Making Use of Service Practice by Michael Landers

Jena Newgarden
Chances are that you’ve heard someone say, “I would have beaten them if it weren’t for that nasty serve that they had.” If you think about it, your service is really the only part of each point that you have total control over in table tennis. You are the only person who dictates where the ball will go, what spin it will have, and how fast it will be. Though service practice is often overlooked, it is a necessity for any top player.

The smartest way to practice your service is by taking your time on each ball and pretending that you’re in a tight match. If you have noticed, it’s quite difficult to serve short with decent amount of spin whenever the match is close and near the end of the game. It is very important to take your time on each serve while practicing to simulate match play. When I was younger, I would place 3-4 balls in my hand at a time and just keep serving one after another, which I later found out was not useful in the least bit.

Here are a couple of tips you can use to help you make the most out of your serving practice:

· Serve one ball at a time

· Be patient with your serves

· Begin serving short without a lot of spin- as you get more consistent you can gradually add different types of spins

· Study some videos of the top players’ serves- the contact, spins, placements, etc.

· Experiment! – This is VERY important. Try to create your own serves and see what works. Chances are you may develop a weapon of your own!

Good luck and happy practicing!

Michael Landers

Read more →

Stroke Repetition for Beginners by Michael Landers

Jena Newgarden
It is a well-known fact that practice makes perfect. It’s virtually impossible to just get good at something overnight. Just like in any other sport, muscle-memory is extremely important in table tennis. When I was younger, my coach would have me stand in front of a wall for 20 minutes each day practicing my forehand stroke. In table tennis, stroke repetition is possibly the most important method for a beginner. It is an absolute necessity to have a basic stroke that is exactly the same every time before you can move on to more advanced play. If your arm movement deviates too much, developing a more advanced stroke in the future is nearly impossible. Many players who never had a coach to show them how to properly hit the ball use the unorthodox strokes they learned in their basement and find it difficult to improve their game. By learning how to hit a correct forehand and backhand, the chances of improvement are greatly enhanced. There are so many table tennis players who maxed out their potential due to the sole reason of not learning the game correctly. The basic forehand stroke should go something like this:

You should start somewhere around your hip and finish in line with your forehead. By accomplishing this, you put yourself in the right spot for becoming a better player.

Other info:

Many newcomers to the sport of table tennis never learn one important thing: the proper stance while hitting the ball. It’s important to position your legs correctly so that you are properly balanced. For right-handed players, you should position your left leg a tiny bit in front of your right, enabling you to get into a rhythm while rallying forehand to forehand. While hitting the ball, try to transfer your weight from your right leg forward. For left-handed players, do the opposite. (Right leg in front of left) Make sure your legs are positioned correctly and remember the stroke: low to high – this generates the spin on the ball, thus making it arc over the net and landing on the other side of the table.

How to practice:

To practice these first steps to becoming a champion, set your Newgy Robo-Pong table tennis robot on a relatively low frequency and speed. Have the robot dispense the ball to your forehand and do so for about 20-30 minutes every day. When I was younger, I would do the same with my Robo-Pong every night. I quickly saw an improvement in my game. If done correctly, you’ll be ready to move onto the next step in little to no time at all.

Good luck and have fun!

Michael Landers

Read more →

A Training Move by Michael Landers

Jena Newgarden
Earlier this year I decided to move my table tennis training inside the gym that my trainer owns. I placed a top-of-the-line Cornilleau ping-pong® table along with a Newgy Robo-Pong 2050 table tennis robot inside the large wooden-floored space in the downstairs part of the gym. I have been training with the robot and lifting weights nearly every single day since.

Now, I don’t have to travel all the way to the city for training, and have a huge space with high ceilings to play matches with people in, unlike my house. Everything has been working out great thus far, and my friends at the gym are starting to see how much of a workout table tennis can actually be with the Robo-Pong. Having the Robo-Pong in the gym is great because it allows me to train by myself and also teach and correct others’ strokes without having to feed them balls by hand. A few people there already want robots for themselves and are looking into it!

Michael Landers

Read more →

Should I Call a Timeout? by Samson Dubina

Jena Newgarden
Picture this: You are playing the most important table tennis match of your life in the final round, crowds have gathered, big money is at stake, you are preparing to serve, the score is 9-9… should you call timeout?

The question above could be answered “YES” or “NO” depending on the circumstance. In the above situation, you should possibly call timeout if:

1. You need to consult your coach. If you are unsure on what to serve or what strategy to use, ask your coach.

2. You are serving. The server usually has the advantage because he sets the tone for the point by choosing the spin, speed, and location of the serve.

3. You are fatigued. At 9-9, you might need a 60 second rest to recover from a long match. When you are fresh, you can serve better, move better, relax more, and think more clearly.

4. When your opponent has momentum. In the above situation, if you were winning 9-4 and your opponent tied the score at 9-9, you need to call timeout. If you were losing 9-4, then had a great comeback, don’t call timeout.

In conclusion, your timeout is a great tool if chosen wisely. Don’t forget to take 6-point towel breaks to help recover as well; consider those to be “mini-timeouts.” Also, think clearly between points. You don’t need an official timeout to think strategy, take a few deep breaths, and beat your opponent!

Samson Dubina

Read more →

The Ready Position – by Perry Wilson

Jena Newgarden
At the beginning of every point in table tennis, you are either serving, or returning the serve. Today, I am going to focus on the position you should be in while returning the serve, and after you hit your serve.

When you are serve returning you need to be careful where you stand. Most players stand in the backhand side just because everyone else does. But really you should be diagonal of where your opponent is standing, because they are most likely to serve it cross court. Another thing people seem to have a problem with is getting jammed because they stand close to the table. A good rule of thumb when serve returning is if you can touch the table with your racket, you are probably too close.

While serving there is really one main thing you need to do between your serve and next shot. It really doesn’t matter where or what you serve, but go directly diagonal from your shot. I would say about 6-7 out of 10 times, your opponent will return your serve cross court, so going across from your serve will be the most logical thing to do.

With making these two small changes to your table tennis game, I believe it can help tremendously with your game.

Perry Wilson

Read more →

Controversy – by Pierce Scott

Jena Newgarden
If you play table tennis then you know controversy can arise at any time. Some situations you might run into are – your opponent won’t start the table tennis match, you think their paddle is illegal, someone thinks your paddle is illegal, disagreement over the score, disagreement on whether or not the serve is legal and disagreement over whether a point should be played as a let or not. There are also other situations that could occur, but these are the most likely problems a tournament player can come across.

The best way to solve one of these problems is to be calm, listen to the other side of the story, and come to an agreement that seems fair. If you cannot seem to do this, you need to go get help from the Tournament Desk. If you can specifically ask for the Referee (designated to handle any tournament conflicts) he/she is the one in power. A common mistake in table tennis is mixing up the referee and the umpire. The umpire only controls one match (he/she is the one in the chair watching your match). The referee controls the tournament and has the power to assign an umpire, default a player, and also disqualify a player. Once you report your problem to the referee he will assign an umpire for the match and that umpire will most likely go back to the point in the match/game of where both players agree. Remember, they cannot rule on something they did not see.

Tournaments are supposed to be fun, and competitive at the same time, so try not to let too much controversy get in the way.

Pierce Scott

Read more →

How to Prepare for a Tournament – by Michael Landers

Jena Newgarden
Proper preparation is necessary if you want to play your best at a table tennis tournament. First of all, eating a big, healthy breakfast gives your body the energy it needs throughout the morning during matches. Usually, morning table tennis matches start around nine o’clock, so breakfast is an absolute must. Some feel that eating a large breakfast will upset their stomachs and choose not to eat at all. The problem with this is that without food, the body will not have any energy. If you don’t eat breakfast, your body will not have received food since dinner the night before. That’s a long time without eating any food. Eating during the tournament helps as well. Try to keep some power bars on hand or some kind of light food that helps to provide energy, as well as lots of water.

Stretching and warming up correctly are extremely important as well. A proper warm-up and stretch should last 20-30 minutes and should consist of jogging/biking and stretching. Without warming up, your body is prone to injury. After stretching, try doing some drills on the ping-pong® table to get your feet moving.

Getting an adequate amount of sleep the night before a tournament is also quite important. You definitely don’t want to be tired while playing. Not getting enough sleep can cause your mind to cloud up, causing frustration and poor match play.

Following these tips will definitely help you to perform your best in your next table tennis tournament.

Good luck!

Michael Landers

Read more →

Mistakes in Table Tennis – by Samson Dubina

Jena Newgarden
Mistakes – From recreation level ping-pong players to World Champion table tennis players, everyone makes mistakes. However, there is a huge difference between the average players and the pros. The average players make the same mistakes again and again. Once they are down 2-0, or lost the match, or driving home after the tournament, they discover the fault and possibly think of a solution. The good players pause after each point, they recognize the lapse, and know how to immediately correct the problem. Below I have listed several ways to think more between points and eliminate continued errors.

#1

When training in table tennis, be aware of your faults point by point. When I am training with my Newgy Robo-Pong table tennis robot, I am thinking of a match situation. After I make five errors, I turn off the robot. I will not allow myself to make mistake after mistake without stopping, reflecting, making the correction, and then continuing.

#2

Ask a better table tennis player to analyze your game point by point. When practicing with a higher-rated player, ask him or her to stop every point for two minutes and tell you what you did right and/or what you did wrong.

#3

Take significant time between points. The official rule says that “play must be continuous.” You are allowed to step back and reflect for five seconds to realize what went right and what went wrong during the point. You are not allowed to take 60 seconds lecturing yourself while pacing the barriers. At the six point break, towel off and keep your focus on the game.

#4

Stay in the court. Not only keep your mind on the game, but keep your eyes in the court. Even in practice, don’t let your eyes go beyond the barriers. If you see spectators or other matches or trophies or food, your mind will drift off.

#5

Practice like it’s a tournament. After winning the World Championships, Werner Schlager was asked if he had felt much pressure during the finals. He said that he didn’t feel any pressure because for many years, he had been able to think clearly and practice as if he was in the finals. When the final came, he was just thinking like he had been training.

Samson Dubina

Read more →

How to Play Serious at the Table Tennis Club – by Perry Wilson

Jena Newgarden
A lot of times table tennis clubs can be seen to some people as a “fun time”, or not for serious table tennis play. I have people like that at my club, and it can sometimes be difficult to focus on your game while you are around them.

Here are a few suggestions of ways I have found to be useful in these situations:

1) The first thing I always do is ask to play somebody I know is also there to work on their game. If you get with someone like that, the quality of play will go way up.

2) Another thing that I found works well is getting to an area that not many people are. At my club many people like to joke around while not playing. And a lot of times it can get quite loud. But when I go to an isolated area, I can concentrate much more on playing.

3) Also, a great thing you can do before you go to your club, is have a set goal of what you want to work on. Coming to the club without something in particular that you want to improve can get you off track of playing serious. But, if you have something you want to accomplish, you are way more focused and committed to doing that certain thing.

All of those things are essential to having more effective club practice. And if you have people at your club who are not as serious as you, they can get in the way of you improving your game.

Perry Wilson

Read more →

The Importance of Bending Your Knees – By Pierce Scott

Jena Newgarden
Footwork is very important in table tennis. Most players do not have great footwork. This is either because they don’t know how to move correctly, or they just flat out don’t move. A key part to moving is bending your knees. If you do not bend your knees you will not improve very much.

The first type of footwork is short distance footwork. This is when you are moving one step (or shuffle) to get a ball. You always move your outside foot first. The outside foot is the one that is farthest away from the ball. For example, if you’re moving to hit a wide backhand, you would need to move your right foot first. In order to do this you need to have a good spring in your legs. The only way to get a good spring to the ball is if you bend your knees and use the energy of your body going from down to up to move to the ball. Think of bending your knees like a spring. You push down on a spring and all that energy is waiting to explode. Then you release and all the energy makes a big impact. This is the effect of bending your knees.

Long distance footwork is almost the same as short distance, but in long distance you need to be more explosive and cover more ground. You need even more of a spring now which will require you to bend your knees.

The last common type of footwork is moving in and out of the table. If you are moving in to make a push or flip you need to have your right foot under the table. This will give you more reach. It is important to stay low (bending your knees) when flipping a short ball because you need to catch the ball at the top of the bounce. When you catch the ball at the top of the bounce you are catching it when it is highest, which means you will not have to lift the ball as much. If you don’t bend your knees you will not know when the ball has reached its highest point.

Bending your knees is very important in table tennis. Basically every single shot has something to do with bending your knees. If you do not bend your knees you are not going to improve very much and you will not reach the highest part of your game.

Pierce Scott

Read more →