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Master Your Technique & Maximize Your Rating

by Carl Hardin

This column is written by Carl Hardin, a USA Table Tennis certified Assistant International Coach. He is a master in careful observation and being able to determine a specific structural weakness in a student's technique or a vulnerability in their mental attitude. He believes that a thorough understanding of the "why's" of the sport are essential to rapid improvement. In his Table Tennis Training Shortcuts DVD he takes you inside his coaching sessions, sharing them with you in the hope of making you a better player fast.

Physical talent is the primary ingredient of any athlete. However, in Table Tennis physical talent alone is not enough. There are numerous Table Tennis players who possess great physical talent, although they have outstanding shots, and picture perfect styles but they never reach the heights they desire. Table Tennis competition is always changing due to conditions. Styles, equipment and the unfamiliarity of the opponents confuse, bewilder and humble the best of players when confronted with circumstances they can't adjust to.

Many top rated Table Tennis players are flustered by some players. The reason for this perplexity is their failure to recognize the mental dimensions in their game. Therein lies the disparity separating the over-achievers from the under-achievers.

What constitutes a sound mental game can be broken down into the following qualities. Awareness and intelligence are the two most important keys to success. Good strokes and footwork can be beneficial, but the better players are quick to recognize and play to the opponent's weakness. One principle is unchanged—your paramount thought process is that the opponent's weakness dictates the proper shots to score. You win by adjusting to what the opponent permits. Perhaps you may get away with one or two shots that aren't condusive to the conditions at hand, but as a general rule, they will fail.

Unfortunately, many aspiring Table Tennis players believe that excessive speed and spin are the answer to success. They revel at the sight of the fast spinning loop that jumps off the opponent's side of the table but they're never in position to defend the return. I refer to this as a Hollywood shot. These shots are exciting to watch but rarely lead to victory.

A Table Tennis player's best assets are the supreme ability to spot weaknesses and the confidence to adapt their game to take advantage of match situations. Remember; Concentration, Control and Confidence are the three C's that will maximize your rating.

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