I’m playing table tennis in my free time (and from quite long time, but very seriously from this year), but with some good players, with good paddles (I have Butterfly Zoran Primorac Wooden and Joola Maxxx-p on forehand and backhand; quite good, i think).
My biggest problem is me; i’m trying every time to remain calm or don’t demoralise myself because of bad returning of serves. Also i’m trying to ignore all the noise around me, because it is a lot sometimes and i can’t focus 100%.
Sometimes i’m not pleased with my racket, I don’t know why, maybe the blame is mine. Sometimes I don’t have the courage to slap the ball when is up and I miss and I start losing confidence. So, how can I become more confident in my abilities? I consider myself more than a intermediate level player.
There’s quite a bit to unpick here and I’m not sure I will be able to solve all your issues, but I shall try!
Firstly, make sure you have a range of practice partners – some who are weaker, some who are the same level and some who are stronger. If you always practice with stronger players it is difficult to develop your strengths (and confidence) as the stronger player will make it harder for you to play well. When you practice with weaker players, you get slightly easier balls, which allows you to develop your strengths and playing style.
Next, don’t worry about winning and losing when you play matches. Just focus on each point and the process of playing. When I play I try to focus on my tactics – what serves and 3rd ball attacks I want to do, where I am going to hit the ball, how I am going to exploit an opponent’s weakness. If I get it right, then I will win plenty of points. If it doesn’t work I can try different tactics.
If you make a mistake in a match – don’t panic. We all make mistakes all the time. Quickly assess why you made the error, then visualise how to play the shot correctly. Play a movie in your mind of you playing the shot well. This will help you the next time you play the shot. Try to always keep that positive mindset. Mistakes happen. But we can fix them.
If there are areas of your game, which you struggle with, then you need to do extra practice. For example, if you struggle with returning serves – then work on this. With every partner you play with, ask him or her to serve at you for 5-10 minutes. Keep repeating this over several weeks or months and your confidence will soon improve.
Finally, make a list of your strengths. What are your biggest weapons? What are the shots you have highest confidence in? Keep developing these strengths in your practice sessions. And try to find ways of using your strengths in your matches.
Improvement takes time. And then better you get, the longer it can take to reach the next level. There will always be a better player – a higher level to strive for. Enjoy the journey and believe in yourself.
Here is some articles I have written over the past few years, which may help you…
- Using mental rehearsal to reduce nerves and boost performance in table tennis
- Responding positively to mistakes
- Tips for maintaining a positive attitude when you’re losing