(By Larry Hodges)
Here are ten “mini-fixes” for little problems you may face as you move up the table tennis rankings.
- Slippery floors? Put a wet towel on the floor and step on it between points. You’ve probably seen top players do this; try it, it really works. Also, get new shoes if you are going to play a tournament on a slippery floor.
- Humid? First, have two towels, one for you, one for the racket and ball. Second, get one of the special sponges designed to dry a damp surface. At Butterfly, they are called Cotton Sponges. (Most major distributors have a version of this.) They really work. Get one, put it in your playing bag, and it’ll always be there when you need it.
- Bad lighting? Close your eyes for ten seconds, then open them, and it will seem brighter. But most important – really focus on watching the ball to the exclusion of all else. Tactically, fast, quick shots are hard to pick up, so look for chances to do that. It’s also harder to read spin, so use extreme topspin and backspins, and your spinniest serves.
- Tired or sleepy? Splash water on your face and it will solve half the problem. (But make sure to get enough rest and sleep next time.)
- Lost focus or nervous? Clear your mind, and either close your eyes or look at something in the distance for 5-10 seconds. Remember the mindset of the best match you’ve ever played. Google “Sports Psychology Table Tennis” and lots of useful links will show up. Check out www.dorakurimay.com
- Losing track of the score? Make sure the server calls the score out after every point.
- Having trouble getting a good warmup before a tournament? Arrange in advance to warm up with someone that can give you a good warmup.
- Didn’t play well? Practice and get coaching! If you play better in practice than in tournaments, then play lots of tournaments so you get used to them.
- Not sure about your tactics in a match? Get a coach or top player to coach you in a few matches. Part of the reason for having a coach is to help you win that match, but it’s even more important in learning how to play tactically. After you’ve played a number of matches with a coach talking to you during and after the match you’ll get an idea of what you really should be doing out there, as well as what aspects of your game you need to improve. Once you have a better understanding of what’s going on out there, most tactics will become reflexive.
- Can’t find the right equipment? Spend some time trying out lots of different rackets and sponges, borrowing from everyone at your club or (if you can afford it) buy lots of equipment to try out. You need to have a good idea of what’s out there before you find the right combination for you. Once you find that right combo, stick with it until there’s either a major change in your game or a major new equipment innovation.
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