Small steps training drill

Some players are guilty of not moving their feet when they play. Instead, they reach or lean when trying to hit the ball. This is not good. When you reach or lean, you have far less control over the ball and are far more likely to make mistakes. To help improve a player’s footwork, I often get them doing a small steps training drill. The aim of the drill is to make small steps, left or right, to get into the ideal position to play shots as best as you possibly can. In this blog post, I show you how to do the training drill. The post includes both a video demonstration and a written explanation.

How to recover from a dip in form

We all have periods when we feel our progress has stalled or our form has dipped. This is entirely normal. I often remind the players I coach (and myself), that improvement doesn’t take place in a straight line. In reality you will experience lots of ups and downs, but gradually moving in the right direction. In this blog post, I look at what can cause a dip in form and what you can do about it.

Why learning to play table tennis is like learning to drive a car

Most players I coach have at some point had to listen to my dreaded table tennis car analogy. I usually reel it out when a player is having difficulty learning a new stroke. The player says something like “it’s difficult to think about what I need to do and watch what you’re doing at the same time”. Ding! This is my cue. It’s time for my table tennis car analogy. For your benefit, here it is…

Lessons learnt from 1000 hours of coaching

Over the past two years, I’ve given over 1,000 hours of 1-to-1 table tennis coaching lessons. That’s a lot of coaching. Even though every session is focused entirely on the needs of the player I’m coaching, I’m also constantly learning. Learning how to be a better coach. Learning how to improve my instruction and drills. Learning more about table tennis. Since I’ve reached a 1,000 hour coaching milestone, I thought it would be useful to share some of the lessons I have learnt over the past couple of years.

How to attack more during matches

Players learning the game (and also some players who have been playing for 30 years) can find it difficult to attack during matches. Is this you? You may have the aspiration to attack. You may tell yourself that you want to attack. But the opportunity never seems to present itself, especially against a better player who doesn’t give you any easy balls to smash away. In this blog post I explain how you can attack more during matches.

Review: Table Tennis University

If you haven’t already heard, Table Tennis University is back! The relaunched website has several online table tennis courses, covering topics such as service, forehand loop, backhand loop, footwork and a flagship ‘university’ course which covers pretty much every aspect of table tennis you can think of. The big question is, are these courses any good? Can online table tennis lessons help you improve? Is it worth spending money on an online table tennis course, or should you just find a coach to teach you? Here’s my views…

My biggest table tennis failures (so far)

It is very easy to get despondent when we fail at table tennis. I always try to encourage the players I coach to have a healthy relationship with failure. You can learn so much from your losses – which parts of your game are weak, which tactics don’t work, which styles you find difficult to play against. Without the losses and failures, you’d never know what you need to do to improve. Sometimes I’ll get a sceptical look from a player. The look says “You don’t understand. You’re already a decent table tennis player. You don’t have to worry about failing all the time”. It’s at this stage that I will start to reveal some of my biggest table tennis failures. Here’s three good examples…

How to compete with younger players – lessons from Vladimir Samsonov

One of the most inspiring moments of the table tennis event at the Rio Olympics was Vladimir Samsonov getting to the semi-final of the men’s singles. Modern professional table tennis is increasingly physical, favouring younger bodies. To reach an Olympic semi-final at the age of 40 is a phenomenal achievement. What can we learn from Vladimir Samsonov’s success? How can we keep on competing with younger players and play close to our best when past our physical peak? In this blog post, I share four lessons I’ve learnt from watching Samsonov.

REVIEW: Butterfly Amicus Professional Table Tennis Robot

When I first started playing table tennis, I bought the basic Practice Partner 100. A good entry level robot which is not that expensive. But it had a very limited range of spins and drills. I wanted a robot which was able to replicate more realistic spins and sequences of balls. It took a while to decide on which robot to buy. I went on table tennis forums and decided in the end that the Butterfly Amicus Professional was the one that would do virtually everything I wanted. I have had the robot for a few months now. Here’s my ‘for’ and ‘against’ appraisal.