My Journey to the Perfect Forehand Stroke – Part 1

Jena Newgarden

Whenever I watch good table tennis players warming up with perfect forehand strokes, I feel a little bit of envy. It always looks so easy for them. Why can’t I do it? I can watch them, I can imitate their motions, but yet, when I am there at the ping pong table, and the ball appears in front of me, my whole body wants to do its own thing. I was so frustrated with my inability to do correct forehand stroke, that I even contemplated giving up on table tennis all together. For a while my Robo-Pong table tennis robot was left alone, locked in my garage. If you saw our last short horror film It Plays, filmed by Adrian Kohann, you will know what inspired that movie. We all may have been there; frustrated that things we know how to do, we can’t do, especially during our table tennis matches. We give up. Yet, in my case the love of this sport, doesn’t let me give up for too long. Last year I made the decision, that I will have to make every effort possible to finally get that forehand stroke correctly.

“How can I help you?” asked coach Leszek Kucharski during my first ever sport camp in Poland.

“I want to feel my forehand.”

“What else? he asked.

“That’s it. I don’t want to think: do this, do that. I want to feel it without thinking. I want to feel it, like I feel my backhand.

My journey to master my forehand stroke started. At the end of my seven-day camp, coach Kucharski was giving us our last tips, while he was comfortably bouncing the ball against the side of the ping pong table. 50 to 100 perfect small bounces against the narrow side of the table, while he is talking! We looked with disbelief. We all tried and couldn’t do even 2 bounces.

“Gosh, it looks so easy for you. Why can’t we do it?” we kept asking.

“ Oh, you can,” he assured us. “The difference between you and I is only a few thousands strokes a day.”

I think I finally got it. I need to accept that it will take me probably much longer than other table tennis players, as I don’t have natural talent, but I do have something that will help me succeed: I have persistence, and a huge desire. I also need to accept the fact that I learn differently. I will have to have courage to ask better players for help. Now it is up to me to commit to those 1000’s of strokes a day.

In my following blogs, I will be sharing with you my journey to the perfect forehand stroke. I will specify my challenges and share with you my strategy to overcome those challenges. I am excited and determined to succeed!

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