USATT Tips of the Week

November 15, 2013

What to Focus on in Training

At the forum someone asked about how one should practice if they have limited time. Below is an expanded version of my answer.

Every case is different, but the short, simple answer I usually give is this: Practice everything you might do in a game, but focus on your strengths and weaknesses. Make the strengths overpowering and get rid of the weaknesses.
If you have limited time, then focus intensely on one aspect until it's greatly improved (Saturation Training), then focus on the other until it is greatly improved. You'll improve faster this way then if you do just a little of each in limited time. If you practice everything for just a few minutes each, you'll keep those shots tuned up, but won't really improve them very much. Instead, spend lots of time on something until you can do it in your sleep, and then you can focus on something else.

You should probably start by improving the weakness if you only have time for one. But with limited time, it's going to be a long process. Once the weakness is up to par, focus on making the strengths overpowering. You can't dominate if you don't have something to dominate with.

Some would argue that it's better to focus on your strengths, since those are the shots you will be using mostly in a match. But it works two ways - if you have a weakness, the opponent is going to go after that weakness.
Regarding making the strengths overpowering, this includes both developing overpowering shots and setting them up. If you have a great forehand loop, then you also need ways to get it into play. So develop the serves, receives, and other shots that set up these overpowering strengths, or (if the serve and/or receive are the overpowering strengths) the shots to follow them up. At the same time develop these serves, receives, and other shots to cover up your weaknesses so the opponent can't get at them.

USATT Tips of the Day

USATT has been putting up as "Tips of the Day" the 171 Tips of the Week I wrote for them a few years ago as "Dr. Ping-Pong." Here are the Tips they put up this past week. (Click on link for complete tip.)

Nov. 11 Tip of the Day - Be Quicker or More Powerful
If you look at top players, you might notice a slight skewing in sizes there tend to be more tall or short players then the average population. Why is this? Here’s a theory, and a suggestion that might help your game.

Nov. 10 Tip of the Day - How To Play Wildly-Attacking Junior Players
No matter what your level is, at some point you’ve had to go up against some up-and-coming junior player.

Nov. 9, 2013 Tip of the Day - Pushing Short: When to Learn?
At the higher levels, short pushing becomes more and more important as a way to stop an opponent from looping.

Nov. 8, 2013 Tip of the Day - Forehand Counter-Smashing When Lobbing
There is nothing more spectacular and more thrilling than counter-smashing a winner from 15-20 feet back!

Guess or Not to Guess?
Here's an article by Samson Dubina on anticipation. Opening paragraph: "In table tennis, there are 2 aspects of anticipation.  The first is to have a reasonable guess as to where your opponent will hit the next ball.  The next aspect is watching his body position and racket angle and adjusting based on the direction of his swing."

Backhand Banana Flip

Here's a video (2:47) on the shot (a backhand topspin and/or sidespin return of a short ball, especially a short serve), demonstrated and explained by North American Champion Pierre-Luc Hinse.

Zhang Jike Singing

Here's the video (1:52)!

Chimpanzee Playing Table Tennis

Here's the video (2:25). Seriously, a real chimp playing on a robot, and then live with another player. This might be my favorite table tennis video ever!!!

Send us your own coaching news!

August 26, 2013

I've been getting up extra early all summer to do the blog Mon-Fri (and the Tip of the Week on Mondays) because I had to coach all day at the camps at the Maryland Table Tennis Center. I also had to get up early on weekends to coach all day. Even on the two (2!) days I've had off since June I did the blog. (I was away for a week at a writers workshop, but that was NOT a vacation - that was hard work, and also started early each morning and often went late into the night. And don't even hint that going to the U.S. Open was time off, since I was coaching all day there!) Now that our summer camps are over (Week Ten ended Friday), and I finished my weekend coaching yesterday, I'm taking a day off. No blog today, and the Tip of the Week will go up tomorrow. I'm going to spend much of today lying in bed reading. If you hear a loud purring sound, that's me. Did I mention I have chocolate? (I'm also toying with doing something crazy, like driving up to Gettysburg, or the National Aquarium in Baltimore, or the National Zoo in DC. Or maybe I'll just stay in bed reading.) See you all tomorrow!

But I'll leave you with this. USATT is now rerunning some (or all?) of the 171 Tips of the Week I did for them from 1999-2003 (under the alias "Dr. Ping Pong") as a Daily Tip, which includes tips from other coaches. Here are a few recent ones by me: 

Also, here are the online results of the MDTTC Open held this past weekend, care of Omnipong and tournament director Charlene Liu.

Did I just do a blog on my non-blogging day off?

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