One of the biggest conflicts you will have after playing the tournament is, what next? You have trained, prepared, and competed at your best. There is an emotional level that is reach in tournament play, and that is due to the raised stakes of creating the result that you are looking for. And after the dust is settled, you have to get back to the table to play. And the question is asked is, what next? This blog post is going to help you understand how to compartmentalize your table tennis performance so you are able to train productively for the next competition.
Tactical or Technical
The first question that you should ask is, did you play technical or tactical. This is a very important, because it is foundation of your performance, which is directly responsible for your result. Players compete almost identical to how they train. If your training was technical, then you are going to focus on the technical aspect of your shot. All too often I hear players say, “I could have played that match smarter”. My response has always been, “So you played technical?” Playing technical means that you are focused on executing the technique the way that the shot was meant. That doesn’t translate into winning a match on almost any level. It only means that you are executing the shot correctly. The question you need to ask is, if you played Tactical.
Playing Technical is how you develop a shot, but playing Tactical is how you elevate a shot. What will have the greatest impact on your performance and result, is playing Tactical. Playing Tactical is mindset that allows you to gather data to ensure that you are playing the technical shot in the most productive way. Simply lowering the effort of your attack shot to create the range to play the ball wide away from your opponent is a tactical mindset. It requires the execution of your shot, but that shot selection is grounded in the approach being tactical. What will start to trend is all the ways in which you are able to see the weakness in your opponent’s game, as well as the shot that you have in your arsenal to exploit it. This will create tactical focus and reduce anxiety or confusion about what is the best approach to use.
Combinations and Sequences
Where players come up short is not focuses on extended rallies. A vast majority of points are won on the first attack shot, in the beginning of the match. As the match progresses both players start to become more familiar with exactly which shots are being used, and this result in more rallies. What you should be assess after tournament play is, if you were able to execute combination and sequences. If you can win with one shot, that is great, but what you should be focusing on is what your point design should be with regards to how to play 4 attack shots. That will ensure that you won’t pause after hitting one strong attack shot, and that you will focus on trending position that will be open.
Nerves of Steel
Most players focus on playing their favorite shot, and they are less focused experimenting with shot or plays that may exposed their opponent. That is especially true in moments when the game is tight, and the player really needs a point. Playing tactical means you have to have enough nerves to try something that is ambitious to see if you can catch your opponent off guard. It is really important to not always play the shots that are close to your chest, because you will force your opponent to gravitate towards. The best way to protect your favorite shot is by throwing out a smoke signal. An example of this is serving the ball deep to your opponent’s forehand. That will throw them off, and they will make an adjustment of backing up. This can protect your short serve at a critical moment in the match because they will have the deep serve to their forehand to think about as well. So survey if you have displayed enough shots that your opponent doesn’t know which shot really identify your game.
All of this surveying of your performance should result in you coming back to implement new drills. These drill should reflect the way that you want to win, and not way you want to play. Winning is strategic and tactical, and that is the focus the new drills should take on. There is a time to focus on technique, but winning is about implementing a trend that focuses on dominating your opponent. If you are slightly irritated by your result not being what you wanted it to be, then blame your performance. To create a different performance you have to survey what you did that you felt was stagnant, and make it purely tactical.
In most of my blog post I provide you with some answers. In this blog post I am providing you with a pathway to find your own answers.