A ping pong player prepares for an important tournament in the highest national league. She is perfectly prepared from a technical point of view. But she would like to improve her mental state for the match; she wants to be able to react very fast, and be flexible and unerring, especially in critical moments such as netballs. She has a particular concern; she feels extremely nervous every time the points are counted out loud during the match. She is also prone to making mistakes and wants to work on this too.
As a first step, the coach works with the player and checks all possible imaginable scenes in a match: single matches, volleys, certain adversaries that make her particularly nervous, and all kinds of reactions from the audience. They also examine past matches that did not go well. Whenever the player feels insecure when confronted with an imagined scene, the coach tests a possible stress reaction with the help of a muscle reaction test (Myostatic test).
With the “body-scan” method, the player checks where exactly in her body she feels the emotion that is being triggered by an imagined scene. Sensations could range from a shock felt in the whole body to weak knees, a sluggish stomach, weak arms, etc. This is where the intervention starts. The coach begins with a “wave sequence” of about 24 back and forth movements, which that the athlete follows with her eyes. This is referred to as a set. During the set, the player focuses on a particular mental image and on the subjective feeling of discomfort in her body.
After only six to eight sets, the player is liberated from the unpleasant feelings, even when thinking of a scene that used to cause her stress. The muscles in her arms feel strong again, her foothold is secure, the feeling of fear and shock disappear from her body, the stomach feels pleasantly warm and relaxed, and the muscle reaction test shows a strong result.
During a follow-up coaching session, the coach tests the player’s reaction to someone counting the points out loud during a match. Whenever a number is announced, the muscle reaction shows a weak result. Using another useful wingwave tool, the coach can help a coachee determine the cause of a problem using a search method that combines with the muscle reaction test. Within minutes, the coach discovers the root of the number counting phobia in the player. As a teenager, she used to be a weak math student and had especially bad memories of math tests. “I saw the sheet of paper with the assignments, all the numbers and formulas and thought, ‘Help! I can’t do this.’” All it takes to treat this particular phobia is a waving set on that stressful memory and the muscle response test no longer shows weak reactions when the player hears someone count out loud.
At this point in the coaching process, the athlete thinks of a particularly successful tournament and mentally concentrates with the body scan to find where exactly she feels strongest and most comfortable. She associates these pleasant feelings in her body to playing a successful tournament. The sets that follow can intensify the resourceful feelings and help her to incorporate them into future tournaments. The feelings of strength are “woven in.” In this phase of the wingwave coaching process, the player holds her table tennis racket in her hand in order for the motion sequence to become as natural as possible for her. The internalization takes place during another waving set and this process is called “In-vivo coaching.” This coaching procedure triggers the creation of new neuronal connections for strong and resourceful reactions and emotions that will be available for the player in the future whenever she needs it. After the coaching, this player performs confidently and has no mental blocks during the match, not even when the points are counted out loud.