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

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Online Student Notes

Check out his homework for the week

I recently gave one of my online students an assignment to write down a listing of ways he can improve his mental game during a training session.  Many players think that tournament play is when they become "tournament tough" but this student is learning that some of the foundational principles and routines can (and should) be applied to practice sessions as well!!!
Hi Coach Samson,
Here are some things I came up with for “becoming mentally tough during practice”:
1. Taking time if I miss a few balls in a row to think why and regroup. Doing this in practice will help me build the habit of taking time so I can apply it during match play and not rush.
2. Toweling during practice - this also relates to the first point, but having a “towel routine” can help during a match every six points. During practice, I should use the towel at times and think about what I can do better and use it as an opportunity to regroup myself, especially if I am not doing well.
3. Noise training - creating noise during training whether it’s having loud music on or asking my family/friends to show up to one of my practices and just cheer against me or make noise can help build my focus. Noise and cheering is something that happens at pretty much any tournament, perhaps on a larger scale at bigger tournaments, which is why I believe this can be good during practice.
4. Serve/serve return routine - having a serve and serve return routine and applying it during practice can help me build this habit, so that I can do it consistently during a match. These routine can help me think, regroup, and get fully ready for the coming point without rushing into it.
5. Treat every point like a match - during practice I think that treating every point like a match can help increase intensity and make the mind adapt better to a match situation. Really trying not to miss when it comes to consistency/basic drills and using my strategy to really try to win every point during game situation drills can help increase the intensity of the practice to make it mentally seem closer to a match situation. As you had mentioned last week, counting score can help with this as well.
6. Thought process -  I want to try to build the habit of what my thought processes would be during a match, in my practice. This means that after a point, I should ask myself things like “What can I do better?”, “how am I going to play this ball next time?”, and “what should/shouldn’t I change during the next point?”.
7. Body Language - during a practice I want to try to have more positive body language. If I do have negative body language sometimes, I want to apply the points listed above to recover, regroup, and start the next point when I have “recovered” from the negative body language. Building these habits can help me start every point positive and 100% ready, so that I can play my best game.
Looking forward to the session tomorrow!