I was searching for an insight on the mental aspects of my game, I am a semi pro squash player and have been playing for most of my life, I have read your article on physical or mental regarding Taekwondo, and felt like I could definitely relate to the fighter who is physically better with better technique but loosing to inferior opponents. I did love the article and find it very interesting but the real question I wish to ask is how do you go about increasing your mental abilities? I wish to be able to beat all the inferior opponents but I do not know how to go about increasing my concentration. A push in the right direction would send me over the moon.
One tip I have on concentration is, “Concentrate on the goal, not the method used to reach the goal.” For example, it you are making putt in golf, concentrate on the hole and the ball going into the hole, not on making the putt itself. Don’t concentrate on the putting method since that will cause you to think about too many factors and cause you to tense your body. The putting itself should happen unconsciously due to your previous intense putting practice. It’s similar to driving a car and having a child run in front of the car. You do not think about braking or how much to brake, you just keep staring at the child and your foot applies the brakes reflexively due to all your experience in braking. Off-road motorcyclists know not to look at obstacles; if they do, they know they will probably hit them. They look where they want to go and let their training take over obstacle avoidance. If you run off the edge of the road with your car, experts tell you to keep looking down the road and let your driving experience steer you back into your lane. If you look where the car is going at the moment (off the road) and concentrate on that, then that is the direction you will probably go.
Therefore, while playing squash, relax and concentrate on where you want the ball to go, not on the methods used to get it there. If you have trained enough, your body will use the right method without your conscious thought.
Thanks for the tips on concentrating on the goal, but I think I am taking your advice too literally as I can get the ball to go where I want it too every time, that's not the problem, for example if two very good Taekwondo warriors were fighting, one was dominating completely but then would just slack off due to concentrating less and lose the fight due to this lack of concentration, which is pretty much what you described in your physical vs. mental aspects or have I completely got the wrong end of the stick?
For example from my past, I will be 2-0 up and winning easily and all of a sudden, I feel I am not doing anything differently I will loose 3-2. or the other day I was 12-2 down (its up to 15) got back to 13-12 but then still lost even though I should of easily beaten the guy.I think what I am asking is how do I train to keep my focus/ intense concentration or keep concentrating on the goal because I don't feel I am doing anything different but obviously I am.
While stationed in Iceland, I was at the gym and a friend pointed out the guy who was the base racquetball champion. He was old, obese, slow, and waddled like a duck when he walked. I found it difficult to believe he could even play. Then one day I saw him playing. While his opponent ran all over the court, he pretty much just stood in one spot. He would hit the ball, waddle over to a new spot, and, if the opponent was able to return the ball, it miraculously came to spot he was standing. He had such knowledge of rebound angles, the possible return options available to the opponent, the skill level of his opponent, etc. that he could instantly compute the odds of where the ball would be at any time, and then go to that spot. He beat youth and physical skill using wisdom.
I once fought a blind black belt in a Judo tournament. I started off feeling sorry for him and not wanting to take advantage of him, but soon found that he could read my mind and anticipate my every move. Sometimes he would call out something like “That left foot sweep will not work!” He was not really reading my mind, but, since in Judo you move around while gripping the opponent’s gi, he was able to feel sight movements I made that told him where my center of balance was located, which foot I intended to move, and thus which technique I was thinking about using. Skeet shooters do not aim at the target. They compute target angle and velocity, wind speed and direction, weather conditions, etc. and then aim to where the target will be when the pellets reach it. Baseball outfielders do not always race to get to catch a ball before it hits the ground, many times they compute all the factors involved with the ball’s trajectory, and then position themselves to wait for the ball to land in their gloves.
My Taekwondo instructor is national sparring champion. When students asked me how to spar against him, I always told them to keep their guard up and not bother to block. If they kept their guard up, it might stop an attack, whereas, if they blocked a perceived attack, they would probably be wrong in their assessment, leave an opening, and then get hit by an unexpected attack. He was a master of deception. By using minute muscle movements, a twist of the head, a shift in his eyes, a slight shift in balance, etc., he could make you react to a perceived attack and then hit you with a totally unexpected attack. As a result, just as did the racquetball player, he did not have to expend much energy during a match.
In any sport, if you can learn to spot and properly interpret unconscious movements made by the opponent that telegraph his intentions, you can be one step ahead of his actions. If you train yourself to make deceptive, minute movements that cause the opponent to make the wrong reactions, you may cause make him be one step behind your actions. When training, instead of trying to beat your opponent, practice reading his intentions and deceiving him about your intentions. You will probably lose a lot of these friendly matches for a while, but you will gradually gain skills that will help you win tournament matches.
If everyone could find the answer to winning, there would no losers. One thing about winning is that it relies on so many unpredictable factors. When you lose, you always wonder what you did wrong. When the opponent loses, he always wonders what he did wrong. Sometimes, the side that wins is not determined by which side did something right or which side did something wrong. Sometimes, the winning side is determined by fate.
Yea, it's true about the top racquetball and squash players don't move off the T, and your technique about concentrating on deception instead of trying to win the point maybe be the thing I should try to concentrate on, after writing to you I feel that I start to panic during matches of importance as I tend to win most friendlies I play, and freeze during tournaments.
Also I agree with your final paragraph about winning and loosing, not everyone can be a winner but to be fair I don't mind losing unless I play badly, I don't mind being beaten by a better player but losing to a worse player drives me up the wall.
Thank you again, I will try to concentrate on the deception and see how that goes.