Table Tennis Matches
To characterize the contents of emotions experienced by elite table tennis players during high-stakes matches and the situational elements that contribute to these experiences.
A four-case study.
Three top-level table tennis players from the French Men's Table Tennis Team volunteered to participate in the study. Four matches were studied. Procedures involved: (a) videotaping high-stakes table tennis matches, (b) conducting self-confrontation interviews with players after matches, (c) transcribing the players’ actions and self-confrontation data, (d) decomposing their activity into elementary units, and (e) identifying typical contents of emotion and typical emotional situations.
The contents of players’ emotions varied during matches. The pleasant or unpleasant tone of emotional content was linked to the set result and the interpretations of the unfolding situation. However, other elements of the competitive interaction (score configurations, judgments about the strokes performed) had a strong emotional coloration. Certain similar events (e.g., bad sensations during stroke performance) were frequently coupled with similar emotional content (e.g., displeasure).
Until quite recently, the predominant focus in sport psychology has been on pre-performance emotions, with far less attention paid to the subjective emotional experiences that occur during task execution. This exploratory study provides initial empirical support for the notion of bi-directionality in emotion–performance relationships [Hanin, Y.L. (Ed.). (2000). Emotions in sport. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics; Hanin, Y.L. (2003). Performance related emotional states in sport: A qualitative analysis. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung/Forum: Qualitative Social Research [On-line Journal], (1). Available at:
- Table Tennis;
- Situated Action;
- Elite Sport