Key table tennis skills indicative of professional mastery

Professor, PhD T.P. Budyakova1
Senior Lecturer G.V. Baturkina1
1Bunin Yelets State University, Yelets

Keywords: table tennis mastering trainings, key skill, advantage, professional athlete, personality qualities.

Introduction. Table tennis skills and techniques building for students usually takes place in elective classes. In the curriculum of future bachelors of Physical Education and Sports and other areas of training, this sport is represented in the “Electives” block. Students of different level and power come to tennis classes, so there are amateurs, along with masters of sports. When teaching students of different competency levels it is important to create confidence among amateurs from the very beginning, so that they could win professionals, provided they master not only the table tennis technique, but also the knowledge of psychological methods of self-regulation when playing tennis, and also develop their own secret techniques of the game, to have an advantage over the rival.

Traditionally scientific works on table tennis focus on teaching the technique and tactics of the game [6]. At the same time, there are also studies on the impact of individual cognitive processes on success in table tennis The analysis of works that reveal the importance of individual cognitive skills necessary for successful training of tennis players revealed ambivalent (contradictory) data. Thus, some scientists have established the influence of the intellectual component on professionalism in table tennis. It was shown that the higher the athlete's IQ, the higher his professional achievements [1]. However, while in other works, on the contrary, it is proved that the elite winners of tennis tournaments have the right hemisphere dominating the left one. This means that they have a sensory reflection over the logical one [8].

The literature also presents data on the impact of personal components, in particular motivation, on success in table tennis [9]. Obviously, the most informative are those studies where various aspects of the athlete's physical training are studied in the complex: equally cognitive, and tactical, and personal. One of such studies is the book of Serbian scientists "Paradigm Shift for Future Tennis". These researchers, analyzing the results of tennis matches from famous tennis players, came to the conclusion that the winners' game has its own characteristics, which cannot be explained only by excellent technical physical training. They found that the winners have some special cognitive and personal qualities that allow them to be superior over the rival [3].

To the cognitive and personal qualities that allow one to dominate the rival, Serbian scientists attributed such qualities as: preliminary planning of one’s actions; an effective anticipation of the enemy's actions and one’s own, effective disguise of one’s own movements, etc. The authors listed these three factors as "smart reading". In their opinion, these factors predetermine the main difference between a professional and a student. We drew attention to the fact that one of the main skills of a professional, indicated by the authors, is the ability to mask one’s actions. This is one of the fraudulent tricks in tennis.

On the contrary, according to Serbian authors, tennis amateurs possess a set of cognitive and personal qualities that prevent them from not only winning, but also improving their playing skills. These drawbacks are known and taken into account by a professional. In particular, they include: "confusion about strategy," "trying to do too many things at the same time," "easy distraction," "perfectionism," and others [3]. However, among the drawbacks, the authors did not indicate the lack of the ability to "outwit the rival".

We believe that one of the most important factors ensuring the superiority of the winner is the possession of personal secret techniques. This affects the disorganization of the rival's plans and gives an advantage to the player. We believe that one of the elements of training a successful tennis player is finding one’s own secrets, which allow one to outwit a rival. In our opinion, the development of one’s own secret techniques is an indicator of the high social intelligence of a tennis player.

The book of Serbian scientists contains fragments of interviews with tennis masters [3]. However, none of the winners of prestigious European or world tournaments reveal their personal secrets, or even focus on this point.

In the scientific literature on sports one can find works on the analysis of deceptive techniques in sports competitions, however, this concerns only team sports. Such methods are criticized, considered a dishonest advantage [7]. However, in other types of activities it is deception that helps to effectively solve a social problem. So, deception of terrorists by hostages helps them survive [2]. Similarly, in an individual game of tennis - a set of deceptive techniques provides a significant advantage to the player. The study of the importance of this component of a tennis player training became the subject of our empirical study.

Methods and structure of the research. The researchers used the Method of Expert Estimations. Below is a specific methodology developed by the authors of the article for this study.

Methodology "Evaluation of sports qualities of a tennis player"

Instructions. Here are two lists of qualities. The first list is qualities of a professional tennis player. The second list is qualities of a beginner (dilettante) in tennis. Please mark with a cross those qualities in both lists, which one you agree with. Add those qualities that, in your opinion, are missed in both lists. Please explain your choice.

Master’s qualities in tennis. 1. Preliminary planning of one’s actions. 2. Effective anticipation of the rival’s actions and one’s own. 3. Effective disguise of one’s own movements. 4. He does not think if he plays correctly. 5. Ability to quickly reprogram one’s steps. 6. The ability to take risks. 7. Readiness to experience. 8. Possession of secret techniques. 9. Ultra-high pace of the game.

Qualities of a beginner in tennis:

1. Confusion in strategy and tactics. 2. Trying to do too many things at once. 3. Easy distraction. 4. Too much concern about victory or loss. 5. Perfectionism: an attitude to being the best. 6. He analyzes whether he is playing correctly. 7. He does not notice the fraudulent techniques of the rival. 8. Lack of pace of the game. 9. He does not possess secret methods of the game.

Participants in the study. Experts were students and adult tennis players, whose sports experience was from 5 to 30 years and who were participants and winners of tennis tournaments of different levels (40 people).

Results and its discussion. After the processing, the following data were obtained. Tennis-experts indicated the main characteristics of a tennis professional: "preliminary planning of one’s actions" (100% of the participants in the study); "the ability to quickly reprogram one’s steps" (86%); "the ability to take risks" (81%); "possession of secret techniques " (68%); "super-high pace of the game" (68%); "effective camouflage of one’s own movements" (59%): "readiness to experience" (50%); "an effective anticipation of one’s own actions and the actions of the rival" (50%); "do not think whether you play right" (9%). Moreover, those participants of the study, who were winners of tennis tournaments, pointed to the special need for possession of secret mastery techniques. As examples, they presented individual variants of pitching in table tennis and the ability to distract the rival. Some masters also pointed out the ways of mastering secret techniques, for example, transferring certain techniques from other sports to tennis, in particular, from boxing, volleyball, throwing a spear and even rallying. It should be noted that such qualities as "the ability to quickly reprogram one’s steps" and "effective mask of one’s own movements" are ways to outwit the rival.

Experts identified psychological factors as the main disadvantages of amateurs: "too much concern about victory or loss" (90%) and "easy distraction" (77%). These indicators are the markers of the emotional instability of amateurs. Technical disadvantages in training: "confusion in strategy and tactics" took the third place in the answers of experts (72%).

 In addition to the list given in the methodology, almost all experts indicated such necessary quality for an athlete as emotional stability. In scientific works, a negative influence of increased emotional excitability on the success of an athlete-tennis player was revealed [6]. It was also found that newcomers-athletes exhibit antisocial behavior towards a rival more often than professionals [5]. This is the evidence of their inability to emotionally regulate their behavior in losing situations. In our study, it was revealed that, as a secret, some professional tennis players sometimes use psychological methods of emotional influence on the rival, in order to make him nervous.

   At the same time, according to the personal experience of tennis experts, the availability of secret techniques at beginners allows them to cope with emotions more successfully, since possession of secrets requires self-analysis and self-control.

Conclusion. 1. Possession of secret techniques of the game significantly increases the player's advantage in tennis. 2. Such personal qualities of a tennis player as "too much concern about victory or loss" and "easy distraction" are the markers of his emotional instability. 3. Training and self-learning of secret tennis techniques increase the emotional stability of a beginner in tennis.


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The article analyzes the ways to improve the academic physical education and sport service quality in application to the optional table tennis course; and considers findings of an empirical study to assess the role of the key skills critical for success in table tennis. The authors polled experts to rank the qualities of  the table tennis masters versus amateurs, with the leading tennis players (qualified Masters of Sport and Class I-III Athletes, plus winners of table tennis competitions) joining the poll. The key skills of a tennis table professional were ranked as the match planning; fast reprogramming; and excellent action disguising skills – with every skill needed to outwit the opponent. The amateur player’s drawbacks were listed as follows: excessive concerns about win or defeat; and easy distractibility – indicative, among other things, of the emotional imbalance of the athletes. It was found that the key skills are critical for progress, top mastery and stress tolerance in the modern table tennis.