Get Your Game Face On! By Dora Kurimay and Kathy Toon
Review by Larry Hodges, TableTennisCoaching.com
"Have you ever stopped to consider how elite table tennis players deal with the pressure of competition and consistently perform at their best?" That's the opening line of Get Your Game Face On, the new table tennis sports psychology ebook by Dora Kurimay and Kathy Toon ($4.99, available at amazon.com). It's a rather short book - I read it in an hour or two - but with lots of useful content. It covers sports psychology specifically for table tennis better than anything else I've read. It does so not just with theory, but with practical steps to improve your mental game and thereby your overall game.
The book points out four major problems that plague table tennis players, and then goes about giving systematic ways of combating them:
- Not being able to play as well as we practice
- Your energy level can be too high or too low
Central to the book is developing a "Game Face" (confidence, energy, optimism, calm), the inseparable relationship between emotional, mental, and physical (the "Game Face Performance Triangle"), and a "Game Face Routine," using the four R's:
- Reaction (use the 80-10-10 rule - 80% neutral, 10% celebration, 10% challenged response, i.e. instead of "That was terrible!" try "You can make that!")
- Recover (recover from the point, relax, etc., with nine methods listed)
- Ready (this is where you do your tactical thinking, with a very good listing of things to think about - "Think before you play")
- Ritual (to prepare mentally for the next point)
Throughout the book there are numerous real-world examples from world-class players. Often I was nodding my head at mental tricks that match what I'd developed over the years, or at recognizing something I'd see others do. The specific breakdown of how you use the time between points - the four R's - especially led to much thought that will influence my own coaching. The book should be a must for table tennis coaches and serious players.
Dora Kurimay was a member of the Hungarian National Table Tennis Team for six years and was six-time National Champion in doubles, singles, and teams. Perhaps more importantly she has a Bachelor's degree in psychology and two Master's degrees, in Psychology and in Sports Psychology. She has a long coaching background as well, both in table tennis and other sports. She now lives in the U.S. and at this writing has a 2388 rating. Kathy Toon coached tennis for twenty-three years, including at the University of California-Berkeley for fourteen years where teams she coached won three national doubles championships.