Practice habits and matches

Table Tennis Training and Drills

Last updated 1 week ago

Nigel C

Nigel C Asked 3 weeks ago

Hi Jeff and Alois,

When I practice backhand, I usually aim to land the ball on the outside edge of each corner and not towards the end of the table. If I do this I find it easier to replicate this shot in a match. Some players aren't used to practicing like this and want the ball on the inside edge towards the end of the table. So I'm polite and helpful and that is where I will try to land the ball. But, then when I play a match that is where I will hit the ball. So I'm replicating what I practice. How do we adopt the good things we do in practice but not the bad?

Alois Rosario

Alois Rosario Answered 1 week ago

Hi Nigel,

That's a very keen observation you've made about the link between practice habits and in-game performance. When training any skill, it's crucial to replicate conditions that are as close as possible to match play if you want the skill to be transferable to actual games. Placing the ball on the outside edge of the table's corners while practicing your backhand can indeed be beneficial. It helps to fine-tune your precision and control, making it difficult for your opponent to return the ball effectively during a match. These shots can place your opponent under pressure and often lead to weaker returns, giving you an advantage. However, constantly aiming for just one specific area can make your play predictable. It's important to vary your placement during practice sessions to simulate the unpredictability of actual matches.   Practice a variety of placements, not only the outside edges. This ensures you are equally comfortable hitting inside and outside edges and anywhere in between.

Incorporate drills that simulate match conditions, such as random placement by your practice partner or using a robot.

Set up scenarios where you practice your shots under pressure conditions, such as during a deuce in a game or when down a few points.  Ensure that each shot during practice is played with the same attention to detail and quality that you would have in a match.

While it's good to aim for precise spots on the table, also work on consistency. Being able to consistently land the ball on the table in a variety of spots will be more beneficial than always hitting the exact same spot.

By training with variety and simulating match conditions during practice, you'll be able to better transition your skills and maintain the adaptability needed in real games. Remember, the ultimate goal of practice is to improve your all-around game, not just one particular shot.

Lastly, communication with your practice partner is key. Discuss your training goals and plan your sessions accordingly so that both of you can benefit from the practice. 

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