Coach Samson Dubina US National Team Coach 4x USATT Coach of the Year

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Between Points

Learn about the most under-developed part of table tennis

The average match in table tennis takes about 20 minutes.  Out of the 20 min, about 5 min total is spent on rallies.  The other 15 minutes is spent picking up the ball, preparing for the serve, taking towel breaks, taking timeouts, and getting coaching advice.  So, here is the question that I would like for you to consider…
If only 25% of the match time is spend playing points, then why do we spend 99.9% of our effort on that portion of the game and we spend about 0.1% of our effort on the dead time???
We must remember that the time between points, the time picking up balls, and the towel-off breaks have a huge impact on what happens DURING the point.  Lately, I have been doing much thinking about what goes on inside tt player’s heads during a tournament.  Wrong thoughts lead to wrong playing. 
Here are some wrong thoughts….
Prior to the match
If I lose this match, I’ll lose 13 points.  If I win this match, I’ll gain 6 points.  I better not lose or I’ll drop below 1800.
Beginning of the match
I hate playing against long pips.  Those pips should be outlawed.  I bet his pips are illegal.
After developing a great lead in the first game.
Wow, this match is much easier than I thought.  Maybe I should start practicing some of those backhand serves for the next opponent.  Let’s experiment a little.
After losing the first game.
This is just not my day.  Bob (playing on the next table) is too loud.  I hate playing next to his table.  Why isn’t the food here yet I’m getting hungry?  My cousin said that he would be here, he should be clapping for me.  It’s just not my day.  I shouldn’t have come to this tournament.
Here are some right thoughts
Prior to the match
Ok, I have analyzed my opponent’s game and I know his strengths and weaknesses.  I’m going to focus on attacking these 2 weak point.  I must remember to adjust as the match progresses.
Beginning of the match
Ok, now I must remember my strategy and keep my eyes in the court.  I must remember to keep my focus.
After developing a great lead in the first game
Yes, my strategy is working.  I need to continue using my strategy what is working and I need to be aware of my mistakes so that I can adjust.
After losing the first game
Ok, now I have a very good feel of what is working and what isn’t working.  I’m now ready to re-adjust my strategy and start well in the second game.  If I start off losing, I’ll call timeout early.  I must remember to take my time between points so that I can think clearly.