One of the differences between ordinary and good players is consistency.
It’s a boring sounding word with a big effect.
Let’s look at few different kinds of consistency.
Just a quick warning, this article is longer than usual.
You probably know that your body adapts to change. Start doing exercise and your body says “WOAH! What the heck is that? I better make changes so that I can do that faster/longer/more efficiently next time.” It’s how we get fitter.
I have always preferred my students to work at 80% their maximum (in a general sense, not heart rate or anything specific) over a longer period of weeks than for them to train at the classic but impossible 110% you hear so often on the TV.
Remember, I am not talking about professional players but competitive club players who have busy lives outside of their squash.
Too often players train too hard and then either get injured or have to rest. Yes, rest is incredibly important, but more on that another time.
Getting 4 sessions a week at 80% for 3 months is a really good start to a long-term training program. Training a couple of times a week too hard and then having to take a break because you got injured helps nobody.
A sensible amount, more often builds a foundation on which to train harder but doing high quality fitness work consistently is better than on and off super hard sessions.
Winning a few matches you probably should have lost and then losing a few matches you probably should have won is quite common at club level. One of the criticisms leveled at squash is that there are not enough upsets in major tournaments. There are some but less that sports like tennis for example.
For me, that is a reflection of the sport itself and is a positive thing. Luck plays less of a role and the mental aspect is so important.
Playing to the same high standard each match is difficult and requires a mental fortitude that must be developed over time if it is not part of your natural make up.
Being so close to your opponent in a confined space adds to that feeling and physical contact is inevitable.
Learning to play well each and every week means you must control as much about your preparation as you can and links to the previous section on fitness.
The last aspect I want to talk about is accuracy. Hitting the ball to the right place on the court at the right time CONSISTENTLY is what wins points, games and matches.
It’s very similar to the fitness aspect. Being able to hit the odd amazing shot with mediocre shots in between is far less effective than being able to hit good quality shots all through the match.
This way there is a constant build up of pressure during the match. Your opponent knows that they won’t get many easy points and they also know that as each point goes on you are less likely to make silly mistakes.
That’s why you see close matches until the fifth game when the pressure becomes too much.
Doing things well for longer periods is better than a few highs and a few lows.
Strive for consistency in your training and it will translate into your match play.