I am a intermed. player, I train a lot, like many I play very well in training but often bad in matches. The mental part is often under estimated: once a player said that our sport is like playing chess running 100 mts. In the last liga matches I made 2 incredible comebacks: in the decisive matches I lost the first 2 sets very bad, than won 3-2, with more experienced players. But I feel very unsatisfied: apart from the usual tips, how can we really train our mental condition and approach?
This is a question we get asked often and is one of the most common issues players find.
That’s fantastic you made 2 great comebacks, this was going to be one of my suggestions, the only real way to develop mental resistance is through experience and playing a lot of matches. Setting correct goals will also help you focus on the right attributes. For example if you go into a match and just focus on the result/outcome it will be hard to get the result as you will not be focusing on the performance side of things such as tactics, spin, movement etc. Keep your mind focused on one point at a time.
The reason why players play well in training is simply because their is a lot less pressure. If you miss in training there is no fear as you do not lose a point.
This mental resistance takes time to develop and the fact you are talking about this is already bringing yourself closer to being more mentally tougher. In practice try to do a lot of irregular drills and put pressure on your training. Include points and do lots of match type exercises. This will help you practice in a more match like environment. When you then play competition and matches your practice will start to transfer a lot easier. Once you gain more and more experience you will start to find your training level gets closer to your match level. Do you have a video of yourself playing in a match? Also, how long have you been playing for?
thank you very much for your warm answer. I am playing again, in Italy, since one year and a half: I played many years ago for 7 years, when I was 13 until 20. Now I am 39, I started again since one year and a half: I recovered all the basics, I am developing new things, starting to focus on tactics as well, and trying to work a lot on the body and the footwork. What you said is exactly what my coach says: it is a matter of experience, I’ll get to that.
Our next liga match will be mid. January. I’ll record it and send you an extract.
Thanks a lot for your attention and I wish you, Tom and your colleagues happy Christmas holidays!