Better Shot Placementby Eric Owens
This column will be a collection of table tennis training tips and advice by Eric Owens, who is a US Men’s Singles Champion, Pan Am Gold Medalist, North American Doubles Champion, and a multi-time member of the US Table Tennis Team. Eric’s training regimen includes regular practice on a Newgy table tennis robot. Read this and his future installments to get rare glimpses into how a top player integrates robot practice into his training.
We all hear about how important placement of the ball is. We watch world-class players compete and are in awe of their ability to put the ball in just the right place every time. Is this an attribute that is common only to high-level players? The answer is no! Many players have the ability to have much better placement and do not even know it. The biggest step is just making a conscious decision to improve this aspect of the game.
The first thing to improving placement is having an idea as to where the general placement should be. Playing at wide angles and into the opponent's elbow are the only places you should be aiming. The wider angles will make your opponent have to move much more, which in turn opens up the middle. Moreover, jamming the opponent into the middle opens up the wider angles. It is a circle that is very effective and can be used over and over again.
The Newgy robot is the perfect tool for improving your ability to hit at wide angles. Every drill done on the robot can be done with the main focus being ball placement. Make sure every ball hit is beyond the outside white line. If this is done repeatedly, you will be able to do it in a match.
Most players already have the basic skills to hit at wide angles, but just do not do it because they are not thinking about it and have not trained it. Applying this concept to all of the drills you already do on the robot will transfer into a match. You will be making your opponent move much more causing him or her to be very uncomfortable and lose rhythm.
A good strategy in a match is to generally look for the middle first, because the time to play the wider angles is much more obvious during a point. Make sure your placement does not fall somewhere in between the middle and off the side of the table. Your opponent will not have to move very much to reach this type of ball. Be conscious of every ball you hit, and make sure it either goes out at a wide angle or right at the opponent's elbow.
Eric Owensback to Coaching Forum