Courtesy of Frank Yin – Rubber: Nittaku Fastarc C-1 | Blade: Nittaku Violin | Ball: Nittaku 3-Star Premium 40+
Many people have heard of the quote “quality of quantity”; Whether it’s in life or table tennis, this is essential for success. So the question is: How can you increase the quality of your game? Recently I learned a simple solution, to have a positive mindset.
First, let’s talk about a negative mindset. Typically, we tend to be negative when we encounter problems. However, using this mindset comes with several consequences. When you reflect on your performance by telling yourself how bad you are, that is negative reinforcement. According to the APA, negative reinforcement is “the removal, prevention, or postponement of an aversive stimulus as a consequence of a response, which, in turn, increases the probability of that response” (APA). In other words, by responding negatively, you are increasing your probability of failing. Picture this, you are playing in the final of your event, and it is 9-9 in the 5th game. You miss your backhand and tell yourself that you can’t backhand. You just decreased your chances of winning by increasing your probability of missing your backhand. In this case, you have likely lost, but with a positive mindset, things may be different.
With a positive mindset, you can reinforce your good shots. Which helps you remember and repeat them. In turn, you will increase your probability of winning. So next time you miss your backhand, stop and think about the solution. Then, picture yourself successfully executing your backhand. Congrats, you have just increased your chances of winning!
But being positive is not as easy to do as it seems. You can not change your mindset in the blink of an eye because it requires practice. There are many ways people can practice positivity. For instance, you could write about good aspects of your game or say “CHO” after a spectacular point. Using positive reinforcement builds your confidence and helps you both long and short term.
I have encountered the same problem with negativity. A few months ago, I had attached myself to a poor self-image. Moreover, I convinced myself that I was a bad player, so I lost confidence in my game. But my coach helped by teaching me the benefits of positive reinforcement. He told me that focusing on the solution is more important than the problem. In the past two months, I have adjusted my mindset by writing about good aspects of my game and how I can do better. I feel more confident in my shots and have seen the effects on my performance. All in all, finding your way of positivity can help you significantly.
Note that positivity does not guarantee a win, but it increases the probability of it happening. Not only does positive reinforcement help your match play, but it can also improve your training. It increases your efficiency, making you improve faster. Most importantly, you are improving without even touching your paddle!
Works Cited“APA Dictionary of Psychology.” American Psychological Association, American Psychological Association, dictionary.apa.org/negative-reinforcement.