(By Larry Hodges)
You’ve practiced, you’ve worked with a coach, you’ve done physical training, you’ve done mental training… you’re ready for the tournament. What could go wrong? Let’s see . . . the floor’s slippery, so you can’t move… it’s humid, so the ball is sliding off the racket . . . and the only thing around to eat for lunch were hot dogs, and now you’re feeling sick… AAAAAAAHHH!!!
Okay, let’s calm down and make sure these things don’t happen again. Here are some tips.
- Slippery floors. Make sure to have relatively new shoes before a tournament or big match if you are playing on floors that might be slippery. You might even have a brand new pair of table tennis shoes that you only use in tournaments, and put aside between tournaments so they stay relatively new and grippy. Another solution is to put a slightly wet paper towel on the floor, and step on it between rallies. This will make your shoes extra grippy, but only for a minute or so. It’s a hassle but it pays off. (Top players rarely have to deal with this problem, at least in big matches, since they rarely play on slippery floors. Most big tournaments these days have special rubberized flooring with just the right amount of grippiness.)
- Humidity. Use two towels, one for you, one for the ball and racket only. The towel you use for yourself will get damp rapidly and will be useless in drying off your racket or the ball. Have extra towels to replace these when/if they get damp.
- Food & Drinks. Bring fruit, light sandwiches, and other food items that are high in carbohydrates, but not too high in sugar. Eat small amounts throughout the tournament rather than periodic large meals, although you should have a relatively large breakfast. Drinks such as Gatorade are good, but so is water. Make sure to drink fluids from the start of the tournament, not just when you are thirsty – by then, you are already dehydrated, and slightly weakened.
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