“English is a versatile language because we have so many ways to say the same thing. According to Stanford University… Mental imagery, also called visualization and mental rehearsal, is defined as experience that resembles perceptual experience, but which occurs in the absence of the appropriate stimuli for the relevant perception… I hope you go all that. Now, let me translate in into simple language. Imagery, visualization and mental rehearsal are common ways to refer to the process of thinking about an action without physically doing it. All of us have used rehearsal. Remember rehearsing your lines in the school play, that Bible verse you had to memorize or the first lines of a speech that you had to make in school. Children are experts at rehearsal and without ever being taught they can visualize winning races, slaying dragons and becoming champions. Thinking about doing a task is much easier to do than actually doing it. I won the Olympics thousands of times in my mind before entering the competition in Montreal in 1976.” -Lanny Bassham
“Not only does positive imagery increase performance but when we think about creating error we improve the chance of error occurring as well. When we worry that bad things might happen to us we are actually rehearsing them. We are building new neural pathways toward failure”
“The more often you rehearse something, the more effective it becomes”
“The more you think about, write about, and talk about something happening, the more you increase the probability of it happening.”
Coaching Article by Samson Dubina
For sure, it takes thousands of hours to become a world class table tennis player. However, some players have played 15,000 hours and are 1700 level and others have played 15,000 hours and are 2700 level. What makes the difference? There are literally hundreds of factors that make the difference between those who rise to the top and those who don’t. Today, I would like to briefly give some practical scenarios how YOU can use rehearsal.
It is critically important to rehearse winning in your mind. The ability to see the ball clearly, to feel the positioning, to have adjustability, to see yourself able to loop 8-10 balls with excellent location and to feel the energy it gives as you win point after point. This can be done both in your mind and through actual celebration. Go to your basement alone and picture winning the point, let out a “Yes” or “Cho” or “Commmmonn Boy”. Keep in mind that the clearer the imagery, the better the rehearsal.
Should you rehearse losing? Now that’s a great question! Actually, you should rehearse problem solving and rehearse how to come back after you have lost the point. Rehearse feeling that you just missed a smash at 9-9 in the 7th then take a few jumps, nod your head, and come back strong to win the next 3 points. This rehearsal should not only be done off the table, but on the table as well. When you are in a training session and miss an easy-ball and yell in disgust of yourself. Stop, learn to shake it off and play normal on the next point. Now do it again. Now do it again. Don’t actually practice missing the shot, but practice the rehearsal of how to properly respond. Your response both to points won and lost are huge keys to reaching maximum performance.
Rehearsing tactical changes in your mind is also very helpful. You understand that your opponent plays different when losing. For example, instead of flipping your serve, he tends to resort to very spinny pushes when losing. As a tactical rehearsal, you have a plan on what to do when making tactical adjustments.
Playing in a new place is difficult. However, if you have rehearsed what it is going to look like, feel like, sound like, then you can be better prepared. One of the biggest rehearsals that you can do is settle in your mind not to blame the conditions – you knew that there was no AC in the facility, they would be using less-than-ideal balls, that the light was only 150 lux, and you entered the tournament. So, look to make tactical adjustments instead of blaming the conditions.
You need to also rehearse in your mind on how to deal with the cheater. Understand the process of what to do if someone claims the ball hit. Understand what to do if someone changes the score. If all of these scenarios are practiced and rehearsed, then you will feel more comfortable with this in tournament play.
Sometimes the umpire makes a bad call… let’s say he faulted your serve. What do you do? Do you ask why you were faulted? Do you look to the crowd to back you up? Do you run to your smart-phone and scroll back and watch it? What do you do? Again, if the scenario has been played out in your mind before, you will feel more comfortable dealing with it and understand how to react rightly in this situation.
So how do you take mental rehearsal in your basement to the world championships on table 1 at 9-9 in the 7th? Great question! It begins by taking mental rehearsal to the academy in the practice hall doing drills. The more you think about something, write about something, and talk about sometime, the more likely it is that that thing will happen. When you rehearse positive energy and apply positive energy during training, then it is easier for you to have positive energy during match play. When you have good celebration with a fist pump during league matches it is easier to have good celebration with a fist pump during tournament play. So, if you are going to get the most out of rehearsal, it MUST be something that you implement BOTH in solitary by yourself, with your coach, in practice, in practice matches, and in tournaments. At first, it might seem foolish. But world class athletes do it and have astounding results. If you want to get to the top, stop saying it is foolish and give it a try this year. Playing at an elite level starts with THINKING at an elite level!
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