Last updated on 30-Jun-2011 10:36:22 PM
I'm going to go ahead and apologize for a long one.
Hi guys, I'm teaching English in Japan where table tennis is considered a pretty serious major sport, especially in middle school (the table tennis club is by far the biggest club at my school!). I started playing last summer, and have gotten good enough to play against...well, elementary school kids, and less talented junior high students.
It seems that I'm not making progress as far as I would like, because every time a new practice session begins I seem to forget the important points that I learned the previous time, and can only manage to play as well as a I played before by the end of practice.
It's all in the little details, like keeping my arm at 90 degrees (if I don't it makes me very inconsistent), keeping my wrist locked at a very specific angle (if I don't do this my game goes to heck), and moving on my feet as much as possible (I know it seems obvious but the more I move the more balls I can return.)...and so on and so on. I feel like I am relying too much on a list of specific details to make up for flawed technique.
I suppose my question would be, are there any things I can do to stay at the same level and then progress without having to practice every day?
Also, it seems that certain types of players and/or players of certain skill levels are harder to play well against. Especially when playing against beginners, or against someone you don't usually play against. Is this because better players are more predictable (since the ball goes where they're actually aiming), or simply the nature of ping pong? (due to the effect of different rubber types, spins, playing styles, etc)
One last question; I seem to play better when a three-star ball is in use, versus a one-star training ball. Is this just my imagination? Or is there a significant difference? All the serious adult players in town seem to always use three-stars, and they're playing lightyears above the children, who are of course using training balls.
Hi B G,
You were right about the long one, but that is all good.
Firstly thinking about retaining technique: It is sometimes difficult for us to be objective about our own progress because we are in the middle of it and you progress slowly. It would be better to get someone else to judge whether you are improving over time. It would be interesting to get someone who hasn't seen you for a month to tell you if you are making progress. We only go forward in small frustrating steps...
If you really are forgetting things and not progressing, something that may help you is to do a little bit of visualisation of your technique in between sessions. Yu need only spend a few minutes at a time, but it may be a help between sessions to retain information and also as extra 'training'.
Secondly on playing different levels: Better players tend to hit the ball more cleanly and make you feel like you are hitting the ball better because you are not getting awkward spins and contacts. Playing against someone new can also be difficult because you are not used to the patterns of their hitting. You know when you play someone all the time, you feel like you can tell where they are going to hit the next ball. So, when you haven't played someone before, you need to be constantly watching to see where the next ball is going.
Finally on the question of Balls: 3 Star balls will bounce more truly and usually a little higher because they are a little heavier and rounder and more consistent in their make up. Lower quality balls have soft spots and may also be lighter in general. So, it is often a cost factor of whether you can afford to use the good quality balls. If you are using a lot of balls and training using multi-ball then you may need to consider whether you can use all 3 star balls. When you are playing practice matches or drills with one or two balls you should try to use the better balls if you can.