Ageing Up ? Keep Smiling!
In a junior squash career players ‘age up’ each 2 years. They enter a new age category with stronger, older competitors. It often takes some time to settle in and achieve their ‘cruising speed’, mentally and physically. How do they manage their expectations and emotions when taking that step up ?
Every time a player enters a new age category it does get more competitive and tougher out there. While U11 and U13 players improve and adapt so quickly, as they move up the age group categories they want and often expect to continue enjoying this steep improvement curve through the U15 and U17 categories. That is ok, but it needs to remain realistic otherwise disappointment can quickly set in and confidence is lost.
It is important to prepare junior players for that moment, and guide them well through these first tournaments and weeks as they have aged up. A lot of it starts with being realistic, grateful and proud, keeping perspective, being patient, and managing their expectations.
5 tips to remember when navigating through the age group journey:
It’s a marathon, not a sprint. A loss today can be a win tomorrow.
Junior squash is like a roller coaster ride, full of ups and downs, and yes there are some scary moments, but hang on until the end and you will love it.
Find different ways to measure a win or loss, it’s not always about the score. It could be how well the serve was returned, or how long the rallies and the match lasted.
Remind players why they play squash. Because they enjoy it, it’s fun. Lose that feeling and they will lose the match.
Lastly and most importantly, remind players where they were 12 months ago, and how much they have improved to this day. Have them feel proud of that progress and smile. Carry that smile on court.
Being proud of where you are today
The last point “Remind players where they were 12 months ago, and how much they have improved to this day. Have them feel proud of that progress and smile.’, is such an important one.
Making players understand where they come from and realize just how much they have improved during the last year, is so important when addressing expectations and fear before competing in matches against older and stronger opponents. Tell them to go back in time and think about where they were a year ago mentally, physically, technically, and strategically. They will have improved on so many aspects, and should be proud of these achievements. So when entering that court for a new match in a new age category, keep the focus on competing and having fun. The combination of competing – every rally – and having fun, is the combination to strive for, the results will take care of themselves.
Carry a smile on court
One of the most common things we say to our players before entering the court is smile 🙂 ! The smile is “the symbol that was rated with the highest positive emotional content” concluded scientist Andrew Newberg. Smiling reduces stress your body and mind feel, and smiling helps to generate more positive emotions within you.
Smile, in practice and in matches.
Sometimes playing well is as simple as a smile!
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