A key focus of the training camp I organised in the summer was for players to make a two point improvement.
Think about all the games you have lost 11-9. With a two point improvement, you win these games 11-9.
Think about all the games you have lost 11-7. With a two point improvement, the score is 9-9 and you have a good chance of winning.
A two point improvement may seem small, but it can make a big difference to how many matches you win or lose.
And a two point improvement seems very achievable. Any player, at any standard, can make a two point improvement in a relatively short time frame if you focus your training in the right way.
So here are a few obvious ways you can make a two point improvement…
1. Improve your serves
Improving your serves is a very easy way to make a two point improvement. You don’t necessarily have to learn any new serves (although this can help). You can make your existing serves better. Focus on generating more spin, improving the placement, keeping the ball lower over the net and developing your spin variation and disguise. All you need is a box of balls and some spare time and you can very quickly make your serves much stronger.
I very much recommend watching the service video series I produced with Craig Bryant. There are loads of tips from Craig on how to make your service game much stronger.
You could also sign-up for the TTD Academy service masterclass with Par Gerell, who is a top Swedish player and has awesome serves. There is a small cost you have to pay, but the tips are really good.
2. Improve your return of serves
At amateur level, returning serves is where many players lose a lot of points. So an obvious way to make a two point improvement is to return more serves. You can do this by improving your reading of spin – and then playing the appropriate shot. You don’t need to blast balls and try to hit amazing winning returns. Often just getting the ball back on the table, in an awkward position, can be enough to give you the advantage in the rally.
Here’s a couple of videos to help you…
3. Ball placement
Ball placement is a personal favourite of mine and something I always drill into the players I coach. You don’t need to learn any new shots. You just need to get better at where you put the ball. This means using the full width of the table. Playing balls deep, wide, to your opponent’s crossover or sometimes very short. It makes a huge difference. Your opponents will find it much harder to return your shots. They will make more errors and you will hit more winners. Improving your ball placement is a definite way to make a two point improvement.
Here’s an article and video to help you…
- Ball Placement – The easiest way to instantly improve at table tennis
- How to improve the placement of your attacks
4. Match tactics
Developing your tactical thinking is another easy way to pick up extra points. This is another favourite topic of mine and has helped me so many times over the years to win matches, despite often being technically weaker than my opponents. My starting point is always to analyse my opponent’s strengths and weaknesses. Which is stronger – backhand or forehand? Are they stronger at the topspin game or the backspin game? When you start with this simple analysis, you can then develop a game plan. You can work out how to apply your strength to your opponent’s weakness. And if there is an obvious weakness, then really try to exploit it. Again, this is a very simple way to make a two point improvement.
Here’s a couple of useful articles…
Eight point improvement?
Each of these areas can give you a two point improvement.
Collectively, they give you an 8 point improvement, which allows you to move up divisions and compete at a higher level.
I chose these four areas – serve, receive, ball placement and match tactics – as these are probably the easiest to start with and will give you the quickest improvement.
But there are many other options too – footwork, rallying skills, defensive skills, looping, flicks, the short game, 3rd ball attack and many more.
However, you can’t focus on everything at once. If you do, you probably won’t get very good at anything.
You need to prioritise, focus on one or two areas and get really good at them. This process can take anything from 6 months to 2 years, depending on how much time and effort you put in.
But once you have this two point improvement, move on to the next area. It’s a never ending process. There is always some way to make a two point improvement.
So no matter what level you are, have a good think about own game. What area do you need to focus on to make two point improvement? Make a list. Prioritise that list. Choose one or two areas and get practising!