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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Coaching Tip: Proper Practice Progression Prevents Poor Play

Do you do the Six P’s? Proper Practice Progression Prevents Poor Play. (Or, as I sometimes put it, “…Pathetic Play.”) I’ve actually heard this as the Five P’s, but I’ve added “Progression.” Proper practice progression means starting with the basics and working your way up to more advanced technique for all aspects of your game. It also means practicing these shots in context, i.e. game situations. Think of it this way, using the forehand as an example.

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Practicing for the Big Matches

There are two key differences between practice and important matches: Psychological and Variation.

Psychological. There is little pressure in practice, and so players are loose, both mentally and physically. However, once a game begins, it’s easy to get nervous and tighten up. RELAX! Of course, that’s easier said than done, especially in a tournament or league match. A great way to prepare for this is to drill as if it were a match. Even if you are doing a simple side-to-side footwork drill, think of it as a match, where you must outlast your opponent, in this case your practice partner. Table tennis is a competitive sport, and to prepare for competition you must do competition.

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