By Alfred Najem:
The difference between winning or losing in a match can often come down to just one or two points. How often have you shaken your opponents hand and thought to yourself “if only I had done this”. This article will help you better prepare for your matches and perhaps help change outcomes into your favor.
• Scout your opponent: Professional sport teams spend lots of money hiring professional talent to review players or teams in action. Athletes watch film before each game. Top table tennis players know their opponent, their strengths and vulnerabilities before they walk out on the court. If you truly want to do well in an important match, you will need to spend some time watching your opponent play. Take mental or written notes of their weaknesses and strengths. See if you can correctly read their serves. Scouting is one vital key for success. It is not done often enough!
• Get a Coach: The role of the coach is more than providing critical advice. A coach is there to help boost your confidence in a match. The coach is definitely someone you can lean on for mental support. Top players always use a coach. Why not you? Even if you are not regularly coached by someone, it is always good to find a player in your club or someone who knows you to provide advice and support. Having a coach watching your match may make the difference in wining or loosing.
• Ignore Distractions: Worried about the color of the towel hanging over the barrier? People talking? Balls flying into your court? These are all symptoms that you are not concentrating sufficiently enough to play at your optimum level. Ignore the distractions and focus in on your opponent and in playing each point. Zero in on the table, the point and nothing else.
• Videotape your matches. Watching yourself playing will help in discovering areas that you need to improve the most. It will give you an advantage later on. Find someone with a camera, use your own or whatever. It is worth the effort.
• Practice: Consistent pre-tournament practice not only helps you play better, it also helps in improving your confidence. There is no magic here. A good practice routine before a tournament will help you mentally by boosting your confidence.
• Respect your Opponent: Many matches in a tournament are lost because the better player does not respect his or her opponent. I call this over confidence; and it can have a huge negative effect on your results. It can actually ruin your whole tournament. Always respect your opponent, regardless of who you are playing. This philosophy will keep your concentration at high level.
• Physical Readiness: Table tennis is a physical sport at all levels. Pre tournament practice by itself is not enough. Practice should be consistent with some physical preparation. Interval running is recommended by a number of coaches throughout the world. Strengthening the shoulders, the legs, the abs, and the lower back is important too. Better physical readiness leads to a better mental readiness.
• Flexibility: Develop a stretching routine before you go to bed at night and stick with it. Not sure what stretches to conduct. Buy a yoga book; they all have terrific stretch routines you can adopt. Proper “static” and “active” stretches will ensure that blood circulates do muscles at night when you sleep so that you are loose and ready each day. On tournament day, make sure you do some extra “active” stretching before your match. Being physically flexible before you start your match is vital to getting off to a good start.
• Over thinking: As you get close to the tournament day, try not to think too much about how you will perform. These thoughts are often negative and lead to anxiety. In fact, do not imagine yourself playing in the tournament at all. It will make you worry and this can lead to poor sleeping which in turns can lead to fatigue. If you find yourself over thinking, try to occupy yourself with other things. Things that are not related to the game. Professional athletes are terrific at relaxing before major events, adopt their strategy as well.
Each of these factors can plan important role in tournament success. The degree of importance varies from one player to another. I will talk about that in more detail in upcoming articles.
Please feel free to comment on the article. Your comments are important.
Alfred Najem works for Bluehost Inc located in Provo Utah. He graduated from Emporia State University in Kansas with two masters, an MBA and a Master’s of Science. His table tennis resume includes – 2008 USA Single Collegiate National Champion and the 2010 Doubles Collegiate National Champion. He won Three times National Championship of Lebanon (2002, 2004, and 2005) and has represented Lebanon in ITTF World Championships in 2006 (German), 2005 (China).
Alfred is a sponsored player of TableTennisStore.US. He plays a two wing attack game with XIOM Omega IV Max Euro on the Forehand and Backhand.Sponsor Ad: TableTennisStore.US - 1000 XIOM, TSP, JOOLA, CHAMPION table tennis products!