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

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Winning and Learning

By Samson Dubina, Jacob Boyd, and Sarah Jalli

On behalf of the Samson Dubina Table Tennis Academy, we would like to wish you a Happy New Year and just thank you for your support throughout 2020.  It has been a tough year, yet you have continued to send us encouraging e-mails, continued with regular donations, and continued attending our events!  Without you, we could not continue.  As a Christmas gift from us, we decided to share a portion of our new book with you.  Check it out below and consider purchasing your own copy!
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Imagine this... It’s early in the morning, 6:00 A.M. you’ve studied hours and hours for the huge test today. Then, despite all of your hard work, unfortunately, you did way worse on the test than you wanted. Of course, you’re going to feel horrible about yourself. But does this mean you stop trying? Does this mean you give up? NO!!! But you might be thinking, “How does this relate to table tennis?”
     There will be times when you feel like you just don’t have confidence in yourself, when you feel so defeated that you want to just give up. Just like Nelson Mandela stated, “I never lose. I either win or learn from it.” The key to improvement is to not be any less motivated by failure. Instead, you should learn from it and come back STRONGER. In order to succeed, you must know what your mistakes were so that you can better yourself next time. 
     Table tennis can be frustrating because one minor mistake can cost you a match. In this sport, you can learn how to deal with defeat and failure from losing a point, game, or match. Table tennis can help you learn to manage those negative feelings, so when you underperform on that test, you’ll know how to pick yourself up. According to the article, 8 Ways Psychologists Say Successful People Achieve Their Goal, the best athletes become the best because they have a “growth mindset.” “Growth mindsets give people the ability to see themselves as capable of change — notably, growth — while fixed mindsets cause people to view themselves as fully realized, or unchanging” (Weller 1). If you have a mindset that is willing to change and learn from failure, then you can be as good as you want to be.
     Having confidence in yourself is a huge key to success in many aspects of life, including sports, school, relationships, and the general decisions that you make. Many gain confidence from achieving their goals and knowing that they can do it. According to, “…when an athlete wins in an individual sport, they have a strong sense of accomplishment” (Swanson 1). The feeling of achieving this goal without having to rely on anyone else can increase self-confidence because the athlete has seen themselves do it, and this mindset will help them  have more confidence in many life scenarios such as public speaking, test taking, and job interviews. Table tennis is the perfect fit for any kid to build confidence. 
     Matches are either best 3/5 or 4/7. Each game goes only to 11 points unless you’re tied at deuce. With the game having such a short duration, intensity levels can quickly escalate within minutes. Having the ability to keep your head in the game and stay cool is crucial in these situations. 
     How are you going to handle this pressure? It takes immense focus on each and every ball, which sometimes can be difficult due to the game’s blinding speed. By playing table tennis, kids can learn at an early age how to deal with pressure. Even at the lower levels, the game requires an enormous amount of concentration to be able to hit the ball on the table. In pressure situations, they can learn how to stay level-headed and focused. Kids can also learn how to handle their emotions during and after a match. Sometimes a match can be an emotional roller coaster, ranging from the thrilling excitement from a win to the crushing agony from a loss. By gaining experience from playing fun or competitive matches, kids can learn how to deal with their feelings and keep them on the dial. They can learn a unique type of respect for their opponents, especially their rivals, and at the same time keep their cool in the competition. 
     Picture this: it’s match point for you, 10-9 in the final game of the US Olympic Trials. You’ve been grinding it out in practice your whole life for this moment of making the US Olympic Team. 
...All you have to do is win one point to make the team! 
...There is a strange silence in the crowd as hundreds of people lean forward to watch intently!
...The sound of the ball bouncing!
...The sweat rolling down your forehead!
...And your mind racing 1000 miles per hour is simply exhilarating!
...It is match point for you!
...You whisper to yourself, “Trust, Trust!”
...You step up to the table with confidence!
After a 20-hit rally, you nail the wide corner for the winning shot and are completely overwhelmed by the thrill of the moment! People are congratulating you, you’re laughing, talking, and you're enjoying the moment to the fullest! All of your training has paid off, all of the tough early-morning practices, all of the tournament losses, all of the drop-dead fitness sessions, all of the mental training, all paid off in this one final point!
     In conclusion, competition is about having the right perspective on winning and losing. As Stephen McCranie said, “The master has failed more times than the beginner has even tried.” As an athlete who just won a major title, you know deep down inside that you wouldn’t have won that major championship without failing first. Repeating for emphasis … YOU KNOW DEEP DOWN INSIDE THAT YOU WOULDN’T HAVE WON THAT MAJOR CHAMPIONSHIP WITHOUT FAILING FIRST. Winning and learning … that’s what tournament play is all about!