We’ve all experienced it. You show up for a tournament or league night with high expectations. Then at some point, in the middle of a match, you begin to question all of your choices in life. If it’s just a string of lost points, I can usually tell myself that I distinctly remember playing this game before. It’s possible to take some positive lesson or moral victory from a few lost matches.
Occasionally, the lessons are especially hard to swallow. I recently had such a evening of table tennis. I did not necessarily expect to be playing my best. I hadn’t played league in awhile, but I thought I could hold my own against my likely opponents. I am hoping to compete more often, so if this first night back in league wasn’t great, there was always next week. The first lesson I learned was that if I played the same players next week, I had little reason to expect any different results.
If you are new to table tennis you can expect to have plenty of these experiences. Keep in mind that the players that beat you have had those rough days too. It’s those times where players either give up, or face the hard truth and decide what their response will be. Speaking of hard truth, it was pointed out that the combined ages of my three league opponents was less than my sixty years. I guess there’s a upside to knowing that I can still give twenty something players a decent match. I’m really not ready to use age as an excuse, but it’s clear that I’m not moving as fast, or reacting as quickly as these younger players.
Some of these younger players have improved dramatically. In fact, it appeared that the older players had improved as well. It’s a good idea to keep in mind that other players improve too. The 1100 rated player you easily beat five years ago might now be the 2000 rated player who didn’t give up. Well, I’m not giving up either. I plan to be back at league next time, with a slightly different approach, and seven days to ponder how I want to play table tennis in my sixties. I look forward to the challenge, realizing that players much older than me continue to be extremely competitive. It will likely take some critical thinking, and may take some thinking outside of the box. It will take some hard work. There will be more frustrations in the future, and other tough losses. I wouldn’t change a thing. To quote Alison Krauss, “The next best thing to playing and winning is playing and losing.”