The following blog post was written by table tennis player and coach Matt Hetherington and describes his personal experiences of table tennis burnout and the need to take a break every once in a while.
I’m going to talk about the importance of taking breaks today. This is not so much for social players but for regularly competing and training players. Breaking from table tennis is sometimes necessary to keep a fresh mind and also to avoid getting tired of playing.
The main purpose of a break is to come back with a renewed passion and hunger to develop and succeed. I have two examples.
Example #1 – Negativity
In 2011, after returning from the Australian Open and having acquired a shoulder injury (and a broken carbon sheet – unknown to me for a while), I continued to soldier on.
I was hoping to continue achieving even better results. But the result was essentially catastrophic and I nosedived like there is no tomorrow.
I began losing matches against players I would never even consider having difficulty with. Still, I kept competing. More tournaments. Weekend after weekend. And the same results occurred. It was building a strong pattern of negativity over my game.
After a month or so, I had absolutely unseated my ranking position and was generally unhappy with myself for my performance.
Finally, I decided to take a break.
There was no sense in continuing to get bad results or wondering what was going on in my game. I took some time away from table tennis. Just a couple of weeks.
Having such a passion for table tennis, my withdrawal symptoms from being away fed my desire to come back better and stronger. The result was that I returned back to training, we replaced my blade (upon discovering it was broken) and I returned to simple training to make my basics watertight.
The string of results that followed were perfectly satisfactory and that helped my positive attitude to return so that I could continue moving forward.
Example #2 – Routine
When I worked in Christchurch (New Zealand) as a Table Tennis Development Officer I spent all of my time around table tennis. I worked at the stadium, out in schools, and in other venues. I did private and group coaching and I also had my own training sessions in a group and with a coach/partners.
My tournament results were great, but the Interclub League competition was starting to get the better of me. By the time it got to the evening and we had to compete in that I was simply sick of being at the stadium and I wanted to go home.
That started the illness.
After some time, I just couldn’t stand being so immersed in table tennis. I needed to get away from it.
The end result was that I finished my contract and left Christchurch, vowing not to take on a similar role while I was still concentrating on my own training. Before that, I had reduced my own training to just once per week and had tried to spend as little additional time as possible time at the stadium.
So, as you can see, sometimes taking a break is important. Important to make you realise your goals and your passion.
Personally, I can’t stay away from table tennis for long So, whenever I take a break, I always hit the ground running when I come back to it.
I believe that breaks of around two weeks are ideal. Not too long, but enough to refresh you.
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