March 14, 2011

Losing your edge

This weekend I played a match against a fairly strong player, about 1900. It was near the end of a training session, and I was feeling tired and stiff (okay, feeling old), so we played two out of three to eleven. In the first game, I didn't really do much, and he kept missing. Up 9-0, I played two points chopping and lobbing to give him a chance, but he botched two shots, and I won 11-0. In the second game, I told myself not to let up . . . and then proceeded to let up. Consciously, I wasn't letting up, but subconsciously something was missing. Now I fell behind 0-4. At 4-9, I switched to chopping, and made it to 9-10 before chopping a fast, dead serve into the net. In the third game, after losing the first point and realizing that I could actually lose this match, my subconscious woke up, and now I could do no wrong as I won 11-2.

So why was I unable to play my best for that one game? In some ways, this is the root of sports psychology, i.e. bringing out your best. I really wanted to continue to play well, and yet something was missing and I was unable to. Deep down, both I and my subconscious knew (or thought we knew) that the match wasn't a challenge, and being tired, stiff, and feeling old, that little extra that separates playing well and not playing well just wasn't there . . . until I really needed it. In tournaments, I've rarely had this problem, perhaps because the stakes are higher.

New Jersey Training Program

This spring, NJTTC will be offering an 8-week training program for intermediate-level players, coached by Peter Strucinski and Frank Yu. Sessions will run on Saturday mornings from 10:30am - 12:30pm. The first class will be on Saturday, March 19, 2011. The cost for the 8-week program is $200 for club members ($250 for non-members.) More information is available on this flyer. If interested, email them.

Spring Break Camp at Maryland Table Tennis Center

The Spring Break Camp at MDTTC will likely fill up, with schools closed in both Montgomery and Prince Georges County, so we expect hordes and hordes of marauding juniors with cannon forehands and lightning feet. I'll be there during the morning sessions, and probably some afternoons. Cheng Yinghua, Jack Huang, and Jeffrey Zeng Xun (the new coach from China) will also be there. It'll mostly be a junior camp, but all ages are welcome. Since I'm running an ITTF Seminar on the weekend before and after, we're expecting some of the coaches to attend as well as part of their training.


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