The Trinity College Women’s squash team is ranked number 3 in the nation and is home to some to the top players from around the world.
by Global Good News staff writer
27 September 2010
Wendy Bartlett, Head Coach of the Trinity College Women’s Squash Team in Hartford, Connecticut, USA, wanted the team’s workouts to be a time when the players could be relaxed. ‘It should be a stress-freer not a stress-maker,’ she said.
With the same goals in mind, Assistant Coach, Dr Randy Lee, was doing a lot of focusing and stress reduction work with the team. Then it occurred to him that Maharishi’s Transcendental Meditation Technique, based on the research he had seen, ‘might be a perfect mesh with the kind of work that I [Dr Lee] was doing.’
Despite the fact that the team was ‘an incredibly international group,’ representing ten different countries—including Zimbabwe, Sri Lanka, Germany, and Canada—with each team member bringing her own culture, attitude, beliefs, religion and way of learning, Lee introduced the whole team to the Transcendental Meditation Programme. He feels elated about the results. ‘I mean number 3 in the nation!', he exclaimed, thrilled with the team’s outstanding ranking.
Calmness, greater energy, and getting into the ‘zone’
Coach Bartlett elaborated on the benefits the team enjoyed in the 2009 season with the incorporation of the the Transcendental Meditation Programme. ‘We’re certainly a calmer team, a more focused team this year than we’ve been in the past . . . We’ve had just as many challenges this year as we’ve had any other year, but we’ve been able to handle them a lot better.’
Nour Bahgat, a student from Egypt, was the number 1 US collegiate player in 2009. Before learning the Transcendental Meditation Technique, she felt distracted by external factors that prevented her from completely focusing on her game. But meditation changed that. ‘It [the Transcendental Meditation Technique] was really a good fortune that really helped me more to get into the zone,’ Nour explained. ‘Being in the zone is very important for an athlete because that’s the point [where] you can perform at your best level. So that was a great thing to learn.’
Robyn Hodgson, a team member from Scotland, emphasized the value of calmness that the Transcendental Meditation Technique has brought her. ‘Sometimes, if you’re so hyped up, you’ll go out and you won’t play well because you’re just so anxious to win whereas,’ Robyn explained, ‘if you use TM and you stay calm, you think more about what you’re doing rather than just running on trying to hit the ball as hard as you can—run anywhere. That doesn’t help at all.’ She again emphasized, ‘If you’re calm, you can think about what you’re doing.’
Robyn also expressed that she was surprised at how easy the Transcendental Meditation Technique was to learn. ‘When I went to learn,’ she commented, ‘I thought it would be hard and involve your brain a lot. But it’s not [hard]. Everything just comes, it just flows.’
Mexican, Alicia Rodriguez, expressed how difficult it is to be in another country with a different culture and different way of thinking. But she joined her multi-cultural teammates in learning the Transcendental Meditation Programme and enjoyed with them the benefits of the universal technique and how it helped her game. ‘Whenever I meditate before the match,’ Alicia said, ‘I felt more relaxed. My body was so relaxed. My mind was so calm. I was thinking of nothing…You know how to play so maybe if your mind is just very calm, your body will respond automatically…’
American teammate, Emory Holton, echoed Alicia’s feelings expressing that much of the game of squash is mental and requires keeping your cool. She pointed out that, in just a second, five points can be lost to your opponent and emphasized the need to mentally regroup in such a situation in order to come back to win. Commenting on the benefit of the Transcendental Meditation Technique when under pressure like that, she said, ‘I would definitely recommend TM for athletes. It’s really a centered place you can go when you’re competing and you’re under a lot of pressure.’
Andrea Echeverria, from El Salvador, feels more energized when she meditates before a workout while another student from Sri Lanka, has noticed the opposite benefit of increased calmness appreciating that the anger she used to feel on court has gone away since beginning the Transcendental Meditation Programme.
Team members grow in ‘self-efficacy’
In his other role as Associate Professor of Psychology at Trinity, Assistant Coach Lee inspired one of his students to study the effect of the Transcendental Meditation Technique on self-efficacy. Senior Emily Lindon explained that self-efficacy ‘is one’s belief in their ability to accomplish a certain task’ and that ‘research has shown that if they think higher of their ability, they tend to perform at a higher level.’
Lindon included the Trinity Women’s Squash Team as one of the groups in her study and found that a significant increase in self-efficacy occurred between pre- and post-test scores. She happily noted the practical manifestation saying, ‘They’re ranked number 3 in the nation, which is really incredible.’
Randy Lee feels, ‘The most important court is the six-inch court between their ears. And I think that’s true of most sports. There is that mental piece.’ He also reflected on his team’s success since learning the Transcendental Meditation Technique saying, ‘I think what’s happening here is [that a player] can now say, “Wait a minute, I can do this and I don’t need to worry about what the score is or what’s happening. I can make this happen.” And you’re seeing it happen,’ Lee said, referring to the team’s high national ranking.
Dr Lee concluded his remarks by considering the significance of the Transcendental Meditation Programme in sports. ‘We have a whole new technique to really begin to explore more to improve performance—to add TM for almost any sport. In fact, I can’t think of any sport I’d exclude. It seems to me it only brings positive outcomes.’
Note: This article is based on a video at youtube.
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