Wednesday
Sep242014

Tournaments test mental and physical skills

Table Tennis has been determined to be one of the best "Brain" sports. The 2014 Alaskan Assassins. Alaskans Kyle Yan, Andy Hutzel, Karl Augestad Augestad is joined by Hannoch Marksheid from Israel and Robert Hodgson from New Jersey. Tournaments test our skill but really challenge our ability to mentally stay focused from the pre match warm through the conclusion of each 3-5 game match.  It takes concentration and adaptation through out the process of a match.  Not to mention during a weekend or 3-5 day tournament.  NATT Teams in Washington DC, 2014

During the month of August through November many Alaskan's have travel to tournaments in Seattle, Portland, Washington D.C., St. George, UT and Las Vegas to take on new opponants.  Many participants say they like to compete against tough players and find the new locations exciting and fun.

During competition our minds can drift if our shots and strategy is not going according to planned.  Or the opponent has strong aggressive shots or is playing well to our weakness.  Sometimes errors increase and those mistakes are the signs we're not well prepared.  Tournaments test our mental endurance during adversity in competition.  In some cases we can revert to a more conservative approach and play a bit more defensively.  Like pushing with focus on our footwork.  And blocking with a sense of balance with our feet and center of body.  Then focus on good form in our individual strokes.  I utilize my free hand in front of my body to use as a guide for my end position on my forehand stroke.  Also not forcing the shot too hard and take 10-20% off the shot with a steady follow through.  Sometimes just a few adjustments and help us refocus and regain consistency.  

Tournaments test our ablity to carry over our skills from practice to matchs.  From blocking out distractions of 30 to 150 tables surrounding you with sounds coming from all directions, balls flying in to your court and the nets and edges that test your reflexed.  Not to mention the maintaining consistency from round to round.  Often we practice our "shots" and hone our physical skills.  But the sport of table tennis is 80% mental.  The top players can slip briefly and then quickly adapt and adjust as the match progresses.  

This sport can be frustrating and over time it is difficult to maintain complete concentration.  Playing for 3 rounds of 3 matches back to back can be fun but when you advance out of the round robin phase will you substain the level of skill and mental toughness needed to make it to the finals and play your best.  

Tournament experience is the important and it is easy to be discouranged after entering one or two events and not playing up to your know ability.  Often the "mental part" of your game is where you need development.  Many say well "I just dont practice enough".  And who says you cant MENTALLY practice without hitting a single ball!  

Mental improveness comes with CONFIDENCE.  When confient you can over come challenges others would say you would NOT.  Belive in yourself with positive affrimations and improved mental imagines.  Develop, grow and mature to improve your mental resolve.  

George Wang from Oregon plays INTENSE. Alaskans Karl Augestad and Paul Elliott both faced him at the Pac Rim Table Tennis tourney in Portland. Karl played George in 2010 and edged out a victory. George did not take the loss well. But then only 4 ears later George defeated Paul Elliott and raised his game both mentally and physically. Boosting his rating from 1801 to nearly 2300! His mental level has increased. It is tough when you have limited experience in tournaments.  In the continental US I see competitive tournament players entering 8 to 10 USATT sanctioned tournaments a year!  In Alaska we are lucky to have one during the whole year.  So in 2015-16 make it your goal to come out and enter more tournaments and practice sessions.  

So the local Alaskans take the time to travel to tournaments outside the state.  In June yearly the "Alaska Yukon Challenge" handicap tournament is hosted in rotation each year in Fairbanks, Whitehorse and Anchorage. Regardless of your skill and experience you will have a great time with the opportunity to play top players and novice players in one event.  On August 22-23, 2015, Six Alaskans are entering the Seattle Open sponsored by SPTTC and Butterfly NA.  So travling for a weekend tournament allows players to experience different styles of players.  And tests our mental and physical endurance.  

In early October the Huntsman World Senior Games in St. George, UT will test Alaskans from Juneau, Fairbanks, Eagle River and Anchorage.  Bob Janes who has attended the HWSG the most is pairing up with fellow Juneau resident, 

Then in November every year the NATT Teams are hosted in Washington, DC.  A BIG Tourney with 155 tables in one large convention hall.  A 3 day event matching players of like skill level for intense multiday play.  By day 3 you will feel it and know if you prepared for the big dance.  

Alaska has received some excellent competitive table tennis players over the last 3 and a half decades.  Including top national and international players like Errol Resek in the early 80's.  Even as of 2014 and 2015 Errol won Singles and Doubles events at the US Nationals and US Open in Las Vegas.  And national junior team member from Bahrain, Haitham Salman in 2005-08.  He would travel to tournaments in the middle east representing Bahrain and faced some top players in the region.  These competitors have trained with great coaches and seem to have strong mental strength.  Some comes with coaching.  But some players just have "IT" from their life skills.  But their adaptation and creative resources remain consistent and quick adjustments to different styles and speed of their opponent make them successful.   Facing these players and other new opponents at these big tournaments I've noticed the shots I make offensively are blocked or counter hit in return.  This tactic in nothing new in the highest level of the sport.  

So come out and participate in TOURNAMENTS in Alaska and elsewhere.  Come to the practice sessions and talk to the locals about the opportunities to play in tournaments.  In order to improve ask about coaching from some of the top local players like Karl Augestad and Kyle Yan.  Check out future postings on clinics, leagues and drop in plays.  And enter those tournaments.  

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