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2012 Olympic and U.S. Team Trials – My Experience, Part 1 by Roger Dickson

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When the entry form for the U.S. Olympic and National Team Trials came out, for once, I didn’t throw it in the trash. Usually the U.S. Team Trials event is part of the U.S. Nationals and working at the Newgy Robo-Pong booth keeps me so busy that performing at my best is difficult. But with the London Games this summer, the Trials would take on a life of its own in Cary, North Carolina on February 8-12! Having played at the Cary Cup quite a number of times, I knew it would be a great opportunity to get a little of the Olympic athlete experience in a great venue!

Joining me in the process was Liliana Kohann. She boldly stated that “If you go, I will too”. Once the entries were confirmed, the training schedule was created. Utilizing the Newgy Table Tennis Training Center for a combination of robot training with the Robo-Pong 2050 and personalized coaching, Liliana and I were training a minimum of two hours per day during the week and a Saturday session lasting four to six hours!

My core drills on the Robo-Pong 2050 consisted of drill #6 (two ping-pong® balls to the backhand followed by two to the forehand) done at the regular designed settings for two cycles of two minutes, then adding to both the speed and frequency for the next cycles. I focused on actively blocking for two cycles of two minutes, then with an active block on the first ball and a loop on the second. This drill is great at improving the recovery time between two strokes while still requiring movement.

My second core drill was a modification of drill # 52 or Falkenburg (two backhand ball locations, followed by a wide forehand ball). Using the Robo-Soft application, I moved the wide forehand closer to the center line. Having had a knee injury, I wanted to build the strength of movement first then gradually go back to the wide setting over the course of the near two months of training.

The third core drill was for serve return, it was a mix of drills #16 and 17. The focus was attacking the under spin, so I would alternate a flip or roll, then a fast, low and deep push.

I always ended my robot session with a random session either drill #26, 27 or 28 to increase my anticipation. My goal was to loop with more spin than speed every time – regardless of the position!

Roger Dickson

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