By Samson Dubina
The ITTF Advanced Training Manual lists 12 elements to mental success in table tennis. Quiz yourself to see how well you are doing on each aspect. Take 2-3 minutes to ponder each point. Ask yourself how well you are doing on each point during important tournament matches. If you aren’t doing well, ask yourself how to improve that aspect.
1. Physical relaxation – muscular tension is closely connected to miserable performance. On the other hand, feelings of relaxation are associated with top performances.
2. Inner calmness – the feeling of cam often goes hand in hand with the impression of time slowing down, with the impression that everything happens a bit slower. There is a close connection between calmness and concentration. The feeling of precipitancy always leads to concentration problems.
3. Absence of anxiety – the more an athlete perceives tension during execution, the higher the risk of a bad performance; the feeling of anxiety reduces performance to an extent that depends on the degree of the feeling.
4. Vitality – this feeling is associated to pleasure, challenge, determination, power, and intensity.
5. Optimism – the importance of being positive and optimistic towards the performance to achieve can be felt throughout all the processes.
6. Pleasure – the fact of feeling pleasure in the middle of the action seems to be essential to stay calm and relaxed, to control anxiety and to produce positive energy.
7. Absence of efforts – when the mind and the body work together harmoniously, execution doesn’t seem to require any effort… everything seems to be easier.
8. Automatism – the mode of action seems to be spontaneous, the player seems to be playing instinctively.
9. Vigilance – increased awareness of the performance, anticipation and intelligent reaction faculties linked to this consciousness seem to have multiplied.
10. Concentration – in the present moment, without paying attention to the past or the future; concentration focuses on the relevant aspects and leaves all unnecessary information aside.
11. Self Confidence – strong belief in yourself and your methods to achieve a good performance which positively transforms the situations that you would normally find threatening to challenges in which the athlete stays calm and confident.
12. Control – of the situation: a feeling of control coming from the inside, often defined as the combination between an inner strength and great self control.
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