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PostPosted: 10 Jan 2019, 14:24 
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pgpg wrote:
Thank you, Brett - probably one of the best posts I've read on OOAK (or anywhere else, to be honest).


Thanks Peter.

To be honest, I thought it would be way too much truth for some. It's the reality that I sometimes get paid to navigate and I have nothing to lose by being open about it.

If you want extreme truth, Read Andre Agassi's book. Agassi was an amazing player and a train wreak, all at the same time. His extreme hatred for tennis was unparalleled.

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PostPosted: 10 Jan 2019, 21:00 
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As a counter example there's Martina Hingis, who had a double tennis life, the first like Agassi hating it. The second for the pure love of the game and the joy of it when she went back to play doubles.


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PostPosted: 10 Jan 2019, 21:30 
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Back when I was playing in England I had a teammate for one season who was still only 18/19 and was as a junior around top 50 in the UK. We played in the second division of the local league which was WAY below his level. I was in awe of this guy and he became a good friend throughout the season. I struggled to internalize that this guy was so good and was in my eyes wasting his skills and potential with us. I was trying to inspire him to get back to practicing properly as I believed he could still make it big. Unfortunately, after I left England it seems he stopped playing entirely.
I remember the first league match I played with him, he did an around the net roller against some poor chap.. again I was just in awe as I'd never seen anything like this before at that stage.

Brett, I think you described his situation perfectly with this "Players sometimes become scared of losing because their entire ego and reputation is wrapped up in their success and public image." A lot of people thought of this guy as one of the most talented table tennis players at the club he played in. I think this led him to stop playing properly. He would back off the table, pull of shots he shouldn't be doing, go for too many around the net shots and miss most of them.

The thing is, because he stopped playing "properly" he always had an excuse if he lost. Sort of like, well everyone knows he's good.. so if he loses when he messes around then it doesn't matter as we don't know his true level. But all this messing around sort of became his permanent playstyle, as if he couldn't play differently.

I tried to tell him to stop caring so much because in reality no one else really cares that much and you're only hurting your own game. Just telling him this didn't really make a difference as he already knew it himself. I think what he needed was a change in scenery, so he could play in a club where no one knew him, sadly he didn't get that opportunity. I think this is the reason he decided to play with us since he could just mess around without being judged.
Additionally, because of a few issues between him and his coach he was a bit of an outcast, so he had no support there.

Makes you wonder what would've happened if he had a coach like Brett.. This guy had great technique and amazing "feeling" for the ball, he just needed something or someone to help sort out his mental barriers. It was painful for me to watch because I kept imagining myself in his situation. I was jealous that he'd been through the whole training system as a kid, that he once had a good coach and that it was all being wasted. But who knows, perhaps if I walked that path I'd end up just like him. Regardless, he seems happy without TT now and that's all that matters. I predict he'll get back into it at a later stage in life.

Your post is very insightful Brett, I love it. It's good to be reminded that almost all of us have our struggles, even top pros (perhaps especially top pros). From having had the opportunity to train a lot the last year I can feel a part of that psychological battle my ex teammate had.
Considering I'm struggling mentally with matches at a relatively low hobby level of the sport I'm pretty sure I'd never make it as a pro even if I started as a young kid. It's incredibly frustrating, I know that it doesn't really matter that much if I do lose but my body and mind is just reacting regardless. Usually it happens when I give away such easy balls a beginner could've done it better.. or if I lose because I miss those kind of balls. If I lose a match where both I and the opponent is playing great then losing hardly bothers me at all.


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PostPosted: 10 Jan 2019, 22:55 
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Richfs wrote:
Your post is very insightful Brett, I love it. It's good to be reminded that almost all of us have our struggles, even top pros (perhaps especially top pros). From having had the opportunity to train a lot the last year I can feel a part of that psychological battle my ex teammate had.
Considering I'm struggling mentally with matches at a relatively low hobby level of the sport I'm pretty sure I'd never make it as a pro even if I started as a young kid. It's incredibly frustrating, I know that it doesn't really matter that much if I do lose but my body and mind is just reacting regardless. Usually it happens when I give away such easy balls a beginner could've done it better.. or if I lose because I miss those kind of balls. If I lose a match where both I and the opponent is playing great then losing hardly bothers me at all.


Thanks Rich.

Everyone has weakness. Xu Xin has a relatively weak backhand and he's been no.1 in the world. Sometimes weaknesses are physical and sometimes they are mental. I personally get nervous, I'm afraid of losing, and I have backhand problems to boot.

If you have a weak backhand block, you probably need LTT103. If you have psychological challenges, you need to go to the Psychology section on ttEDGE.com.

If you get nervous in matches, it can have a dramatic impact on your entire relationship with the sport. Getting nervous will eventually lead a player down your friend's path. It really isn't a lot of fun when you can't win the matches that you want to win, just because your hand is shaking. Messing around and refusing to challenge yourself are symptoms of anxiety. Quitting is just the next step.

The ability to trigger relaxation and develop a good prepoint routine is essential. There isn't that much difference between technical and psychological challenges. There are techniques to deal with both.

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PostPosted: 10 Jan 2019, 23:00 
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FruitLoop wrote:
As a counter example there's Martina Hingis, who had a double tennis life, the first like Agassi hating it. The second for the pure love of the game and the joy of it when she went back to play doubles.


Good example. Hingis came back when all expectation and conditioning had gone. She was able to tap back into the fun and joy that children have before they get "serious".

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PostPosted: 10 Jan 2019, 23:27 
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A lot of stress is goal and status driven. The problem is finding the balance between the goals that are meaningful and the goals that are not.

Process is where the focus should be, not goals. There is a really good new book by James Clear called "Atomic Habits" where he focuses on what it takes to build good habits. One of the things he discusses (and which Scott Adam's of Dilbert fame has popularized) is that the systems and the quality of their outputs should take precedence over the larger goals. Everyone wants to be #1 so it can't be the goal by itself that drives the results.

It's one of the reasons I am wary of the ratings system in the US. People abuse it in various ways, and it is used by many parents to ruin the lives of their children. I think before I met Brett, given the environment I was in, it was going to ruin my enjoyment of table tennis. But Brett and ttedge opened my eyes to another way of looking at these things that brought into harmony a lot of other things I had learned.

Status is a part of life. There is no way to completely get around or avoid it given that life is competitive. But knowing that and understanding some of the traps can help you better manage the stress caused by focusing on goals over processes. Processes may or may not achieve goals but there is no chance of your hitting the goal without q process. Try to enjoy the process.

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PostPosted: 10 Jan 2019, 23:36 
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NextLevel wrote:
A lot of stress is goal and status driven. The problem is finding the balance between the goals that are meaningful and the goals that are not.

Process is where the focus should be, not goals. There is a really good new book by James Clear called "Atomic Habits" where he focuses on what it takes to build good habits. One of the things he discusses (and which Scott Adam's of Dilbert fame has popularized) is that the systems and the quality of their outputs should take precedence over the larger goals. Everyone wants to be #1 so it can't be the goal by itself that drives the results.

It's one of the reasons I am wary of the ratings system in the US. People abuse it in various ways, and it is used by many parents to ruin the lives of their children. I think before I met Brett, given the environment I was in, it was going to ruin my enjoyment of table tennis. But Brett and ttedge opened my eyes to another way of looking at these things that brought into harmony a lot of other things I had learned.

Status is a part of life. There is no way to completely get around or avoid it given that life is competitive. But knowing that and understanding some of the traps can help you better manage the stress caused by focusing on goals over processes. Processes may or may not achieve goals but there is no chance of your hitting the goal without q process. Try to enjoy the process.


Another great NextLevel post. Everything NL wrote above is important and process is king.

You also need tools to deal with stress during a match.

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PostPosted: 10 Jan 2019, 23:38 
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Good post, NL!

The problem with processes that are not achieving the goal we've set (or achieving it but not as fast as we'd like) - setting aside the meaningfulness of the goal itself - is that we start to doubt them. We start asking ourselves: am I doing the right thing? can it be that it doesn't work for me at all? have I just spent a huge amount of time (effort, money) in vain? maybe I'm just incapable of TT in general and should stop wasting my time on it at all since I don't seem able to achieve that simple goal that I've set?

Training and processes are all good but I think it's very hard to keep to them when they aren't bringing you what you want (i.e. your goal).


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PostPosted: 10 Jan 2019, 23:48 
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ziv wrote:
Good post, NL!

The problem with processes that are not achieving the goal we've set (or achieving it but not as fast as we'd like) - setting aside the meaningfulness of the goal itself - is that we start to doubt them. We start asking ourselves: am I doing the right thing? can it be that it doesn't work for me at all? have I just spent a huge amount of time (effort, money) in vain? maybe I'm just incapable of TT in general and should stop wasting my time on it at all since I don't seem able to achieve that simple goal that I've set?

Training and processes are all good but I think it's very hard to keep to them when they aren't bringing you what you want (i.e. your goal).


I think NL was assuming that the player has a very good idea of what they need to do to improve.

For example, you may need to work on your first loop. To work on your opening loop, you need to know what you are doing wrong, and understand what is the right way. Then you can work towards a better shot. This shot will help you to achieve your goals.

You point about getting despondent is very real. If you don't achieve your goals, you still won't be happy. It makes it even more important to fully understand what you need to improve and obtain the knowledge required to do it.

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PostPosted: 11 Jan 2019, 01:56 
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Oh, that is a very interesting conversation! When it comes to pressure/status/ego, one thing that helps a lot is figuring out how to deal with toxic people of different kinds, including the ones on the forums :D Unfortunately, there are lot of them in the community and they may ruin the whole experience, even training. Once you are immune to their influence, it reliefs the situation a lot. There is still self-imposed pressure, but I find it a lot easier to handle.

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PostPosted: 11 Jan 2019, 02:25 
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Very good post NL.. lots of great posts!

It makes perfect sense to focus on the process.. but it's in the heat of the moment and when I need/should focus on the process the most when it's the most difficult. It's very difficult to truly internalize it. Consistent mindfulness practice might be useful.


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PostPosted: 11 Jan 2019, 02:25 
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Brett is right - I am making some assumptions about my audience. I might not use the word "fun" consistently - I have come to prefer the word "meaningful" and "rewarding", maybe because I can be a very depressing character but I find that sometimes life can play you a bad hand. But as long as your struggle has meaning to you, you are willing to endure. And if it can be fun, all the better. Sometimes the meaning of the struggle is what makes it able to become fun, in addition to how well it fulfills your character/personality.

There is honestly no easy way to handle any of this or to tell whether goals are realistic or not. One of the benefits of having adults who have worked hard to get to a decent TT level is that it helps you put some things in context and gives you some benchmarks.

No one likes to talk about talent. But you can read some reasonably good polemics against talent like "Bounce" while appreciating that they go too far - talent definitely matters and so does hard work and luck.

But no one can tell what talent does or means. That's where the importance of fun lies. If you are going to spend all this time not achieving your goal, you had better enjoy it as if the only reward is the goal, that is far from guaranteed. In my experience, earnest effort has rewards ro the spirit other than just the achievement itself. But that is my experience. Not some scientific fact.

The subgoals are part of it. As are making the goals realistic. But the devil is always in the details.


ziv wrote:
Good post, NL!

The problem with processes that are not achieving the goal we've set (or achieving it but not as fast as we'd like) - setting aside the meaningfulness of the goal itself - is that we start to doubt them. We start asking ourselves: am I doing the right thing? can it be that it doesn't work for me at all? have I just spent a huge amount of time (effort, money) in vain? maybe I'm just incapable of TT in general and should stop wasting my time on it at all since I don't seem able to achieve that simple goal that I've set?

Training and processes are all good but I think it's very hard to keep to them when they aren't bringing you what you want (i.e. your goal).

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PostPosted: 11 Jan 2019, 02:36 
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iskandar taib wrote:
Brett Clarke wrote:
Here you go. If anyone wants a second blade to mess with try this on for $7.69. It's made of carbon too! https://www.aliexpress.com/item/7-Ply-5 ... 6c5cee0e90

Btw, I've hacked Brett Clarke's account and this wasn't his opinion and he isn't responsible for what is written above.


Oh my goodness. This is actually a buck cheaper than the M8. Not only is it in my price range, it's in my weight range as well. And.. it's got "lymphoid face material" .. How can I not order one??

Don't know about the carbon - they can't seem to make up their minds whether it's got carbon in it or not. I mean, yeah, wood has carbon in it, but... this looks like a 7 ply with a Clipper-like 3 ply core.

Image

Image

Another plus - it comes in penhold (I know some people who might want one).

Whether Brett's account got hacked or not.. not much to lose, really, just eight bucks...

Iskandar


It arrived today. Yeah, like the photo, no carbon (which might be a plus), and it's 91 grams (not in my optimal weight range). It is a 7 ply. Ah well, I'll stick a couple of old sheets on it and we'll see how it plays. It does look quite natty, build quality seems OK (or at least comparable to Sanwei).

It did come in three weeks - AliExpress parcel delivery is getting slower and slower these days, I got another package (not table tennis related) today that I had ordered 2 months ago.

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PostPosted: 11 Jan 2019, 02:48 
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Richfs wrote:
Very good post NL.. lots of great posts!

It makes perfect sense to focus on the process.. but it's in the heat of the moment and when I need/should focus on the process the most when it's the most difficult. It's very difficult to truly internalize it. Consistent mindfulness practice might be useful.


Or consistent mindlessness practice. In the end, the goal is to be able to give yourself the best chance of playing your best table tennis when it matters. Mindfulness does help but so can mindlessness. But these are all words - I have always considered flow a state of mindlessless but others may consider it mindfulness. So my goal is still the same- to improve my chances of playing my best table tennis when it matters.

That is why training matters. And I always find it interesting when someone who does not train enough to know his game complains about its quality. But it is usually a disconnect between what we think learning and mastery is like and what it truly is like.

Returning to play again had been a helpful reality check . It is likely aspects of my game are back to 2015 before I started working with Brett since I can't move (and before 2015 I didn't move - with pride). But I wasn't chopped liver back then just a 1900 player.

Thanks for the kind words.

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PostPosted: 11 Jan 2019, 03:36 
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NextLevel wrote:
Or consistent mindlessness practice. In the end, the goal is to be able to give yourself the best chance of playing your best table tennis when it matters. Mindfulness does help but so can mindlessness. But these are all words - I have always considered flow a state of mindlessless but others may consider it mindfulness. So my goal is still the same- to improve my chances of playing my best table tennis when it matters.


Given the choice I would take mindlessness every time. When I am mindful during play I tend to have my mind on a) the score b) my desire to win c) my fear of losing or d) how crap my xyz technique was on the last point. When I am mindless my technique is often still crap, but since my mind is fully occupied with seeing the ball and hitting it, lots of times good things happen too.

What gets me down sometimes is when something happens that highlights the enormity of the gap between what I need and want to do to get to the level I want to play at, and the time and resources I am actually applying. Going to TT camps is my favorite thing in life, but it really brings home the problem. It kind of feels like walking along the shoulder of a fast-moving road. My semi-educated guess is that if I applied 1,000 hours a year for the next four years to good quality training and matches, and stayed healthy, I'd be a hell of a lot better than I am now. But I'm only doing maybe 500 hours a year, and at least half of that is worthless. It can get depressing, when progress is so slow it's imperceptible over long stretches, months. Realistically that's a big reason I switched to SP BH, because I was frustrated, and when you go from no experience to some the jolt of progress is exhilarating. Of course now I'm eight months into it, and diminishing returns are back.

I think the psychological pressure on hobby players and pros or serious juniors are very different in degree, but not so much in kind. Hobby players play a lot of matches that don't matter, but we all reach a level from where it is very difficult to improve, so our focus shifts from development to results. And focusing on results brings disappointment with it. Real players reach a point where they basically have no chance to surpass the people ahead of them. Like the example of richfs' league teammate who was a top 50 England junior. That is an amazing level, but what were his chances of ever playing for England? And what would he have had to do to beat out Pitchford or Walker (or whoever), considering how hard they must have been working themselves, to win against their targets, who were other internationals. And if the only logical step left for you that remotely justifies the effort, is in practical terms impossible, why do you keep going?

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