Many if not all of us have some kind of anxiety and fear pre-table tennis matches!
Table Tennis Match Preparation
I spoke to one of my students recently about an event they have coming up and how they feel and what is their preparation looking like. It was clear from the start of the conversation that they where anxious and wanted to avoid the subject. We are all different and deal with things differently which is why some get better results than others. There is no quick fix to gameplay preparation but there is a guide and a formula I use with my players.
As mentioned we are all unique so bare your personal needs in mind.
3 Types of warm-up;
- Short – This is when you’re late or don’t have match time to prepare and need to quickly get your body focused and ready for the match (1-5min).
- Medium – When you are at an event and you have plenty of matches that day and you wish to reserve your energy (5-15min).
- Long – This is where you’re either a high-level player or have a few big matches in a particular event (20-45min)
How to Warm Up
Firstly, you must understand that your mind needs to warm up before your body, this means to take a seat or lay down somewhere and focus on how you feel. Be aware of your current state and if you feel anxious, start to focus on positive things. 1. remember when you played well, reenforce that feeling 2. take big breaths, to bring your pulse rate down and increase oxygen in your blood flow. 3. remember if you feel nervous, it’s a blessing because it means you care and the event means something to you.
Second, like a car you need to warm up the engine and tires especially if it’s cold outside, this gives the car maximum performance. For you, a warm-up is to increases blood flow, synovial fluid, concentration, and muscle elasticity. Please note a warm-up should be individual, you need to know what kind of movements suits you best and what works best for your body type.
Third, knock up! often players feel very anxious if they have not had a proper knock up (or what they call a proper knock-up). What is a proper knock up? (it’s subjective) In reality, there is no proper knock up because you will not improve in the 5-10min knock up you can only make yourself feel good or bad depending on the knock you did. Therefore I suggest learning what kind of knock up suits you but being adaptable. Like the above warm-up, you need to have three kinds of knock-ups. Short, medium and long and each one you must come out feeling positive and ready. The best way of doing it is by varying your knock-up every time you train (length of time – short, medium, long). If you have one knock up routine and come event/match day and you are unable to go through your normal routine you’ll automatically use it as an excuse. But if you are able to adapt your warm-up routine, then you can come out feeling good in any circumstance.
If you know what, where and who you are playing before an event or match, I suggest planning ahead. What I always tell my players, the famous phrase “Fail to Plan – Prepare to Fail” I genuinely believe in that phase. It’s like wanting to go to a new town, getting in your car and hoping you’ll reach the destination. If you plan your journey, surely you’ll reach your destination, a lot quicker and with very little hassle. Same in table tennis do your homework and prepare for a forthcoming match the results will most likely be far more positive, than if you avoided preparation. Some will argue but Joe Bloggs never prepares and he wins! There’s always exceptions to the rule book and mavericks tend to break the rules, therefore, you need to think about yourself and what suits you best.
To reduce pre-match anxiety all you ever need really is one thing, take control of your mind and body by preparing. If you can’t prepare for whatever reason then take control of your mind and remember why you play (because you enjoy or love it) otherwise don’t do it.
Do what you love not what you don’t or hate and the rest will fall into place