Players often come unprepared at tournaments and leagues. Here's a quick checklist of things to prepare in advance of the event. (Some of this was covered in previous Tips, but this gives you an actual checklist, with a few new items.)
- Lighting and Backgrounds. You are likely used to the lighting and backgrounds at your table tennis club, but when you go to a tournament or league at a different venue, you have to adjust to the new conditions. Show up early so you can warm up at the new venue to get used to the lighting and backgrounds – and note that "backgrounds" is pluralized as you should try to move around a bit and get used to different backgrounds. Often this means just switching sides on the table you are practicing on, since often one side looks onto the wall at the side of the gym, the other into the vast expanse of the gym – two very different backgrounds to adjust to.
- Floors. If you play with good, grippy floors, then you'll likely have problems if you have to compete on slippery ones. Surprisingly, it works the other way too – if you are used to slipper floors in practice, playing on grippy ones might give you trouble as you are used to sliding your feet across the floor as you move. So come early to adjust to the floors. If you are used to grippy floors, then bring grippy shoes to help adjust to slippery ones.
- Tables and Balls. Different types do play different, so do try to practice in advance on the tables and balls you will be using. You might want to order a few of each major type of ball so you'll always be prepared for this. If your club doesn't have the same type of table as the event you are going to, then come in early at the event to practice on theirs.
- Towel. If it's summer and you are used to playing in air conditioning, and you get caught playing in a non-air conditioned venue, you will want a towel, to wipe away sweat both on you, your racket, and the ball.
- Food and Drinks. Don't risk having to eat the local food and drinks unless you know in advance what will be there. You can usually assume there'll be plain water, but other than that you might want to either bring your own food and drinks, or investigate in advance what will be locally available.
- Warm-up Partner. You should arrange someone in advance. Let's face it, some players are easy to warm up with, others are not. Tournaments and leagues are not the time to experiment with how you warm up; arrange this in advance with someone you are familiar and comfortable warming up with.
- Serve and Receive. Why do so many players forget to practice their serves before a major event? They practice everything else, but forget this. You might also want to find a partner and practice receive.
- Sports Psychology. If you come in nervous, you are handicapping yourself. So make sure to come in with a positive attitude, ready to confidently take on the world!