As a single child with a single parent, I had no choice but to be comfortable with the uncomfortable. I didn’t know at the time that it would be my secret table tennis success. Many days and nights I would roam the streets in our local neighbourhood/area. Aged four it all began, my father left and my mother worked many jobs to provide a roof and food over our heads. A bicycle was our form of transportation and staying with local neighbourhood friends was our close nit base. The neighbourhood was often used for food and passing time while mum was out working.
Dealing with difficulties:
Many times I would find myself arriving home with a note left for me. Unfortunately due to my dyslexia reading was something I found extremely difficult. I would try my best to read the letter which would often take a lot of time and mental effort. Other options included taking the letter to a neighbour’s house to read on my behalf or more often than not I would ignore it and assume all would be fine.
Life was presented to me with, “this is the way it is” deal with it! I was given a difficult scenario’s from a young age and having no choice but to accept it, I found ways to make the most of my circumstances. Viewing my options I found coping mechanisms and problem-solving tools to the scenarios in front of me. Many times I made mistakes but the beauty of it all, (which often youth of today fail to do) I learnt from my mistakes. Our personal fortunes never got better in fact financially and mentally it got worse for my mum.
Making a change
At 17 I decided it’s time for me to break away from a seemingly tough life. I packed my bags and went to live in France. Due to many years of survival experience, I was able to self-control my life out there without speaking a word of French (initially). I had a map and used my rollerblades for the first two month that was my form of transportation. And admittedly I would find other illegal ways of using public transport to get to other clubs or tournaments. I did have a little money but that was used for Table Tennis equipment, food and living costs. I’m not saying my life was like living in poverty but I faced many tough situations. The beauty of it all, I found it easy taking care of myself because I was doing what I loved and my passion for Table Tennis overshadowed the difficulties.
Today I realise all the uncomfortable scenarios which felt comfortable made me “comfortable with the uncomfortable”
I believe we are wrongdoing our future generations.
We look at given our players the best opportunities: top coaches, top facilities, best equipment, treat them well and look at avoiding making our players uncomfortable.
That’s where I feel we are going wrong! If I gave you a million pounds today, statistically speaking most will have blown the lot within 1-5 years.
If I teach you how to make a million, it’s likely that million you made will increase over time. And if you lose the million you have knowledge of how to rebuild if your willing to do so.
Make your players uncomfortable:
We are all far more resilient than we know or are given credit for.
For example, if I said don’t eat for a full day, most will say what are you mad! “I can’t do that I’ll starve or I will die” lol. If you were forced not to eat for (24 hours) the worst thing that would happen, you would feel hungry. Your body would adapt to the situation and slow down your metabolism and take energy from current body fat stored. Your mind will switch from I’m hungry to Ill be OK, I know the food will be provided in 24 hours. both your mind and body will work together to find solutions.
We don’t like feeling uncomfortable and look at every way possible of making ourselves comfortable.
Tips to develop yourself as a person and table tennis player:
Every morning: do what you don’t normally do! This includes: making your bed, brushing your teeth with the opposite hand, do not touch your phone for the first hour etc. You will develop self-control and built new neurological pathways in your brain.
Play in uncomfortable conditions:
– Make the floor slippery by not cleaning it.
– Start a league match without a knock up.
– Play using your opposite hand for 5-10min per training session,
– Play a shot you don’t like doing in a practice match
– Dim the lights
– Have a freezing cold or far too hot playing conditions in the hall for a training session.
The list goes on, be as creative and imaginative as possible.
Challenge yourself: to do something you don’t enjoy/want or believe you can do. For example, go and play golf, football, skiing, bungee jumping etc. Do an activity which you have never done before or fear.
Draycott table tennis club
I was at Draycott TTC last weekend and the players possessed many of the characteristics I speak of above.
The conditions were super hot that day, and I provided exercises which most were unfamiliar with or struggled to fully understand how or why it’s done. But yet most took on board the variety of uncomfortable scenarios. This showed me the character and ethos of the club which explained why Draycott is possibly the no.1 TT club under 17’s in England (currently).
I loved seeing all the players wearing Draycott’s club shirt, something I enforced in my former clubs and academy. I originate from a country where military service is a must, I was taught about forming a unity which begins with the uniform. You are given the opportunity to be yourself but when you’re tackling a certain cause or vision, that’s when it’s key to unite, in other words (assemble an army to tackle your desired outcome).
I’m an individual but I am also willing to unite at any given moment when I’m thriving towards success and need help getting there.
If you are wearing your clubs kit, it means you have created a bond and one that many fail to understand. Often due to ego or ignorance of unity, many fail and few succeed.
I urge all players, clubs and coaches to develop elements of uncomfortable situations and by doing so you will reap the rewards in the long term.
Check this unique uncomfortable training click HERE
Written by Eli Baraty
eBaTT (Eli Baraty Academy of Table Tennis)
Coach Me Table Tennis
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