Let's Talk Mindset: Your Friendly Guide to Winning the Mental Match in Table Tennis

Table Tennis Advice

Hey there PingSkillers,

Have you ever thought about how much our nifty brains influence our table tennis game? Sure, those lightning-fast reflexes and killer serves matter, but so does our mindset. Today, I'm super excited to share some psychology tips that have totally transformed my game. Let's dive in, shall we?

Living in the 'Ping Pong' Moment

Right Here, Right Now: In the whirlwind of a match, it's easy to get lost in 'what-ifs' and 'oh-no's.' But here's a little secret: the magic happens when you focus on the now. Each point is a new adventure!

Breathe and Be Awesome: Between points, I love taking a deep breath – it’s like hitting the reset button on my brain. Give it a try!

Your Pre-Game Pep Talk

Your Special Ritual: We all have our quirks, right? Embrace them! Whether it's that lucky pair of socks or a pump-up playlist, find what gets you in the zone.

Picture Perfect Plays: Imagine acing those shots before the game even starts. It's like giving your confidence a high-five!

Pressure? More Like Opportunity!

Chat with Yourself (Nicely!): When things get tough, be your own cheerleader. A little "You got this!" goes a long way.

Challenges are Fun, Right?: Every tricky shot is a chance to show what you're made of. Bring it on!

Losses? More Like Lessons!

Be a Detective: After a game, play detective and figure out what clues you can use for next time. No magnifying glass needed!

Bounce Back Like a Pro: Setbacks? Pffft. They're just stepping stones to your next big win.

Throw a Mini-Party for Every Win

Pat Yourself on the Back: Got a point, a game, a match? Do a little victory dance! Celebrating keeps things fun and fuels your fire.

Share the Joy: Tell someone about your triumphs. Trust me, it's contagious!


So, my fabulous PingSkills fam, remember this: Your brain is just as important as your backhand. By staying present, prepping like a pro, embracing the pressure, learning from every match, and celebrating the wins, you're not just playing table tennis – you're mastering it, mentally and all. Here's to keeping our heads in the game and our spirits high!

Posted 5 months ago

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Rick August

Rick August Posted 5 months ago

A lot of good advice. 

Jeff Plumb

Jeff Plumb from PingSkills Posted 5 months ago

Thanks Rick. Having the right mindset is such a big part of the game!

Rick August

Rick August Posted 5 months ago

It seems that the mental aspect can sometimes be even more important than your skill level in match play.  I find that I can sometimes be more nervous playing someone that I should beat than playing someone that is better than me.

Noor Motani

Noor Motani Posted 5 months ago

Well said. I often have these mental collapse. Only to describe, last Friday, I lost a match 3-0. Out of these three games, I was leading 10-8 and 10-6 and lost these games. I will remember your advice in this article 

J. D.

J. D. Posted 5 months ago

Yes, Mindset is a Magic key!
For top athletes, the contribution of mindset could be as high as 70-80%, & skills 20-30%. This is because while technical skills get you to the top levels, mindset often determines who wins at those levels. Its a continuous challenge:) JD


ps: typo in “fam” :)

david palethorpe

david palethorpe Posted 5 months ago

Very sound advice. Must try to remember this

Nirbhay Pandya

Nirbhay Pandya Posted 5 months ago

Awesome! Thank you :)

Jaime Murray

Jaime Murray Posted 5 months ago

Good advice. thanx for sharing the wisdom. But. Somtimes we do get frustrated. And does moments when short lived and wacked out like an idiot. You don't learn anything. But i have to say my training opponents show me the lessons, that look like the advice you give. Table tennis is truly an adventure!

Simon Baxter

Simon Baxter Posted 5 months ago

Thank you Jeff for writing on the key psychological aspect of competitive sport. 

My two cents. Thinking more in the heat of the battle (e.g., serving at 10-8 against someone you've never beaten) I discovered after strings of frustrating and defeatist losses a simple strategy that sounds similar to calming mindset reports by some professional sports people (e.g., retired cricketer Shane Watson).

Thinking, even positive "you can do this", can be a problem ... personally, it tightens me up more as too invested in outcome - you can win! um oops nah

When tight, stressed and feeling pressure, I slowly retrieve ball from back of court, take a slow breath through nose, hold a second, and breathe out slowly through mouth (turns ON relaxing 'parasympathetic' nervous system). That's common practice: watch tennis players got to some rear shade and do same.

However, here's what you don't see. TURN OFF or lower volume of internal commentary about game, winning or even next tactic - trust your body to decide.

PLAY memory in your head of a simple folk song or pop ballad with gentle rhythm that approximates toward a resting heart rate & lowering blood pressure.

Find an artist you like or don't hate and with boring lyrics that don't excite e.g., James Taylor "Carolina in My Mind" ... zzzz oh nice

That song is an example. My chosen song is a private matter ha but I've paid the artist extra (Bandcamp/Patreon) as silent thanks for WINS due to his song!

My favourite music is generally metal with meaningful protest words etc. yet NEVER do I use it on TT court. Increases heart rate & aggressive worry chatter.

A different angle on discussion. Most of us relate to choking .. even as bad as Wimbledon Jana Novotna, 1993. She should have tried a James Taylor song.

Apology Jeff - almost wrote a sub article :) ha .. Music in my head helps endure highs & lows on the table tennis adventure. Even if lose, life is a good tune.

Jeff Plumb

Jeff Plumb from PingSkills Posted 5 months ago

Simon, thanks so much for sharing your thoughts on this matter. I think you've made some excellent points and yes, Jana Novotna should have tried a James Taylor song :)

I also like faster music which is definitely not the right way to go for me personally in preparing for an important point. We often hear that sports people need to "fire up" but more often then not is is exactly the opposite, we need to calm down!

Jeevan Jeevan Sekhar

Jeevan Jeevan Sekhar Posted 5 months ago

Wow!  This is spot on. I love the bite sized, specific, actionable, and tonal quality of these points.  Thanks so much.  And all of these suggestions can be translated directly to life also.  

Jeff Plumb

Jeff Plumb from PingSkills Posted 5 months ago

Thanks Jeevan. I'm glad you found it helpful.

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