I had the honor to conduct an interview with Stellan Bengtsson, Swedish Table Tennis World Champion who has no less than 10 World Championship and 13 European Championship medals to his credit. Currently, he is living and coaching table tennis in the San Diego with his wife and business partner Angie. You can visit their website at www.stellangie.com. I asked Stellan’s view on the mental aspects of the game in table tennis and what he thought differentiated the best players from the rest. His advice is for you!
Stellan Bengtsson Interview
– How has Sport Psychology helped your mental game during your career as a top player and a world-class coach?
At the end of the seventies I needed something to get back in top shape, both physically and psychologically. I started intensive work with sport physiologist Lars Erik Unestahl. We began with a three months basic training and went on from there. My whole game started to change. It became easier to focus, easier to use my physical strengths, I played better under stress and it was much easier to adapt new strokes. As a coach I have been using what I learned with Lars Erik with my students.
– What was the most powerful mental technique that helped improve your game the most during your carrier and how did you use it?
The most powerful mental technique was visualizing. Using visualizations I could adapt new techniques in my head and recovering and refocusing between matches was a great tool.
– What mental aspects of the game are the most important to focus on as a table tennis player and what is your advise for players?
The most important skills for table tennis players are the ability to win the close matches and to be able to play the same in the beginning and the end of the games. Players also need to stay positive and enjoy the challenges we face during our tournaments; to be able to channel our mental strengths towards the outcomes that we can influence; and, to be able to enjoy the hard training we have to go through to play well.
My advice to players is to have fun throughout your career. Give yourself the chance to be as good as you can be. Find a good rhythm in your training and competition. Be inventive and honest with yourself in what you need to do to improve. Do not be afraid to practice the drills that feel uncomfortable.
– What do you think differentiates the most successful players from less successful players in regards to their mental abilities?
The most successful players seem to really be able to peak in the most important matches. They are not afraid to go for their shots and they have a great, confident, body language. And, of course, they have the techniques to back it up.