July 18, 2017

A Typical Private Coaching Session
What happens in a typical private coaching session? It depends on the coach and the player. Some coaches are more practice partners, others do more coaching. (This also depends on the player - those with good technique need less coaching, more training.) Some coaches do only “live” hitting, while others mix in multiball training. Some coaches do the same drills with everyone, others vary the drills and personalize them for each player.

The player’s level, playing style, and goals greatly affect a session. Beginners work mostly on basics, while high-level players are mostly honing skills they already do at a high level. Players with different playing styles do different drills, obviously. But the player’s goals also make a huge difference. When working with a kid, the sky’s the limit, and coaches often train them as if they someday might be fighting to be world champion. Others might not have the coordination necessary, and so coaches focus on developing basic skills – except, if the player has a lot of drive, he might progress into high-level training. Others are only there to get in shape, have fun, or to work on a specific skill.

Here’s a typical private coaching session with me.

  1. Start. Regardless of the level, we start with a good warm-up. If the player has already warmed up with someone else, then this is rather short. For beginners, there’s a huge overlap between “warm-up” and “practice” since in both cases they are working on basics. So beginners spend a lot more time on this, doing basic forehands and backhands. We also do down-the-line practice.
  2. Attack. For most players we then progress into looping against block. For hitters and many advanced beginners, it might be smashing against my block or fishing. After the student has done this, often I’ll take a turn looping so they can work on their block.
  3. Footwork. Every drill involves footwork, but some more than others. Most often I have start off with forehand-forehand footwork, one ball to the forehand corner, one to the middle, and they do all forehands, either drives or loops. Later we will do other footwork drills – backhand-backhand footwork (ball to wide backhand, ball to toward middle); 2-1 drill (backhand from backhand corner, forehand from backhand corner, forehand from forehand corner, repeat); forehand-backhand footwork; and about a dozen other regular ones to choose from, including (for more advanced players) various random drills. These drills are often highly personalized. For example, most older players don’t do the 2-1 drill, while younger players are often worked at a faster pace.
  4. Multiball. I do at least a box of multiball in every session, usually two. This is by far the most systematic way to practice attacking backspin, as well as rapid-fire developing many other techniques. I normally start with backspin, usually fed side to side, with the player looping. We do both forehand and backhand, including side-to-side, where they alternate forehand and backhand looping. There’s also random backspin, where they have to loop forehand or backhand depending on the incoming ball. Then we get to combinations. For example, I might feed backspin to the middle, they forehand loop, and I give a quick topspin to the wide forehand, and they loop again, then repeat. Or the reverse, with the backspin to the wide forehand, topspin to the middle. Similar drills can be done to the backhand, or backhand-forehand combinations. I usually finish with random topspin to two spots – forehand or backhand – followed by full random, where I feed anywhere, including middle. Another semi-multiball drill is I serve, they push, I loop (and reach for the next ball), they counterloop (or block), and repeat. I’ll also do multiball serving so they get to work on receive – I just serve and grab the next ball, no playing out the point here.
  5. Points. Now we practice much of what we’ve done with multiball. Often this means they serve backspin, I push to either a pre-arranged spot or area (or anywhere), they loop, and play out point. (Sometimes we’ll pre-arrange where my first block goes.) But they might also use other serves in other drills, such as short serves where I flip and they attack, or they serve long, I loop steady, and they counter-attack. There are countless variations. I usually take a turn where I serve to them so they can work on the receive.
  6. Games. I often end sessions with games, either regular ones or improvised ones. An example of improvised would be the student serves backspin, I push to a specific spot or randomly (depending on their level), they loop, and we play out the point. Sometimes we play games where I mimic a style, or chop, or play as a pusher-blocker. Other times I play my regular game.
  7. Review. I generally do a short review of the session at the end, and give recommendations for what they should be working on before our next session.

Robert Ho's Table Tennis Tidbits #1
Here’s the article, which focuses on looping, with links to three videos.

Ask the Coach
Questions answered at PingSkills.

Improve Your Serve to Improve Your Game
Here’s the podcast (29:37) from PingSkills.

The Evolution of the Table Tennis Ball and How Plastic Balls Will Change the Scene
Here’s the article by Radivoj Hudetz.

Table Tennis Players Height: Short or Tall, Does it Matter?
Here’s the article from Sports Flu.

USA Para Table Tennis Young Talent - Ian Seidenfeld
Here’s the USATT article by Tina Huynh.

History of U.S. Table Tennis, Volume 19 (1991-1992)
Here's chapter seventeen! Or order your own print copies at TimBogganTableTennis.com, as well as Volume 19!

Nittaku ITTF Monthly Pongcast - June 2017
Here’s the video (14:50).

Timo Boll Training Serve & Forehand & Backhand
Here’s the video (15:08).

Ryu Seung Min Training Forehand & Backhand & Serve
Here’s the video (26:46).

Amazing 10-year-old Kid in China
Here’s the video (7:43).

Swimming Pool Shadow Practice
Here’s the video (58 sec) – so why aren’t you doing this?

Here’s the cartoon!

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