Attitude on court

Rowden Fullen 2010

Not many people can read and understand what is going on in your mind, the best person to make changes here is YOU! When you play really well you have to try and repeat that, by duplicating your mental approach and by doing exactly the same thing again. Equally when you play badly how did you approach the game and what were you thinking about? You have to try and isolate the things which make you play well or badly.

Two aspects will help you –
1. Being calm and cool at all times. You can see from certain players’ behaviour when they start to ‘lose it’ that getting emotional just doesn’t help at all. It makes you play worse because you can’t think well when you’re all wound up.
2. Try to be alert to changes from the opponent’s end of the table. Is he/she playing more short balls, suddenly playing out to your forehand more, pushing more to your backhand? You have to be ready to counter any change of tactics. Equally if she is now strong in areas where she was weak before, it is you who may have to change tactics directly.

What all players must bear in mind is that some areas of table tennis are the prerogative of the player and should not be dictated by the coach. Only the player can decide her most comfortable distance from the table, how positive she wants to be when the game is close etc. This is of course why players and coaches should talk and work together and why the relationship should be two way.

Above all you have to play ‘your game’ as much as you can in matches. It’s only if your game is unsuccessful that you may need to play in an alternative ‘secondary’ manner. Sometimes it pays to play weakness against weakness, rather than strength to strength.

Equally when the opponent copes easily with your game, you have to think your way round the problem and not become passive. Table tennis is about being active and adapting to new situations all the time and recognising when you have to change something. It’s also about starting to think for yourself and not just relying on others throughout your career.

One thing that most top players agree on is that the prime sources of success are the areas they have control over and the capability of influencing -- the internal factors. What we are talking about here is basically attitude -- the qualities and the approach you bring to training and competition. The desire and willingness to train and to train in the right way, to prepare for the big events, to fight and indeed fight hard under pressure and above all never to give in. This spirit of extreme stubbornness is a quality often found in the winner and one often emphasised by many top players when they talk about what it takes to be a champion.

Above all however these are the areas where you the player can take charge and steer your own course. If you focus completely on working and fighting for every point, then you have very little time and energy for doubt and worry and being negative. If you remain calm and in control and do not allow the emotions, irritation, anger and fear to creep in, then you have the time to think how you should play, to consider different tactics.

The big difference between the winner and the loser is in attitude. If you really want to be a winner learn to control the negative habits which threaten your concentration, become a fighter who never gives up and above all only feed positive thoughts into your mental computer.

WHEN THINGS START TO GO WRONG, TAKE A COUPLE OF SECONDS -- AND REFOCUS!

• The 5 C’s
– Commitment
– Concentration
– Communication
– Control
– Confidence

These 5 are essential ingredients to achieve sporting excellence.

Check List

• Remain fully focused on the task at hand
• Avoid arguments or blaming others for mistakes
• Manage emotions positively
• Maintain positive body language throughout
• Have a positive attitude and self-belief
• Look calm and collected no matter what the situation

Try to have a mature but decisive approach on court, always calm enough to think logically about what needs to be done.