Hello New York! I apologize that I havent written a blog post lately. I moved from the Bay Area to New York and its has been a big change! But it is all very exciting! I had a chance to start working at Spin New York. I was also honored to give a lesson to the famous actress Susan Sarandon who is one of the owners of the club. Susan is a big table tennis propagandist! Spin New York is a very unique table tennis club that combines table tennis with a bar environment. This club creates a fun a social scene for table tennis fans, amateurs, pro players or just people who would like to have a fun with some ping-pong.
But lets get back to the mental game. I started playing at Dirty Dozen on Fridays at Spin New York. The winner of Dirty Dozen gets $500 prize money. Its definitely a nontraditional environment to play games but it has been giving me a chance to master my mental skills to block out all sorts of distractions. Here, I would like to share with you the lessons that I learnt during Dirty Dozen.
??At Dirty Dozen, the top 12 players play against each other in a non-traditional environment. The spectators are rowdy and only get louder in their cheering for their favorites as the night goes on and their drinks are being refilled. Additionally, a DJ is taking care of the music, the music is very loud and there are two other MC people who are continuously commenting on every aspect of the games and of course providing a fun environment. On the top of all, there are some very unique table tennis characters who play in different costumes or provide their own personal shows during the match. And we are not talking about no name players. Just to mention a couple of the competitors; Ernesto Ebuen, Michael Landers or Adam Hugh. Sometimes international pro players drop by to play from different countries.
I will never forget my first experience at Dirty Dozen. I had to play the second match against Kaz, who is a great chopper from Japan, and I got little bit surprised when he started removing his clothes at the end of the game while he was playing against me. Frankly, I got a little bit distracted despite my sports psychology training Well, considering all these things mentioned above, clearly there are many distractions at Spin; loud music, DJ, MC guys and big crowd and striping opponents or players in Super Man costumes.
But what did I learn from all of this? First of all, you cant lose focus because at Dirty Dozen players play two out of three games, so if you lose focus the game is over. When you step at to the table you have to block out everything. You know that when you are successfully doing it you cant see the crowd, just only your opponent. In other words, you totally have to narrow your focus. But how can you do this? If you only pay attention to yourself (intrinsic stimulus) you dont pay attention to extrinsic factors. You have to focus on the following:
– Release your muscles. For example, when you get into the serve receive or serving position, you have to feel that you hold your paddle loose.
– Play tactics when you play (analyze the match, for example where you have to loop first, what serves work against your opponent, which side is weaker of your opponent etc.)
– Focus on your mini routines between points (wipe the table, walk around, breath etc.)
– Keep your pace between points, dont rush
– Use cue words like watch the ball
– Narrow you focus by just only focusing on the ball, dont look around while you are playing
– Keep your game face on with your body posture and gestures (if you are over excited or very down on yourself it will totally distract your focus)
The main point is that the focus has to be only on your self. Of course, you have to practice this to able to do it. But the more you practice the better you will get at it. I hope it helps! Cheers!
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