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

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Mental Strategies - Part I

What should I be thinking about during a table tennis match?

Most top players would agree that table tennis is about 50% physical and 50% mental.  Yes, a top table tennis player must have good technique and good physical fitness, but equally important is the ability to play courageously, think strategically, overcome obstacles, and adapt to different game styles. This is an outline of the most important things that I concentrate on and the thoughts that I avoid while playing table tennis.
During a table tennis match, I want to focus on three primary things:
1. My usual reminders – Samson, keep your feet moving fast, remember ball placement especially to the transition point
2. My opponent’s weak point – Samson, continue doing these 2-3 strategies, these will vary based on my opponent
3. What just happened – in the previous point, did I make a mistake?  If so, how should I correct it on the next point?  If I won the point, how can I use the strength again against my opponent’s weakness?
During a table tennis match, I want to avoid thinking about these three things:
1. The outcome – regardless if I am playing well or playing poorly, I don’t want to dwell on the consequences of winning or losing.
2. Basic technique – I really don’t want to think about my strokes.  I want my strokes to be automatic.  As soon as I begin thinking about the mechanics of the stroke, my game slows down.
3. Outside distractions – I really want to keep my eyes in the court to avoid looking at other matches, spectators, cameras, or anything else that can take my mind off the match.