One thing that I have learned over the years is often the best tips for table tennis come from outside our sport. Yesterday, three real gems appeared which were captured during the post game analysis at ESPN W.
Here is the link to the video:
The first gem was the utter CLASS shown by Abby Wombach directly after the loss in the post game interview. This wasn't a lobsided loss, but one determined by the smallest of margins after 120 minutes of intense play.
Spoken like a true CHAMPION she shared the pain in her voice as she did her duty to address the media. Far too many dejected athletes would have headed for the showers and look for something to kick or throw, not Abby.
Along the same lines, Abby used the word "we" throughout the entire interview showing what a real team player she is. She gave CREDIT and RESPECT to her teammates and never looked for a scapegoat in the heartbreaking loss.
Especially for our juniors, another gem is how to handle the completion of a long-term goal. As simple as it sound the key is to set another one quickly to reduce any post stress that can accompany success or failure. Team USA is already on the ball with London 2012 as the new focus.
I really loved that she said she hoped the team would qualify for London again showing that Team USA's Women never take anyone lightly which is the greatest respect you can show your opponents. Abby ended the interview by congratulating Japan in a very a genuine way. She knows how hard her team worked to be within 3 minutes of the Cup, likewise I am sure she can imagine what the Japanese team has gone through both on and off the field.
The only issue I have with any of her words is when she said in reference to Japan, "I think their country is very, very proud of them." My reply is, "So are we, very, very, proud of you and how your team fought, competed, and represented the very best of what we have." The inspiration our women's Olympic teams (of soccer, basketball, softball, gymnastics) continue to provide our young girls, families and fans why sports are great for everyone.
The third gem that came out of this short post game analysis was the insight that former US Goaltender Briana Scurry provided when describing how the Japanese goaltender read the ball and didn't just guess where to defend.
Briana mentioned the importance of looking for cues and tips of where to go. This type of concentration occurs when we are In The Zone, as time stands still and information and action is magnified. It is easy to just guess what to do, that is being reactive. It is another thing to read and respond based on countless hours of training and practice. This is what winners do.
In table tennis reading spin, speed, and placement shouldn't be taken lightly. For in those micro seconds of time after the ball has left your opponent's racket lies the same type of answers of where to play the best return as how to stop a penalty kick. When you focus on the little stuff you get to enjoy the big stuff!
Thank you TEAM USA for sharing your struggle, for exhibiting your grace, and for competing in a way that brings true honor and respect to our country both at home and abroad!