Sunday, January 30th, 2011

Mistakes in Table Tennis

Mistakes. From recreational level to World Champion, everyone makes mistakes. However, there is a huge difference between the average players and the pros. The average players make the same mistakes repeatedly. Once they are down 2-0, or lose the match, or driving home after the tournament, they discover the fault and possibly think of a solution. The good players pause after each point, they recognize the lapse, and know how to immediately correct the problem. Below I have listed several ways to think more between points and eliminate continued errors.

  1. When training, be aware of your faults point by point. When I am training with the robot, I am thinking of a match situation. After I make 5 errors, I turn off the robot. I will not allow myself to make mistake after mistake without stopping, reflecting, making the correction, and then continuing.
  2. Ask a better player to analyze your game point by point. When practicing with a higher-rated player, ask him to stop every point for 2 minutes and tell you what you did right or what you did wrong.
  3. Take significant time between points. The official rule says that “play must be continuous.” You are allowed to step back and reflect for 5 seconds to realize what went right and what went wrong during the point. You are not allowed to take 60 seconds lecturing yourself while pacing the barriers. At the 6 point break, take some time to think while toweling off and keep your focus on the game.
  4. Eyes in the court. Not only keep your mind on the game, but keep your eyes in the court. Even in practice, don’t let your eyes go beyond the barriers. If you see other matches, trophies, food, or a cute girl or guy, your mind will drift.
  5. Practice like it’s a tournament. Imagine yourself in a foreign tournament setting, playing a stranger you’ve never met. After winning the World Championships, Werner Schlager was asked if he had felt much pressure during the final. He said that he didn’t feel any pressure because for many years, he had been able to think clearly and practice as if he was in the final. When the final came, he was just thinking like he had been training.

If you seriously take this advice to heart, you’ll see rapid improvement as you start patching up the holes that plague your game.

Samson Dubina is an accomplished player and coach. He was the US Nationals Men’s Singles Finalist in 2010. Learn more about Samson.


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One Response to “Mistakes”

  1. Arthur Lui says:

    I try to do #3, to keep analyzing between points, but the problem is that I forget to do it because I’m immersed in the game. I’m getting better at forcing myself to think and identify the reason that I lost that point (usually identifying the opponent’s strength).

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