Tip of the Week: Proper Use of the Free Arm

A lot of problems arise when players don’t use their free arm properly. It’s a major problem with a lot of players. Here are two common problems.

First, many players let their free arm just sort of hang down instead of holding it up as a counterbalance to the playing arm. Every time they stroke the ball there is no counterbalancing arm to act as a counterweight, and so they are thrown slightly off balance with each shot. Worse, they become so used to this they don’t even realize it is happening. The cure –

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Coaching Tip – Opening Up the Forehand Zone

A lot of players have good forehands in practice, either looping or hitting. But once a game starts, they stand facing the table, which is a backhand stance, and while their backhands are fine, when the ball goes to their forehand they mostly face the table, bringing their arm back to stroke rather than turning sideways. This leaves them with an awkward forehand stroke. They have only a small hitting zone, and this small hitting zone is jammed over the table. They have no time or space to actually do a normal forehand swing, and so end up blocking or doing awkward strokes. Their stroke in almost entirely with the arm.

Afterwards, they go to the table and spend hours practicing their already-good forehand, never understanding why they are unable to use it in a game situation.

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Coaching Tip – A Journey of Nine Feet Begins at Contact

When you serve, do you just serve? Or do you stop and visualize the serve first? And when you visualize the serve, do you visualize all of it, or just part of it? You should visualize the entire journey the serve takes, all nine feet of it (or 10.3 feet, if you serve crosscourt).

Contact point: How high from the table? Most players contact the ball too high, and so the ball bounces too high. Also, how far behind the endline? For spin serves, contact the ball just behind the endline – any further back simply gives the receiver more time to react, plus it’s harder to control the depth from farther back, especially if you want to serve short. For fast & deep serves, contact is farther back so that the first bounce can be near your endline. Finally, where on the racket is the contact? For maximum spin, generally on the point on the racket furthest from the spin (the fastest moving spot). Or near the handle if you want to fake spin but serve no-spin. Visualize the contact

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Table Tennis Tip: Moving opponents in and out

Most players learn early in their table tennis lives the importance of moving opponents side to side, playing the three spots – wide backhand, wide forehand, and the opponent’s middle (the transition point between forehand and backhand, usually around the playing elbow). However, a quote from a Dan Seemiller camp from many years ago has always stood out for me. He said moving an opponent in and out was even more important than moving them side to side.

The two main examples of this are:

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