(by Steve Hopkins)
With schools and events closing, and many of us banished to our homes even for work, table tennis is one of the few sports that can survive in the limited spaces we have available in our basements and other spare spaces indoors. When this storm has passed, our sport will be one of the first one’s to reopen. Most clubs have relatively small numbers, ours is not a contact sport, in fact – if you have wipes for the balls and avoid handshakes our sport can be played even while observing social distancing protocols.
For the short term – if you are sheltering with others and you have space for a table, you’re golden. Roll the table out, find a partner (or teach a family member) and then get to work – stay in shape, stay sane, and stay safe – an ideal situation. The same basic premise applies if you have a healthy neighbor or friend and you can safely interact without violating the shelter or quarantine parameters of your locale.
But what options do you have if you are stuck without a playing partner – or if you are an elite player without a player of your level?
ROBOTS: Robots are an option. There was time when a table tennis robot could do little more than feed balls. Those days have changed, as many of the newest generation of robots can program complex rallies, run pre-programmed drills, and can save nearly a hundred exercises with varying speed, spin, and placement. Regardless of your level, if you want to stock your home with a tireless 2500 level playing partner, that can be done in a matter of days.
FOOTWORK DRILLS: Even with small amounts of space, it is possible to block out enough space to do footwork drills. For example, a table is 5-feet wide, so some carefully placed tape or chalk on a floor could provide you with parameters for your drills. Move left and right visualizing alternating sides, or run a Falkenburg drill (sans ball) while executing a forehand stroke, then moving to your left to perform a backhand stroke, and then stepping around the corner boundary of your table marker to execute a forehand, and then lunge back to your original position to start again with a forehand. Add small weights for your hands (and/or feet) and you’ve got a full-blown aerobic work-out that will reap benefits when we are all back at our clubs and tournaments.
STRATEGIZING: It won’t be long before many of us have scrolled through every watchable show on Netflix and flipped through every readable book and magazine in the house. It is possible to take these idle times and set some goals for our sport. Butterfly has a number of free instructional videos online – take advantage. We also have a number of books available providing professional coaching tips and tactics to benefit players of every level. And for those that prefer to watch – Modern Table Tennis 101, Modern Table Tennis 102, and Beyond Imagination are DVD titles in stock today.
With the nation in a state of emergency, many of us are facing stressful situations every day. The first priorities are safety and security. But once your safety is assured, we’re here to help you find ways to pass the time, to keep up your normal routines, and to stay active. We’ll see you on the tables again in a few weeks.