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Mindset from El Gouna International Squash Open (Tournament Recap)

I'm currently writing to you from Calgary, Alberta!

Last Tuesday I returned to NYC for a few days to reset and train, before flying out for Canadian Nationals. I feel like I live in airports and planes these days!

I actually came down with a bit of a cold on Sunday, but seem to have turned a corner after sleeping for nearly 11 hours last night... it was MUCH needed. All that travel, time zones, and missed sleep catches up with you eventually.

I'm a little later than I'd like to be writing this match recap, but fortunately I feel I still have a good memory of the match thanks to my post match "hot review" that I send to Graeme immediately afterwards.

Match vs Tesni Murphy (formerly Evans)

This was one of the tougher first round draws out there. Tesni has spent most of her career in the Top 15 bracket, and recently dropped out because of a foot injury. However, since she's been back, she has quickly risen back to Top 20, and has been pushing the top 10 players. I knew this would be a challenge!

In the past, I might have been discouraged by the fact I could have had a better draw. However, I've been learning to focus more on the big picture and the process, and less so on one-off results.

I also found a passage in a book I'm reading (Hidden Potential, by Adam Grant) quite helpful:

When people assess your skills, they put more weight on your peaks than on your troughs.

People judge your potential from your best moments, not your worst. What if you gave yourself the same grace?

I realize these sentences emphasize what others think about you- which is the opposite of what we are taught to think when it comes to motivation and progress. Our goals should be intrinsic, and we should be less focused on trying to please people, right?

Short answer- yes.

However, I was getting caught up in what others might think of me, think of that matchup, or about my progress and trajectory. This happens to me from time to time when I am going through a trough or a bad patch. I start to doubt myself, and think that others doubt me as well.

Upon reading this passage in Adam Grant's book, I reminded myself of some of the big wins I'd had in the past couple months.

What if people only wanted to see me succeed? How would I act and think about myself?

I took this mindset into my match against Tesni.

I had a good performance mentally, but funnily enough, I don't actually feel I played my best squash. My length hitting could have been deeper, I could have moved better, and I didn't produce many opportunities to attack from the middle (my strength zone).

I tried to volley as much as I could (which was tough given the recently sanded floors which took away some grip), backed myself to hit straight counter drops (which were on point!), and never gave up.

When I hit a rough patch in the match and started to doubt myself, I was quick to remember that others would see the potential. So, I allowed myself to play UP to this level as best I could.

I ended up losing in 5. In the fifth, I just didn't back myself quite enough. The fifth comes down to: who wants it more, who has the gas in the tank, and who's going to play to win. I had gas in the tank, and I "wanted" it, but I needed to take the game TO Tesni and back myself to hit the gutsy counter drop (rather than let her off the hook and hit an average mid-court cross). Tesni, on the other hand, is very experienced in these scenarios, and has come through a multitude of 5-gamers. You can't buy that kind of experience.

On the whole, I was pleased with the result. I felt a lot calmer and relaxed going into the tournament having had a few extra days in Egypt to acclimatize, and spend some time commentating in addition to training.

It's funny- I'm currently reading a passage in Hidden Potential which speaks about the importance of detours when you feel stuck. I had been feeling stuck prior to this tournament. The commentating gave me a change in perspective and a productive outlet to continue to enhance my knowledge, but more importantly- to feel GOOD about myself. Each day felt like a "little win"- even if I had some matches or instances that I thought I messed up a bit.

So- just a reminder if you are feeling stuck; instead of beating your head against the wall with the same activity or doing nothing at all and standing still, try another activity to give you a sense of accomplishment and momentum.

Oftentimes, I find that motivation is not task-specific. You can cultivate the motivation to work on a project through accomplishing a tough workout and building momentum from there.

Question for you: if you feel stagnant, what hobby or activity can you do to regain momentum?

Have a great rest of your week! And don't forget- next Monday a new Squashletic program comes out... all focused on building daily discipline and consistency. You can join the challenge by signing up for the membership here.

Happy training!

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