Mind Skills for Winning Matches

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

Good Advice and I have done my job

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 .

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