Hello again and a happy new year !
Table tennis is a very complex sport , i have always tried to simplify it so i can deal effectively with every possible situation during a tournament match .
As i gained more and more experience by playing matches , discussing with coaches and watching other players i realized that more knowledge comes with more questions and this situation leads to an endless circle that frustrated me . I believe most of the players out there feel the way i do , especially those who practice hard and try to find effective methods to improve themselves . I remember some quotes from my coaches when i was a kid
"footwork is very important , without it u will never have the correct position for the next ball"
"strategy is the most important thing , excellent technique is useless without it , no matter how hard you train , u will lose if you cant outsmart your opponent"
"psychology is the most important factor , he who believes will win "
"developing feeling of the ball will make you a winner"
"keeping the ball on the table , is the essence of the sport"
Well all of these quotes were very helpful but not in every situation and they raised more and more questions . I needed something more solid , something valid that would help me deal with every ball no matter what . Two years ago i was reading an article with tips for table tennis when my brain suddenly focused on a particular quote : "a good player performs the right stroke at the right time" .
It seemed perfect for me to focus on but still , table tennis is a sport with fast reactions and the more you think , the less you play . It's impossible to think about performing the right stroke at the right time , a player needs something more simple in order to focus and execute correctly .
I was frustrated to a point that i wasnt enjoying the game any more and decided to stop searching & thinking so much because it effected negatively my mindset , thus my performance . I was thinking "well i'll just practice & try to improve without worrying so much" .
One week ago , i was watching some tributes about Jan Ove Waldner and read some articles about his career.
What was the attribute that made him so great ? He didnt have the fast footwork of Ryu Seung Min nor the technique of Ma Long . Hell he didnt even have the fighting spirit of Wang Liqin or the consistency of Jean Michel Saive . Waldner has lost many matches in his career because of unforced errors
Well , the answer is simple : correct anticipation . He knew where the ball was going .
So , here it is : Know where the ball is going . Simple , effective and solid . A rule of thumb for every different ball in the game . Unfortunately it is something i cant thoroughly explain here so i will post some videos and analyze the guidelines in my next article .
Till then , next time you go to practice , keep your eyes on the ball and try to find where it will land . This is the first crucial step , all the rest are somehow "worthless" if you dont develop your ability to guess or even better "force through tactic" the ball to land where you want it .
Goodbye & enjoy !