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Elite Table Tennis Athletes – How Do They Do It?

Elite. What does that even mean? To achieve a level that is above the norm. Here is a humble story of a man who does that and how you too can do it.
He had never played table tennis before until he was in his mid-forties. He worked as a plumber. His name we’ll say is Jeff. He hadn’t paid much attention to how he looked until he noticed a recent picture with him and his friends.

dynamic ping pong

He was beginning to look like soft serve. At first, he doubted it was him, but in his mind, he knew it was.

He was forty pounds overweight, which got him motivated to achieve what few people have ever attempted.

He picked up playing table tennis. At first, he started off playing 20 minutes in the mornings before work, nothing great and death-defying, just a table tennis game for 20 minutes to let the fat melt off. But, he was starting a new addiction.

This addiction gave way to him challenging himself. He went from playing for 20 minutes to 30 minutes then 1 hour to 2 hours a day in a year. The sport left him feeling like he had been hit by a truck. He swore he wouldn’t enter another one of those. He had made it, once was enough.

After several months, he had forgotten all about the pain and the sweet taste of asphalt in his mouth.

Instead, it was replaced by the taste of victory.

Soon playing table tennis became a regular thing and knee surgeries. He was becoming a junkie of some sort, looking for his next challenge fix.

Playing table tennis solo in the house became lame, so he started going to a nearby club to play with other players.

After a short while, he was playing like a pro.

The way Jeff became superhuman was simple.

He built himself up slowly, finding something he liked and sticking with it, and always challenging himself.

The way to fitness shouldn’t be challenging, but begin it!

The beginnings of all things are small. – says Marcus Tullius Cicero.

There are many ways to keep fit, but you have to want it.

These are incredible feats of fitness, as seen in Jeff’s story. To break records is one thing, but getting fitness results is possible for everyone. If people have been able to do extraordinary things, surely you can do extraordinary things.

Even modest goals in comparison to top performers are attainable.

Things such as hitting the 100 pushup mark, getting a 6-minute mile or one hand pull up. These things are not out of your league to achieve.

Eliminate the misconception that great fitness is unattainable. It is very much attainable when you see others going way past the mark. Maintained a balance of effort and ease; otherwise, you will burn out.

People are not so different, but they hold different values (things they want) and different ways of achieving it. If you can tap into how they do it, indeed even half of what they accomplished could be done, or a fraction. It’s all in the mind.

Take the time needed to build yourself up slowly. If you operate from patience, then it is easier to stay the course.

Remember that you are undertaking a project of becoming one of the most finely tuned specimens around; it takes time to carve marble, but the results are excellent.

Focus on starting. The present is the only place you can ever take action.

Just as Jeff did, he just got up every morning and saw to it that he just put in a little time. That’s all you have to focus on now.

Do not get ahead of yourself. Just get started on it. It is the most critical part. Why? Because one of the most significant reasons people never accomplish something is they never got started.

Focus on starting. Focus on the beginning. What can I begin now? Starting is present; it is your reality today. It is the only place that you can make a difference.

The present is the only place you can ever take action; it is the only way you can influence your future. Goals of tomorrow are rarely achieved unless they are started today. However small, do something today.

While you prepare your fitness routines or plans or whatever it is that you want to get dialed in, do something, anything today. Soon tomorrow will be the present and will you neglect that too? Tomorrow is an illusion.

After you have started, it’s good to realize that taking it slow at first.

“Slow is smooth, smooth is fast” – Sergeant Alvin York from World War I.

The beginning is the starting point. Go at a comfortable pace and do what you can. Pick up the pace as you become more accustomed, see results, tweak it as you go, and challenge yourself.

It starts smooth, when it’s smooth you can keep increasing the speed. It is performing in a controlled way. Pretty soon, you will be approaching your mark of superhuman.

“Train with intensity and train with patience”. – Ross Enamait

Look to every day as an opportunity to improve your game; take all successes and difficulties in stride, if it is a day you don’t feel particularly like training, take it a little easier.

Don’t kill your motivation from too much discipline. Focus just on moving ahead, however slight it may feel at times.

To become elite, you need to find something that you truly enjoy. It is the first step. If it’s riding a bike, then do it. My mother can’t wait to ride her bike when she gets home from work. It is the kind of thing that starts bringing you results.

Stop looking at fitness as some punishment and feeling it would be brutal to be elite.

The elite enjoys it more than you do.

An interesting thing is when you enjoy the activity, the pains that you have to bear when training starts to feel good.

“As I start to get fitter and leaner, I get more comfortable. Then the pain becomes sweet. I crave it.” Lance Armstrong

How else can someone keep going out there day after day training for hours if it was all torture?

When you find an activity that you enjoy, that enthusiasm will then carry over to when you do weight training to develop your body even more for performance.

You see how it is directly affecting your performance, and it gives you much more meaning than just being big or slender.

Find deeper meaning in the activity itself. Then you will be seeking the activity, rather than just having it as a means to an end. It will push you on.

So, what are you waiting for… be elite, achieve the epic, and become superhuman.

Read also: Master Some Simple Techniques.

The Story of Fitness – Failure and Success

The story of change often seems to be a difficult one. Why is it such a struggle to become fit?

I struggled with it for years before I finally made real change, and when I did, it was easy.

Here is how it happened.

I have done three state competitions. The first one I entered quarter-final, the second one I got push out on the second match, the third I hit it with everything I had. I got pretty great “results” on the third, but mentally I was fatigued and energetically drained I couldn’t go anymore.

I started the first competition by seeing the amazing before and after photos that weren’t hype, and they had made real change.

It was real; I knew the plan works, plain and simple.

I read that if you practice anything for 30 days, it becomes a habit. So I gave it a go. I had everything in front of me that I needed to do. Everything in the plan I did: the goals, the visualizing, the before pictures, the meals, the training… I followed it to a T,

Running in the morning was the “best way to burn fat”, so I was up at 5 am in the cold winds of November hitting the pavement. My lungs were turning to ice, but that didn’t matter, whatever I had to do, I was going to do it, whether I liked it or not.

If you wake in the middle of the night and feed your body protein, you can gain more muscle. So I tried that. I took the supplements too, had a cupboard full.

I never missed a workout, and I adhered strictly to the eating plan, this was it, I am becoming mighty!

At the end of the first competition, the results were “not bad”. I had trimmed up and gained some muscle, but I fell short of my goal. So I was off to the second competition.

The second competition I started but gave up halfway through because competing in a table tennis match in the winter wasn’t part of my plan. My move to other place destroyed me. “Start over and do it right”, I said.

I hired my coach who dialed everything in from how many calories I should eat, at what times, and best ways of training. I became more scientific and trained harder than I ever had.

I would train hard on my footwork in the early dawn. The air was cold, and the partner who I played with gave me more of a challenge. In the evenings I was in the gym, “racking ’em and stacking ’em”.

Nothing could stand in my way, not even a bull. If it was there, it was going to move!

Indeed, I had to get my workout in. With determination like this, of course, I was going to get results.

Towards the end of the competition, I followed a plan designed to get me to peak right before the photo shoot.

It involved dropping my sodium to 500 mg a day (a slice of ham has 700 mg) and eliminating carbohydrates for a week.

30 days of practice becomes a habit, didn’t click over for me. I was confused.

It was to get me ripped out. I did it and peaked on the photoshoot, but the rest of me…my mind, was drained and couldn’t think, my body, was weak and walking was an intense exercise.

It is when I hit the wall and stopped this madness.

After getting my photos done and eating my way through half a bag of Oreos and drinking a liter of Vanilla Coke, my body and mind took a vacation.

I still tried getting in my workouts, but my will was weak. I could not train that hard. I thought my discipline was weak, that something was wrong with me. How could I have trained that hard and not be able to do it? I had taken all the action. The “30 days of practice becomes a habit” didn’t click over for me. I was confused. Other people could do it.

People at the gym were lean and strong, were they more disciplined than me?

How were they able to keep themselves like that? Did they adhere to great values day in and day out, and that was why they did better than me? How did they do it?

That’s when I began on my quest to find a different way, and it wasn’t easy.

I began poring over books and asking people. Many of the books said the same thing, and they didn’t provide me with anything new. During this time of my struggle to regain my fitness and health, I also decided to quit smoking. A friend of mine told me about a book called “The Easy Way to Stop Smoking” by Allen Carr. So I picked it up and began reading it.

The book explained to keep smoking while you read it. So I thought fair enough, I’ll enjoy a cigarette and a book. It was a rather interesting book. He kept repeating the same messages over and over in the book. 

I thought of his claim, “If you can finish the book, you will quit.”

Well, I thought, “I might just quit the book”. But I kept reading.

Through the book, he re-frames how to think of smoking. Most smokers (myself included) felt that they must have a cigarette because it “tastes good” or “relieves stress”, but he bashes these arguments. He demystifies Freud’s theory of oral fixation.

He kept hammering these points home over and over again. But alas, when I finished the book, I wanted to throw away my cigarettes and the book. I had made a successful change but didn’t understand how it worked. The results are there and have worked for millions of others as well.

Quitting Smoking Was My Turning Point

I found that my brother thought of food in the same way. He could walk past “Better Than Sex” cake (real name) and not care. He started to explain to me how he viewed food. He would feel how it was full of chemicals and what it does to the body when looking at it. He didn’t want it.

“It’s unhealthy, that’s good enough reason for me”.

So I applied what I had learned from quitting smoking. I re-framed how I thought about food. Rather than letting my senses and subconscious take over, I reinterpreted it differently.

It was all effortless. It felt like I wasn’t even doing anything.

This way, I could avoid anything I wanted; it was all effortless. It felt like I wasn’t even doing anything.

I also discovered an article coincidentally in Experience Life magazine by Pilar Gerasimo, who had similar findings. You can read it here.

My journey of health and fitness discovery brought me to China.

I studied table tennis players in northeast China. I found that they too have a different way of training from what I had experienced. They were intense when they trained. Something was different.

They had the fire in their eyes – none of that slugging through it behind a TV on a treadmill. They were alive.

Since my turning point in quitting smoking, I have been recording every idea that I came across. Anything that hit me, I jotted it down. I now have several notebooks scattered throughout my home as I jot things down wherever I am. I am always looking for new and better ways to make training effortless and enjoyable.

Anybody can have great results. I know that may sound cliché, but the reality is some people learned to make it feel good others make it torturous. Well… let’s make it an addiction.