The skill for September was serving. Several players made some changes to how they approach serves. Some needed to stay closer to the table, while others began to rely less on maximum spin, and more on placement. For October, it feels like we should try a different approach. There are a few problems with featuring a skill of the month. One, is that it doesn’t make for very interesting reading, unless you find reading instruction manuals interesting. Another issue is that, while table tennis is a game of skill, it is the combining of skills that makes table tennis fascinating.
Acquiring individual skills does not guarantee success, unless you learn when to use them, and how to combine them. There are an infinite number of ways points can play out. Table tennis requires constant reevaluating and decision making. The frontal lobe controls reasoning, self control, and decision making. It is the mental ability to put skills together that enables players with weaker strokes to defeat seemingly superior players.
The right balance of playing matches and training allows players to develop the skills they need, and know how to use them. Players who only play matches may develop ways to win up to a certain level, but will struggle against well trained players. But training alone can create players with excellent strokes, and no clue how to use them. Some players prefer to do drills, and some only want to play matches. Both practice and matches develop mental and physical skills, but in different ways.
To excel in table tennis, you’ll need to practice every skill that could possibly be a skill of the month. These skills are the building blocks of your playing style. All that’s left is to figure out how to put them together.