Why Ping-Pong? Part 2 by Liliana Kohann


Improving Mental Attitude

Years ago, as a child, I vowed to myself that one day I would beat my oldest brother, Slawek, in ping-pong. Once in a while I would try, and I just kept failing. No wonder! He was five years older than me, much stronger, and he had that "I am unbeatable" kind of guy attitude. Even later, when I got better and faster, I still couldn't beat him. I was "losing" before we even started playing.

Life took its course and I ended up in America, far away from home, which is Gdansk, Poland. Every few years I'd go back to Poland, try to play with him and I would lose. It was about two years ago that I heard of this incredible place, the Newgy Table Tennis Training Center, where some man had created a robot to train with. These robots (Robo-Pong) can train with you and make you a better player. You can imagine what I thought. I started going to the Newgy Center for training and to play with the Robo-Pong table tennis robot. Eventually I ended up buying one for myself and a year and a half later I was ready to try. I knew that Slawek was not practicing table tennis at all, and I was finally really learning how to play. During my summer vacation in Poland, I challenged my brother, and I finally won! It was a hard match but I won. Yet, as I played with him, I realized how he still wins with me mentally. As I kept beating myself up for every wrong shot, he would just not waste a second on any of his mistakes. They seem not to affect him at all.

So now I am focused on improving my mental attitude. I no longer want to waste time on telling myself how bad I am, or getting mad at myself, neither in ping-pong nor in life. In table tennis there is so little time between balls, and every time I get down on myself I waste the opportunity to prepare well for the next ball. The speed of table tennis and the frequency of the ball forces me to work on my attitude quickly. It's like I am trying to re-wire the muscle memory of my brain. The outcome? I not only see the improvement in my table tennis game but also in life. Every time I make a mistake, or something goes wrong, I tell myself: ok, prepare for the next ball, prepare for the next opportunity, because it will come, and when it comes, I want to be ready!

Liliana Kohann

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