Courtesy of Coach Samson Dubina
When Olympic athletes perform their best, they play smoothly, moving into position hitting strong shots without overthinking about the technical details of their strokes. There are two main things that they do really well.
#1 They establish strong basic techniques and get thousands of hours of repetitions.
#2 They trust their skills and allow their bodies to work automatically.
So what about you?
Do you have really good foundational strokes? If not, get a coach and work on your technique for the next two to four years. If you do have good foundational technique, then learn to trust it. For the rest of this article, we are going to assume that you have really good basic technique.
The feedback that you give yourself during tournaments, will or will not allow you to play out of your mind. When you encourage yourself, you get more toward this stage. When you problem solve well, and trust your skills, you can get to this stage. When you negatively critique your technique, you learn to doubt your skills, you over think your strokes and cannot get to this stage. Playing at a high level, starts with thinking at a high level. If you are going to perform your best at the next tournament, you need to relax, affirm yourself, and trust the skills you currently have.
After the tournament, if you need to make technique changes talk to a professional coach, make the changes and 60-90 days later get back into tournament play.
Each tournament may have a different focus. However, most players want to win at tournaments. If you are going to perform your best, you need to do everything possible to play with confidence, play with trust, and play out of your mind.
Paddle Palace Pro Tip: In tournaments focus on execution and not outcome. The results will take care of themselves. Focus on the ball and target!