Coach Hardin began having me practice stroking the ball using this consistent robot. He started with slow topspin to my forehand using the slow frequency setting. With this consistency, I learned to keep my racket angle set. If my angle changed, I would hit the ball into the net or off the table.
Another hindrance in my game was my loop against backspin. Throughout the week, I would play against opponents of all levels. When I played against an opponent with heavy chop, I would always loop the ball into the net. Coach Hardin said that I was using the same angle for the topspin stroke as I was for the backspin stroke. I did not believe him. So, back to the Newgy robot we went. With the help of the robot, he showed me that it was nearly impossible to lift the backspin by hitting the top of the ball. By setting my angle more open, I learned to consistently lift any amount of chop. (Note: the most recent chopper I played was rated 2453. I won at 6,4,6. I guess I learned how to loop against chop.)
The first table tennis camp helped my game so much that six months later, I attended my second camp. My strokes were beginning to develop, so Coach Hardin decided to move on to advanced techniques with the Newgy robot. My strokes were much better, but I seemed to be using so much energy for such a weak loop. I needed to learn to accelerate at contact. The robot was the ideal tool. Feeding me consistent topspin, Coach Hardin taught me about speeding-up my racket when I hit the ball. By accelerating the stroke at contact, I was getting more power with half the amount of energy. The robot was perfect for giving me a never-missing, consistent ball to topspin.
Coach Hardin always says that a player’s main focus must be consistency. Ninety percent consistency is a good goal. He would set the robot at random to my forehand, and I had to move and loop the balls with a consistency of 90% on the table. As soon as I achieved this goal, he would immediately increase the frequency. As soon as I accomplished that, he would increase it again. We continued with this type of training to develop speed, without losing control.
Carl Hardin always tried to make table tennis as fun as possible. An added bonus to some of our robot practices was using Pong-Master. Pong-Master is a table tennis game that uses different size pads on the table to be used as targets to hit. Pong-Master also keeps score with the amount of times the player hits the pads. Coach Hardin stressed the fact that, at any level, ball placement is very important. All the young players at the camp enjoyed competing to see who had the best ball control. I was always very competitive, so having a goal to aim at, always inspired me to work harder.
The Newgy robot helped develop my table tennis game into what it is today. Back then, after just two years, Carl Hardin’s coaching techniques raised my game from 1100 to 2100! Using the Newgy robot to develop correct strokes is definitely a winning strategy that I guarantee to raise anyone’s table tennis game!