Saturday, October 5, 2013

when you are so much better than your opponent, and you prove it psychologically

Being much better than someone else at something is a funny thing. It shows your personality, and also allows you to delve into the psychological aspect of the game.

Table tennis is truly a gentleman's sport - the simpleness of the game, and a relative lack of intentional personal injury during play, combine into what is essentially a momentary passion, something that will be finished and then life continues on to normal. Seldom do you see a beaten opponent toss you his prized racket, or try to smash the ball into your eye - at least in my experience.

However, there is a lot of attitude and mind games when playing. Like the moniker of "live action chess" implies, you are constantly using psychological warfare to try to get an edge. But, you can also inspire defeat into your opponent's heart by your attitude when facing their best attempts.

I think some great examples can be seen in the following video, which highlights one of the best that have played the game.

Notice that Jan is not apologetic, nor does he celebrate excessively - he just remains serious like those monster returns mean nothing to him. I particularly like the one where he starts walking away from the table after blocking a shot by a young Timo Boll. You have to wonder, as his opponent, if he isn't just playing with you to entertain the crowd, and his real level is so much higher. He effectively conveys an air of "no matter what you do, i'm not impressed in the least, and you will lose".

Truly one of those "actions are louder than words" moments are captured in that video. Jan wasn't known for a ferocious attack or wild antics - he was just known for pulling shots that no one else could pull, seemingly effortlessly. His demeanor helped a lot in conveying a sense of awe and defeat into his opponent's heart.