Training in uncertain times

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).

 

About Tom Lodziak

I’m a table tennis coach based in Cambridge in the UK. I have 70+ free table tennis lessons on my popular YouTube channel. I also have 150+ coaching articles to help you improve your table tennis skills. You can read more about my background on my About Tom page.

2 thoughts on “Training in uncertain times

  1. Great that you shared your feedback session about the importance of foodwork. I started rope jumping at Kickfun lessons. Great exercise. I might have to start doing it again cause I guess my foodwork could improve too. Body awareness.

    Thanks and have fun. Sandra

  2. Tom, I enjoyed your training thoughts. Thank you. Your thoughts on attacking reminded me of the article below which I am sending along for your interest. Larry Hodges is well known in the US table tennis community. He is an author and a Hall of Famer. Take good care.

    May 7, 2018 – Serve and Attack . . . Almost Always

    — Larry Hodges

    When serving, don’t look for a ball to attack. Unless the receiver does something to stop you from attacking, serve and attack over and over. If you aren’t confident in your attack, then this will make your attack much stronger and turn you into a better player.
    There are tactical exceptions to this, but they are relatively few. Defensive players such as choppers and blockers might serve and only attack if they see a relatively easy attack, but even they should look to serve and attack every chance so as to develop their attacks. Against a receiver with a weak attack you might tactically wait for a better shot rather than force the attack off your serve against a relatively good return – but even there it’s good practice to serve and attack so you keep getting better at it. Sometimes it’s good tactics to catch your opponent off guard by not attacking, such as a sudden drop shot or quick push against a player expecting you to attack and not ready to attack themselves. But generally, and perhaps even relentlessly, you’ll find more success if you serve and attack whenever the receiver doesn’t do something to stop you from attacking.
    None of this means you have to serve and rip a winner every time. You only do that if you do get a relatively weak return. Attacks should be varied – forehand or backhand; hard, medium, or soft; usually deep, but when attacking more softly vary the depth; to the opponent’s middle (elbow) or wide corners, or even outside the corners; and with varying amounts of topspin and sometimes sidespin. Never serve and blindly attack; attack, but attack with purpose!

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