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Go from Good to Better to Best in Your Table Tennis Practice and Matches

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Most table tennis players have “good” practice sessions on a weekly basis but they aren’t the “best.”  Many players continue practicing the same things over and over without pushing themselves to improve their spin, placement, variation, power and shot selection.

There are improvements that you personally need to make this week during your table tennis training and practice matches.  Make a note card and keep it beside the ping pong table.  Before each point in practice and matches, glance at the note card to remind yourself of what you need to work on.

Here are some examples of a few things that you might need to focus on. Remember to:

1. Lean forward

2. Keep my table tennis racket up

3. Watch the contact point when returning a serve

4. Wait on the ball, watch the bounce, read the spin, then contact the ball when returning serve

5. Spin the ball and focus on friction, not force

6. Contact the ball low when I am serving

7. Glance at my opponent prior to serving

8. Get back into my ready position after I serve

9. Adjust my feet based on the position of my hit

10. Watch my opponent’s racket and re-adjust my feet based on what I see

11. Be patient in working the point

12. Have confidence in my loops and complete the stroke

13. Attack the majority of the balls against my opponent’s middle transition point

There are literally thousands of things that you could write on that little note card as reminders.  However, I recommend that you choose two things to focus on each session.  Review after the session on how you did.  Did you actually do your “best” in applying these things in order to improve your table tennis practice sessions and matches?

The good, better, best principle applies to table tennis matches as well.  Are you checked out of the match just because your opponent is 300 points higher?  Do you have a defeated attitude because you have lost to this opponent the previous five times?  Do you feel that you will have a bad table tennis tournament because you only slept three hours the night before?  Do you lack confidence because you didn’t properly warm-up?  Don’t give up before you start!  And of course, don’t give up during the match either!

I’m not asking you to do the death crawl or to begin some Rocky Balboa style fitness program.  All I’m asking you to do is give it your best.

Give your best physically

When you are training with your Robo-Pong table tennis robot, be disciplined in keeping your knees bent and be disciplined in moving for each ball – no reaching and leaning allowed.  When you are playing matches at the table tennis club and are tired after the third match, don’t go home.  Push yourself to play five more matches more than you think that you can play.

Give your best mentally

Instead of allowing your mind to wander off and think about your favorite TV show, do your best to stay in the moment; use every moment at the ping pong table to perfect your skills.

Give your best emotionally

When things aren’t going your way, stop whining and having a sour attitude.  Grow up, be mature, and emotionally get back in the game.  Unfortunately, losses have an accumulative effect.  After a loss, be willing to pick yourself up and give your best.

Give your best tactically

Throughout the table tennis match, be ready to evaluate and re-evaluate your current tactics and be willing to change if necessary.  Be disciplined enough to keep track of the point and how you won or lost the points.  If the game is 10-10, can you clearly recall what you did right on 10 points and what you did wrong during the other 10 points.  If you can, then you can think clearly how to play your strong points against your opponent’s weak points.

Remember to always give your best physically, mentally, emotionally, and tactically in table tennis!

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  • Jena Newgarden
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