Confident when training, but s**t when playing

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Hi everyone, first off, Happy New Year to you wherever you are around the world!

Just wondering if anyone ever felt like the title of this thread.
(or if there is a previous thread about this, feel free to share the link)

I started training with my current coach since around midway of 2021. For the past 2.5 months I felt a good amount of improvement, technically in particular. I am confident in taking on spins head-on rather than chopping it, driving with backhand instead of pivoting all the time, footwork also getting quicker etc.
But when it comes to playing a (friendly) match, it seems that I cannot apply the techniques I learned consistently enough. On average I lost about 3-4 points on a 11-pts game due to my own errors.

Does anyone have advice on this matter? If you felt this way before, how did you cope with it?

Cheers
 
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KT,

Pls be advised that it can take many months, if not a year or two to perform in a real match under pressure what you are improving in practice. This is simply how it works with improvement.

Additionally, you may show in a competitive match super outstaning improvement of certain shots, certain shot combinations, even point construction and game management where your shots and your overall play is WAY higher quality... but still result in a 1-3 LOSS withe the same or even lower point score !!!

Personally, even though I started TT over 10 yrs ago (when I was over 40) and even though I am but fat and over 50, I still improve in many things. What I described above happened to me TWICE on consecutive days vs our own beloved Scoobie Doo Sergey Tsos... I CLEARLY made shots of such quality I wasn't doing earlier and pressured him in many ways I never did before... but still, all I got out of the deal on both days was a 1-3 match loss.

I am still not discouraged by any of this as depressing as it may make someone... it is a matter of knowing what are your evaluation factors and how to measure them. If you show improvement in your shots, your shot quality, your decision making, your placement, your aggression and courage, game management, adpatation/adjustments... just to name several... you see improvement in those kind of things in points, games, and matches, you are increasing in level - no question... it is only a matter of time to have more success vs same opponent or quicker success vs other opponents in matches under pressure.

There is a gym I play in once a weak that has really crappy lighting - I cannot see the ball on mst of the tables most of the time, especially when it leaves the table. So, I could lose to, and HAVE lost to players several levels lower than my level, it is just a fact. Not so many months ago, the local Chinese assn ran a tourney there and out team won - I also won every match, many vs players I have lost to in that gym, even one vs a play I NEVER could even come close to winning before.

These are some of ancedotal evidence and my overall belief and approach for discerning improvement.

Stay with it and keep doing the tiny and large things that grow shots and all these other things I described, at some point, but many months laters, you will see improvement in performance, even if it doesn't culminate in victory (winning match) you still won in increased level. I believe a lot of players would be happier playing TT when they improve, so keep at it.
 
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Yeah. There are topics on this. But there is no reason not to have another one.

Watch this video. Then watch it again. And again. See if you can figure out what they are saying and what they mean:
When they use the term "retention" in the video they are talking about you developing skills that translate into performance in match play.

When you are training with a coach, if most of what the coach is doing is hitting the ball to you so you can make the shot without having to think about anything but the mechanics of your stroke, then, the thing to understand about that is, you are being fed the ball; the coach is hitting the ball to you so you can hit it back. In match play, your opponent does not hit the ball to you so you can hit it back. Your opponent does things to try and make it so it is hard or awkward for you to return his shots.

So, how would training the way that video is describing look like in TT. It could be anything from small kinds of randomizing of training to full scale match simulation. This is an interesting video to watch is:
That is the nastiest multiball training I have ever seen. Yikes. You, me, Zhang Jike and the coach, none of us know where the next ball is going. :)
 
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It’s the same for everyone, remember when training you concentrate most of the time to get a good flow. This means predictable even easy balls. Playing a game is totally different, here you try to play difficult balls and to unpredictable… Its just in the nature of things.

Cheers
L-zr
 
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Hi KT,

I felt the same when I was younger, At first from beginner level, you can improve quite quickly (over a year, playing and being coached 2 or 3 times a week) but only in a sort of basic way. Learning the basic strokes.
I found that I reached a certain level and was able to beat those that I trained and played with (from when we started to learn table tennis). A year later and the tables were turned, they were all beating me!! During that year I had improved ‘technically’ and consistency had improved during training but not for match play. Another year on and now things were 50/50, everyone was having some wins and losses!!
I also attended a few Training Camps, and I found that after the intense week of playing and being coached my match play was shot to pieces, it felt like I had actually got worse!! In fact match results / stats proved this!! Well they showed my match play was worse, but not necessarily my standard of play or shot quality etc.
individually shots were better, but stringing the different shots together and moving etc as you do in a match was a different thing completely.
This is a fairly common occurrence when you learn and train.
SO YOU HAVE TO BE STRONG AND KEEP GOING, it takes time for everything to gel together.

Also the random / irregular type of training is a MUST, much more like real match situations. Watch the video Carl posted and implement some irregular training sessions.
 
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As others have said, it’s just time and experience that you are missing.

Keep training as much as you are, but play more and more matches (friendly are OK, but competitive is better).

I’ve seen some players who train, train and train some more - They honestly look as good and consistent as a Pro in training.

But they don’t have as much match experience, and this shows at times.

Perhaps it’s not being used to the pressure, or the lack of experience in reading the game….. But it’s important to play as many matches as you can IMO!

I don’t know how long you’ve been playing, but I’d expect to be more comfortable in matches after 5 years + (at least) of training hard and playing matches.

Heck, I’ve been playing for 20 years and still struggle at times to replicate what I do in training in a match!
 
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Hi everyone, first off, Happy New Year to you wherever you are around the world!

Just wondering if anyone ever felt like the title of this thread.
(or if there is a previous thread about this, feel free to share the link)

I started training with my current coach since around midway of 2021. For the past 2.5 months I felt a good amount of improvement, technically in particular. I am confident in taking on spins head-on rather than chopping it, driving with backhand instead of pivoting all the time, footwork also getting quicker etc.
But when it comes to playing a (friendly) match, it seems that I cannot apply the techniques I learned consistently enough. On average I lost about 3-4 points on a 11-pts game due to my own errors.

Does anyone have advice on this matter? If you felt this way before, how did you cope with it?

Cheers
I have said this before but let me share it again, I asked the same question to a veteran club mate once upon a time, i.e., why is it when I stroke with you I am OK, but when I play an actual match, I suxs.

His answer is so obvious but it is the most truthful answer ever:

He said, " Gozo, in practice, I am cooperating with you. In a match I am competing with you,"

 
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Try doing more shadowtraining when you are not practicing tabletennis. Maybe it will take less time, which it takes like other has said. I also think some irregular exercises and starting with serve and return can help you. Since you post here you are very motivated and that is most important.
 
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Wow, I honestly didn't expect to get many replies here!

Anyway, guys. Thank you for the insights and encouragement. To address everyone's points:

@Der Echte: The environment I play in is a neighborhood community (we have like a semi-outdoor area in our residential complex with multiple TT tables) so it's mostly fun and less cutthroat than a competitive club, and the people I play with are actually of similar age and profile like yourself. The major similarity between most of them is that they all like to chop till one of them dies (pun intended).

@Carl / IB66: Random training is also part of the regime with my coach, though right now I probably can only do 0.01x speed of the ZJK video Carl shared, lol. And yes IB66, it's funny to think that I could defeat a skilled friend (who has started serious TT training waaay earlier than me) in a close game (4-3) which I felt fairly comfortable throughout, but then the next day I lost (0-3) to a 50+ y.o. man with a sluggish footwork due to me bottling my own lead (from 4-5 points ahead to losing the set).

@Lazer: Concentration and focus is certainly something I deem significant, on and off the table. If there is any mental exercise to help enhance this, I'm keen to hear about it.

@NDH: I first knew about TT and held a blade during primary school (17-18 years ago) for an extracurricular class, then played more during high school as means to skip classes so TT was actually not my main sport back then (⚽ football was, and I was a goalkeeper in the school team hence I'm glad to have retained a fair amount of my short-distance reflexes 🧤). By that point I already have a clear understanding of a proper TT match, i.e. different types of spins and how / where to hit to produce them, basic strokes/grips, match rules, tactics, etc. But like I mentioned, it was more of a 'side activity' and I've only trained with a pro coach since mid last year because of limited opportunities/time during my college + professional working years.

@Lula : I do 50-100 shadows per hand everyday depending on how tired I am after work + training + putting my son to sleep, lol.

@Gozo: Couldn't be put any better, really :)

With those said, I'll definitely keep at it, I am enjoying my training sessions with my coach even more these days.
Though at the end of the day, the fruitful outcome of delivering those quality shots, improvements on the table also matters to me.

My goal in 2022 is to be significantly more consistent.

Cheers, everyone 👊
 
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What can help is not focusing so much on winning the match but focus on playing with as much quality as you can. If you play well but you lose you shouldn't be pissed.

Yes, that is what I try to keep telling myself in my mind, especially when facing against a stronger/more experienced person.

 
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My biggest problem during real matches vs training is that I get too nervous and rushed rather than staying calm, relaxed, and waiting for the proper timing to hit the ball. Basically I start getting anxious and swinging too early at the ball.

It takes some time to just get used to things mentally and relax. Also, film your matches and discuss the main problems from the film with your coach.
 
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Good thing is you are playing like you practice.
Some players start to play differently when in match, not using techniques they practiced which makes the training meaningless.
With experience one gets more relaxed.
 
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The more tournaments you play the more your performance will begin to approach your practice. You just get used to it and realize the world doesn't end if you lose. And you just learn to control your emotions and play smarter.. Also you get more accustomed to playing in unfamiliar environments and against completely new people. I think most people go through this. So my advice is just play as many events or league matches as possible, and know that in time it will get better. I did have one trick. On key points just before serving or receiving I would think about sex. Or my favorite food.
 
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believe me, the transition from practice to matchplay of what you have been trained is different and a whole new world of adjustments. This is because in a matchplay, there is more randomness in placement, spin, etc and if you lack the experience to face this you will still lose despite having training. just play all you can and learn from every mistake and most of all learn to adjust your racket angle, learn to read spin, learn to adjust your power and also control the urge to be too aggreesive.
 
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Me being a total table tennis beginner I can only point out that random or match like practice is detrimental for beginners.

This is basically how i started table tennis. Whatching a few guys playing and joining them. After 5 weeks I developed a technique that build on hitting the ball late and getting it somehow on the table. Now after getting proper training it is very hard to get rid of stupid things I taught myself by instantly doing random/match like drills. The skill ceiling is pretty low, if you don't know the proper technique in the first place. You will find a way to play the ball but it probably will not be good enough to improve above a park paddler without completely changing and relearning proper technique.

If you are not able to execute the proper technique in a controlled environment consistently you won't improve on it by having random drills. If you think learning to read a game early as a beginner and thereby never learning a proper technique is worth it then this might be your best personal opinion. I have experienced this scenario personally in the last 5 month and in hindsight I would have liked to start with a proper technique before getting used to bad habits that are hard to get rid off.

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believe me, the transition from practice to matchplay of what you have been trained is different and a whole new world of adjustments. This is because in a matchplay, there is more randomness in placement, spin, etc and if you lack the experience to face this you will still lose despite having training. just play all you can and learn from every mistake and most of all learn to adjust your racket angle, learn to read spin, learn to adjust your power and also control the urge to be too aggreesive.

Yeah something I struggle with - especially when games get tense. I very often win the first set comfortably then as I can see I have a chance of winning it (starts to matter more :) ) it gets tighter and I tense up and get too aggressive (or too passive) - keeping the flow going from set to set I struggle with, I go to 5 sets a lot and win some really easy then have ends i'm not in.
Obviously the opponent is probably changing things between sets also to change the way you play also.

 
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