Slumps Happen

Happy 2018! I was meaning to write a post earlier in the month, but I got distracted by other things that needed attention. So here I am, almost at the end of January, finally settling down to write and publish my first post of the year.

A Foreword

The first part of this post is not the most upbeat. While I love my active and competitive lifestyle, there are occasional slumps, most of which I don’t discuss outwardly online. As an athlete, it can be difficult to acknowledge these times and figure out how to get through them- especially when there are competitions on the horizon. I almost didn’t write this post, because it doesn’t quite vibe with the rest of my writing, but figured it is reality, and there is no use in hiding it. I’m happy to report that I’ve worked hard to turn things around now, and am feeling much more like myself both on and off the court!

Beginning of 2018

This year got off to a bit of a rocky start. I returned to NYC feeling pretty tired physically, and mentally flat. Not once during my trip home over the holidays did I feel I played my best squash, or even enjoy it to the full extent, which was a bit demoralizing. A good part of my social life back home revolves around my beloved squash club, so I spent quite a bit of time at the courts playing, chatting, and training, despite the lacklustre squash.

Off the court, I really enjoyed my time back in Victoria. On the court, however, it was a different story. I was overly critical of my game, and I felt slow, lethargic, and heavy. In retrospect, I probably should have taken a week off of squash right before going home for Christmas. I had just come off of a string of tournaments where I had finally started to develop a game where I felt confident competing, and just lost the edge towards the end. In an effort to regain this “edge”, I played more and more, trying harder and harder to get “it” back. Funny how working harder isn’t always the right decision.

The first few weeks of this new year were a challenge. I returned to NYC still playing what I considered to be extremely flat squash, and this took a toll on me mentally. I felt pretty unmotivated to not only train on court, but off court as well. It’s a bit unnerving to have two of my favourite activities feel like a burden, and I so badly wanted to snap out of this funk.

Match vs Hollie Naughton (CAN)

Finally, about a week ago, I physically began to find my stride on court again, right in time for the Tournament of Champions. Unfortunately, my match against my compatriot, Hollie Naughton, didn’t go so well. While I wasn’t nervous going into the match, I did feel anxious. From the first point to the last, I couldn’t catch my breath, and my arches completely seized up. The rallies weren’t that long or exhausting, but nevertheless, my heart rate felt as though it had skyrocketed.

One of the most interesting yet frustrating things I encountered was the discrepancy between my perceived feeling of hitting the ball, and the result of the rallies. Technically, I felt like I was right there, stroke for stroke. Yet, somehow, I was losing most of the rallies. At the end of the match, I couldn’t even remember how I lost the points. The games seemed to go on forever, yet at the same time it was over in a blur. I was so stuck in my own head, while simultaneously thinking about things going on around me, mostly off the court. Doesn’t sound like a clear mind, nor a recipe for success, does it?!

Post-match Blues

Needless to say, I wasn’t pleased after my game with Hollie. I was definitely a bit sad and confused, and hoped that I would wake up on Friday and feel better. Friday morning arrived, and while physically I felt just fine, mentally, I was very much still in a fog. I felt tired and slow, and didn’t really know what to do with the day. ( I don’t know if I’ve ever felt like that before!). As planned, I took Friday off of squash completely, and ended up doing a light circuit as a workout at Body Space before watching the rest of the qualifying matches that evening. Spending time with friends on Friday night certainly helped put things in perspective, and put me back in a more positive mindset.

Finding Some Perspective

I woke up on Saturday feeling better, and knowing that I had to take action to change my mindset. I started by writing out a to do list, comprised of very achievable tasks (ie. making my bed, grocery shopping, emails, 30 minute workout). After making my bed (first accomplishment of the day!), I began with a 35 minute steady state bike at the gym. This not only gave me energy, but helped motivate me to continue on this productive path. I looked up interesting recipes to try out for meal prep, got another workout in, and perhaps most importantly, wrote a plan to get back on track with training, both mentally and physically. Having done all of this, plus enjoying a nice relaxing evening at home, I felt much better going into Sunday and the week having some guidelines and practices to help get me back into the swing of things.

This Week so Far

This week has started off very well. I’ve enjoyed every single moment on court and in training, and have generally been in a more positive mood. So far, my plan seems to be working well. In a nutshell, I’m trying to reset by focusing on the process of training, as opposed to purely outcomes. This has been helping me see every day as a new challenge and opportunity, rather than an obstacle that needs to be conquered.

Well, that’s all from me! I hope to be back soon with some updates regarding new training focuses, meals/nutrition, and some workouts!

Comments

  1. says

    Hello Nicole,
    I’m not a professional squash player but I’ve played many A tournaments in the past 20 years and I found that when I’m tired mentally and physically, the best way to recover is just to rest and stay away from the gym and the squash court for a couple days.
    Thanks for sharing your story and hope you’ll be back strongly on the court.
    Cheers!
    Philippe

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