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full-time training at TTPor, Setubal, Portugal

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    Posted: 12/17/2017 at 5:42pm
Short version: The coaching is first-rate, Portugal is amazing, and the price is unbelievably good.  Go there and see for yourself.   This is not a limited time camp.  It's a club that is open 52 weeks a year for training. Their website is http://www.ttpor.pt/en/.   Email is ttpor.atema@gmail.com

Long version:  I tried to cover everything below. If you have a question PM me or post here.

I just spent two weeks training at TTPor between 4 and 15 December 2017.  This was my third two-week training camp.  I went to MDTTC in Maryland in 2014, and B75 in Denmark in July 2017.   The biggest difference at TTPor is the personal attention.  It was consistently only one or two players during the first two sessions, with one or even two coaches.   In the evenings there are anywhere from 8 - 20 club members training depending on the day.  I can't guarantee that this is the case year-round, but I was thrilled with the amount of direct coaching time I received these two weeks.  

Comparing the three camps, I would put MDTTC out of the running immediately.  It was all kids except for me, which is fine, but the bad part was it was mainly a summer day camp, and the coaching was pretty minimal.  It was usually eight students to one coach for multiball, and a lot of time doing partner drills without any real coaching happening.  I got to hit a lot of balls, which is good, but I didn't learn anything new in particular.  I was yelled at to "Relax!!" a lot of times, and I'm sure that was good advice, but I couldn't do anything with it.  

The B75 by contrast was more intensively coached, and I did learn a lot.  However at the time I thought that the lack of any English proficiency by one coach (or equally my total lack of Chinese)  didn't matter because she could demonstrate.  But after getting what I believe she meant from TTPor in English, I was immediately able to execute my forehand loop differently.  The change was essential to reduce my recovery time which  will allow me to play a series of shots at my preferred distance from the table.  So it's kind of important.  B75 was a blast, and improved my TT, and I would recommend it as an amazing experience to anyone who loves TT, but I think TTPor was better.  I never would have believed that before I went, but it was.  

It's going to take me at least a year of hard work to integrate all the coaching I received into my game.  Two weeks was enough time for a pretty comprehensive overhaul of my play.  I have essentially an all-new forehand, backhand, and footwork.  Also my fh flick has changed, and some serves, and my tactics in quite a few game situations.  I took a small notebook full of notes, including drills, diagrams, tactics, and technique.  So I have a lot of work to do.  But having seen the changes in my play and even my results over only two weeks, roughly 60 hours of table time, I know what a difference these changes will make once I can execute them in match play *under pressure.*  My results against repeat opponents improved a lot just during the two weeks, but those were not pressure situations for me.  

Obviously I've just gotten back so I can't say with authority yet that what I learned at TTPor has raised my level.  And the risk with any intensive camp is not being able to get enough quality training at home afterwards to make use of the new information.  But considering that it cost me less to live there for two weeks, even counting the cost of all the daily training, than it does to live my normal life at home, there is no risk.  Plus I had a great time and made a lot of friends.  The Diniz family, who run the small business that is TTPor, are the nicest people you could ever hope to meet, and Portugal is an amazing country full of beautiful places, amazing sights, and delicious food and drink.  So if you have the chance to train in Europe there is nowhere better than TTPor.  

That's my long form review.  I put some more general information that might be useful below.  As I said, I'll be happy to answer any questions.  

Basic facts: TTPor is a 9 table club open five days a week in Setubal, a suburb of Lisbon.  It's easily accessible from Lisbon as commuter trains run hourly weekends, more often on weekdays. The club is a family  business run by father and son Domingo and David Diniz.  David is the main coach.  They both have both ITTF and PTT coaching certifications.

Cost: Training costs €20/day.  Housing in the club dorm is €10/day, and three meals weekdays also €10.  If staying more than one week you can sleep in the dorm over the weekend for no extra charge, but have to get your own food.  The accommodations and meals aren't luxury style, but for €20 you can't argue with the value. I was very happy with my decision to live in.  

If you prefer to eat and sleep separately there are plenty of nice hotels and restaurants in Setubal and prices are very good by US standards.  Space in the  dorm is limited, so plan a little bit ahead if you do want to stay there.

Training:  There are three sessions a day.  Morning runs for about 90 - 120 minutes roughly between 10:30 and 12:30 or 1:00.  Then lunch together if you are eating in.  Afternoon session starts between 3 - 4, and runs until about 8, with a short break if you want one between individual training and the arrival of the regular club members between around 5:30 - 6:30.  It's a varying group of club members, both kids and adults.  The coaches will match you with some of them to do some drills and play a few matches after.  I trained for around six hours most days.  The club members' playing standard ranges from usatt 1000 or so (small kids) to well over 2000.  I'm rated 1900 and there were plenty of partners above my level.  I trained mostly with adults but also quite a bit with teenagers.  It's a club with teams in the Portuguese leagues for both adults and juniors (and wheelchair, although I didn't hit with them) so everyone takes their TT seriously, including the kids.  

Miscellaneous:  I met one person in two weeks who really had no english.  The Diniz speak excellent english, as do most of the club members, and the general population of Portugal if Lisbon and Setubal are anything to go by.  However naturally a lot of Portuguese is spoken in the club.  I learned the words for fh and bh, the numbers 1-11, and some other useful stuff for TT.  You will lose nothing from the training if you have zero portuguese, but you should expect to have a lot of non-TT conversations go over your head. 

Setubal is a pretty seaside town of about 100,000 people.  The club is inside the football (soccer) stadium in the center of town.  Everything you could possibly need is walkable within 500 meters.  The beach and more bars/restaurants are about a kilometer.  Google maps is your friend here if you are curious.

Online coaching:  David also offers an online coaching service where he will review your match video for the only-in-Portugal price of 5 euros a set, minimum three sets.  I will post a separate thread about this for people who can't travel to Portugal, but wanted to mention it here.  
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote smackman Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12/17/2017 at 11:00pm
Sounds great, great reading, I often see that after a overseas training camp players will often have a rest to recoup and as the weeks go along all the training is wasted, the hard thing is keeping up the effort and putting what you learnt into your games
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote mickd Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12/17/2017 at 11:24pm
Sounds great, BRS. I did see the photos on the website, but did you end up taking any other pictures or videos?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote BRS Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12/18/2017 at 1:22pm
Originally posted by mickd mickd wrote:

Sounds great, BRS. I did see the photos on the website, but did you end up taking any other pictures or videos?


I took about 400 tourist shots of Portugal, but I didn't take pictures of the club, and chose not to bring my camcorder. I found after B75 that writing notes immediately worked the best to fix stuff into my leaky brain.

David did record some drills to show me my footwork. On forehands all my weight goes on my right foot as it turns 90 degrees to the table while my left foot still points forward. They want me to change so I move both feet at the same time, which will keep some weight on my left leg. It doesn't affect the first fh loop much, that's still a good shot. But I lose my body position and balance for subsequent shots, and I can't afford to do that if I want to improve.

This is something obvious that every coach has noted --- "Stop jumping off your right foot into your forehands!" Like, thanks a lot, I already knew that was bad. But TTPor went the furthest to give me a fix, including changing my off-table physical training routine at home. If you see match video of me in a year and I can hit a fh loop from the fh corner and then a second quality fh from the center line, instead of a forced bh from the fh side, you'll know I did my homework.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote kevo Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12/19/2017 at 12:13pm
Great review of what sounds like a great place to train. Question: If you don't mind my asking, BRS, how old are you and did you find 6 hrs a day taxing physically?  Any injuries or fatigue during the fortnight?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote NextLevel Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12/19/2017 at 4:13pm
Originally posted by kevo kevo wrote:

Great review of what sounds like a great place to train. Question: If you don't mind my asking, BRS, how old are you and did you find 6 hrs a day taxing physically?  Any injuries or fatigue during the fortnight?

As a warning from someone very familiar with how BRS trains, BRS is a special animal when it comes to enthusiasm, ability and dedication to training at any age, talk less of his real age.  He can go through a couple of paddles a day losing handles from the sweat from his training if they aren't glued right.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Makelele Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12/19/2017 at 5:36pm
I was tempted to post something similar, but I wanted to let BRS speak first. But may be he is too humble to talk about it, so...

Yes, I can say that Next Level is right- BRS is a training machine and it doesn't surprise me that he could train very hard in Portugal.

Edited by Makelele - 12/19/2017 at 5:37pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote NextLevel Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12/19/2017 at 5:47pm
Originally posted by Makelele Makelele wrote:

I was tempted to post something similar, but I wanted to let BRS speak first. But may be he is too humble to talk about it, so...

Yes, I can say that Next Level is right- BRS is a training machine and it doesn't surprise me that he could train very hard in Portugal.


Hey boss how are you these days? I am sure you have been to Portugal already... Lol.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote BRS Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12/19/2017 at 10:56pm
It's great to hear from you makelele, how is your game?

kevo, I'm 49.  I did have some trouble with my playing arm triceps during the second week, but I don't think the amount of training caused it since I've done that much TT several times before.   I'm from Florida and I hadn't been cold in about five years.  But Portugal can get cold in December, and they happened to have a really cold couple of days during my first week.  My poor Florida body went into shock.  I was still able to train through it, maybe doing more backhand and serve/receive work than I would have otherwise.   The coaches there are pretty decent physios and had some good topical stuff that helped.  

Also I should say that the amount of training per day is completely up to you, when you are tired you can stop.  I just like to train a lot when I have the chance, which isn't as often as I would like.  
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote mickd Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12/19/2017 at 11:18pm
I'm considering doing in a year or two. I went to China for a little less than 2 weeks (though I got a really bad fever during the first few days) earlier this year. It was actually quite fun, but lacked the individual attention I wanted.

Edited by mickd - 12/19/2017 at 11:18pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Makelele Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01/07/2018 at 11:15pm
Originally posted by NextLevel NextLevel wrote:

Originally posted by Makelele Makelele wrote:

I was tempted to post something similar, but I wanted to let BRS speak first. But may be he is too humble to talk about it, so...

Yes, I can say that Next Level is right- BRS is a training machine and it doesn't surprise me that he could train very hard in Portugal.


Hey boss how are you these days? I am sure you have been to Portugal already... Lol.


Hi buddy! I was tempted to go someday to the B75 camp in Denmark and with BRS review I was almost in....until he talked about Portugal. Now I think that Portugal will be first. May be this year I can go to Setúbal. We will see.

Hope you are training hard for the Pennsylvania state championships.

Edited by Makelele - 01/08/2018 at 12:02am
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Makelele Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01/07/2018 at 11:46pm
[QUOTE=BRS] It's great to hear from you makelele, how is your game?


Hi buddy! Thanks for the review of both Setúbal club and B75 camp. Those are two places that I will try to attend some day (may be Portugal this year, who knows). My game has improved but surely not as the same pace as yours. By the way, since we met you have surpassed the "mystical" mark of 2000 in your rating ( yes, I know you are now below 2000 but I am sure you can be there again). Yeah, rating is just a number but, anyway, 2000 sounds good. I didn't congratulate you for that when it happened but, well, I do it now.

Edited by Makelele - 01/07/2018 at 11:52pm
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