USA Table Tennis

Mar 07 Tips to do your best at "The Teams!"

Nov. 21, 2011, 12:24 a.m. (ET)
I will miss not being at "The Teams" this year as many of the players I work with will be there fighting hard.  Here are a few tips I learned about after playing in both Detroit and Baltimore that might be of some value.

  1. This is a team event.  Treat it as such and you will gain much more than any singles tournament you have played in.  Cheer, coach, support, hang out and high-five your teammates.  They will play better when you do and I am sure they will reciprocate.
  2. Don't get too hung up on the order.  The goal is to win and if you are going to take 5 matches the order doesn't matter.  You might have to come from behind, but have confidence if you are indeed the better team that you will prevail.  If you are going into extra innings send a rep to the control desk to let them know you are still fighting.
  3. Get a good breakfast.  It will be a long day and the momentum starts on the first point.  Make sure you are refueled and ready to go.
  4. Get a good stretch.  Show up at least 45 minutes prior to your tie and work the tight muscles out.  No bouncing but hold those stretches for an 10-15 count and exhale and say "relax."  If you are really clever you will do some light stretching at the end of each day to help reduce the lactic acid build-up.
  5. Take your best shoes.  The floor is hard and your back will feel it.  Don't go cheap on your footwear.
  6. Change the scenery.  If you have a bye head back to the hotel to kick your feet up and relax.  Hearing pong balls going back and forth is mentally draining.  Any chance to go out to the hallway now that it is glue free to throw a towel over your head and lay down is also good for a quick recharge.
  7. Play one point, one game, one match, one tie at a time.  Stay in the present and let the other teams burn mental energy on the "what if" scenarios.
  8. Have a fun dinner, but don't go overboard.  There are a number of great places to eat.  My favorite is California Pizza Kitchen at the inner harbor.  For a successful Teams, just refuel and don't go heavy on the dessert or libations.
  9. A wet towel can be your best friend.  The floors of convention centers can be dusty even after a nightly wipe down.  Get a small, damp wash cloth for your feet to tap in between points to make sure your shoes are gripping.
  10. Watch the finals.  Video tape and review what the best players do to win points when you get home.  See how they set them up and how well they place the ball to smart locations.  Also watch how they stay balance no matter how hard they hit the ball.
and the 11th and final tip:

Fight hard on SUNDAY no matter which place you are playing for.  Sunday is the easiest day for upsets as so many people think the matches don't really count or they are so sore from the first two days.  Hello? The do count and final placements are still in jeopardy.

If you view it as a 3 day tournament and not just a chance to win rating points you will fair much better.  Show your true grit and determination when others are ready to mail it in.  Win with greater will power and take home the trophy you desire.

Best of luck and don't play like a Butterball!!!

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