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Post-Traumatic Table Tennis Rating Point Loss Disorder (PTTTRPLD) 0

Sometimes table tennis players go through, what I refer to as, Post-Traumatic Table Tennis Rating Point Loss Disorder (PTTTRPLD), not to be confused with the actual medical condition of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

Often, at the conclusion of a table tennis match, players seem traumatized by a loss.  They can’t seem to think clearly and often say and do crazy things because they are so upset.  This traumatized state of mind usually leads to more and more losses.  If you want to have the best mental game possible, here is what you need to do.

#1 Don’t fear losses.  You will lose matches in nearly every table tennis tournament.  It is a matter of your perspective before, during, and after the match that will keep you playing your best throughout the tournament.

#2 Fight for fair play DURING the match.  If you leave the table complaining about your opponent cheating on the score, serving illegally, and taking too much time between points, there is nothing that the official or your coach can do about it AFTER the match.  Having fights in the parking lot doesn’t change the result of the table tennis match either.

#3 Think long term.  When you put all of your hope and glory into 1 match, you will feel too much pressure.  By thinking long term, you will be able to relax, while giving your best, and realizing that this 1 match is merely a stepping stone toward your ultimate table tennis goal.

P.S.  Post-Traumatic Table Tennis Rating Point Loss Disorder (PTTTRPLD) is not an actual medical term.

Your Morning Wake-Up Call or Table Tennis Loss? 0

You were the top seed in the under 2300 event at the table tennis tournament.  Based on the draw, you knew that you didn’t have a strong opponent on your opening 9:00 am match; in fact, he was only rated 1600.  You woke up at 8:25 am and drove to the venue at 8:55 am.  You figured that after your opening table tennis match, that you would grab some breakfast and then begin your full warm-up for your 11:00 am match.  After dropping the first game, you decided that it was just your opening match and you would snap out of it.  You thought that it would still be an easy 3-1 win.  At the close of the second game, your opponent did the unthinkable.  He scored 4 consecutive points with 3 net balls and an edge ball.  Now, you were down 2-0 in games and your nerves got the best of you.  Your morning wake-up call?  Well, it was more than a wakeup call, it was the worst table tennis loss of your life!

So how could you have prevented it?

#1 Serious

You needed to take that table tennis match seriously, even when your opponent was rated below you.  By waking up early enough to eat a good breakfast, by jogging and stretching, by playing a few practice matches, by doing a bit of research on your opponent, and by mentally gearing up prior to the match, you should have given your best from the very first hit!  For future tournaments, you need to learn to be serious and give your opponent the proper respect.

#2 Fear

After losing the first table tennis game, you should have had some fear.  Instead of taking the match seriously, you just dismissed it as an early morning match that would turn out fine in the end.  Instead, you should fear losing.  This fear of losing would have driven you to give 100% focus and to evaluate your opponent and possibly change your tactics.  Some types of fear are good.

#3 Learn

Walking off the court after losing the match 3-0, you should have learned how to deal with your loss.  So what did you do next…  Quit?  Mope around the tournament complaining?  Following your opponent around hoping that his rating gets adjusted?  What did you do?  I suggest that you should have learned from that match and move forward.  Think back to the match in regards to a tactics change for the next match but DON’T think back to the match in a depressing way.  Use that match as fuel to energize your performance in future table tennis matches.

Illegal Serves in Table Tennis 0

When playing in table tennis tournaments, you will often be up against illegal serves.  With the right actions and attitude, you can easily diffuse the problem and play a fair table tennis match.  Here are the steps of action that I would recommend.

1. Observe the problem.  Preferably in a match prior to your match, try to watch your opponent for possible illegal serves.

2. Try to decide if he is getting some advantage.  Tossing the ball 5” instead of 6” doesn’t really give an advantage.  However, if he is spinning the ball with his fingers, hiding the contact, or throwing the ball into his table tennis racket, then he is probably getting an unfair advantage.

3. If he is getting an unfair advantage, then politely state the problem to him and ask if he could serve correctly because it is bothering you.

4. If he refuses to change, then go ask for an umpire from the tournament desk.  If an umpire is available, your request will be granted.

5. Thank the umpire for his assistance and briefly explain the situation.

6. After the umpire is in charge of the match, don’t argue or dispute with him.  Accept the fact that he will be an un-biased opinion and will judge each of the serves fairly.

7. After the table tennis match has concluded, shake hands with your opponent and the umpire.  Regardless of what happened during the match, be prepared to shake off the match and prepare for your next opponent.

Samson Dubina

The Tournament Mindset – Samson Dubina 0

During practice, most table tennis players focus 100% on themselves.  They think in detail about their own footwork, their own strokes, and their own serves.  They rarely consider their opponent.  In table tennis tournaments, they are mistakenly focused on themselves, wondering why they can’t win.

By performing beautiful forehand loops, your opponent will not drop dead.  You can’t win a match based on your awesome footwork.  The only way to win a table tennis match is to beat your opponent!  In matches, you should be 95% focused on your opponent and only 5% focused on yourself.  At the elite level, there are many detailed strategies.  I’ll deal with them in a future article.  For now, here are 10 basic questions that you should be asking yourself between games and between points!

Does my opponent prefer backhand or forehand when attacking?

Does my opponent prefer backhand or forehand when defending?

Where is my opponent’s middle (the transition point between backhand and forehand)?

Does my opponent win the majority of the points from strong attacks or does my opponent win the majority of the point from my mistakes?

Does my opponent feel more comfortable close to the table or far away from the table?

What are the most common serves that my opponent is using?

If my opponent has a particularly tricky serve that I continue to miss, what other options do I have to return it?

Does my opponent attack my short serve?  Does my opponent attack my long serves?

Does my opponent have any particular trouble with a specific serve?

Does my opponent have any particular trouble with a specific shot that I’m using or does he have trouble with a particular spin or particular location?

If you go through this list between every game, you will be able to better form strategies throughout the entire table tennis match!  Remember, winning is not just about great playing, winning is about making your opponent play poorly!

Samson Dubina

The Right Balance in Table Tennis – Samson Dubina 0

Most club table tennis players can’t train 40 hours per week due to work, school, family commitments and just life in general.  However, most players can dedicate around 10 hours per week to improve their table tennis skills.  For my training students, I ask them to work hard to produce the best possible 10 hours that they can do.  I ask them to do 4 hours of table tennis matches, 1 hour of serving practice, 1 hour of physical training, 1 hour of video analysis, and 3 hours of training with the Newgy Robo-Pong 2050 table tennis robot.

Playing matches against various playing styles is an important part of a weekly training program because it “tests” your table tennis skills.  You should be able to properly regulate WHAT to practice based on how you perform in practice matches.

Serving practice is one of the fastest ways to improve.  If you can score 2-3 more points each game, that is a major improvement.  Even if you can’t win the point outright, a good serve should set you up for the next ball.  When serving, focus on keeping the ball low, with good spin variation, and good placement variation.  Try to develop a very similar motion while giving slight changes in the spin – heavy sidespin, sidespin backspin, no spin, and sidespin topspin.

Physical training is a vital aspect that every table tennis player needs to work on to move to the elite level.  At your current level, physical training might not seem very important.  However, at the elite level, it is critical.  I would recommend focusing mainly on speed and flexibility exercises for the legs and core.  Top table tennis players say that 70-80% of their looping power comes from the legs and core (not the arm).

Video analysis is the most neglected aspect of table tennis training in the US.  Without visualization of your strengths and weaknesses on a weekly basis, you are probably training incorrectly.  Record at least one session per week and take some time to watch it slowly while taking notes.  Ask a friend or coach to watch it with your and take a somewhat critical approach to analyzing your game.

Table tennis robot training has helped me tremendously and I’m sure that it will help you too.  Instead of thinking about the score, you can focus on the areas of your game that really need to improve.  You can focus on making changes to your footwork, short game, blocking, looping, smashing, chopping, and serve return.  Start the drill very slowly with +50% wait adjust so that you can perform them correctly.  As you become more consistent at that speed, slowly decrease the time between balls by 10%.

Here is a sample weekly table tennis training program from one of my students:

Monday:         Robot (1 hour) and Physical Training (30 min)

Tuesday:        Club (2 hours)

Wednesday:  Rest

Thursday:       Club (2 hours) and video analysis (1 hour)

Friday:             Robot (1 hour) and serving (1 hour)

Saturday:        Robot (1 hour) and Physical Training (30 min)

Sunday:           Rest

Samson Dubina

Table Tennis Rally Statistics – Samson Dubina 0

Statistics were taken for the length of the rallies at a professional table tennis tournament.  These statistics are fairly common across the board for all levels but differ based on game-style.

On average:

12% of serves are not returned

18% of points are won on the 2nd ball

26% of points are won on the 3rd ball

13% of points are won on the 4th ball

11% of points are won on the 5th ball

6% of points are won on the 6th ball

4% of points are won on the 7th ball

10% of points are won after the 7th ball

So as you can see, the serve, serve return, and 3rd ball attack are critically important during a table tennis match.  56% of the points do not last more than the 3rd hit.  For this reason, I would recommend practicing at least 56% of the time on the serve, serve return, and 3rd hit.


One of the best ways to improve your serve is to do it during a drill.  Instead of starting the drill with a warm-up serve, start each drill with a tournament serve such short backspin.  Ask your table tennis training partner to push long, next you loop the push, then you begin the footwork drill.

Serve Return

You probably have some serves that give you problems.  Ask your training partner to serve those problem serves again and again while thinking of new ways to return them.  Experiment by attacking slightly stronger or slightly slower, by pushing instead of looping, by adding to or stopping the sidespin, or countless types of returns.  In order to properly read the spin on a serve, you should watch the racket motion, listen to the contact, watch the bounce, and look for the logo on the ping-pong ball.

The 3rd Ball

Even if your opponent doesn’t miss your serve, he might give you an easy return in which you can attack.  If your 3rd ball attack is strong, it will put more pressure on your opponent to return more precisely.  When he tries to return shorter or lower or faster, he will begin making more mistakes.  Remember, it isn’t just about your serve in a table tennis rally. It’s also about what comes after your serve.

Samson Dubina