July 14, 2014 - The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Table Tennis Players

There's a best-selling book called "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. The book lists these as the "7 Habits": 1) Be proactive; 2) Begin with the End in Mind; 3) Put First Things First; 4) Think Win/Win; 5) Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood; 6) Synergize; and 7) Sharpen the Saw. (There's also a best-selling sort of sequel from the same author, "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens.")

These books have had a major impact on many people's lives. And there's a correlation between some of these and the habits of "highly effective table tennis players." For example, you don't get to be a top player without being proactive, i.e. striving to do what it takes to improve. However, I'm not going to try to create a one-to-one correlation between the seven habits listed and ones used by top table tennis players. Instead, I'm going to list my own list of seven habits of "highly effective table tennis players." Follow these 7 habits, and see how it improves your game. Here's my list:

  1. Loves to practice.
    It's not enough to just put in the motions. You have to want to improve, and want to so badly that you love practicing as it allows you to do what you want to do. Going through the motions with your mind blankly just going along is a waste of time. If you love to practice, you'll improve far faster than one who is just doing the motions.
  2. Proactive in finding ways to improve, strategically and tactically.
    Strategic thinking is about developing your game for the future. Tactical thinking is about developing the habit of winning with what you have. You need to learn both, and you need to take the initiative in doing so. Don't leave this to your opponents, who will happily figure it out for you while beating you in competition. But when they do beat you, that's the feedback you need to analyze so you can find ways to improve.
  3. Is working toward specific goals, both short-, intermediate-, and long-term.
    Mindless practice is just that - mindless. Decide what you need to work on, and focus on that like a laser.
  4. A perfectionist in most or all aspects of the game.
    If you strive for perfection, you'll come a lot closer than one who strives for something less.
  5. Never gives up, whether in tournaments or practice.
    Fighters do a lot better than those who don't have a burning desire to win every point.
  6. Loves to compete and win.
    If winning isn't fun, then why are you practicing? Sure, you could be practicing just for the sake of having better shots or for exercise, but this isn't about the "seven habits of highly effective exercisers or having better shots without trying to become a better player."
  7. Respects opponent's game while looking to dominate it.
    If you don't respect an opponent's game, it's hard to try your best against it.