As a teenager my table tennis confidence was huge. I believed I could beat anyone and if you beat me I would shake your hand and say “I’ll beat you next time”.
One thing can change everything:
I lost my confidence aged 18 after my coach in France told me I would never achieve my dream of becoming a world champion. My game and self-belief were zapped out of me and for a year I tried to find that spirit and inner table tennis confidence I possessed as a teenager. I had had occasional good results which would re-spark my confidence but it wouldn’t last long. At 19 I put my bat down and felt that would be it for me as a table tennis player.
I was coaching table tennis but I opted out of physical play and rarely held a bat in my hand unless absolutely necessary. Luckily for me staying inside the sport as a coach saw me come back when I was 20 years old. I thought my past coaches words would have left me and I could move on. Yet I found myself constantly up and down in terms of table tennis confidence (Match Play). I was asked to play in the German league I was honoured and thought it may help my confidence but instead, it killed it. I decided to stop playing competitively and only play in my local club and leagues. My main focus in table tennis changed from a player into a coaching career driven towards helping and aiding players who wanted to upscale their games.
Power of words:
At 27 a special man entered into my life Sule Oleleyo former no.1 Nigerian player and 5x African champion. He worked with me at Harefield Academy for 1 year and changed my belief. He literally said the opposite of what my coach said! Sule said you’re so talented you must play. You can’t be a player forever but you can be a coach for life. He went on to say “enjoy playing each time you play, not everyone is privileged to compete at high national or international level”. Those simple words I would say to myself when I came back into competition “enjoy the moment you may never have it again!”
Due to confidence
My level of play skyrocketed beating 6 players inside the top 15 and playing at the highest division in British League. I created a team that went on to win the Senior British League and I was apart of that team.
At 30 I was unlucky with health issues and it was effectively my last stint of Peak Performance.
7 years on I was asked to play in the Belgium League and after performing well, my table tennis confidence in match play shot right back up. I trained with a friend this week and a few weeks ago this player pushed me close in some games and even took some games and a match of me. Today I won every game giving my opponent no more than 5 points per game, I felt like I teenager again!
You’re in charge of Confidence
Three things are required for you to play confidently:
Surround yourself with people who support you and believe in your ability.
Words are powerful but you choose which ones may or may not impact your life. I chose the wrong words initially but eventually, I listened to the right ones. Listen to the ones that make you a better person.
Enjoy, when you play not to lose or only to win, you implement fear and anxiety which does not allow you to perform at peak level. Enjoying the occasion, whether you perform or not every occasion is special as long as you put in 100% effort, the reward will be the experience.
Confidence is your choice don’t let others dictate your capabilities.
*Regardless of your level, you will require good equipment to execute skilled strokes and shots, eBaTT Recommends
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