February 23, 2011

Looking for coaching in the Gaithersburg, Maryland area?

I have openings--contact me if interested. Coaching rates and other info are at the Maryland Table Tennis Center webpage - click on "Private Coaching."

The last few years I've been doing a lot of outside writing (science fiction!), and wrote a lot of short stories (47 published lifetime) and two novels (both now making the rounds at publishers & agents), but with the second novel now done, I'm about to increase my coaching hours. (Here is my science fiction & fantasy page.)

What should you do when you have extra time for a shot?

Someone asked me this recently, and I told him my response would probably become a blog posting. Here it is!

When you have extra time, there are four things you can do.

  1. Use the extra time to make sure you are positioned properly, and to really time the shot. Ultimately, this is most important - if you don't do this, then you'll be inconsistent and nothing else really matters.
  2. With better positioning and extra time to time the shot, you can go for more power, both speed and spin. This doesn't always mean a longer backswing; it means accelerating into the ball faster. The better positioning and extra time allow you time it better. While you can extend the backswing for more power, this implies a shorter swing on less powerful loops, which can be a mistake, and lead to shorter, choppier, and less consistent loops. It's better to set up about the same all the time, and simply accelerate more for more power. However, in actual match situations, there are times when you'll be rushed, and then you do shorten the swing. (And so you'd use a longer swing when you have time.) When returning serves, players often shorten the swing when looping, but if you read the serve well, and have time, then take a full swing at it.
  3. With the extra time, you can set up one way, wait a split second longer, and then go the opposite way, with the opponent reacting to the way you set up. Almost all players develop a certain timing, and even if you haven't really started your forward swing, will move to where they think you are going. So set up crosscourt, wait a split second longer, and go down the line. Or do the reverse.
  4. Most advanced is similar to 3) above, except now you actually watch to see which way the opponent reacts, and go the other way. It's trickier since you don't decide the direction until the last second, but advanced players learn to do this. I do it all the time when I'm not rushed.


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