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The Common Theme of Your Table Tennis Losses

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If you are similar to many of my table tennis students, you probably have had really bad losses from time to time.  By a bad loss, I mean that you lose to a much lower-level player during a table tennis tournament match.  Perhaps you play about 12 tournaments per year.  In 6 of the 12 tournaments, perhaps you lose to someone whose skillset is definitely inferior to yours.  Instead of blaming it on “bad luck”, I want you to stop for a moment and consider some possibilities.

Not Warmed-Up

When the upsets happen, is it usually the first or second table tennis 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 on Friday night.  Also, get a practice partner lined up and know what routine you need prior to your first table tennis 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 of the table tennis tournament.

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 table tennis 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 table tennis player? That big guy is like 80 years old…  That kid can barely see above the table…  That Canadian player was only rated 100…   If so, then try to take significant time to mentally gear up before the table tennis 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 table tennis 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 months prior to the table tennis 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 8 am or midnight, against tiny 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 table tennis 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 table tennis match, and work hard to apply what you learn every day!

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  • Jena Newgarden
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