Squash Mad

Dipika: Mind coach Ken is making me a new person

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By LEE HORTON

India‘s Dipika Pallikal upstaged former World No.1 Rachael Grinham of Australia to win the Macau Open Sunday, the seventh (WSA) title of her career, then heaped praise on sports psychologist Ken Way (above) for giving her the belief to win.

The 22-year-old, who reached the final defeating Rachael’s younger sister Natalie, a former World No.2 currently ranked eight, capped a memorable week with a 12-10, 5-11, 11-7, 11-9 victory in the final.

Dipika, the first Indian to break into the top-10, said afterwards: “It is time I beat the top-10 players regularly. One of the reasons I have started beating them is Ken Way,” she said of the sports psychologist, who has also worked with Dipika’s coach and five-time World Open winner Sarah Fitz-Gerald.

“Ken is an incredible guy. He trained Sarah and now he’s working with me. There were a lot of stuff we have to erase or go back in time to remove it. It’s about making me a new person on court and it’s slowly helping. He’s an absolute phenomenal guy and I’m so happy that I have him on my team,” she said.

“Ken has helped me a lot. Earlier it was frustrating to come close to beating the higher-ranked players. With his help, and Sarah of course, I am playing the mental side of the game better,” said Dipika.

“It seems all the summer training is paying off now. I trained really hard on and off the court. Beating Natalie in the semifinals gave me a lot of confidence. She is the most experienced player on the circuit,” World No.17 Dipika told www.squashmad.com

She now heads to Shanghai for the China Open next week.

 

 10 tips for winning leadership from Ken Way

Business and sports psychology are about performing at your best, and the underlying psychological factors required for optimum performance in both areas are similar. Here are 10 tips on how to become a winning leader.

1. Golden touch. Are you excited by the challenges you face? Does your adrenaline flow at the thought of yet more problems coming your way? One key difference between Olympic medallists and those who don’t make the podium is their attitude towards the less pleasant aspects of training. Gold-medal winners talk of “loving the pain” and “enjoying the challenge” while also-rans often consider any tough test a battle. Are you a gold-medal leader? If not, don’t worry. Learn to change your attitude by recognising how you should behave towards external events.

2. In the zone? Great sports performers understand what it means to operate from within “the zone”. What are the characteristics that differentiate you working at your best from times when performance is average? Try to understand and adjust the controllable elements needed for optimum performance.

3. A question of trust. Your level of trust in other people is almost certainly reciprocated. That’s fine, if you trust them—but what if you don’t? Without trust, it will be difficult to lead. Trust is the cornerstone of building a great team. Work together to find common ground but recognise that it won’t happen overnight.

4. Don’t fear failure. No doubt you usually phrase ambitions in positive language—but this may not be as motivational as you think. Motivation can be assessed by fear of failure and the need for achievement. Many talented people are held back because they’re worried about failing, but coaching techniques can be used to manage anxiety.

5. Praise the effort not the person. You will inspire your team members much more if you praise their effort and energy in completing a task rather than an individual’s natural talent.

6. Turn up the optimism. Talent is not the sole ingredient that will take a person to the top-attitude and resilience are vital, too. Ensure that you develop optimism among those you lead. They will then respond positively to failure and become more determined.

7. Even leaders get scared. Everyone is anxious at some time—for example, at an interview, making a difficult presentation, taking an exam, or making a tricky phone call. Interrupt this pattern as often and as early as you can by focusing on breathing deeply, slowly and evenly, staying calm and focusing your eyes in a way that allows you to become more aware of peripheral vision. It’s impossible for stress to kick in when your eyes are “defocused” in this way.

8. Use your senses. Setting out a vision for your company, department or team should be done using a sensory-rich description of what employees will experience. Detailing the things they will see, hear and feel will make your vision come alive. It’s a technique that will allow them to fully appreciate your ideas.

9. Have a clear vision. Ensure you have a measure of the confidence in your team or an individual before embarking on ideas that may stretch them.

10. Describe the road ahead. Focusing solely on the goal can be like eating fast-food meals—they never really sustain. In setting out your vision, take care to signpost the journey, including how obstacles will be met and how they will be overcome.

Ken Way is author of Mental Mastery: Tried and tested techniques for exceptional sports performance

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Posted on October 22, 2013

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About The Author

Lee Horton

Former Sun, Mirror, People and Sunday Express sports executive. Knows a bit about newspapers and the art of talking a good game. Brighter than some but a way to go to match others.

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