has turned out to be a great motivator. I highly recommend it. It certainly forces you to be accountable to more than just yourself.

    Fun stuff!

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