Right before I moved to the U.S. to study for my masters degree in Sports Psychology, I went with my mom to a former University of Florida and Hungarian professional tennis player’s wedding. There, I was introduced to his tennis coach and when he heard that I would be studying sports psychology in the U.S., the coach immediately asked me if I knew of Dr. Jim Loehr.
After I said no, he explained that Dr. Loehr was a world-renowned performance psychologist. He studied what differentiated the top tennis players from the rest. Dr. Loehr’s research had uncovered that the best players have a really specific routine between points. No matter how stressful the situation is, they stick with their routine between points.
The coach recommended that I read Dr. Loehr’s book, The Power of Full Engagement and watch his 16 Second Cure video. That was the first time I heard about Dr. Loehr.
After finishing my Sports Psychology studies at John F. Kennedy University in California, I started working with Kathy Toon who had been a tennis coach for my sister at Cal Berkeley (our family obviously liked racket sports!).
Oddly enough, it turned out that Kathy’s mentor was Dr. Loehr. She spoke about him very highly, saying that he had been transformative for many individuals in both sports and business. Kathy introduced me to Game Face, her performance enhancement program based on Dr. Loehr’s theory. Kathy had worked with Dr. Loehr and applied his theory in her coaching of the Cal Berkeley tennis team. Her mentorship and the Game Face program were uplifting for many tennis players, including my sister Anita, a PAC 10 Champion!
As I became more familiar with the program, I applied it to my table tennis game. First, I created a 4 steps routine between points and it really helped my game. Then I started working on my life style choices. I realized that the tools Game Face offered were extremely helpful, but in order to experience my best performance at a consistent level I had to take care not just of the physical and mental game, but the training (physiological) as well as daily lifestyle. All of these factors were related and affected the overall outcome.
Just imagine not sleeping right before a tournament, being very hungry, or having a huge meal right before your match. Or think about having a fight with a close friend or parents before you play. We can’t perform our best if these other factors are not taken into account, even if we trained very hard and did everything in a disciplined manner. Without this holistic approach, our performance is ruined. The basic choices we make on a daily basis, for instance what and when we eat or how much sleep we get, deeply affects us.
I became fascinated by this holistic concept, the Game Face System, because it put everything together. It teaches us how to create routines between points and to make good lifestyle choices in order to experience “flow,” what some people call “being in the zone,” or “optimal performance state” consistently. Our performance depends on how we manage our energy: how we can attain and keep our optimal energy level during a match especially when we need it the most—during the highest level of competition.
Currently I’m completing a book, Get Your Game Face On Like The Pros! which applies this holistic approach I have come to appreciate and apply in my own life.
The book synthesizes:
- what I learned about Dr. Loehr’s and Kathy Toon’s theory
- my knowledge of sport psychology
- the application of the Game Face systems to table tennis