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

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The Common Theme

Learn to Maximize Your Tournament Performance!

I hope to see you at the US Nationals this July!  When playing many different players in many events, there is a decent chance that you will have a "bad loss"   Instead of blaming it on “bad luck”, I want you to stop for a moment and consider some possibilities.  Are "bad losses" preventable??????  Many of them are preventable, and you need to be aware of the common mistakes...
Before arriving in Las Vegas, I want you to think back to your previous bad losses in other tournaments.  Was there a common theme?  Think about it...
Not Warmed-Up
When the upsets happen, is it usually the first or second match of the day?  If so, it might be due to a lack of warm-up or lack of adjusting to the playing conditions.  Consider arriving one day prior and playing in the facility for a few hours.  Also, get a practice partner lined up and know what routine you need prior to your first match.
Too Fatigued
When the upset happens, it is usually at the end of a long day?  If so, it might be due to fatigue.  If this is the case, then obviously you need to work on your fitness.  Also, make sure that you are eating and drinking a sufficient amount during the day.
Different Playing Style
When the upset happens, is it usually against a particular playing style – chopper, looper, blocker, lobber, lefty, little kid, long pips/anti, short pips, or possibly a penhold player?  If so, then try your best to figure out the exact elements of the playing style that give you trouble and practice according to your findings.  Do you need to wait on the ball longer because it is slower?  Do you need to fight for the first attack?  Do you need to spin the ball more because your opponent continues to deaden the ball?  You need to understand the problematic playing style and master all the tactics against that particular style.
Wrong Mindset
When the upset happens, is it usually when you least expect it?  Do you often lose to players who don’t “look” like a good player…  that fat guy is like 80 years old…  That kid can barely see above the table…  That beginner was only rated 100…   If so, then try to take significant time to mentally gear up before the match, take your opponent seriously, and try to form a game-plan from the very first point.
Poor Pre-Tournament Preparation
When the upset happens, is it usually when you don’t prepare well prior to the tournament?  Good practice doesn’t always = awesome performance.  Lack of practice doesn’t always = poor performance.  However, you need to know yourself personally and what it takes for you to play your best. 
In order to have peak performance, how many hours per week should be training 6 month prior to the tournament?  How many hours per week should be training on the very week of the tournament?  By detailed analysis of your bad losses, you should be able to identify the common themes for your losses and do your absolute best to perform well at 8am or midnight, against young girls and old men, against defensive lobber and against offensive pips, against low-rated opponents and elite opponents. 
Remember, tournament performance starts long before the tournament.  To have the best results possible, develop a good training routine, know what you need for warmup, develop a good level of fitness, know how to play against all playing styles, mentally gear-up before every match, and work hard to apply what you learn every day!