Really. I promise this table tennis post is actually about table tennis. I’ll try to refrain from sarcasm, cryptic messages, or any deep thoughts. You will likely be a better informed player just by reading further. Unfortunately, I can’t really take any credit for this one, beyond spreading the word that was more concisely stated by Coach Samson Dubina.
Good coaches never stop learning, and can learn a lot from other coaches. I recently read Samson’s Pitfalls of Training. Pitfall 1 was one that I was well acquainted with. I coach a lot of beginners and new players. We spend a lot of time learning the basics and working on transitions and footwork. I don’t think I could be accused of not teaching the basics. Some players are eager to graduate to more advanced drills. They want me to hit harder or use a faster paddle. Most of the time, they are really not ready for it.
But, not all of the time; which brings us to the second pitfall. Samson describes this as “hitting so controlled that it doesn’t really simulate a match.” Here’s where I need to say, “Thanks Coach” to Coach Dubina. It’s not that I was totally unaware of the necessity of unstructured drills and match simulation, but my approach emphasised the basics. Intermediate players need to be challenged more than I typically challenge them. This may explain why I seemed to do my best work with new players, and specialized in helping them become competitive. I had come to the conclusion that once they got to intermediate level they were on their own, or maybe needed to find a more advanced coach.
Going forward, I hope to avoid the second pitfall, while continuing to avoid the first. This may allow me to work with more advanced players, or help some of my current students advance. Thanks again to Samson for letting me ride his coattails for one week. He provided some great advice, exactly when I needed to hear it.