Table Tennis mindset, I believe is often the least respected part of the game. Most coaches and people focus on fitness, nutrition, footwork and technical abilities. They often avoid or forget to tackle the most powerful tool any human being has (their brain – the way they think. Players are blamed for lack of fitness or technical malfunctions etc. When in fact most players have enough tools in their repertoire to win most matches at their respective level! But lack the mental capacity to overcome fear, tactical issues etc.
Your mindset sets you apart from others
So… What differentiates players when they are both of a similar standard? Without a shadow of a doubt, it’s the ‘MINDSET’. I had the privilege of coaching two players over the weekend, both top 5 England at the ‘JUNIOR BRITISH LEAGUE’ premier division.
Coaching both players against other top ten players ‘similar standard’ it was clear to see the difference was not the ability but mentality.
One of my players was 2-0 down to a player ranked slightly below. At 2-0 my player said, “I’m playing crap” my reply “no you’re not your body language is wrong, your mindset is wrong and your attitude is wrong”. You need to change your mentality from negative to positive. I gave him a few tips and advice about how to enter into a positive table tennis mindset. This is, of course, easier said than done but we all possess the power to switch our mindset and internal emotions. The young England no.6 found a way to tap into a positive mindset and all of a sudden the whole match changed. The end score was 3-2 in favour of my player.
The young man came off the table smiling and happy, I said, “you see, you are not playing badly (or “crap” in his words) but in fact your mindset was wrong”
You’re in control of changing your emotions
My player went from complaining about everything imaginable including: ” it’s a bad bounce, my backhand is not working, my opponent is lucky etc.”. To a player who could do no wrong and in fact all the complaints switched over to the opposing player.
We all focus on improving our footwork, our serve, backhand and forehands but we forget to train our minds.
How can you train your mind?
3 key points that can help:
1. Look at your behaviour and analyse your thoughts. This can be done by recording yourself and having a diary recording your: before, during and afterthoughts in a match/competition situation. This will help you learn more about yourself, body language and what your thought process is like at tournaments.
Once you have studied your holistic character (alongside your coach) you will have the ability and knowledge of how to make necessary changes in certain situations. So the key here is study yourself and then make the changes and amendments need to improve your overall persona.
2. Having a trigger! What is a trigger? A trigger is an individual physical movement that you can personalise which puts you into a positive mind frame. This can include: wiping your hand on the table, a certain word/words, clenching a fist etc. In order for you to tap into this positive mindset you need to be in a negative situation and once you have done a trigger motion, it puts you into an instant ‘memorised’ feel good factor. For example, when you won a tournament, beat a good player or any feel ‘good moment that you have felt in the past and want to reproduce.’
Tapping into a positive mind frame gives you an instant feel-good factor and can aid in changing a match from a losing situation to a winning situation.
3. Why do we play? Because we love our sport so why do we torture ourselves when we are losing or even winning and someone is coming back?
Love Table Tennis
We must remember we play because we love playing (yes winning is nice and no one likes to lose) but ultimately if we play with a mindset of “I play because I love table tennis” surely that will increase your chances of gaining better results.
Smile and enjoy the sport you love.