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Looking to gain that extra edge on your sporting performance? Trying to calm that temper? Or hold back those nerves?
Trying to train your players more efficiently? and help them deal better in match situations?
Then this is the place for you! Brain SPEC is the product of Mark Simpson. A table tennis player himself he is using his experiences and what he has learned from his sport psychology training to help you enhance your own or your players' performances!

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Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Paying attention to the correct signals


In sport sometimes it seems as though one person has "so much time on the ball" or "reads the game" particularly well. People often believe this to be a natural talent some players have more than others. Whether that is true or not is a long debate for another day. However, one very important thing to take away is that this is something that can be trained and improved.

What actually happens in these people is not that they aware of EVERYTHING around them (though it may seem that way). What they are better at is selecting quickly and effectively what they need to be aware of and pay attention to and what they can ignore. This tends to come more and more with experience. However "come with experience" is just another way of saying "learning through playing." This is not the effective, targeted training that is aimed for in the idea of deliberate practice and used on other aspects such as technique.

So, how can we train this in a more targeted way?

One good way is to video a situation from their point of view and replay it. I will take the example here from table tennis, since it is the sport I am most familiar with technically but it can be used in most sports.
When returning a shot the player has a very short time to "read" the direction, speed, spin etc of the opponents shot. This knowledge can be gathered by paying attention to certain things such as the bat angle and the body position of the opponent. Filming the shot and replaying it back over and over can give them that experience even if they are not able to be at a table.

However changing things up a bit can speed up the learning.

Slice the video so it only shows a small part of the shot, and then have the player guess the outcome of the shot (i.e. the placement and spin). Then importantly give them immediate feedback. This can be done by playing the video through to see the outcome.

If a player is particularly struggling you can slow down the video to give them more time to pay attention to the correct signals without it being TOO difficult. Then as they improve you can speed it up again. You can even go to a video quicker than normal speed in order to speed up the time in which they need to, and then hopefully learn to, pay attention to the signals and make a decision.
Another way make it more difficult you can also shorten the video to smaller and smaller parts of the shot so they have less and less information that they can use to make a decision.

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