Many tournament matches are won or lost based on your mental approach going into the match. There are 4 simple mental tricks that I would like to teach you…
At a recent tournament, a boy played against Nandan and lost. He walked off the table saying that it was the best match of his life. Someone asked him why. He replied by saying that Nandan is such a high level player and so famous that Nandan is supposed to win. As soon as this other boy knew he wasn’t supposed to win, he played stress-free. The main point is that you too have a Nandan in your life, a player that you enjoy playing against and can play stress-free against. Before each match (and also before each point), try to put yourself in that mental state reassuring yourself there is nothing-to-lose.
Lily once told me that she plays her best at 5-5, so she now images that every point is 5-5. It doesn’t matter if she was up 10-2 and now it is 10-9, she still tells herself that it is 5-5 and plays that way. Maybe for you, you play best at 0-0 or 9-9 or 8-10 down or 10-8 up. You decide. When do you feel most comfortable? Find your comfort zone and continue to reassure yourself that you are playing in your comfort zone.
Mike had recently lost to a particular opponent. Prior to their next meeting, the opponent made a derogatory comment to Mike about him being a low-level opponent. More determined than ever, Mike came back with a vengeance and beat the guy in their next meeting. What happened? Mike was only 90% focused the first meeting. The second time they played, Mike was 100% focused and determined. Be like Mike every time showing absolute determination and focus against mean guys, nice guys, little girls, wheelchair opponents, obese opponents, and Olympic athletes.
Roger was recently playing against a good blocker. After Roger tried to power through him for 2 games, Roger just couldn’t win. So, he resorted to controlled blocking and counterdriving… just keeping the ball in play. Roger had somewhat given up realizing that he couldn’t win. But suddenly, the blocker couldn’t finish the point either. Roger came back to win 3-2. So what happened? Roger’s approach from the beginning was wrong. As he changed his approach, the opponent suddenly became much easier. Beginning each match, try to find the right playing style and the right mental approach for each opponent.
Before your next match - think about your ideal opponent, think about your ideal score, think about your ideal mindset, and be willing to adjust and re-adjust as the match progresses!
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