Stress Management in Table Tennis Tournaments

Greetings to all table tennis enthusiasts out there! Today I am going to examine stress-related issues in table tennis and various effective ways to deal with them.

Stress is a part of our life and the player who manages to deal with it creatively, most of the time will achieve the desired result.

stress management
stress management

On countless occasions, I have witnessed talented and hard-working players panic because of pressure during tournaments and losing the match against inferior opponents.

Almost 90 % of these losses were caused by simple errors. Fear is our worst enemy.

First of all, we must recognize the problem caused by stress to deal with it. The most common physical/emotional stress symptoms are :

Physical Symptoms :

a) Muscle Tension

b )Rapid heart beating and high blood pressure

c) Panic Attacks

Cognitive & Emotional Symptoms :

a) Poor judgment

b) Negative thoughts

c) Inability to relax and concentrate – Constant worrying about the upcoming result or previous bad results.

Effective ways to deal with stress :

The physical symptoms are rather easy to counteract and eventually completely overcome.

Start to practice relaxed breathing using your belly, not your chest (chest breathing causes muscle tension in the shoulder and back muscles) Take your time before your serve your opponent.

Relax your mind as you think of your next tactic, then go for it.

You can try to play a simulation match during your training.  Practice relaxed breathing and don’t rush yourself between points no matter what! First, relax and then execute.

Cognitive & emotional symptoms need a more personal way to deal with. There are no guidelines that bring the desired result for all players. Every player has a unique personality, and each player deals with those symptoms in their own personal style. Don’t copy other players, be yourself.

A general rule of thumb here is, simplicity brings greatness. Think positive thoughts that will help you to focus and be relaxed.

After all, table tennis is just a game, you are playing for fun. Winning is not everything. It is the whole journey that matters not just the destination.

Avoid Choking Under Pressure

Do you get tense and tight during matches? Would you like to learn a simple routine that could help?




Too much pressure or stress often negatively impacts performance. What happens is that we direct attention towards performance. We begin to focus on our movements rather than relying on the motor skills we have developed during practice. Frenzy advises us to do two simple steps in between points:

A) Empty our mind from negative thoughts and replace them with positive thoughts

B) When the point begins: Don’t THINK, just ACT!

Research shows in our brain, the right hemisphere is associated with superior performance in automated behavior and the left hemisphere controls the right side of the body. The researchers theorized that squeezing a ball or clenching the left hand would activate the right hemisphere of the brain and reduce the likelihood of choking under pressure.

The ball squeezing works. So, if you are right-handed and subject to choking, try squeezing a ball or clenching your left hand. Research indicates it works and at the very least it will give you something to do besides thinking “I need to stop thinking.”

Good luck with your next tournament, I hoped this can help you! I’m always open to creative criticism/comments so feel free to write your opinion 🙂

p.s. in case you may wonder …bold letters were used because your brain will absorb and focus easier on them. After all, they distinguish themselves between other words in this text …so next time you play remember them!

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Warren Davies

3 thoughts on “Stress Management in Table Tennis Tournaments”

  1. Negus Aser Laadamas

    Thanks TTF,for the mental stress control article. It plays a greater role is our playing, than most of us realizes. I have heard of the breathing methodology before . But not in that dept, between belly and chest breathing. I will work on my breathing methodology as well. I am able to see that the better player has both commensuratingly mental and table tennis skilled . Thanks again. Aliyeko. aliyekuwako, atakayekuja,nitarudi bwana akipenda.

  2. Extremely agree with this. Most of the players don’t even pay attention to their mental ups & downs during a match and neglect to practice them ! Its a big issue in table tennis and after a certain level of play it becomes a matter of good psychology and tactics , not perfectly executed strokes!

  3. I would go as far to say that the psychology big is almost the most important at a high level, I think negativity is probably one of the bigger problems of the list above, especially with the less experienced players. With the young players it’s much harder for them to solve also.

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