By Samson Dubina
In this short article, I’m going to detail the primary two pitfalls that players fall trap to when training with a partner or a robot during footwork drills.
The first common error is hitting so fast and wild that you can’t build a base a balance, positioning, and timing for each hit. The most foundational aspect of the game is footwork. If your feet are set in the right spot, then it is possible to make a good shot. If you hit off balance, you might make one shot, but it will be very difficult to link the next and the next and the next shot together. To avoid slopping footwork, focus on moving fast and hitting controlled. As your foot speed improves, then try speeding up some of the shots as a variation. If you don’t have a robot or a training partner available, you can always start off with shadow strokes in front of a mirror.
The second common error is hitting so controlled that it really doesn’t simulate a match. If your average hit speed in a game is 35 mph and your average hit speed in practice is 10 mph, then you really aren’t simulating a game. If your coach asks you to average 50 hits each rally, that is great. But it is even greater if you can copy what you do in a match with game-like speed, spin, height, and depth. Many players ask the question, “Why can’t I play well in matches?” The answer is to ask yourself how your training session looks different than your matches. The more your match play looks like your practice and the more your practice looks like your match play, the easier it will be for you to transition between the two and have the confidence to perform your best!
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