Match #3 2009 Australian Masters Squash Championships

Today’s result – a long, well fought 5-setter. I’ll save you the drama. The match was won fair and square by my competitor who was better than me on the day. I didn’t lose, he earned the victory and I learned priceless lessons.

As I keep saying, we’re reasons or we’re results. This match and competition was a GREAT RESULT – it ‘ranks’ me as #12 in Australia, which puts me way ahead of my development schedule and confirms I am training properly as I ascend through the rankings.

Some people (non-champions) think RESULTS means winning, but that’s often not the case. It quite often is about IMPROVING so that you can eventually ‘win’. In my case it’s not even about winning because as I’ve mentioned before, I am not aiming to win the World Championship, but to get into the top “16” in the world. When I get to that point, I will have reached what I consider to be my equitable and optimal ‘RESULT’. In case you didn’t read the blog posts about this – my opportunity costs are much too high to devote the time and effort to trying to beat people who do this for a living and have a 30 to 40 years head start.

Plus – it’s still just a black ball in a white room that you have to hit before it bounces twice…

Anyway, amongst the many lessons (there are more than I list below) I learned, I’d like to share the following with you as my gift for supporting and following me on my journey.

Lesson #1:

My training is paying off. All the things I have focused on have improved – dramatically. As I keep telling my clients – you get what you focus on and Exponential growth only happens with CONCENTRATION OF FOCUS…

My suggestion to you is make sure YOU know what you’re focusing on so you KNOW what you’re doing and if it’s working or not. I know this sounds self-evident, but it’s really important. As you know from my previous posts, I focused on ‘dealing with a biased ref/umpire’ I focused on that for the past 6 months and I now have strategies that work, that I can count on. As part of my arsenal, I can select it whenever I need ‘on command’ as needed.

Lesson #2:

When I compete at this elite level, I owe it to myself to immerse myself in it – totally and without distraction. This competition was in Melbourne and I scheduled non-stop meetings including late dinners every night. That was a mistake – productive and fruitful for my clients, but detrimental to my process of immersion – not that my results would have been different, but the experience would have been and who knows what would have changed on the court. I know I’ve earned the privilege to give myself this time to compete and enjoy the process more fully.

I wanted to TEST this and now that I know, I won’t do that again. At the World Championships last year, I focused on squash for the entire week I was there – with some daily e-mails, but it was minimal.

I didn’t know how important it was and this test convinced me of the fine line that I don’t want to cross the next time. This will be VERY important since the World Championships are in Sydney.

That’s why I tested it in Melbourne – in anticipation of next month…

Lesson #3:

There are rituals that work for me and I need to stick to them – not to be superstitious, but because they work as anchors and reference points. Sorry, but these are confidential and personal. I’m sure you can understand it if you are or have been a competitive athlete.

Do you have rituals and anchors that work for you in sport and/or business? If you do, you should jot them down, test and refine them. Once you’ve optimised them, stick to them and create new ones.

Lesson #4:

I have reached a new level of performance in-between the really good social player and the pros/coaches… To make the quantum leap to the next level, I have to change a LOT about who I play, how I play them and become much more disciplined and strict with my focused outcomes. Pre-competition preparation is KEY. I need to be able to count on a regimen PRIOR to the tournament – not left up to people’s availability and personal whims. I need a bullet-proof SYSTEM I can count on. There is nothing worse than expecting to PLAY/TRAIN and then being let down at the last minute with no recourse but to practice on your own which is no substitute for match play.

My goals are mine and no one else’s. I can’t expect others to help me. I have to make what I need to happen, happen without it being a burden or responsibility on anyone else – that’s the challenge.

That’s one of the primary reasons most people don’t succeed in sport or business for that matter. Once they get to this point of performance, it gets real hard, real quick. For most – it’s not worth the extra effort and that’s when they plateau and reach what’s called their terminal stage – the ‘best they will ever be’.

Lesson #5:

I’ve known for a long time that I need more match time and a higher variety of players… Then it was a nice-to-have, now it’s a MUST. I MUST make the time, investment and effort to play more tournaments, players.

It wasn’t my Next Best Step, until now.

Lesson #6:

Cross training as well as strength conditioning for improved quickness, agility and speed is the next ‘dimension’ of the game I need to expand. This will be fun because the results will be instant AND DRAMATIC.

I watched several seeded players who played last year and this year and their game has not improved substantially, in fact some have lost their edge as age takes its toll.

That means I am running faster than the train I am trying to catch.

That was really important to confirm. Otherwise it’s an impossible task and pointless to keep running after something that will always remain out of reach.

I know my weaknesses and how to correct them, so this will be ‘easy’ and just a question of finding the time and ‘doing it’ within my schedule.

Lesson #7:

The mental game has become a much more important part of my improvement. It’s one of my key strengths which means I’ll be playing to my strengths (pun intended).

In this competition, I had several opportunities to test different alternatives of self-talk, mindset, preparation and strategy. I won’t bore you with the details other than to say an artist can’t paint without a canvas – tournament play is an exceptional canvas – I strongly encourage you to find a canvas in your business, career or life to paint your own masterpiece.

It is a journey of self-exploration that makes all the hours, injuries, drills, travels worthwhile.

Thanks for listening and I’ll have another retrospective post over the weekend as I then shift my focus toward next month’s World Championships!

1 Response to “Match #3 2009 Australian Masters Squash Championships”

  • This was an enjoyable read Marc, there are many lessons here to be learned. The one that stands out the most for me… concentration of FOCUS!! Where you focus, energy follows.
    Thanks for the Squash/Life Lesson Marc

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