February has been a packed month with too much going on to even mention but I would like to use this blog to reinforce my message relating to match play last month.

The big event of the month involved taking 13 of the senior players to the British National Championships.  I was really pleased with the results of all the players minus a couple of questionable results which is always to be expected.  As a squad we maximised the trip by combining it as a training camp so everyone was able to train and play for the full week.  We got to spend an awful lot of time together, all 14 of us were staying in a flat for the week but I won’t be sharing any of those stories, sorry!

I was most of all encouraged by the performances of the players, everyone demonstrated that they were capable of competing and beating some of the best English players.  What I wanted to discuss was the situations in which some of the players weren’t able to convert their positive play into winning the close matches and some of the reasons this was the case.

Some of the issues that arise on the biggest stage were:
* Anxiety
* Being too passive
* Drifting back into old habits
* Experience to know what to do in the big points
* Letting silly things distract them

This is yet another illustration as to the importance of coaches being able to watch their players.  I would never have been able understand the limiting factors in each of the players game if I hadn’t seen them in the high pressure situation of the British Nationals.

I think that most coaches would agree that when it comes to tournament play it tends to be the mental/psychological elements to performance that affects the result more often than not.  So my next challenge to all you coaches is to ask how often do you run sessions that are focused on these mental aspects of the game.  Coaches including myself spend a lot of time developing a player’s technique but is this really the key factor between winning and losing.

I always listen to at least a book a month and my book for the month has been called The one thing. This has discussed and provided examples of people and companies flying high as a result of a simple strategy which they established from determining the most important thing determining their success and then went about achieving it to the best of their ability.

My Question to you all this month is?
What is the one thing that could make the biggest difference to your player or club that if improved could help everything else fall into place.

To end the blog I wanted to take the time to congratulate Peter O’Hara on his fantastic achievement at the British Championships winning the Men’s O4O’s event. It was fantastic to see so many Scottish players competing in the event and getting behind each other and putting Scottish Squash firmly on the map.  Let’s hope we can go back next year and win even more events.