I wanted to enjoy some of this beautiful weather we are currently having in England, so I decided to go for a walk to see the boats moored down at the local river.
I noticed just how calm the boats were, floating on the green, still waters in the Summer sun. I grew up sailing as a child, so I know how reliable and stable they can be during very windy conditions.
Reflecting on that made me think about the ‘Arena’ of table tennis – the mental battle we face in every table tennis match.
Nerves are a complicated subject, and I am by no means an expert. However, getting nervous is completely normal; most players feel nerves before stepping on the court, and maybe even more so during the match itself.
In table tennis, we have to try and control these feelings. If we let other player’s “Cho!!!!!”, or the score line etc. affect us, it could be detrimental to our game and enjoyment of the great sport that is table tennis.
I remember reading Matthew Syed’s book “You Are Awesome” which has a chapter on the subject of nervousness. The former British Olympic table tennis player and three time Commonwealth Championship Singles gold medalist , talks about “choking” under pressure. It was very interesting to read how it badly affected him at the Sydney Olympic Games back in 2000.
I have personally experienced “choking” in matches. I can recount many matches I feel I could have won, even against much higher ranked players, if I hadn’t been nervous. That’s why I found reading his book so interesting, as I found myself learning and gaining knowledge from his own experiences.