Attitude AdjustmentSomewhere along the way in the last three months I managed to lose my enthusiasm for competition. I'm not sure exactly when it started, but things came to a head in Round 3 of our local Grand Prix competition, where two of our local top players had an altercation filled with fairly intense bad feeling and which required the intervention of other players to keep things from getting physical. It affected my mental state on the night, and since then, I've found myself in the strange situation of playing some excellent table tennis, but with virtually no desire to compete in any of my local tournaments, or do any serious training.
I can't say exactly why I've been affected this way, it isn't as if I was involved in the conflict at all (I was sitting in an umpire's chair on another court at the time), but nonetheless my competition mojo has disappeared.
Since then I've played a couple more competitions that I had already committed to play in, but skipped the other local tournaments through sheer disinterest. I've done some training but not with an eye on local competition.
I've even got the 2012 Australian Open coming up in early July, but as I booked my accommodation and airfares yesterday I realized that I wasn't excited about my trip at all. If it wasn't for my team mates I think I would just cancel the whole thing and spend the money on something else.
I'm not really sure what to do at this point, I've actually played very well in my two recent tournaments, winning one and coming runner-up in the other, so I find myself in the strange situation of playing great but not enjoying my competitions. The only saving grace is that I actually enjoy playing each match and performing well, but the rest of the competition does nothing for me.
I guess I'll continue to avoid local tournaments until I can look forward to them again, and just stick to getting in some practice at my local club.
Physical TrainingI've been steady in my physical training without doing anything extra. So I haven't gone backwards, but haven't really gone forwards either. I let my weight training slide during March and April, but got going again in May, which is good. I've been doing some aerobic work 3-4 times a week, but nothing particularly intense. So overall, my conditioning is still pretty good (for me), but with plenty of room for improvement if I wanted to do the work.
CompetitionAs I mentioned above, I've had a pretty good run since my last blog update. A couple of wins in competition, and a runner-up or two, with no really bad performances.
Funnily enough, my lack of interest might have actually helped my game, since I'm pretty relaxed the whole way through my matches. I'm more focused on my execution and tactics during each point, and much less concerned with whether I'm winning or losing. This has allowed me to play my matches with a lot less pressure, and this shift has increased my aggressiveness, since I'm more concerned with doing the right thing (controlled aggressive combination bat play) than the safe thing (worrying about making a mistake and playing not to lose).
ConclusionI'm not sure what to conclude at this point. I like going to my club to practice and socialize a bit with my fellow players, and I like the way I am playing in actual matches, and even enjoy the match while I'm playing it. But during recent tournaments I find myself thinking that I'd rather be at home or doing something else, even though I'm playing great and winning my share of matches. Maybe it's just a bit of competition burnout? Perhaps watching an intense conflict in the place I want to go and relax has just thrown me off a bit?
At any rate, I'll keep practicing for fun, but I think I might step back from the local competition scene for a while. I'm still looking forward to the Australian Veterans in October, so that's an encouraging sign.