Like any other sport, table tennis is usually won and lost on one square foot of real estate, your brain. Sometimes all the ability in the world can’t make up for a poor mental attitude or simply not concentrating hard enough. Hopefully, these tips will help improve the game that’s going on between your ears.
Be prepared for anything. It may sound clichéd, but it’s true. You never know what’s going to happen in a table tennis match. For example, you’re starting the next point, you put a nice topspin on your serve. Maybe you hit a loop back with lots of spin on the ball. The return back to you from your opponent is a little too high because of the incredible amount of topspin you put on the ball. You take a wicked smash at the ball believing the point is in the bag. Then, wham! The ball comes back at you and you’re not ready for it. Just like that, a point that you should have won is now lost. Why? You weren’t ready for anything.
One thing you can never do in the game of table tennis or in any game for that matter is to assume. Miracle shots happen. Opponents hit shots back at you that you never expect them to get to. So no matter how easy the win looks, always be prepared for your opponent to hit your best shot back at you.
Another thing you must adopt is a “next point” attitude. Many players spend too much time worrying about what has happened 3 points before. If you develop this attitude of always looking at the next point you will become a better player much faster. You can’t dwell on the bad luck or missed shots that you’ve had. As the saying goes, “stuff happens”. Get over it. Focus on the next shot. You can’t change whatever mistake you made anyway so why dwell on it? Sure, if you know what you did wrong, remember it and correct it the next time the situation comes up. Say you had an easy kill shot but you ended up rushing it and missed the table. Remember that for the next time and remind yourself to slow down when confronted with an easy shot that should be a point winner.
One great way to keep unimportant things out of your brain is to concentrate on the fundamentals. If you’re an advanced player this may sound silly but it works. Concentrate on what you’re going to do from the start to the end of each point, from your serve to each return. Remember your arsenal of shots that you’ve trained yourself to do. Tell yourself as you’re playing what shot you are going to do and then execute it. Yes, table tennis is a quick game and this requires split second decisions. But the more you do this, the better you will get at it until ultimately you will be so focused on your game that it will become instinctive.
Bottom line. Keep your mind on not only the game and not only on each point, but on each shot. Make sure the shot you take is the one you wanted to take.
This is what separates the good players from the great players.
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