Performance declines during the evening

Table Tennis Mental Preparation

Last updated 7 years ago

Dieter Verhofstadt

Dieter Verhofstadt Asked 7 years ago

Hi Alois,

In our interclub competition, I play 4 matches if no one forfeits. I'm a rookie. Here's my record per stage:

13-3, 8-8, 8-8, 6-6

As you can see, I'm performing much better in the first match than in the next ones. This could be explained easily if I met weaker players in the early stage. However, the opposite is the case: I'm the 4th player in our team and meet the one of the opponents' best 2 players first. So even if the opposition weakens along the evening, my results are significantly better in the first match.

Apparently I cannot sustain the same (mental) level in my subsequent matches. I've also considered it was due to not enough drinking or eating but fixed that and the trend remains. I've tried all kinds of mental aids, to calm down or not to become too relaxed against poor opposition. Is this a common theme for new players ?

On another note, during club training nights I consistently beat players up until 1000 pts (say 90%) but in competition I can lose against rating 600 (say 50%).

What to do?

Feel free to snip from this extended question.

Thanks a lot

Alois Rosario

Alois Rosario Answered 7 years ago

Hi Dieter,

It sounds like an activation level issue.

It may be that you are overthinking things the further the night goes on.

There isn’t one simple solution but you could try more relaxation during the evening.  Even going out of the hall for a while or getting your mind off the games in between matches.

The other issue is playing players that don’t hit the ball as well or as fast or that are a lower level.  Some players like hitting against a faster ball which the better players will provide for you whereas playing against a weaker player that hits the ball slower you need to generate the pace yourself.  This can also mean that you have more time to think about the ball as it is coming towards you which can mean overthinking things rather than just reacting to the ball.

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Dieter Verhofstadt

Dieter Verhofstadt Posted 7 years ago

Thanks Alois. Surely the faster and better returns by stronger opponents tune in with the pace of our training drills, while we indeed don't train on generating the pace ourselves. But I do think you are right about the activation level and I'm not as much anxious but rather too passive.

I'll consider going out of the hall which will go at the expense of my duties as a team member, cheering for the others.



Alois Rosario

Alois Rosario from PingSkills Posted 7 years ago

Let me know how you get on.

Jean Balthazar

Jean Balthazar Posted 7 years ago

Hi Dieter,

My success/failure ratio on the last match is significantly lower too.

I guess most of your team events take place in the evening, like ours. It will often be way past 11pm when my last match starts, and I really don't like this. That the time I use to go to bed. What would anybody answer if you told them "hey, let's go do some table tennis training tonight at 11pm"? It's as unnatural as can be, although some seem to be less affected by it than others. To that adds also the accumulated physical and mental fatigue, if the first matches have been challenging (that's obviously true for your opponent too, but he might be younger or fitter and thus less affected). Finally, often at that point the team's victory/defeat has already been settled, so that can be a cause of lower motivation. Often also, when you're the last one playing and there is no more team result at stakes, the other players will be clearing the hall or even already celebrating, having drinks and loud chats, not caring about your solitary struggle at all, which I can understand but still see as quite disrespectful.

When on top of that your last match is against a rather weak player, that makes things even worse: boring play, no spin/pace to use for your countershots, more energy to be put in, fear of loosing against a lower rank player... A real recipe for failure.

What to do about it? Work only afternoon shifts so that your sleep pattern can be adjusted to those situations? I don't know. Get stronger in all aspects I guess: physically, mentally and technically. Easy... :o)

Let us know how you improve in this aspect of the sport. I'm interested.

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