Have you ever been in a close match, began to think about winning and losing, and fell apart and lost? Or perhaps you were winning, began to think about it, and again fell apart and lost. It’s almost certain that you have been in both scenarios. So how do you avoid this?
A key thing is to have something else to think about. The mind can only think about one thing at a time. As an experiment, try thinking about what serve you might use in a match against a specific player you play regularly, and see if you can think about winning and losing at the same time. You can’t – in fact, the very thinking about what serve to do will likely wipe away most nervousness as nervousness comes from thinking (i.e. worrying) about winning and losing.
So give your mind something else to focus on. And that should be basic tactics. In theory you could think about anything else, but then you might not be paying attention to what’s going on at the table, and you probably wouldn’t play so well or as smart. But if you focus on basic tactics you get a double whammy – you play smarter table tennis, and you stop worrying about winning or losing. The key is to keep it simple; don’t overthink. Focus on why you are winning – which serves, receives, and rally shots are winning points for you. Ask yourself:
If you keep your mind on these basic tactics, then you’ll keep your mind occupied so you won’t think about winning or losing, which is a quick way to blow a match.
Here are a few additional tips: