Monday, 10 June 2013

Blindspots and the importance of being coached

Why you must be coached

This game is really fast.
Holding on to a single paradigm can give us a great perspective to start, yet if we are not open to changing our minds and our tactics we can easily held back our progress due to blindspots.

For example I've learned that is always best to make a drive to put your opponent behind and then close the deal only when he makes a bad shot.
Yet many of my opponent never make a clear mistake, they instead tend to make cross-courts which is a way to "escape" from a loosing drive battle.
If (and this is what I'm working on right now) I make a step toward the front and forestall the shot, instead of letting the cross-court pass by and then make a drive, it doesn't matter if I make a really accurate shot or just a decent shot. If I place the ball in the front of the court by forestalling the cross-court I score all the time.

Therefore, yes I'm using the drive to cause my opponent to make a cross-court (which by adopting this new perspective can be considered a mistake) and then score by forestalling it.

This is really cool. Yet only by adopting an open paradigm can I learn this skill.
In fact a friend is helping me, yelling me every time I let a ball slip.

What is a blindspot?

That's a really interesting thing: since for me it's automatic to let the ball pass by and retrieve it in the back wall, I don't even see the ball pass.
I really don't see it. It's like the ball disappear for my brain and the only way I can hit it is by going in the back of the court.

This is an example of a blindspot.
It means my brain is so used to waiting that it doesn't even bother to check if I can hit the ball by forestalling it.

A blindspot is a piece of knowledge my brain is taking for granted even tho I actually have no conscious knowledge of it.

Systematic Blindspot Elimination - I.E. Why you need a coach

The only way to keep improving in this game is by doing the hardest thing, swallow my pride and ask for others what are my weaknesses.
Now, generally some people are conscious of this or they understand it unconsciously.
If you talk to someone that can beat you, it doesn't necessarily mean that his hints will be useful.

You should listen to all advices and use only those that are really actionable.

For example in my case if somebody tell me: You should watch me and realize I make a cross-court.
This advice is useless, i know he makes the cross-court, I have to work on the response to that Stimuli.

A good advice is one like: When I make a cross-court I do it because I'm loosing the exchange and every time you wait for the ball to bounce off the back wall I feel like you are giving me a hand, you should always make a step toward the ball and forestall it. This way you will score.

This is a great hint, because it implies what is not working, the whole paradigm of the situation and what to do to fix it.

If you have a coach you should train at least once a week with him and he should watch you play also.
I believe 90% of the progress in this game can be achieved alone.
Yet is the final 10%, the difference that makes the difference, that matters when we talk about high level players.

-Train hard!

If you are starting out and need to grasp the basics , movement patterns you can check out my free e-book full with actionable tactics and exercise to work on your squash