Coaching Tip: Use a Wider Stance

One of the quickest ways to tell the difference between a world-class player and typical club player is to compare how far their feet are apart. Top players almost always have wider stances than average players. Just go to youtube and watch videos of the best players and the difference becomes obvious. The wider stance can be tricky to learn, and if you have knee problems, weak legs, or are overweight, it may not work for you. But for most players, the wider stance is a big advantage.

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Coaching Tip: Mentality in a Match and in Practice

This could be a very short Tip, since the mentality in a match and in practice should be the same. So here’s the short version: think of a time where you played GREAT. It could be in a tournament or a practice match, or even a practice session. The key is that you played great, and want to play like that all the time. Now think about your mentality when you were playing great, i.e. were “in the zone.” You were probably playing almost mindlessly, other than tactical thinking. In fact, you probably were more like a spectator just watching yourself react mindlessly and almost flawlessly. THAT is the mentality you want both when you practice and when you play a match.

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Coaching Tip: Pushing Short

One of the trickier things in table tennis starting at the intermediate level is how to return short backspin serves without giving the server an easy ball to loop. The easiest return is a long push, but then the server gets to loop. You can also flip the short serve, but that can be tricky, and many servers can loop that return as well unless you flip very aggressively – and if you do that, you lose consistency. So what to do?

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Coaching Tip: Tournament Toughness

Playing in tournaments is quite different from playing practice matches. Here are three reasons for this. First, the playing conditions are generally different than you are used to – different tables, balls, floors, backgrounds, and lighting. Second, you are usually playing different players, while in practice you often play the same players over and over. And third, there’s far more pressure in a tournament match than in a practice match. (There are other, lesser reasons – traveling, time zone changes, eating different foods, etc.)

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Coaching Tip: Start Drills with a Serve

Most players practice with drills that are very different from what they actually do in a match. There’s a logic to this – you want to perfect each part of your game, and you do that by isolating the shot so you can do it repeatedly, something you can’t do nearly as effectively in a game situation. For example, if you want to be able to loop over and over against a block in a match, you first should practice looping over and over against a block in practice against a ball blocked to the same spot, which doesn’t happen often in a match. However, there’s a time for isolating a shot to perfect it, and a time to match game situations.

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