Improvement is a Long Term Activity

8 years ago

Table Tennis Advice

Players benefit most from their training when it is done regularly and with a focus.

Training like a maniac for a week and then not touching your bat for a month will only have minimum benefits for your game. Similarly, training only once every month will mean that you will find it difficult to improve. If you train 40 hours a week and 30 of those are poor quality then your are probably going backwards rather than forwards.

The Link

Some players find it difficult to see the link between training and results. I want you as a player to not be too discouraged or encouraged by short term results. If you train well for a week or two and then have a bad result or conversely, if you don't train for a week and have a good result you may have a distorted view of the value of training. It is easy to be influenced by these short term results. You need to see training and improvement as long term activities. By long term, I mean at least a year.

How Much Training?

You need to be able to get your 10,000 hours up before you can expect to be World Class. If you can achieve that then you will certainly see improvements in your game. We are often distracted by the short term variations in our form. I remember as a player once having a bad patch of form and going to see a senior player and saying, "I don't know whether to increase or decrease my training". Her reply was, "why not maintain the same?" If your planning is good and your goals are set then the short term fluctuations will seem less critical.

It is crucial that you come to realise the importance of regular training for yourself, now matter what level of player you are or your aspirations. We all want to improve our game! So how much is enough? That is an interesting question. This is totally dependent on the player and their stage of development. A young player of 12 to 16 who is a student and lives within walking distance of their club, with a lot of time would be able to train more hours than a 25 year old who has just started a new job. Also an older player who has trained hard for many years as a junior may not need as many hours on the table to ensure that they play their best.

Maintaining Quality

The second important aspect of training is the quality. I find that having a focus for your session can help increase the quality of your training. For example you may have a focus on "Consistency" for today's session. So all the drills that you do will be done slower and with consistency. Tomorrow's training session may be focussing on "Speed". So tomorrow all your drills will be done at a faster pace. The drills from today and tomorrow may even be the same drills just done with a different focus.

We have all been through the session that has become monotonous and boring. This is most evident in a service practice session or a pushing practice session. You may find yourself starting to drift off and think about anything but the skills that you are training. That is the time to stop, have a think about what you are trying to achieve and work from there. Think about your goals for the month or year and remind yourself why you are hitting table tennis balls. If this doesn't work, it is actually better to stop training than go on hitting balls aimlessly.

Focussed quality training sessions are the target.

Your Action Plan

  1. Set some goals for yourself for this month
  2. Set some goals for yourself for this year
  3. Write down the focus for you next training session. Discuss this with your coach if you have one.
  4. Monitor your training session. Give yourself a rating of your concentration from 1 - 10 after the session.
  5. Write down a training plan for your next session including a focus.
  6. Find some useful training drills for your game. Our Training Secrets Course will help.


Thoughts on this blog

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martinand bernard

martinand bernard Posted 8 years ago

I am 65 years old, I train about 10 hours a week all the year, it's difficult to improve a lot but I see most of players about 60 years old they have the same level since 3 or 4 years and me I improve because I work a lot but more slowly as youngs players.what is the most difficult to improve? I have no coach but you!!!! the most important I think is to be relax, cool, the stance too


D K Posted 8 years ago

I am not sure but it do not seem that there is an information about how much traning should a player have.
For example,I have official trainings 1,5 hours 2x a week.
Is it enough?
Probably not.

Besides this,I train (or am trying to train) with other players,outside my club.
But they generally hate playing any drills or anything like this of they are not at theri club's training.
And even some of them reached a very high level in a short amount of time and they have never done any stricter drills (how is it possible?)
These playings are about 2 hours 2x a week.

Is it a correct amount?

Dieter Verhofstadt

Dieter Verhofstadt Posted 8 years ago

In the Go world, there is a forum section where people publicly record their training schedule and results. Maybe this is an idea for pingskills? We can encourage kindred spirits and form a community.

To get things started: my year goal is to become a stable D6 rank (two ranks higher than my current one). Technically I want to improve such that I confidently topspin deep balls into my backhand and can execute spinny short forehand backspin serves. Tactically I want the elbow-followup tactic to become second nature. Strategically I want to be able to quickly change a game plan according to the events.

Month goal: win all my club games against even ranked players, get a few games against D6 ranked and analyze those. Technically, consciously execute backhand topspins against deep balls and use the forehand backspin serve in games. Tactically exploit the elbow tactic.

Next training: backhand topspin (consistency), fh bs serve (spin) in isolation. Next training: bh ts speed and placement. fh bs serve (spin & consistency)


Marco Pastore

Marco Pastore Posted 8 years ago

Hi Alois, hi is Marco from Italy..

As Alois know, i am currently playing in a tt club since end of September, and i am 44. Until today, i just have play table tennis with friends, and also not often. Now, i am train regulary twice in a week (2h-2.30'h each training session)..but sessions are not organized by fact me and others "new" players, are a little bit adandoned...and we just try to make a little consistency, i.e. by playing forehand and backhand counterhits in different positions, or by train with short pushes or topspins..but nobody correct us.

Traniers are also players, and they plays with better players or between them. So i don't see improvement in my table tennis...and i am a little unfulfilled. When i play with better way..they are too strong, and do play too fast for me...i am not able to be focused on what type of shot i have to do..the ball is too fast. When i play with "beginners" (like me), respective levels are unchanged, or less changed: i don't improve (and i loss almost all games..).

So, i need to do training in a different manner, also by myself. Be focused to one goal in each session is a great idea, but i need also someone who tell me what is wrong..


But..i need help !!


Cheers, Marco

martinand bernard

martinand bernard Posted 8 years ago

say to the best players they play at your level or a little more

Alois Rosario

Alois Rosario from PingSkills Posted 8 years ago

Hi Dieter,

I guess there is the Vault for your own personal recording of training but a Forum is interesting as well.

eugene lu

eugene lu Posted 8 years ago

Hi alois, I understand the value of training hard but I think my training is  less than enough. I just play one day per week because I don't have time. I train for 4 hours per session and sometimes only 2 hours. Of course I follow and train with my coach and play for 2 hours and the other 2 hours for fun. I wonder if this is enough and if it's not enough, what can I do? Is there no future for me?

Alois Rosario

Alois Rosario from PingSkills Posted 8 years ago

Hi Eugene,

I think the key is utilising the time that you have to the best advantage.  In the end it really doesn't matter how good you get as long as you have done your best. If being the best is the only goal then there is only one World Champion and everyone else has failed.  So, work hard on your game in your own time and see where you can reach.

Try to utilise the 2 hours that you are training by yourself by setting up some drills for yourself.  You can even ask your coach to help you with this.

Alois Rosario

Alois Rosario from PingSkills Posted 8 years ago


I think the best thing is to set up some training session for yourself.  Try to structure them well.  If you take a look at these free downloads I think you will be able to do it. 

Training Plan - This is a document you can use to write your Training Plan

Training Drills - Helps you to choose drills you can use in your training session.

Let me know if you need any other help with it.

We also have a 52 Week Training Plan already set up for our Premium members.

eugene lu

eugene lu Posted 8 years ago

I my goal isn't too big. I just wanna have a chance to represent my state. But I don't see I good chance, after next year, I will turn 14, that means I'm gonna face the of the 15 year olds because I have turn to the U15 category. And you know how powerful they are. Beside. Every body that represent the state is training 5 times a week, how an I suppose to beat them

Alois Rosario

Alois Rosario from PingSkills Posted 8 years ago

That is all OK Eugene.  It is about being the best you can be.

Marco Pastore

Marco Pastore Posted 8 years ago

Dear Alois...thanks so much for helping me and for useful documents !


Cheers, Marco

Alois Rosario

Alois Rosario from PingSkills Posted 8 years ago

No problems Marco.

James Deans

James Deans Posted 7 years ago

I will be 68 years young in a few months and I love to play. Since retiring nearly three years now, it is my #1 passion. I've played almost all of my life but only regularly these past few years. I play 8 to 10 hours every week against pretty good competition in four locations. I've taken advantage of Ping Skills free advice which is not enough coaching. Next week I'll get a month's worth of Ping Skills 'premium' help. I'm planning to get your recommended RTG paddle in March. I need Alois or Jeff to help me decide what to get. I'm excited. You guys are GREAT.


Alois Rosario

Alois Rosario from PingSkills Posted 7 years ago

Thanks Jimmy.  Looking forward to helping you even more.

Farhan Hashim

Farhan Hashim Posted 7 years ago

Yeah that's right I know now. However I see that sometimes making a small adjustment can make a difference like I am trying to master the high toss serve. Before I was using very defensive serves which makes whole of my game defensive. Now I think if I can really develop a good serve that will build my confidence and my game


Jaime Ramos

Jaime Ramos Posted 7 years ago

Good advice thank you. Have a good day

Alois Rosario

Alois Rosario from PingSkills Posted 7 years ago

No problems Jaime.  Glad you liked it.

Neal Van Haverbeck

Neal Van Haverbeck Posted 7 years ago

I started playing 6 years ago but I'll be 80 in 3 months so it's a race to improve against the decline of old age. I play every day and have 220 senior club members to play with in 10 different venues. I assemble my own paddles and prefer tacky rubber with 1.9mm sponge and as lite as possible 4.8 to 5.5 oz. preferred. I've been trying to use short pips to counter spin with limited success and I've developed the bad habit of switching between the two types. Probably not a good idea.

We help each other a lot and I have a robot at home plus I train with another player regularly. I very much appreciate your video tips but I can't do it the way you two do. I plan to continue playing as long as my creaky old bones will permit.

Thank for being there,

Neal Van Haverbeck

Alois Rosario

Alois Rosario from PingSkills Posted 7 years ago

Hi Neal,

I am sure those creaky bones will stay less creaky with the Table Tennis.  Great to hear that you have a good community to play with.

Keep ups the good work and let us know when you need some help.

Timmy Lundberg

Timmy Lundberg Posted 7 years ago

I never seem to improve. I've lost all hope of improving.

I either only play with worse people (which in hand, makes me worse) OR, I play with people who are better than me. Which makes me feel really bad, and I don't get any better.
It alternates between those two types of opponents. I can't find someone who is equal to me.
I have to train with different partners every time i go to my club to train (i'm 15 years old, and our club has lots of different 10 - 13 year olds that i have to face) and the training i do there doesn't make a difference, because i win 99% of the time over most of the people in my club.

I have asked my trainers to move me "up" within the different groups, but I'll have to wait crysee until next saturday.

I played with some people that i thought i was equal to today, but i just did alot worse and they won over me over and over until i finally gave up on playing table tennis. (First time i actually gave up on playing EVER.) I usually just try to keep playing and it'll get even more fun, but i realized today that i only will get worse at table tennis if i keep playing with those people who are better than me and those who are worse than me.

I want to talk to my trainers alot more and i want to make friends in the club, but i have a hard time socializing and i can't connect with people.

Alois Rosario

Alois Rosario from PingSkills Posted 7 years ago

Hi Timmy,

Don't give up but understand that there will be a long road to improvement and even if you don't ever beat some of those other players, it is about how well you strove to make improvements.

I have much more respect for those players that work hard and try their best and try over a long period of time.  Sometimes the better talented players improve faster but they also don't have to strive as much as others.  That is their good luck.

Everyone is different...

Timmy Lundberg

Timmy Lundberg Posted 7 years ago

I always wanted to get better. Every single training session, or even when i was playing casually, i tried to improve. 
Only today, I realized that I didn't improve.

Timmy Lundberg

Timmy Lundberg Posted 7 years ago

This lasted over 3 years.

Dieter Verhofstadt

Dieter Verhofstadt Posted 7 years ago


What is your metric for improving? Some kind of competition result? Or is it the subjective feeling of improving? Or do you want a statement by the coach that you are improving?

For me, if I think I haven't improved, it helps playing someone I used to be even with years ago.

Last year, I went 3 classes up. My objective this year was 2 classes but it ended up being 1 class. I kept improving but the pace has slowed down more than I wanted. In training sessions I can now beat guys I wouldn't stand a chance against years ago.

This is one question: how do you know you have (not) improved?

The other part of your confession says that you cannot improve against players who are weaker or stronger, only against your own level. This is not true. Against weaker players you can restrict yourself and use them to work your weaknesses. Against stronger players you can completely let go of your nervousness and play the best game you have. In both cases you will learn something and improve.

But if you don't enjoy table tennis for one or the other reason, quitting or pausing may be the right thing to do. It happened to me with music: it was all work, little fun and I didn't seem to improve. I quit and shifted to table tennis.

All the best




Alois Rosario

Alois Rosario from PingSkills Posted 7 years ago

Sometimes we are not the best judges about our own improvement.

Timmy Lundberg

Timmy Lundberg Posted 7 years ago

Dieter, when it comes to facing better people, i get way too excited and eventually just plain nervous to play. I've tried calming down, but that doesn't work, i just get worked up again. When it comes to people who aren't as good as me, I'll try and follow your advice. Most of the time though, i'll end up chasing the ball. 

As to why I haven't improved; I keep making the same mistakes that i wouldn't have done, like 2 weeks ago. 
I can't fix those mistakes, no matter what I try.

I do still enjoy table tennis, even if i gave up on improving. Which I'll probably pick back up next week, when i can practice with the people in my club. 

And yeah, I'm probably not the best judge of my self-improvement. I severely overestimate myself in alot of things, not just table tennis.

Thanks for the replies. 

Dieter Verhofstadt

Dieter Verhofstadt Posted 7 years ago

Hi Timmy

Rest assured: myself I'm also very nervous and cannot seem to bring my training level into my games. Like you say, simply "calming down" doesn't work.

I'm trying to do a couple of things, which I learnt from the pros:

- expand my serving routine: bounce the ball a few times, decide what serve I will do, look at the opponent, load, serve

- take a towel break every 6th point (it is allowed), even if I'm not sweating at all

- drink something between the sets

By concentrating on doing THIS you are not concentrating on how calm or stressed you are. It is much harder to actively try not to be stressed than simply executing this routines.

So, my homework for you: next match, do the above. If you did, you have objectively improved. If you didn't, you have objectively not improved. Turn this into a routine and let us know if it worked to reduce your stress level. 

Timmy Lundberg

Timmy Lundberg Posted 7 years ago

Dieter, thank you for the advice. I didn't follow the specific things you did, though. The thing I did to calm down was, that I simply just spun my racket in my hand and tried focusing on trying to get my index finger on the red rubber side(as that rubber is the one i use for my backhand) whenever i started feeling a bit jittery.

I didn't feel that "excited" anymore and managed to keep my cool and made a LOT less mistakes laughing


Dieter Verhofstadt

Dieter Verhofstadt Posted 7 years ago

Great Timmy, whatever routine works for you to concentrate on something else than stress, will relieve stress. Enjoy!

Alois Rosario

Alois Rosario from PingSkills Posted 7 years ago

That is great to hear Timmy.  Thanks Dieter.

Tony Ping

Tony Ping Posted 7 years ago

Hi Alois 

i was just wondering when you said 10,000 hours to be world class level, does that include the tornamants and matches ? Also how many hours would be required to start winning games?

plz reply thx


Alois Rosario

Alois Rosario from PingSkills Posted 7 years ago

Hi Tony,

It is not a certain number and it also depends a lot on the quality of your training. After 100 hours you can start to play some good games.But remember winning also depends on who you are playing...

Marina De Maesschalck

Marina De Maesschalck Posted 7 years ago

It is wise to set goals in order to be able to focus on what to train for.
I have so many things to improve... starting out with small steps is a good plan! 

I will work on my forehand and concentrate on my movement.



john gallagher

john gallagher Posted 6 years ago

Hi, I have been looking for this very idea T.T. training because I know that it works. When I was a Young man I studied and was studying a musical instrument I found at time it was very frustrating, it seemed that I practiced a particular playing skill and the harder I tried I gradually got worse and worse. (I was doing about eight hours a day back then) and then, all of a sudden I found that I could do it and never had to think about that skill again. That happened with all the varous skills that I needed to become a muiscian. I am now 77 years of age and I have played a little in the past but not to at all high level, About a year or eighteen months ago I decided to join a club just for the fun. I train quite often and find that, like music I gradually get worse and worse and then suddenly! just like in music all those years ago I move forwards. Long may it continue. John

Alois Rosario

Alois Rosario from PingSkills Posted 6 years ago

Great insight John.  Thanks.

Rohan Keogh

Rohan Keogh Posted 6 years ago

That's exactly how my golf training and improvement went too John and if that's how it works for me in TT too then I'm with you - long may it continue :)

Paul Griz

Paul Griz Posted 3 years ago

Thanks! I needed this today after having a lousey 4 hour practice after a two day break. 

Good to know there is still hope after feeling like I went backward in my skill sets. 

Alois Rosario

Alois Rosario from PingSkills Posted 3 years ago

Glad it helped.  I think it is something that everyone can do with every now and then.  We often tend to be too harsh on our own progress.

John Pagett

John Pagett Posted 2 years ago

John Pagett

Hi guys in these covid times l practise alone with a robot practise partner 20 about 2hrs a day I have about 30 drills that l swap about to keep it interesting  

It would be useful to have a coach watch me to advise on improvements I could make but that will have to wait your articles have been brilliant thanks  

Alois Rosario

Alois Rosario from PingSkills Posted 2 years ago

Hi John,

Glad that you have taken the initiative and training at home.  Always shout out if you need any advice.

Manfred Rolfsmeier

Manfred Rolfsmeier Posted 8 months ago

Right you are Alois. But after all these great recommendations I´m still missing something and that´s the right training partner. Maybe you can find me one, I´d prefer a tall Tai-Chi master with elegant movements:


Paul Griz

Paul Griz Posted 7 months ago

Great video Manfred! Thanks. 

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