Comments from Forum MembersAGOODING2 wrote:
Nice article Greg.
One thing I'd add is something both Lanny Bassham's "With Winning in Mind" and the earlier book by W. Timothy Gallwey "The Inner Game of Tennis" discuss which is the importance of being process-oriented rather than outcome or results-oriented.
Being process-oriented is focusing on each ball (or shot) as an end in itself, while being results-oriented is thinking about the outcome of a stroke (or shot). Bassham discusses how he has to close his mind off to both the possibility that he might shoot a perfect score and to the fact that he missed a shot earlier.
I've seen players talk themselves out of matches by saying (audibly) "if I make this shot, I'll win and gain X rating points," or "if I miss this shot I'll lose this match and lose X rating points, or not win a trophy/prize $/bragging rights."
So I think the process versus outcome/results-oriented thinking is incredibly important. Maybe that can be an addendum to the article or the basis of a future article about mindset/psychology during a match.
I enjoyed your article. One thing I would add is that like any other skill, mental skills require practice. You didn't learn to loop successfully in a week, so you probably won't develop sound mental skills in week. Imagery, pre-performance routines, positive self-talk, etc. all take practice to learn, and sport psychology interventions are rarely a quick fix. My training as a sport psychologist has taught me that it takes a fair amount of time and commitment for these skills to take effect - probably one reason that, as you suggest, 90% of the players don't practice them.
The other point I wanted to make is that I think table tennis presents some unique mental challenges not present in other sports. The vast array of rubbers and equipment ("I hate playing against long pips!), the subtlety of reading spin ("I can't read the spin on that serve"), and the focus on ratings ("If I lose to this guy, my rating will drop below 1700") seem unique to table tennis, and learning to cope with them is required to progress in the sport.
I am only recently back playing again after a long hiatus, and I enjoy this forum and your articles. Keep up the good work!