Paul Mathieson of Dover Squash and Fitness Talks Professional Squash

Paul Mathieson, head squash professional at Dover Squash and Fitness, appeared on “In The Zone” with Dr. Pam Brill.  In his appearance, Mathieson discusses what it takes to become a professional athlete, the experience of being “in the zone”, and the transition to coaching.

In his appearance, Mathieson describes watching, at age 14, some of the best athletes in the UK compete at Squash.  His father, watching beside him, said: “you’ll get to this level and you’ll surpass it.” Mathieson claims that at that moment, something clicked in him, and fueled him to maintain a prolonged focus and perform all the years of hard work necessary to succeed.   He describes his attending a squash school (the Wycliffe School and Squash Academy), and working several hours a day training, often up to 5 hours a day all through high school.  Mathieson described the holistic approach that he learned to take, looking not just at his technical skills but also at nutrition and the psychological aspects of the sport.  He discussed the importance of the support network around him, included his three coaches, (a technical coach, fitness coach, and psychologist) and his father.  Each of them working a different angle contributed to his overall success.   That success has been tangible; Mathieson participated in national championship wins both at Wycliffe and with the University of Birmingham, and was selected to play in the European and World Team Championships.   A world-ranked player, Mathieson has successfully competed on an international stage.

Mathieson discusses what it feels like to be “in the zone” athletically.  He describes a state of mind where one feels confident and entirely present in the moment, where actions seem effortless.  He describes it as being almost surreal, where one is almost outside himself, in a non-critical way, where things are happening and will happen if you let them.

In his appearance, Mathieson went on to describe some interesting challenges about moving on to coaching, and transitioning to the business aspects of coaching as opposed to purely playing.  He describes some initial challenges, and explains how a focus on the long-term goals removed some of the pain of what was happening presently.  Mathieson believes the approach is very similar to that his father had taken when Mathieson was still in high school, when at times the daily intensity and inconsistency caused him frustration or a desire to give up.  By realizing the daily struggles are all part of the long-term success plan, it helps one regain the focus to get through.

Finally, Mathieson described in some detail how visualization was always an important element to his success, both in playing and coaching.   Mathieson believes that by visualizing yourself in a competition, or in a particular coaching situation, visualization in as concrete a way as possible will help prepare one’s mind for it, and undoubtedly has an impact on the outcome.

For more information, or to hear Mathieson’s complete interview, please click here.

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