By ALAN THATCHER – Squash Mad Editor
When discussing mental health issues, those of us involved in squash for many decades will recall the tragic deaths of Scottish international Colin Keith in 1993 and former world junior champion Jade Wilson from New Zealand in 1998.
Both chose to commit suicide because of overwhelming emotional issues in their lives.
In the past year, at least two squash-playing students have also taken their own lives because of psychological stresses caused by the coronavirus lockdown.
Last year, women’s world No.4 Amanda Sobhy revealed that she had been suffering from mental health issues that resulted in a serious eating disorder.
Against this background, the Professional Squash Association (PSA) has signed a multi-year agreement with SquashMind which will see their mindset training app become the Official Psychological Training App of the PSA.
The PSA say: “Exercising and playing sport does not make athletes immune to mental health challenges. Research has found that up to 35% of elite athletes suffer from mental health crises which may manifest as stress, eating disorders, burnout, or depression and anxiety.
“The right player attitudes and mental game skills at all levels of the game are critical for achieving superior outcomes and being the best version of yourself.”
This scenario prompted former PSA World Tour professional, Jesse Engelbrecht, to create the SquashMind app to support squash players with strong daily habit formation for increased resilience.
The app helps players practice visualisation, mindfulness and mental stimulation in the form of exclusive lessons, video guides, blog posts and podcasts.
Featuring lessons grounded in proven theory and tailored to the squash environment, the app also includes tips from leading sports psychology experts and some of the PSA World Tour’s most decorated stars.
“We are pleased to announce SquashMind as the Official Psychological Training App of the PSA and look forward to collaborating with Jesse in the future,” said PSA Chief Commercial Officer Tommy Berden.
“Squash is one of the world’s toughest sports and Jesse has already worked closely with a number of our athletes to get their thoughts on the importance of mental training and what they do to prepare for the incredible battles we see regularly on the PSA World Tour.”
SquashMind will also play a key role in the PSA Foundation’s health and wellness programme which brings together players to tackle the wellbeing challenges on Tour.
The 11 athlete ambassadors involved publicly share their personal knowledge and experiences around mental health to create a community and climate of support within squash at every level of the sport.
Head of the PSA Foundation, Adriana Olaya, said: “Players on the PSA Tour are role models and inspire us both on and off the court. As the charitable arm of the PSA Tour, one of the aims of the PSA Foundation is to safeguard the wellbeing of competing players.
“This partnership with SquashMind will contribute valuable knowledge and support for the players and squash communities around the world.”
SquashMind Founder Jesse Engelbrecht said: “With SquashMind, our aim is to make squash players the best people on the planet.
“SquashMind is the ‘gym of the mind’ with huge on and off-court benefits, so we’re thrilled with the PSA partnership, which will amplify its availability and accessibility across the globe.
“Superior performance and being the best versions of ourselves starts with the mind, and SquashMind has been created from the ground-up to support this with strong daily habit formation for increased resilience.”
The PSA media release says: “This is the latest initiative by the PSA in its ambition to grow squash through collaborations with key existing partners within the sport’s ecosystem and bring in new parties to add value to both athletes and fans.”
How to get the SquashMind App.
The SquashMind app is available for download from the App Store and Google Play for Apple and Android devices, respectively.
Pictures courtesy of PSA