Sports Psychology

Do Not Stress Over Your Competition

By Stan Popovich

Many table tennis players sometimes get anxious when they play against a tough opponent. They get nervous on who they are competing with and they get so worked up that they lose focus on playing their sport. In the end, they make mistakes and end up beating themselves up if they do not win. As a result, here is a list of techniques that table tennis player can use to help manage the stress of playing against the competition.

The first step is to learn as much as you can on your opponent. Although this may seem obvious, some athletes may think they already know what they need to know. Remember there is always something to learn about your competition. Read the reports about your opponent and watch him or her performance. Try to figure out an angle on how you can beat your competition. The more you know about your competition the better your chances are you will win. This will also help to reduce your worries in the future.

Do not assume anything about your competition whether they are stronger or weaker than you. Every athlete has his good and bad times and just because you may be facing a stronger opponent does not mean that you will lose. Remember that you and your opponent both have an equal chance of winning. You are both starting from scratch. This should help you to give you confidence going into your next event.

Focus on how you can best strive for perfection in your own event instead of worrying about your opponent. For instance, you are going against the number one athlete in the tournament and you are nervous. Instead of focusing on how good your competition is, focus on your performance. Concentrate on how you can perform your event and how you can best improve on your problem areas.

Realize that you can't win all of the time and that also includes your competition. You may be the best athlete in the world, however you will still sometimes lose. No one can win all of the time.  When facing a tough competitor, use this fact to your advantage. Even the best athletes will make some mistakes.

It is not uncommon to get nervous when you go against a better opponent.  All you can do is to focus on your skill sets and do the best you can. This will help you in the long run.


Stan Popovich is the author of "A Layman's Guide to Managing Fear Using Psychology, Christianity and Non Resistant Methods" - an easy to read book that presents a general overview of techniques that are effective in managing persistent fears and anxieties. For additional information go to:

Managing Your Anxieties in Table Tennis

By Stanley Popovich

At times, our worries and anxieties can overwhelm us. In addition, our worries can distort our perception of what is reality and what is not. As a result, this may interfere with your sport of table tennis.  Here is a brief list of techniques that a table tennis player can use to help gain a better perspective on things during their anxious moments.

Sometimes we get stressed out when everything happens all at once. When this happens, a person should take a deep breath and try to find something to do for a few minutes to get their mind off of the problem. A person could read the newspaper, listen to some music or do an activity that will give them a fresh perspective on things. This is a great technique to use right before your next event.

Remember that our fearful thoughts are exaggerated and can make the problem worse. A good way to manage your worry is to challenge your negative thinking with positive statements and realistic thinking. When encountering thoughts that make you fearful or anxious, challenge those thoughts by asking yourself questions that will maintain objectivity and common sense.

Remember that all the worrying in the world will not change anything. Most of what we worry about never comes true. Instead of worrying about something that probably won’t happen, concentrate on what you are able to do.

Another technique that is very helpful is to have a small notebook of positive statements that you can carry around with you. Whenever you come across an affirmation that makes you feel good, write it down in a small notebook that you can carry around with you. Whenever you feel stressed before your event, open up your small notebook and read those statements. This will help to manage your negative thinking.

In every anxiety-related situation you experience, begin to learn what works, what doesn’t work, and what you need to improve on in managing your fears and anxieties. For instance, you have a lot of anxiety before your event and you decide to take a walk to help you feel better. The next time you feel anxious you can remind yourself that you got through it the last time by taking a walk. This will give you the confidence to manage your anxiety the next time around.

Take advantage of the help that is available around you. If possible, talk to a professional who can help you manage your fears and anxieties. They will be able to provide you with additional advice and insights on how to deal with your current problem. By talking to a professional, a person will be helping themselves in the long run because they will become better able to deal with their problems in the future. Remember that it never hurts to ask for help.

It is not easy to deal with all of our fears and worries. When your fears and anxieties have the best of you, try to calm down and then get the facts of the situation. The key is to take it slow. All you can do is to do your best each day, hope for the best, and when something does happen, take it in stride. Take it one step at a time and things will work out.


Stan Popovich is the author of “A Layman’s Guide to Managing Fear Using Psychology, Christianity and Non Resistant Methods” – an easy to read book that presents a general overview of techniques that are effective in managing persistent fears and anxieties. For additional information go to:

Confidence – Then Consistency!

By Larry Hodges

Whether you are a world-class athlete with a Schwarzenegger body or a frail octogenarian, your body has a set of built in physical limits. By training, you can increase you limits, but at any given time, there is a limit over which you can do no better. This is a physical fact. However, to reach that physical limit you must try to reach beyond it. If you aim for a specific level which you feel is your best, you cannot go beyond your best – but you very well may do worse.

How does one reach "beyond" their best? The answer is in confidence. Many players practice hard to develop consistency, and from this consistency they develop confidence. This is backwards! Be confident first – then consistency will come. Believe you can do it, and you will! (Or, for you realists, you will at least do as well as you physically can.)

What causes a person to miss "easy" shots? When you miss an easy smash, did you really misread the spin that badly? Or did you have a very small, almost insignificant loss of confidence, and try to guide the shot, rather than just let your subconscious control the shot?

When you go for a shot, your brain sends nerve impulses (electric impulses) to the muscle cells, ordering them to contract in certain ways. The order, intensity and duration of the impulses control the manner in which the muscle fibers contract. There is no way you can control this complicated set of directions consciously. Only by training can the brain's subconscious areas learn the exact set of nerve impulses to be sent in a given situation. Any conscious control throws the while set of impulses into disarray, leading to an easy miss.

Instead, remember making the shot in the past and what it felt like. At first, you should copy what a top player does. But once you've made the shot once, there is no reason why you shouldn't make it every time! YOU CAN! (And if you believe that, then you are well on your way toward improving the shot.)

Confidence allows you to let go consciously and let your brain do what it's been taught (or is being taught) to do. Good players think between points, but never during a point. Just blank out your mind during a rally watch what happens.

So believe in your shots, even if there is no logical reason to. Have confidence in your sots. KNOW that your shot CANNOT MISS, and it probably won't.

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