How to deal with over-motivation before a match
Like too much of anything in life, too much motivation can be bad for you. Being under-motivated is rarely good for you but being over-motivated can be worse. People in an over-motivated state are often more easily swayed by their emotions and their temper, which only makes the situation harder to turn around.
Motivation is different for everyone and is relative to each individual. For some people, they play their best squash when they psych themselves up before a match, whilst others perform better when they relax. These players will have different thresholds at which they become ‘over-motivated’. What might make the player who prefers a more relaxed pre-match atmosphere over-motivated might barely register with the player who works themselves into a frenzy pre-match. However you prefer to prepare pre-match, being over-motivated is still a danger.
Before the match is the best time for keeping an eye on your motivation levels, as you have time to make a difference.
Key signs to watch out for include:
- Being more energetic or excitable than normal
- Mind and thoughts are racing
- More intense feelings or thoughts about results or performance – particularly expectations
- More intense feelings of nervousness than normal
If you are prone to being over-motivated and have some of the symptoms above, you might want to design a pre-match routine for yourself. Even if you aren’t particularly prone to over-motivation, it might be worth building pre-emptive habits into your preparation.
To handle over-motivation before a match, try to:
- Relax in the build-up to a match by doing something completely non-squash related, and ideally not in the club or centre.
- Avoid thinking about the result or potential outcomes.
- Not start preparing for a match too early. If you start listening to music to psych yourself up hours before your match, you may find you mis-time your mental peak and arrive on court off-kilter.
- Develop mental cues in your pre-match routine – we talk about this in a lot more detail in ‘Getting in the zone’ – in the way you get dressed or pack your bag, your warm-up routine, or getting on court early to hit the ball a bit to help your rhythm.
Everyone is different and something that may work for me, or another person, may not work for you. All you can do is realise the situation you are in and acknowledge it, and then experiment with different things to see what has the best effect for you.
Look out soon for Part II: How to deal with over-motivation during a match.
You can see all posts on our site about the mental side of the game by clicking on the ‘Mental’ tag below next to the ‘Filed Under’ heading. Other related posts you may want to look at include: