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  1. AndyCouchman is offline
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    #1

    Practice play and game play so far apart!

    Hi all
    Those of you who look at my blog will know for me, my TT hit an all-time low last night.
    i don't know what's wrong with me but why can't I put these practised strokes into play in a gane.
    Its not as if these matches are important, just purely practice ones!
    All input welcome, especially from those of you who've gone through this, and cone out the other side.
    Andy

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  2. Dan is offline
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    #2
    Hi Andy,

    I know this feeling very well and for many players. I wrote a blog post (on icoachtabletennis.com), I think this will help and give you a greater insight into transferring your practice skills into a match environment. Ill go into further detail on here a bit later.

    Heres the post: http://www.icoachtabletennis.com/mot...-table-tennis/

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    #3
    Quote Originally Posted by AndyCouchman
    Hi all
    Those of you who look at my blog will know for me, my TT hit an all-time low last night.
    i don't know what's wrong with me but why can't I put these practised strokes into play in a gane.
    Its not as if these matches are important, just purely practice ones!
    All input welcome, especially from those of you who've gone through this, and cone out the other side.
    Andy
    I think just about everyone on this site can relate to this as pretty sure everyone goes through it. When you are practicing and being coached, do you do any matchplay scenarios or talk about tactics, ball placement, first attack etc or are you still just learning to groove your strokes and learn some footwork? Obviously there are benefits to doing regular drills but there is limited crossover between these drills and a matchplay situation.

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    #4
    I would just add that practising regular stroke like FH topspin is very common and for me not usefull. When you stand in one place and you get the ball in same spin into exact place it is very easy. You can repeat 20 tospins - so what! While playing game is different, first you need to focus on ball, the spin, the placement, the adapt footwork and finally make a stroke.
    That is why multiball is the best exercise - because you never know.
    I would suggest 3 steps:
    1. Small practise topspin from one place, just to warm up your body
    2. Bigger pracitse from different places like here

    3. Multliball with different spin and placement - this should be the biggest part of your trainingm, example:

    not easy ever for ZJK

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    #5
    It takes many months for something you are successful in practice to translate into success in a match. Practice is structured and there is not the match pressure of opponent doing their best to NOT give you easy chances and even the easy chances you might not exactly be ready for... or you get suddenly eager and forget how to be on balance on time and hit in your strike zone.

    All this is very normal as frustrating as it is, but if you work at it the right way, it only gets better.

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  6. UpSideDownCarl is offline
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    #6
    This is definitely something you are going to have to understand and deal with. The answers so far are all pretty solid ones.

    One thing to know is that, match play development, at the stage you are at, probably needs to happen side by side with the kind of stroke development training that Dan refers to as "block" training in his article.

    So the training you are getting from coaching is very worthwhile and valuable for you. But it will actually, probably be a while before you can implement it fully in the kind of random scenario that happens in a match.

    In the type of training drills that you are doing when being coached, most of the time the coach is giving you high quality balls with very consistent spin and you pretty much know where the ball will go. It may be faster than a lot of the balls that get hit in a match. It may have more spin. But you know where the ball is going next. At your level, in my opinion, you still need this kind of work to develop your strokes, your contact, your touch and your feeling for the ball.

    At the same time though, you can still be working on drills that help you convert more of the technique you are learning in the lessons and off the robot into game skills.

    In a game, your opponent is trying to hit the ball in a way that will give you trouble like away from you, at your switching point, with a spin that will make you mess up, etc. so the circumstances are almost the exact opposite of what a coach might be doing with you to get your strokes to improve.

    But you can do serve and receive drills with a friend who is at about your level and it will help your game skills increase decently and in different ways than coaching will improve your game.

    Here are a few examples of serve and receive drills that may be helpful to you developing better game skills.

    1) This one is as simple as it gets. Each player serves two like in a game and you just play the points exactly as if it was a game but you don't count so you can go for the shots you shoul,d since, even if you mess up, you won't lose a point. It is beneficial to count missed serves as lets so that both players get to receive two serves and so that, as the server, you can try harder serves without worrying about what happens if you miss.

    2) Server serves short backspin to the center of the table. Receiver pushes long. Serve tries to loop the long push.

    This one can be made easier or harder. When I do this one, I have the receiver try and push anywhere and mess me up with placement like wide FH or wide BH. But you could start simple like the push goes to the middle or FH and make it harder as you get better at it. Once the the topspin is opened then both players try to win the point.

    This drill works better if each player serves for about 10-20 minutes straight and then you switch who serves so you can really groove the consistency of looping the third ball.

    3) Server serves short backspin, receiver pushes short, server pushes long, receiver loops 4th ball.

    This one could also have a standard place for where the long push goes or the placement can be randomized as the loop against backspin becomes more consistent.

    Once the 4th ball is looped play is open.

    There are many more of these kinds of serve and receive drills. But I think those three are a good start.

    At some point you move on to flip training. But at this point, probably the biggest issues for you in match play are:

    1) the opponent is trying to win the point. This means you have to read and adjust to whatever he does.

    2) your opponent is trying to hit to one spot and the ball goes somewhere else and you see the mishit a bit too late.

    3) the opponent's contact is flat and/or inconsistent and you think the ball has top but it is dead so it goes into the net or you think it is dead and it has more top than you realize and the ball flies long.

    By practicing drills that have randomization built into them these weird, low quality shots will happen plenty and then you will get practice responding to them in a situation where you don't have to be stressed out by losing a point or a match because your opponent hit a shot that hit his thumb and should have gone out but ended up being a winner.

    So add some serve and receive drills into your training regimen. They will help you improve on reading and responding to those weird and frustrating situations.

    But keep up with the training you are doing with your coach as well. Because he is helping you develop better stroke technique, contact, feeling and touch that will help your level go up in a different way than what I am talking about.

    For the level you are at, stroke improvement still needs to be done. But you also need to add in more random elements to your training.

    Gosh that's long. Hope the info is helpful.


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  7. UpSideDownCarl is offline
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    #7
    The video Dan is referring to and drawing information from in his article is this one:



    It is really worthwhile watching it and understanding what is being discussed.

    You also can ask your coach to add more randomization elements into your training. But, I have to be honest, he may not think that you are ready for it or that it would be the best use of your time with him.

    And if that is the case you can still do random drills like those serve and receive drills I described with a player who is about your level and they will really help you improve some of your game skills.

    Well, my thumbs are tired. To much writing from my SpyPhone.


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    #8
    long story short, i believe every coach should start from the assumption that learning the mechanics of a stroke is nowhere near enough for someone to start using that stroke in a match situation.

    when teaching different elements i usually do it like this:

    1) mechanics of the stroke alone (i.e. forehand loop against back spin)
    2) drill that involves linking the new stroke with an easier one (i.e. 1 backhand push, 1 forehand loop against back spin)
    3) random drill that involves a reaction between TWO ELEMENTS (i.e. random number of backhand pushes until ball is placed to forehand, then forehand loop against back spin)
    4) random drill that involves a reaction between more than two elements (i.e. back spin serve and receive)
    Last edited by izra; 08-04-2015 at 10:37 PM.

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    #9
    My approach is different. I tell the student to be willing to miss in practice and to avoid judging their early success on whether they made the shot. It takes a lot for the student to trust this approach so I send them lots of material on how learning really works.

    Once they commit to doing the stroke, then the process of becomijg proficient is much shorter. Because missing enables you to adapt to matches much faster.

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    #10
    So, Andy, I looked at your video.

    First of all, your warmup is much improved from the prior times I have seen - you largely warmed up in this match like a good player and you actually hit a few good forehand topspins in the warm up for your level of experience. Same with the backhand topspin - good warmup and a few good strokes.

    You actually do a decent job introducing your backhand topspin, even if/when you miss it.

    Your opponent often served your elbow/middle and because you don't move right now, you simply couldn't get the right distance to create leverage to do a topspin.

    So for me, the real problem is that you don't know how to get leverage in your forehand to do a topspin yet. Ideally, you should move. A person with bad footwork like me has developed a few other tricks. But that is what you need right now.

    That said, you need to consistently follow through on your forehand topspin strokes. Right now, you mostly hit the ball rather than do a forehand topspin with a follow through to the forehead. Everyone has pointed out all the things that you need to get better at to get to a good place where you can play like you do in practice, but what I will tell you is this - learn to do the full stroke with complete follow through, whether you make it or miss it. It will make you a better player much faster than if you develop a compromised version. Record a shadow stroke that your coach approves of and consistently use it.

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    #11
    There is some great knowledge here on tabletennisdaily. Dan's article is a good read and could help you understand a bit more about skill learning and transfer.

    Here is another article on icoachtabletennis.com that is on a similar topic. http://www.icoachtabletennis.com/learningvsperformance/

    Motor learning is a good subject to dive in to if you want to know how to really improve your practice.

    My suggestion is to make your practice look like a game. You'll be out of your plateau in no time. Good luck.

    Lgreggs

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    #12
    In the US, sports psychologist is pretty big and most of the professional teams has one. Pretty important topic for table tennis My football coaches always tell us, practice and train like u play. I pretty much carry it over to table tennis
    Spare weapon Ma Long personal blade W968 (FH) Neo Hurricane 3 Blue Sponge Tuned (BH) Tenergy 64

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    #13
    Quote Originally Posted by UpSideDownCarl
    The video Dan is referring to and drawing information from in his article is this one:



    It is really worthwhile watching it and understanding what is being discussed.

    You also can ask your coach to add more randomization elements into your training. But, I have to be honest, he may not think that you are ready for it or that it would be the best use of your time with him.

    And if that is the case you can still do random drills like those serve and receive drills I described with a player who is about your level and they will really help you improve some of your game skills.

    Well, my thumbs are tired. To much writing from my SpyPhone.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    That clip was an eyeopener.. Thanks Dan! (And Carl)

    I played some organized TT as a kid and the block practice was totally dominant..
    As I again picked up TT a cople of years ago, I only play practice matches against the same player, almost every day.

    The querkyness of this players game let me get from 0 to "on par" with his game in 6 months as I made the swich from shakehand to penhold.

    He's style is like nothing ive seen before. He litterary CAN'T do drills. Hitting a traditional warmup rutine is impossible. It's not in hes nature.
    He's a close to the table, 3rd ball blocker/attacker, baboon arms and crazy speed. His game has NO flow, no rythm. Random is not the word for it.. Caotic!! Ive told him I think it will take a pro at least 8 balls to get hold of his game because of it.
    There are NO safe shots, always pushing me from side to side every orher ball.. I both love and hate him for it, cus I got to a decent level fast. But I have to bring my absolute best, every day. No mercy. No letting the brain rest and hit a few balls for block practice.

    Great news for me that this type of practice is adviced nowadays.
    Grasshopper 4 life!

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    #14
    Quote Originally Posted by AndyCouchman
    Hi all
    Those of you who look at my blog will know for me, my TT hit an all-time low last night.
    i don't know what's wrong with me but why can't I put these practised strokes into play in a gane.
    Its not as if these matches are important, just purely practice ones!
    All input welcome, especially from those of you who've gone through this, and cone out the other side.
    Andy
    Seen your videos Andy. I believe it's safe to say that every tt player have gone through this. I think you're on the right path too so just be patient. Focus more on perfecting strokes for now and footwork development oh and try spending more time getting fit too, it will really help you on your footwork development and mobility. Just learn the right strokes for now and be patient and through time, no matter what, this will become a muscle memory and your body will be able to gracefully express whatever your head is telling you what to do. So just be patient and keep on training. Will just leave you with 2 tips: (up to you to consider or disregard)

    *Don't go less than 500 balls on strokes every session.

    *At least have 30mins time for serious sparring every session.

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  15. UpSideDownCarl is offline
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    #15

    Practice play and game play so far apart!

    A few thoughts that are about game skills and based on watching parts of the video NextLevel posted. First, NextLevel is onto something. Learning to finish your stroke would be worth it. It is not as easy as it sounds when you feel like you are taking your shot from out of position.

    A simple thing that could help you practice it when you don't have a practice partner is to bounce the ball on the table about net hight so you have to arc the ball over the net and practice your strokes from there. This does something different from what you would get from a robot. But in the end you need the muscle memory of finishing the stroke when adjusting to ball placement. NextLevel's suggestion of not worrying if the ball goes on the table as long as you finish the stroke is also a good one if you are able to commit to it, it will be worth it.

    Next piece of info: your serves: they are too predictable. You need to vary the length, speed and placement of them. It looks like, if you stand on the BH side to serve your opponent knows pretty much where the serve will go each time. Same with when you serve from FH side. You should serve to the middle, crosscourt and down the line from both locations.

    The serves are also mostly the same speed and depth. That makes it easier. And they are all 3/4 long not short or long. Practice serving faster and getting your bounce to land as close to your opponent's white line as you can (really: from your white line to opponent's white line is ideal). Practice serving 1/2 long where the ball either, just barely goes off the end an inch too long for a second bounce or has a second bounce at the white line. That is called a hand breaker serve, because, if you think it is going long and try to loop it after it comes off the table you can break your hand on the end of the table.

    And also work on making your serves short enough to bounce as many times on your opponents side as possible. Your long serves will be more effective if you have some short ones. You don't even have to worry about the spin on the short ones. You can just make them dead and your opponent will probably give you easy returns for you to control the point after.

    Then this last one is supper important for you to understand. Your reset is way slower than you want it. After you serve you are waiting, watching and trying to reset after you see what your opponent does with your serve which means you are not ready when the ball comes back. You need to reset as fast as you can so that, when the ball comes back, you can adjust to wherever it is placed. Ideally off your serve, you would be in a neutral, ready position before your serve bounces on your opponent's side.

    Same thing after you hit the ball. You are watching after you hit to see what will happen but you are not ready for when the ball comes back.

    That is enough for now.

    Here is the shorthand version:

    1) finish your strokes. See if you can figure something out that helps you get that into muscle memory.

    2) vary serve placement: long, mid, short; left, middle, right. At some point you will also vary the spin: heavier, lighter; top, dead, under.

    3) reset faster. As fast as you can. Ideally, when your ball lands on the other side you are in a neutral position where you could set for a FH or a BH. While you reset, watch the ball, the opponent's body position and racket angle to see where the next ball is going. If you see where your opponent is going as he hits the ball, you will be able to adjust to it. If you only see where the ball is going after it is hit you won't have enough time so you will be toast: burnt toast.


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    #16
    I think this is why you lost this game...


    1. Your serve is too easy for your opponent. You serve long backspin balls most of the time. Your opponents can attack easily from forehand, even though he missed quite a lot.

    2. You lost many points in receiving serve. You need to practice pushing to get these serves back. You probably didn't concentrate on pushing practice. Serving/receiving plays a huge part in beginner's matches.

    3. Most importantly, your opponent has many years more expereince than you. If he has been playing for, say, 5 years, it is very hard for you to catch up in 5 months.

    You are making good progress. Just be patient, and the result will come one day for sure.

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    Last edited by mcaibyz2; 08-05-2015 at 07:10 PM.

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    #17
    Quote Originally Posted by mcaibyz2
    I think this is why you lost this game...


    1. Your serve is too easy for your opponent. You serve long backspin balls most of the time. Your opponents can attack easily from forehand, even though he missed quite a lot.

    2. You lost many points in receiving serve. You need to practice pushing to get these serves back. You probably didn't concentrate on pushing practice. Serving/receiving plays a huge part in beginner's matches.

    3. Most importantly, your opponent has many years more expereince than you. If he has been playing for, say, 5 years, it is very hard for you to catch up in 5 months.

    You are making good progress. Just be patient, and the result will come one day for sure.
    Some excellent points but I would disagree on point 2 regarding pushing the serve back. Just about all of his opponent's serves were long and therefore need to be attacked. If Andy starts playing safe now, he may get more short term success and start winning more matches against weaker players but it will stop his long term development. He needs to concentrate on how to alter his attacking stroke to combat the various spins and depth of these long serves and will find his level of play will improve much quicker than going for the safe "push" return option. Yes he may lose a few more games at the minute but he is in it for the long term. Start pushing long serves now and even as his game improves, in tight situations he is likely to revert to a safety first approach which won't work well at the level he wants to reach.

    Points 1 and 3 are both excellent points though. Andy does need to develop his serve as at the minute he seems to use the serve only as a way of getting the ball into play and not as the first (and possibly) most important shot of the rally.

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    #18
    Quote Originally Posted by corbytoffee
    Some excellent points but I would disagree on point 2 regarding pushing the serve back. Just about all of his opponent's serves were long and therefore need to be attacked. If Andy starts playing safe now, he may get more short term success and start winning more matches against weaker players but it will stop his long term development. He needs to concentrate on how to alter his attacking stroke to combat the various spins and depth of these long serves and will find his level of play will improve much quicker than going for the safe "push" return option. Yes he may lose a few more games at the minute but he is in it for the long term. Start pushing long serves now and even as his game improves, in tight situations he is likely to revert to a safety first approach which won't work well at the level he wants to reach.

    Points 1 and 3 are both excellent points though. Andy does need to develop his serve as at the minute he seems to use the serve only as a way of getting the ball into play and not as the first (and possibly) most important shot of the rally.
    From the perspective of a good player, of course these long serves should be attacked instead of pushed back. But I just noticed Andy missed a lot in his pushing, and his serves are not very spinny. It is all down to lack of practice in pushing. In my opinion, practice more in pushing and get these serves on the table first. Then next step is to use more advanced techniques to attack these long serves.

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    #19
    Quote Originally Posted by mcaibyz2
    From the perspective of a good player, of course these long serves should be attacked instead of pushed back. But I just noticed Andy missed a lot in his pushing, and his serves are not very spinny. It is all down to lack of practice in pushing. In my opinion, practice more in pushing and get these serves on the table first. Then next step is to use more advanced techniques to attack these long serves.
    Let's just say corbytoffee's approach is correct here - pushing long balls is just bad and should not be trained. It's one of those things that people should remain bad at so that they learn to loop quickly.

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    #20
    Quote Originally Posted by NextLevel
    Let's just say corbytoffee's approach is correct here - pushing long balls is just bad and should not be trained. It's one of those things that people should remain bad at so that they learn to loop quickly.
    I think a little judgement ought to used. If one can safely push back the serves (that are not attacked EDIT by server) it is much higher percentage to attack the next ball.

    I agree that in principle, one should be ready to attack any long serve, whether it is a deep return controlled without much pace or a strong topspin or speed shot.

    I agree with the concept that not being ready to attack long serves or failing to develop the courage to attack them will stop a player from reaching much of a level... or at least force him to greatly develop all the other areas, hard to grow a higher level game with that kind of weakness.

    It is silly to try attacking a long serve that you have no clue what the spin, depth, and curve is... just asking for failure.

    There is, however, a way to cope with it and make some kind of positive return. You judge approximately where the ball will land, get tail down to see the ball, extend elbow/shoulder to the hitting zone, then using lower arm and wrist, you use 1/4 power to take the ball off the bounce to produce a ball that will go safely deep, hopefully to the crossover. You don't need to know exactly the amount of spin, just that there is some under or top spin on it. Taking it off the bounce on the rise with a loose hand pressure right after it lands makes the spin NOT bite on your rubber so much, especially if you are moving bat at impact even a little.
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