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> Qatar 2002, Doha, Qatar > Team
Kneipp Report 2




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On
court Round One, Doha:
Today Joe Kneipp beat Chris Walker in straight
games, 15-12, 15-12, 15-8. It’s a good win, since Walker has been consistently
reaching the quarters and semis of major tournaments in past months.
His draw now brings him up against Peter Nicol in the second round.
In Boston in January, Kneipp looked extremely strong
in his semi-final matchup with Nicol
, especially in game one which
Nicol escaped with at 17-16.

Report
posted April 24 2002, evening by Dan Kneipp

THE MENTAL EDGE
Physically the top thirty squash players are very similar. Some are slightly
faster, some are a little fitter and others have racquet skills that are
marginally superior. But the court is a fairly level playing field, and
mental strength on court is probably the most crucial weapon. The player
that is more mentally prepared for a game – eagerness to win, confidence
and control of their nerves – usually wins.

INDIVIDUAL ROUTINES
Most of the top players have different routines to prepare for a match.
Some players need to listen to music to get motivated, others like to
watch the preceding squash matches to prepare for their game. Over time
players realize what works for them, and how to maximize their performance.

Joe has a very interesting requirement
to prepare for his match. If he begins to discuss the upcoming game hours
before he plays, then it becomes easy for him to get anxious, excited
and even nervous about the match. If this happens for a few hours, when
he finally gets on court he has already exerted a lot of mental energy
and is not as sharp as he should or could be. Joe’s preparation for game
day is pretty simple – relax and don’t think about squash.

HOW IT WENT
When
you’re at the Sheraton Doha and receiving the hospitality of the Qatar
Squash Federation, relaxing isn’t such a problem. But trying to avoid
discussing or thinking about squash is not that easy. Not forgetting that
the squash pros all know each other well and are mostly good friends.
When squash is the common factor, it is sometimes very easy to begin discussing
squash without even realizing it. The tournament organizers and local
supporters are understandably always keen to talk squash with the players.
So avoiding the subject of your upcoming game can sometimes be impossible.

Today Joe had a 5PM match against Chris
Walker in the first round. His day’s preparation went as follows:

  12:00pm Woke up after about ten
hours sleep. The plan is usually to get to sleep late, so that he doesn’t
wake up too early and have too long of a wait until his match.
  12:45pm Swim in the pool.
  1:30pm Buffet lunch. Wonderful
choice of food
  2:00-4:00pm Killed time in the hotel
by playing cards and listening to music. No squash talk!
  4:00pm Watched Nick Taylor playing
Martin Heath while we stretched. This is the time when we discuss tactics,
the strengths of Joe’s opponent and any aspect of Joe’s game that we’ve
been working on. We warmed up on court with some basic routines like boast
and drive and finished with me feeding him balls to end up with his shots
finely tuned just before playing.
  5:00pm Played Chris. There was
some very good offensive squash from both players. As all of the pros
know Chris is usually tough and extremely dangerous on court, so Joe was
happy to walk away with a three love win. Instead of a typical hard-hitting,
long rally match, both players were hitting winners from all parts of
the courts, with short intense rallies more common. Entertaining to watch.

So as you can see an important aspect
of being a professional squash player is that Joe has to make sure he’s rested
and relaxed to get the most out of himself. So tomorrow when he’s sitting
by the pool sipping bottled water, spare a thought for the poor guy as he’s
actually mentally battling away for his upcoming game with Peter Nicol.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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