I have been drafted. I’m not going into the military, although I am being drafted by a former army officer. Thanks a lot Wendell. I’ll be serving as the designated coach to assign ratings for the 2019 JCC Maccabi Games. I shouldn’t complain. I need to get out more, and I feel confident in my ability to assign table tennis ratings. It’s an inexact science, but getting close with estimated ratings is a matter of paying attention to details. The difference in a 800 and a 900 level player could be the quality of their backhand push. The difference in a 2000 and a 2200 player comes down to the quality of their respective skills as well.
The players I coach most often are usually somewhere between 800 and 2200. The first time I coach a new player I can’t always concern myself with every imperfection in their game. But with every subsequent session, details start to become more important. Not all players are receptive to attempts to fine tune their game. Some players know they need to make changes, but struggle to break old habits. Consider a few seemingly little mistakes that can affect your game in a big way.
- Serving the ball too high….even a little too high
- Indecision about whether to push or open with topspin
- Failing to recover after an attacking shot….The stronger your shot, the quicker it can come back
- Being out of position….Playing too close. Playing too far back. Using your backhand when you should be using a forehand, or vise versa.
- Not studying your opponent’s style and tendencies
- Hitting the ball too hard and/or ignoring the spin….This is actually not a little detail, but a recipe for failure.
- Playing scared
- Excessive experimentation….During a match is a bad time to try out unproven serves, shots, or new paddles.
That’s a nice list of common mistakes that intermediate level players struggle with. Rather than dwelling on the negative, try looking at the list in reverse. What if you practiced low serves? What might happen if you practiced the way you want to play? Really studying your opponents is a good habit to start. Perhaps visualizing the way you want to play, and simplifying your approach would help infuse some self confidence. Once you have a training plan or a game plan, make sure you stick with it. There’s no reason to put any limits on some big results, if you pay attention to the little details.