Training in uncertain times

In the UK, table tennis is slowly spluttering back to life. Some clubs and sport centres have reopened giving us some opportunities to practice. But competitive table tennis – leagues and tournaments – is still very limited.

And of course, we have no idea what will happen in the coming weeks and months. Rumours are circulating of another lockdown in the UK, but hopefully not as strict as the first lockdown in March. And hopefully sport will continue to be exempt from any new restrictions, as it is vitally important for everyone’s physical and mental health to be active.

So what should our focus be during these uncertain times? Well if you do have the opportunity to play table tennis, I would suggest now is the ideal time to be focusing on improving your technique and sorting out any weak areas of your game. It might be your footwork, your loops, your drives, your pushes, your blocks, your serves, your receives – whatever issue you struggle with, there has never been a better time to fix a weakness.

For me, I am focusing on my footwork and developing my attacking strokes. Both issues are related and need plenty of attention. I have been working hard on the physical conditioning of my legs over the past two months – lots of exercises with weights, resistance bands and dynamic movements. I have also lost 5-6 kg in weight, by reducing the amount of processed crap I eat! Overall, I am stronger and can move faster, plus my knees don’t ache after a hard training session. I am very happy with this.

Being able to move better is helping me develop my attacking game. I am finding it easier to actually get into position to play an attacking stroke, rather than just block the ball. With this new attacking intent, I am now focusing on spinning the ball more when playing backhand attacks and using more body rotation when playing forehand attacks. When I play practice matches, I just focus on attacking. It doesn’t matter if I win or lose – and sometimes I lose by making too many attacking errors – the key for me is to try to attack, rather than block. I make mistakes, plenty of them, but these are good mistakes I can learn from.

Click this link to watch a video of a recent coaching session I had with Ferenc Horvath. In the video you will see some of the drills Ferenc gets me to do to develop my footwork and attacking strokes.

Although we face uncertain times, let’s try and stay positive and make the most of any opportunities we have to play table tennis. It doesn’t matter that leagues and competitions are struggling to restart. Think about it this way – you may never again have such a long period of time to focus on technique improvement, without worrying about competition. So don’t waste this time.

Have a think about your own game. What is your major weakness? Wouldn’t it be nice to sort this weakness out once and for all? Plan some drills and match-play exercises you can do and try to make a really good improvement. When we do finally return to regular competitive play, you’ll be able surprise your opponents with your improved level of play.

If you need some inspiration for developing any new skills, take a look at the free tutorials on my YouTube channel. Or sign up for the TableTennisDaily Academy (not my videos, but very good instruction).


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