11 Ways of Improving While At Home

Newgy Robo-Pong

Do you have a Newgy table tennis robot? Is your robot training boring? Yes, possibly, if you are knocking the same ball into a machine for 6 hours/day. What can you do to make your robot sessions more interesting and more effective for your improvement during this lockdown? In this new coaching article, I'm going to briefly outline 11 things that you can do to make your robot sessions at home more effective! Try them out and let us know what you think!

#1Add Variations
There are two aspects of rallies - adjusting for the incoming ball and making the opponents adjust to your shots. The same thing applies to robot training - you need to setup drills that give variations to you so that you need to adjust, and at the same time giving variations to the imagined opponent... speed variations, spin variations, placement variations, height variations, depth variations, and shot type variations.

#2 Simulate Real Games
You will have your most focused training sessions when you picture a real opponent - think about your current rival - Kanak Jha or Matt Hetherington or Adam Bobrow or Roger Dickson or Chester Taylor or Erick Chamblee on the other side of the table. Setup scenarios that they often play, such as... short serve to the forehand followed up by consistent rally to the backhand followed by a fast punch to the middle. Setup 4 or 5 or 6 ball games. In order to score, you need to make the 5 balls on. Keep score to 11 and see if you can make progress during the coming days in beating Mike Boyd

#3 Be Efficient
Before starting any robot training day, make a plan to what you are doing. Start off with doing 20-30 min/day with goals for each drill and times for each drill. Between drills, use the time efficiently and mix in serve practice and/or fitness training.

#4 Count Your Hits
When playing against an opponent, you realize that you lost the first game 11-1 and are down 8-2 in the second. When playing with the robot, you don't get feedback on your successes. So start counting. Do a drill with 20 balls and see if you can land 16/20 every time. If you are getting 20/20, then push the limits for added speed, added depth, or different variations on your own shots. If you are getting 8/20, then focus more on consistency aspects - are you getting in the right position, are you timing it correctly, are you watching the ball fully to your racket - are you playing within your most consistent zone. If you aren't counting, you probably don't know exactly how you are doing.

#5 Record Yourself
You likely have a smartphone or tablet. Record your drills and watch them during water breaks. Learn to coach yourself. No matter what level you are, it is important to have a personal coach. In addition to your personal coach, you also need to be giving yourself advice session by session... drill by drill... and even hit by hit! What kinds of thing should you be looking for? The list is endless, by here are a few things for starters.
How is your distance from the table?
How is your response to the incoming ball?
How is your feeling or action on the ball?
How is your placement?
How is your recovery for the next hit?
How is your breathing?
And thousands of other observations...

#6 Have Fun With Robot Positions
The most underused aspect of robot training is changing the position of the robot in your table tennis room. Try putting it on a chair and moving it back from the table - move it to the side of the table - even move it on the floor and have it throw lobs to the ceiling. Different positions give you a different feel, and that is really what you want. You don't want to be getting the same exact ball again and again. You want variations... sometimes simulating Sarah Jalli firing hard from point blank range and sometimes simulating Chance Friend at mid-distance and sometimes simulating Sid Khandelwal lobbing sidespin from the barrier. The more variation you get, the more you are practicing for real opponents - it makes it more challenging and more enjoyable.

#7 Try Something New
Are you stuck at home for weeks on end with no tournaments in sight? Well NOW is the time to try something new. Develop an off-speed block or learn a sidespin push or experiment with a backhand chop or practice looping around the net or learn to loop from different positions to different positions or experiment with the Yoshimura serve. Adding some new things to your game could pay off BIG TIME in the future and now is the season to try it.

#8 Focus on Placement
When playing against a human, it is vitally important to be consistent so that you can both get a good training session. It is tough to push the placement limits during a footwork drill trying to go for extremely angled shots or extremely deep loops in the last 4" of the table. However, the robot doesn't care if you miss!!! Think about that. Now is your chance to really learn to hit wide with precision. Consider even adding targets to the table. Just make sure the targets aren't too small. I once had to do a robot repair with someone who got an action figure jammed in the robot!

#9 Do It Together
Now is the best time to connect with your family. Instead of doing robot training by yourself in the garage, ask your wife or son or daughter to join you! Set the robot up for a beginner drill - they do a 2 min beginner drill and you do a 2 min advanced drill. Robot training is something fun for the whole family!

#10 Take Notes
You will have better sessions if you spend just a few minutes on note-taking! Before you begin, take 1-2 min to write down some goals for the session, write notes on your progress during the session, and write some closing thoughts. You have heard the expression, "If you don't know where you are going, any road will get you there." This is true for your robot sessions as well. Map out your session and see if you can reach your goals!

#11 Upload Your Session to Social Media
We would love to see what you are doing at home. Record a 1-min session and upload it to Instagram or Facebook or even Youtube. Send us a link and let us know how your sessions are going. We would love to see how this article impacted your robot sessions and would love to see you having FUN and making progress during this difficult time! Be safe & stay home!

Samson Dubina

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Shadow Strokes in Table Tennis

Newgy Robo-Pong

Your imagination is your most powerful tool. Are you using it?
Many club level table tennis players dream of becoming a world class table tennis athlete with awesome balance, positioning, timing, perfect strokes, ideal placement, and deceptive variations. However, when I ask them to do shadow strokes, they have no idea. If you can’t do it without the ball, you most certainly can’t do it with the ball!

Do you want to improve your level? Great! Then do 1 thing for yourself. Watch some world class table tennis players during training and see if you can copy them. As you are watching them, here are some questions that I want you to ask:
1. How bent are their knees?
2. How much are they on their toes?
3. How much are they leaning forward?
4. Where are their eyes looking as the ball is approaching?
5. How does their footwork sync together with their strokes?
6. How fast is their backswing?
7. Where is the timing at contact?
8. How much acceleration do they use?
9. Which main muscle groups are they using?
10. How long is their follow through?
11. How is the recovery for the next shot?
12. How different is their swing going crosscourt vs down-the-line?
13. How do each of their shots link together with the following ball?

Everyone wants to play well in table tennis matches, I get it. But if you can’t do it right without the ball, you most certainly will not do it right with the ball. So study the strokes of other players. Do shadow stokes in front of the mirror. Watch each aspect of your swing. Record yourself and send the video to a professional coach to get his advice. Next try it with the ball. What elements carry over and what elements change. Also, remember, the most strokes in the world are adjustable strokes. If you want to have a stroke that is useful in a match, make sure that it is adjustable to various speeds, heights, depths, and spins.

Check out this video demonstrating shadow strokes here!

Samson Dubina

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Table Tennis... It Isn't Piano!

Newgy Robo-Pong

If you ever took piano lessons, you probably know that there is a very systematic approach for beginners.  Often there is a 30 or 60 min lesson each week.  The student is given a couple songs to perfect during the week.  When he/she goes for the lesson the following week, they will likely get those songs checked off and given new songs to play the following week.  Once you have mastered a song, then you typically don’t go back 3 years later and keep working on the same one because you have moved on…

With this approach in mind, many table tennis kids and their parents are a bit confused for the first few years when introduced to table tennis training.  You never completely check off a skill as “mastered.”  You continue to do the same drills but continue to learn new details of the same drills.  Let me explain…

Within the first few lessons, you will likely learn a basic forehand drive, basic backhand drive, and simple side-shuffle footwork linking back and forehand together.  Your table tennis coach might block with his backhand…  one ball to your backhand and one ball to your forehand.  Sounds simple right?  Well if you are someday in the top 10 in the world, you might still be doing the same exact drill. 

So what should you be focusing on…

Beginner

Maybe as a beginner table tennis player, you might focus on holding the correct grip, bending your knees, moving quickly into position, having the correct racket angle, watching the incoming ball until it contacts your racket, re-positioning yourself for the next shot.

Professional

Maybe as a professional table tennis player, you would focus on making a primary adjustment with your feet, making a small secondary adjustment, correctly back-swinging based on the speed + spin + placement + height + depth of the incoming ball, aiming low and deep to your desired location, applying the right amount of force/friction at the point of contact using weight transfer + wrist action + and slight finger action and pressure, watching the opponent’s racket, re-positioning yourself for the follow-up ball.

Instead of "graduating" from one table tennis drill and forgetting it for life, you will often be adding subtle details to perfect your game.  Yes, advanced table tennis players CAN do extremely advanced drills, BUT many advanced players choose simple drills and just focus on the small details.

Samson Dubina

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Six Different Ways Table Tennis Students Learn

Newgy Robo-Pong

For decades, table tennis coaches world-wide have been teaching all of their students in a similar way.  As we open the NEW Samson Dubina Table Tennis Academy in the spring of 2019, we will be re-structuring the daily training in both private lessons and group classes to meet the needs of each individual table tennis player here in Akron, Ohio.  We believe that each person is unique and requires his/her own personal approach.  Here is a breakdown of the different ways table tennis students learn:

Hands-On

This student does well by trying a new table tennis skill – like trying to serve that new serve, trying to balance properly, trying that new movement, trying to play the correct timing.  With personally trying it out, the player can best learn the new skill. 

Visual

This student does well by seeing the new table tennis skill – in person with his coach, in a YouTube video, or even in a photo.  As this student can visualize the correct way to do it, he can learn to imitate the new skill.

Linguistic

This student does well by reading or listening to instructions about the new table tennis skill – drawing charts and diagrams on the dry-erase board helps the linguistic learner quickly improve his new skills.

Physics

This student does well by understanding the Whys – why does a topspin ball dip down in the air…  Why does the first bounce on the deep serve need to be to this location…  Why does the ball react differently when my opponent is using long pips or anti-spin rubber? 

Group

This student often does well in a group – discussing various table tennis tactics and techniques and feeling teamwork in partnering with others.  Table tennis is usually seen as an individual sport, but some find it much more enjoyable and exciting to learn new skills together as a group or team.

Individual

This student often does well learning alone in a private table tennis lesson with a coach where he can focus exclusively on small details. 

If you are a table tennis coach, consider adjusting the way you teach table tennis, especially if your traditional methods don’t always work.  If you are a table tennis player, consider what type of learner you are and adjust your training routine accordingly.  For example, if you aren’t able to understand how to move well, maybe you are a visual learner…   So, consider spending 15-20 minutes watching online videos each day of professional table tennis players in training and tournaments and seeing how, when, and why they move.  Also, consider explaining it to your coach so that he better understands how to teach you. 

In closing, realize that some of the learning types do overlap.  You need to be able to intellectually understand the skill, you need to be able to visualize the correct movement, you need to be able to explain it, you need to be able to do it in training, and you need to develop the confidence to use it in match play!

Samson Dubina

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Ohio Winter Mega Table Tennis Training Camp

Newgy Robo-Pong

The Ohio Winter Mega Table Tennis Training Camp presented by the Samson Dubina Table Tennis Academy will be held December 26-28, 2018 in Akron, Ohio.

All ages and levels of table tennis players welcome to participate in these three days of intense action! Training will be structured based on your individual needs of the game. In addition to the 5 hours/day on the table, there will be optional free lectures giving more details on designated topics.  During the lecture, there will also be Q&A sessions with Coach Samson Dubina and the other table tennis experts.

For more information and to register, click here.

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Reverse Preparation in Table Tennis

Newgy Robo-Pong

Many table tennis athletes begin the season with refining their basic technique and working on developing a solid base for footwork and consistency with many systematic drills.  As they get closer to their peak table tennis tournament, they then begin a more tactical approach.  When they know which exact opponents they will compete against, then they begin specific tactical preparation for that exact opponent. 

This is good, but I’m going to propose a slightly different approach for you.

Consider starting the season by watching your target opponents and begin specific tactical preparation against them specifically.  As you learn the details of their table tennis game, figure out which parts of your game need developed and work the whole season to develop those necessary tools.

Why am I proposing this?

Because many table tennis players spend hours the night before an important tournament (like Olympic trials or Pan Am Games or World Championship) studying their opponents only to realize that their skillset hasn’t be properly training to beat that specific opponent.  With only 24 hours before the table tennis match, they are limited in how much they can adjust their preparation.  If the specific preparation had begun 6 months earlier, it would have been easier to develop specific serves, specific receives, and specific patterns to give the rival trouble.

For sure, the basic technique, consistency, footwork, etc. needs to be solid.  But in addition to those things, if you begin mentally preparing for specific opponents during the season, you can train with more focus and more determination and more specific for specific opponents.

So what if you possibly have 100 different table tennis opponents?  What should you do?

Just pick 5! Pick five of them and target developing the needed table tennis skills to beat those five players that are at your level or a level better than you.  Having rivals (in your mind) is one of the best ways to up the intensity in your table tennis training this year!

Samson Dubina

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The Common Theme of Your Table Tennis Losses

Jena Newgarden
If you are similar to many of my table tennis students, you probably have had really bad losses from time to time.  By a bad loss, I mean that you lose to a much lower-level player during a table tennis tournament match.  Perhaps you play about 12 tournaments per year.  In 6 of the 12 tournaments, perhaps you lose to someone whose skillset is definitely inferior to yours.  Instead of blaming it on “bad luck”, I want you to stop for a moment and consider some possibilities.

Not Warmed-Up

When the upsets happen, is it usually the first or second table tennis match of the day?  If so, it might be due to a lack of warm-up or lack of adjusting to the playing conditions.  Consider arriving one day prior and playing in the facility for a few hours on Friday night.  Also, get a practice partner lined up and know what routine you need prior to your first table tennis match.

Too Fatigued

When the upset happens, it is usually at the end of a long day?  If so, it might be due to fatigue.  If this is the case, then obviously you need to work on your fitness.  Also, make sure that you are eating and drinking a sufficient amount during the day of the table tennis tournament.

Different Playing Style

When the upset happens, is it usually against a particular playing style – chopper, looper, blocker, lobber, lefty, little kid, long pips/anti, short pips, or possibly a penhold table tennis player?  If so, then try your best to figure out the exact elements of the playing style that give you trouble and practice according to your findings.  Do you need to wait on the ball longer because it is slower?  Do you need to fight for the first attack?  Do you need to spin the ball more because your opponent continues to deaden the ball?  You need to understand the problematic playing style and master all the tactics against that particular style.

Wrong Mindset

When the upset happens, is it usually when you least expect it?  Do you often lose to players who don’t “look” like a good table tennis player? That big guy is like 80 years old…  That kid can barely see above the table…  That Canadian player was only rated 100…   If so, then try to take significant time to mentally gear up before the table tennis match, take your opponent seriously, and try to form a game-plan from the very first point.

Poor Pre-Tournament Preparation

When the upset happens, is it usually when you don’t prepare well prior to the table tennis tournament?  Good practice doesn’t always = awesome performance.  Lack of practice doesn’t always = poor performance.  However, you need to know yourself personally and what it takes for you to play your best.

In order to have peak performance, how many hours per week should be training 6 months prior to the table tennis tournament?  How many hours per week should be training on the very week of the tournament?  By detailed analysis of your bad losses, you should be able to identify the common themes for your losses and do your absolute best to perform well at 8 am or midnight, against tiny girls and old men, against defensive lobber and against offensive pips, against low-rated opponents and elite opponents.

Remember, tournament performance starts long before the tournament.  To have the best results possible, develop a good table tennis training routine, know what you need for warmup, develop a good level of fitness, know how to play against all playing styles, mentally gear-up before every table tennis match, and work hard to apply what you learn every day!

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Featured Club: Broward Table Tennis Club

Jena Newgarden
If you are looking for table tennis training or somewhere to play or compete in South Florida, then the Broward Table Tennis Club is the place for you. The BTTC is located in Dania Beach, Florida just south of Ft. Lauderdale. BTTC was chosen as one of four “National Clubs of Excellence” in the U.S. by the USATT (United States Table Tennis Association).

The BTTC has 17 ping pong tables and 2 Newgy Robo-Pong table tennis robots. Each playing court is separated by barriers and sits on world class Chinese red floor. Two lounges overlook the playing areas.

Memberships are available, as well as Open Play, Robot rentals and Private Lessons. The BTTC has some of the best Table Tennis Coaches including Marty Prager, Terese Terranova, Nelson Navarro and Brian Pace.

The BTTC is available for parties, corporate events, fundraisers, junior camps and more.

The BTTC hosts many table tennis clinics and tournaments throughout the year. The next tournament is the Robo-Pong BTTC Feb Open Team Tournament on Feb. 7-8, 2015.

For more information about the Broward Table Tennis Club, visit www.2xtremepong.com.

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