Well, it’s time to fold up the tables for three months. Time to put away my racket. I’ll be ready to get back at it when the new season begins. I don’t know any table tennis players who have ever said anything like this. Table tennis season never ends. Tournaments are scheduled year round. We’re not slowed down by bad weather, never rained out, or cancelled due to darkness. Most sports have some kind of off season. Table tennis doesn’t.
It’s possible to train or play every day of the year, but is that wise? I’ve been able to observe some trends with players who have trained with a variety of approaches. It’s not surprising that the best players train often, sometimes two or three times a day. It’s also true that they have quality training sessions, that are not just frequent, but intense. Emphasis is also put on rest, recovery, sleep, and good nutrition. It’s not so easy to do this if you are working fifty hours a week and have children. The lesson we can learn from the top players is that if you train hard, you’ll have to take great care of yourself, and pace your training appropriately.
Pacing yourself means creating your own table tennis season, and an offseason as well. Unless you live in a place that has organized leagues with built in downtime, you’ll need to customize your schedule for competition and recovery. Table tennis burnout can happen. Not only is our sport physically demanding, it’s mentally, and emotionally taxing. Sometimes players have unscheduled breaks. Perhaps, an illness or job change forces them to suspend training for a few months. I’ve noticed that when they return, they not only haven’t regressed, they are actually playing better.
It’s not necessarily the players who play the most who improve. Quality of training means far more than quantity. Perhaps you’d like to play more often, but once or twice a week is all your schedule allows. Even if you have limited training time, it’s still possible to move forward. Consistent, focused training will take you farther than hours of weak workouts. It’s also important to make sure that there are planned breaks as well. You probably don’t need, or want to take three months off. It’s nice that table tennis doesn’t have an off season. You’ll need to schedule your own.