Table Tennis is… Fun, Active, Educational

Jena Newgarden

From the first day at an ITTF (International Table Tennis Federation) Training Course, you will learn that when teaching kids, table tennis must be fun for them (they need to enjoy it!), active (sometimes they have short attention spans), and educational (they need to be learning and improving).  For my very young students who are under 6 years old, it is mostly fun and active.  For the older students, it becomes more educational with more emphasis on strokes, footwork, etc.

Yesterday, Janset was having a hard time staying focused on her table tennis drills.  As I do with many of my juniors, I have them play games while doing footwork drills.  For this particular drill, Janset had to flip my sidespin serve then play three more balls on the table in order to score a point.  If she won the game, she got a free soda.  If she lost the game, then she needed to do 20 pushups.  Janset became 100% more focused and consistent, and tried hard to reach the fourth ball on every rally.

Regardless of your age or maturity level, I would recommend that you try it out as well.  Instead of going through a long, mindless footwork drill, challenge yourself and your practice partner by keeping score during the table tennis drill.  A simple way to do this would be that you attack all the balls to your opponent’s backhand, he blocks anywhere.  On the 7thball, it is free point.  Any attacks or any blocks missed prior to the 7th hit also count as a point.  Play games to 5.  After doing the drill while keeping score, ask yourself if your performance was different.  If your performance was better, it probably means that you weren’t giving full concentration before.  If your performance was worse, it probably means that you put too much pressure on yourself when keeping score.  Pressure is good if it leads to more concentration and more consistency.  Pressure is bad when it leads to muscle tightness and inconsistency.

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