Courtesy of Samson Dubina

There are some short-cuts that you can do for a quick improvement in your game right now, some elements that you can improve this year, then some aspects that take 5-10 years to fully develop.  In this article, I’m going to talk about mid-range improvements that you can make during the next 12 months.

#1 Time-Management
Are you spending 4-5 hours of screen time daily?  If so, you probably aren’t getting in a sufficient amount of practice time.  Try to re-evaluate your daily schedule and squeeze in a few more hours of practice each week.

#2 Placement
Ball placement is the fastest way to make progress.  Even with forehand and backhand warmup, can you control the placement and depth while still adjusting to the incoming ball.  Without making drastic changes to your strokes, you should be able to make subtle placement changes for fast improvement.  However, it does take concentration – focus on it for the next 30 days and you will see huge improvements.  Serve a little deeper on your long serve.  Push sharper angles on your deep pushes.  Target more precisely when hitting middle.  Etc. etc. etc.

#3 Serve
Before and after each training session, spend 10 min sharpening your best serves or even work on breaking out a new serve.  Instead of just serving 60 balls/min focus on quality instead of quantity.  Consider purchasing TT-Serve® to get lower serves.  In addition to height also think about controlling the depth, speed, spin, and subtle variations.  Serve and get ready for the next ball while picturing the return.

#4 Return
Nearly all players say serve return is the main problem.  However, there are very few people who specifically practice returns.  Meet up with a training partner and alternate just serve and return back and forth for 20 min each serving and return.  Also, consider taking a 1-hour lesson and ask the coach to just work on returning your disaster serve.

#5 Routine
You need to develop a pre-point routine that allows you to evaluate what just happened in the previous point, remind yourself of your plan, relax, and then come back with renewed focus and tactics for the next point happening 7 seconds later.  This routine is personal but needs to be well thought out and developed.

#6 Lower Players
When developing your game, it is critical to play lower players.  Why?  Because you are able to hit your shots and play the way you want to play.  When playing higher players, sometimes you are just hanging on for the ride.  The biggest lie in table tennis is that it takes higher players for you to improve.  The truth is that you need a mix of both.  But with developing NEW skills, they are best developed in match play against lower players.

#7 Higher Players
When playing higher players, it should be a great eye-opening experience that helps you to learn about advanced shots and advanced tactics.  As you see what they use against you, you can also learn what to develop to use against others.

#8 Fitness
Don’t be lazy.  Develop a great 10-min routine and do it before and after your tt training sessions.  Keep it short and intense and stick with it.  For table tennis, most of your fitness should be targeting the legs and core with explosive movements.  Please consult your physician before starting an exercise routine.

#9 Journey
Instead of being too anxious to get to 1200 or 2000 or 2700 or whatever, be patient and enjoy the journey.  WAY too many players are so anxious to reach their goal that they give up along the way.  Be in it for the long-haul and see yourself better in 5-10 years.  You need to be patient and persistent.  Patient realizing that all improvements take time.  Persistent in developing!

#10 Evaluation
Regardless if you accomplish your 12-month goal or not, it is critical to evaluate your game for 1-2 days.  Take a couple days off and evaluate why you got there or why you didn’t get there.  Re-group and come back even stronger during the following 12 months!  Also, keep me updated on your game!  As a coach, my goal is to help tt players make goals, reach their goals, and re-evaluate for new goals! 

Thanks for reading and I wish you the best during the next 12 months!!!

Samson uses the Nittaku Acoustic Carbon Large Grip Blade with Nittaku FastArc G1 rubber on both sides along with Nittaku 3- Star Premium 40+  balls.

Nittaku Acoustic Carbon (Large Grip)    Nittaku Fastarc G-1 Rubber Nittaku 3-Star Premium 40+ Balls