Sunday 11 October 2015

Pro Tip Blog: Omar Assar on Keeping a Routine

It's been a while since I managed to complete a Pro Tip Blog post, mainly due to not really getting the information I wanted (in terms of depth) from some of the players in my interviews. Luckily Omar was really helpful in providing good detail and so I can write a post on the importance of a routine in training and tournaments with some help from the African Champion from Egypt, Omar Assar!

ITTF African Champion Omar Assar (Egypt)
Image from ITTF Africa
Routine is one of the often overlooked parts of the game and in many sports. While you may not pay it any particular attention, when you think about it we all have some forms of routine. I took the opportunity to talk more with Omar about his routine and what gets him in the zone for training and for tournaments.

"I try and stay in the hall as much as I can. Not less than 6 hours in training hall whether it is normal training or multiball or just sitting on the sideline watching match videos" Omar Assar. 

So Omar likes to immerse himself in the training and match venue and environment. It is normal for professional players to dedicate at least 6 hours per day to practice. Staying in the venue can help bring your complete focus to your training or matches, for this reason some players arrive at the playing area well ahead of time to mentally prepare for matches.

Physical Training Element

Omar also dedicates a fairly stringent physical training routine as part of his sessions. "Usually at least 3 times a week of mixed physical, running or gym training. Sometimes can be 4 or 5 depending on how much time I spend on the table. I continue to do strength building exercises during tournaments also." Omar.

Getting into a physical training routine requires a lot of discipline, especially when you are tired from training on the table. You need to find the right balance of physical and table training and find the best times to suit your energy level patterns. I for example prefer to train mostly in the morning and go to the gym in the evenings.

"I always run in the morning before my tournament matches, this is something I like to do. I wake up 3 hours before my match and go for a run. This helps to make me as fresh as possible." Omar.

Why Discipline is Important for a Routine

Like any repetitive task, strong self discipline is key. High repetition can get boring and once we lose interest it becomes difficult to maintain momentum. This is also where service practice comes to the foray as part of training. This can be one of the most monotonous areas of training, thankfully I wrote a post earlier on 'How to Make Service Practice More Engaging'

Without discipline and desire to succeed keeping a steady routine becomes a mammoth task, so this is really the first task in completing a routine and schedule plan, being able to keep it going.

Sometimes you will have a coach to motivate you, Omar was very quick to credit his coaches in aiding his routine and results. His coaches Ulf Carlsson and Fredrik Hakkanson in Sweden, Erik in France his coach in the Egyptian National Team and also in China. Having external forces to keep you on track is never a bad thing.

Is Diet Also a Part of Routine?

Yes, diet plays a strong part in the life of any athlete. What you eat and when you eat can be imperative to you performance.

Omar likes to keep a strict diet especially in tournaments. "I don't like to eat too much sweet food, I like to eat things which help me keep a balanced energy level like salads and olive oils. It's important to keep my energy as stable as possible during a tournament."

The Key Tip Omar Gives

Omar's biggest tip is simple. Create your own routine. "I recommend to any player to make a routine that works for them and keep it. Something that is special to them."

Omar likes to pray before his matches and read some lines from his special book. Some players like to read lines from sporting books or inspirational quotes. Some players like to listen to soft music, fast music, energetic music, all different kinds. Some players like to stretch for half an hour.

A few years ago I asked some international players what their pre-match preparations involved and if they had any superstitions. Here is the article: Pre-Match Preparations: For Luck's Sake!

Omar also likes to keep his shirts on if he is winning important matches, this is something I like to do also. If I am not playing well sometimes I change my shirt to try and reset and start fresh.

What do you do in your routine which is unique? :) Thanks Omar for the great information! :D

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