Bring Balance to Your Force
I can never stress enough the importance of balance in table tennis. It's both for the shot you are currently doing and (perhaps even more important) for recovery for the next shot. Over and over players move to a ball and hit while slightly off-balance, and never realize it - but this subtle lack of balance leads to variations in their stroke and thereby a loss of control as well as power. Even more subtle is the loss of recovery for the next shot. Over and over players hit a shot and then are unable to react to the next shot if it goes to a wide angle. They blame themselves for being too slow when the real problem was they were off balance on the previous shot (or went off balance during the follow through), and that kept them from recovering for the next shot - not just a lack of foot speed. Even at the higher levels when a player is unable to get to a shot it is often because they went off-balance on the previous shot.
As I've gotten older I've become more and more aware of this. When I step around to play my forehand from the backhand corner (since my forehand attack is much stronger than my backhand attack), I often leave my wide forehand "open." I put that in quotes because if I finish my forehand attack balanced, I can recover quickly enough to cover that wide forehand shot. If I am late in stepping around, and so end up following through more to the side (as opposed to being there early enough to follow through more balanced with the same power), then I'm going to lose precious time recovering balance. And that's why I can't cover the wide forehand sometimes - not because my feet are too slow in covering the wide forehand, but because they are too slow in stepping around the backhand corner, leaving me off balanced and unable to recover for the next shot.
As I said yesterday to a student who was going off balance whenever he hit a powerful forehand, "Bring balance to your force."
Here are three articles I've written on balance.
Water vs. Gatorade
What do you drink when you play? For years I lived on Gatorade, usually the red ones. Then I switched to plain water. However, there are times when I feel I need the extra energy from the calories in Gatorade. So for the past year I've adopted a simple policy for when I'm coaching - I bring out two bottles, one of water, one of Gatorade. I've also made a MAJOR change in my life - I switched from the red Gatorade to "Gatorade Frost Glacier Cherry." So when thirsty, I sort of alternate between plain water and Gatorade (water, sugar, dextrose, citric acid, natural flavor, salt, sodium citrate, monopotassium phosphate, modified food starch, glycerol ester of rosin). Mmmm, good!
Want to Run for the USATT Board of Directors?
There's a special election coming up for an At-Large Representative. Here's the info.
Reverse Pendulum Serves
Here's a posting (with discussion) at the MyTableTennis forum that links to videos of top players demonstrating this serve. The "Masters" shown are Zhang Jike, Timo Boll, and Michael Maze.
Milan Stencl Video Interview
Here's the video (8:46). "He is a coach with experience of leading national squads from Holland, Belgium, Italy, Croatia and France, His reputation for hard work, firm discipline and no-nonsense approach is world famous. He coached many elite players and is well-known for bringing up Belgium and JM Saive to world's elite. Hear what he has to say about his introduction to table tennis as a player and coach, table tennis in past and now, working with talented players, what is his advice to young coaches and cooperation with player's families."
Paddle with Hat and Sunglasses at the Beach
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