In writing my very first blog post I was sharing some of my table tennis highlights with a colleague of mine at Compello. I mentioned being a highly rated youngster on the Stockholm circuit, being the best player on the best team, and arguably the MVP, most valuable player. Then I shared about my comeback and playing table tennis legend David Wetherill. I detailed how he with ease won the match, how he crushed me and in all honesty, I had no chance. And I loved it!
My colleague didn’t understand how I could love losing and losing badly? I said it wouldn’t be easy to explain, but I will give it a shot in this post!
As an athlete, I cherish competing. I have the most fun when competition is fierce. I’m a student of the game and also a fan. So when I’m clearly out-matched it’s easy for me to relax, enjoy the game and just play.
Years ago in London comes to mind. I got to sub in for a sick player of my club stop team. I was playing a league match against a person that was far superior and played in multiple divisions higher than me. I was out-matched in every aspect of the game. But I played freer than I ever had before. I played taking high risk shots and with a ”I’ll show him!” attitude. It was a tough match that went the distance. It was a match I should not have won on paper. However, I did.
No nerves, aggression or any other negative emotion that I can get caught up in. I often verbally tell my opponents if they made a good serve or shot. I know many players who don’t agree with this practice as it makes them lose focus and because they don’t want to encourage and motivate their opponent mid-game.
I don’t have a problem with that. When I have trouble with an opponents serve, I try to figure out what I can do to get better at returning that particular serve. When I see a shot that amazes me, I want to find a way to make the same shot myself. When my opponents return my attacks in a way I didn’t anticipate or expect, I think about how I can attack differently so that return doesn’t come. Losing has become a motivator for me. And this is not uncommon I’ve come to learn, reading sports biographies and listening to sports podcasts. Even top athletes earning millions on a sport they love are fueled by loses. I think it’s kinda cool that I run on similar fuel as pro athletes 😎 .
I’m back again practicing table tennis since my daughter was born two months ago. And I love getting my ass kicked by teenagers and a couple pre-teens! These are some of the best and brightest youngsters who have goals of making the national team, playing professionally, etc. Most of them practice every day of the week, sometimes even twice a day. At their tender age some of them even have equipment sponsors. When I was their age I didn’t even know that could ever be possible. I’m pushing myself to the limits and they kick my ass to make me want to be better. My comfort is that, I may not win today, but I’ll do all I can to win tomorrow.
What’s motivating you?