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Advice for Table Tennis Coaches – Part II: Group Lessons

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There are two basic types of group table tennis lessons – working with groups of table tennis players that you know and working with groups of table tennis players that you don’t know.  I’m going to briefly discuss each.

With groups of table tennis players that you know and work together with on a daily basis, you should have specific drills for each player.  For the drills that are similar, you should begin differently for each player.  For example, one drill might be that player A blocks anywhere on the ping pong table while player B loops continuously to player A’s backhand.  Instead of starting all of the drills with a long topspin serve, maybe player B needs to work on his forehand flip, so the same drill can begin working on a target area that player B needs.  Group table tennis sessions with familiar players training together on a daily basis are always easier, but remember, that the drills need to be customized for each player specifically.

With groups of table tennis players that you don’t know, it will be much different.  For example, you are teaching a clinic in Michigan for players with a USATT rating of 1500-2000 and your topic for the weekend is looping.  After all the players are comfortable with forehand and backhand loops, you then decide to link the skills together.  One player blocks with his backhand while the other player loops two balls with his backhand and two balls with his forehand.  Because you don’t know them personally, you decide to give them all the same table tennis drill.  However, as you go from table to table briefly observing, you adjust the drill slightly based on what you see needed.  As you see Billy struggling with his looping, you as his blocker to go slightly slower so that Billy can play more consistently against the slower timing.  You see Betty averaging 20 balls each rally, so you ask Betty to loop one backhand slower then the next backhand harder then the first forehand slower then the second forehand harder.  You see Wang in the corner complaining that he doesn’t want to work on his backhand loop so you allow him to play two forehands from the backhand then two forehands from the forehand.  You see that William is doing great with moving and is looping with very good spin and accuracy, so you challenge him to play one backhand from close to the table then one backhand far from the table, and the same with the forehand.   You see Suzy physically can’t move far enough to reach the wide balls, so you ask her blocker to keep the balls closer to the middle of the table.  As you can see from my examples, you can take a simple table tennis drill and make it easier or harder based on the need.  The job of the table tennis coach during group lessons is to design drills that can benefit all the players, give short feedback to all the players and adjust the drills slightly based on the needs of the players.

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  • Jena Newgarden
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