Fight or Flight
The fight or flight instinct is still a powerful force in the modern homo sapien and chooks alike. It is part of the most basic animal instinct, the survival instinct. But having studied and contemplated this subject for some time now, I am still none the wiser how this affects the performance of the committed squash player.This was highlighted recently in a match I witnessed between two aged squash warriors. The question presently sitting in the forefront of my mind is this.
Do these instincts mean, that when placed in a life or death situation, do we use our wits and cunning to fight and/or escape our peril, or do we use all the physical capabilities at our disposal to survive - literally survival of the fittest?.
These two sportsmen are both gentle souls, polite, generous, in short, gentlemen. Why then would they be battling each other in a fight to the proverbial death on a Squash court?.The Animal Within
In my experience, civility and manners provide a relatively thin veneer on the surface of "civilisation". The average chook would only take a few scratches to expose the animal within.
This can be seen every day in news brodcasts, and in every day life in wars, careers, politics and dare I say it, religion.Squash is one of those things which scratches the surface and allows us to peek into ourselves to see the animal within.I saw two competitors, each wanting to survive, throwing themselves headlong into a physical confrontation, each man, on the wrong side of fifty, still very fit, running for all they were worth. It did not matter to anyone but the two players, who won this contest.
It was their very own struggle for survival.But did it have to be like that? Did they have to run so hard they did not have time to think? Operating purely on adrenaline, were they oblivious to all but the most rudimentary of tactics?.It seems so. If they were chooks, they would have been headless!!.Brain or Brawn
From the gallery, it seemed a drop shot here, a change of pace there, would have made a great difference to this rampant running, this mad movement. Was it that they were both in such a fearful and desparate state, that there only thought was of survival?.
My meditation has made me realise that it takes great courage to use your brains, to stay calm and use cunning in place of clout. It also takes practice. A great deal of practice. To achieve this, these thoughts should be in the forefront of your mind whenever playing practice games, doing drills or practicing patterns.The thought process required to be able to make brave decisions about tactics when under great pressure only come to very few naturally.
For the rest of us, it is a skill honed over time. It may well be, that instinct is honed by the repeated exposure to the "edge".So while our instincts play an important part in this game, it does not mean we should not try to develop our primal urges with the use of our highly deveoped brain, as we do in other aspects of life.
The beauty of this beautiful game is that civilised people can play the game using some of our most primal instincts. The game ends, we shake hands. No one has been hurt and we are both the better for it. That is as beautiful as a chook and the importance of the original question is lost..
The Squash Courtier takes an off center but authorititive look at the world of Squash in his articles at Squashgame.info. Whilst many of his articles delve into aspects of Squash technique he feels are important, his main thrust is the philosphical approach to sport and life in general and Squash in particular. You can enter a Forum on any of his articles at the Squashgame.info site.
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By: Squash Courtier