A missing key in table tennis is a proper understanding of between-game analysis and between-point analysis. In this article, I’m going to mention the three keys – understanding the problem, finding a solution, and encouraging yourself with the benefit of implementing the solution.
#1 The Problem
You are trailing 3-9 in the first game, is there a problem? For sure there is a problem, and likely multiple problems. What are they? More specifically, what is the main problem? It is your opponent’s powerful forehand smash? Is it your inconsistency on forehand loop against deep push? Is it that the opponent is able to return more balls in the rally than you can return? Is it that he is playing a sharp angle shot wide to your forehand? What is the problem? Please don’t tell me that you are off your game. Please don’t tell me that you are losing. Please don’t tell me that you didn’t warm up. Tell me how you lost 9 points.
#2 The Solution
There are often times multiple solutions to fixing a problem. Try to identify which solution is the best one to fix the immediate situation. One example might be that you are having trouble backhand flipping the heavy backspin serve. What is the solution? You could push or wait longer or change your racket angle or contact more on the side of the ball or use your forehand to receive or possibly even see if it is long enough to loop. Try to come up with the best solution to the problem at hand.
#3 The Benefit
Often times when you are losing, you need to encourage yourself! It is natural to throw up your hands and say, “I can’t play this game!” You need to give yourself constructive encouragement knowing that there is a solution, there is light at the end of the dark tunnel, you can come back and win this game, you do have a game-plan. Encourage yourself by seeing the benefit of implementing your solution properly.
In closing, I need to mention the flip-side of the situation. Over-thinking can also be harmful. Table tennis is meant to be played in the automatic mental state where you just let it flow out during the point, allowing your body to perform as you have trained it to perform. So, in many situation (especially when winning), just play! Don’t over-analyze the situation! Just play! Let your body do what it has been trained to do! Enjoy yourself! And Let it go!