One thing which always is an enigma and often gets me thinking is " Why some players are able to make winning a habit" . Follow-up to this question is " What differentiates those players from player who always manage to loose with the winning player "?
In my quest to answer both these questions I have done lots of experiments on self and other players whom I have coached during an equally skilled opponent . One simple thing which has come out of those experiments is "My Mind State OR the players (whom I am coaching) makes the difference between winning , loosing or a satisfying match "
Yes , the end of table tennis match has 3 states for me
1. Winning the match
2. Loosing the match
3. Satisfying match .
In my early days as a player , I was always worried about winning or loosing , and trust me I could not put my 100% in a match against a tough(better/equal) opponent because I was not willing to live with the hurt of loosing the match . So what is my mind's solace in such a match " I will not play my 100% with this opponent , and my secret excuse for loosing will be that I just did not play well enough (or did not have enough skills ) ". At first this was an OK ! excuse , because I was learning the game of table tennis . Once I became technically equal to the top players with long practice hours , I still kept loosing to those players, because when I stand in front of an opponent , before the match starts , I win or loose in my mind .
I have read and heard from lots of people that I should have a positive outlook when I enter into the match , but how to have the positive attitude , when you know that you have very little chance against a specific opponent. This is where you Mind needs to take over , you need to make your mind believe that you can win with this opponent who has beaten you multiple times in the past. Easier said than done . The person receiving this advice may be thinking " Wow , I never knew this!!" But my dear Adviser This is where your work starts
How do you make your mind believe that It is capable of beating this opponent with whom you have never won ? One good start to answer this question is " Look at the ball , not the opponent " This simple advice works in initial phases of the match , when your superior opponent is not considering you a worthy enough threat to his winning possibilities , but as soon as you get to 9-9 in first game , your opponent senses the danger and just shifts the gear and beats you again .
Well ! the answer to the questions are not simple , especially they can not be found during a close match against a superior OR equal opponent (when he/she starts playing better) . The answers are in a systematic Mind Preparation.
It is very important to train your mind along with your physical skills of the game . How do you go about doing it ? What are the steps to training your mind along with your technical game preparation? These are some of the questions which I have been able to solve with lots of mind skills reading . Books like Mind Gym , How Champions Think , etc.... give your a lots of inputs on how to prepare your mind . Still it is very important to define your own mind workout , I have figured many ways , which work for me to tune my mind , but trust me , this has to be a personalized workout , you may not be able to copy paste somebody else's workout and use it to go beyond certain levels .
At end I can just say , it is very important to define your mental workout with somebody who understands clearly how a mental workout is designed and at what times this needs to be tweaked. May be in another blog post I will get into details about planning your mental workout .