Search Squashtalk

> YMG Classic

SquashTalk Opinion

Global Gallery
The Spin (Beck)
Rob Dinerman
Team Kneipp
Walker’s Notebook
Sarah Fitz-Gerald

Guest Columns
Letters to Editor

What’s New
News Index
Features Index
Web Links
E-boast Newsletter
up now free)




WISPA Greenwich CT

Mens Worlds

Men’s World Open

US 5
Man Teams

US Open


Hall of Fame
News Index
Club Links
Gear Links
E-boast Newsletter
    (sign up now free)



Classic Results

– The Sports Psychology Behind Booking Airline Tickets

19 , 2002 by Team Kneipp (Kah-nipe)    
sell out crowd at Toronto acknowledge the Kneipp and Power semi final

2002 Dan Kneipp)

issues behind the psychology of winning are very complex and some people
would be surprised to learn that booking plane tickets is a psychological
mine field in itself.

a tournament, even before the first round begins, if you ask one of the
players how they expect to do against their upcoming opponent the response
is fairly universal. Even if it’s a top 10 player against someone
ranked in the 20s or 30s you’ll hear expressions like: ‘I’m
playing well at the moment so I should do okay’ or ‘I’ve
won our last four encounters’ or even the slightly modest ‘He’s
never beaten me before, but in the last couple of tournaments he’s
had some good results’. You almost never hear cocky or bravado statements
like ‘There’s no way I’m going to lose’ or ‘He’s
doesn’t stand a chance against me’ or ‘I’m way
too good for him’. This seems to surprise some people who expect
the response to be more positive and less cautious and wary.

This is for a few reasons.
Firstly the depth and strength of the men’s tour means upsets are
both possible and common. There isn’t a single player in the top
10 who hasn’t had a loss in the 1st or 2nd round of the past couple
of seasons. For the past three big tournaments alone (Milo South African
Challenge, Qatar Classic and YMG Toronto) 10 out of 32 first round matches
have been upsets against the seeded player. Dealing with a loss is just
part of the occupation. If you approach a game thinking ‘I’m
too good for this go, there’s absolutely no way I’m going
to lose’, if it does happen you have some heavy psychological baggage
to deal with. Going into a match with an over exaggerated sense of it
being an impossibility to lose can mean you have further to fall.

This is of course different
from going into a game thinking ‘I should win. If I play my best
and he plays his best, the match will definitely be mine as I am a better
player’. Sometimes to cope with a loss and move past it it’s
crucial to acknowledge that you didn’t actually play badly and that
your opponent played a great match.

Which brings us to booking
flights to and from tournaments. There is a fine balance between self
belief, and financial-based realism. If you’re the #1 or #2 in the
world you go to a tournament expecting to make the final and will book
your return flight accordingly. But what should you do if you’re
the #13 or #31 in the world and if you don’t make the final you’re
being offered lots of money to play a league match on the other side of
the world? The YMG Classic couldn’t have provided a better example
of this scenario.

Kneipp and Jonathon Power warm up for their semi final

(photo© 2002 Dan Kneipp)

The tournament ran from the 10th
– 14th. If possible I was needed to be in Germany on the 15th for
a Bundesliga match. It would be nearly impossible to play the final in Toronto
on the evening of the 14th, and with Europe being six hours ahead, make
it to Stuttgart in time for the match. So if I book my return flight from
Toronto on the evening of the 13th (meaning I could make the quarter finals,
but not the semis) is that a defeatist attitude that means I’m not
being positive enough about making the final? No it’s about minimalising
money risks.

thinking too far ahead in a tournament is an easy way to cause an early
downfall. At YMG for me to need a ticket after the 13th I would need to
cause an upset against Lee Beachill and John White. Big enough hurdles
to start with. So the best thing to do is make a realistic booking based
on previous performances, and ensure the ticket is changeable. Each extra
round that you progress means more money so you can pay for the ticket
changes or a whole new fare if necessary.

But the YMG scenario involving
Bundesliga became very messy. Once I beat White in the quarter finals
on the evening of the 12th I couldn’t make my flight on the 13th
at 7:30pm as my match against Power was at 6:00pm. The important times
and dates that I needed to try to juggle were:

6:00pm 13th Nov Semi final
7:00pm 14th Nov Final match
7:30pm 14th Air France flight departs
7:00pm 15th Bundesliga match begins in Germany

If I lost my semi final match
I would be able to take the Air France flight on the 14th and get to Germany
in time. But the challenge was seeing if I could make the final, and still
get to Germany in time. Danny ended up tracking down an Air Canada flight
that left at midnight on the 14th (leaving time after the final to get
to the airport) and got to Frankfurt via London at 4:30pm. He had already
spoken at length to my German manager and gone over the different possibilities
of what could happen. French player Gregory Gaultier is the back-up player
on my team so they need as much notice as possible to call him in if I
can’t play. But the added cost of the Air France last minute ticket
meant that over the long run I could be financially worse off by having
a great tournament, or would let my Bundesliga team down (with a good
excuse). When you’re trying to rest and prepare for a semi final
match against Jonathon Power these scenarios aren’t what you want
to be filling your day up with. Luckily Danny’s Team Kneipp role
isn’t just coach, but manager as well so I rested while he bustled
back and forth between travel agents trying to come up with a solution.

Unfortunately the scenario
what academic as I didn’t make the final. I’m looking forward
to the day squash has the same money as golf and the top 20 players all
have their own private jets. It would have saved us a lot of hassles.

gun toting commandos like this one in Toronto are becoming a very
common sight at airports around the world. It’s supposed to
be reassuring and for our safety. But for people who travel for
a living it’s a constant reminder of the worst-case scenario
as you prepare to fly.
(photo© 2002 Dan Kneipp)


SquashTalk Forum

if you would like to discuss our columns or introduce questions
or comments, please email us at
We will post the good comments and question here on our SquashTalk
column together with our responses. We hope to get a good dialogue
All materials © 1999-2003. Communicate with us at
by Squashtalk LLC, 95 Martha’s Point Rd. Concord MA 01742 USA, Editor and Publisher
Ron Beck,
Graphics editor Debra Tessier
comments, ideas, contributions and feedback to the webmaster.

Global Gallery Articles Copyright © 1999-2003 by Martin Bronstein
SquashTalk, all rights reserved, may not be reproduced in any form except for
one-time personal use.