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Hitting/Practicing with Lower/Higher Rated Players

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    Posted: 04/06/2015 at 8:00am
The Unsaid Rules for Hitting with Players at a Different Rating Level from Yours
=============================================
 
(I wanted to write about the stress of going for power that your technique cannot handle, but I want to address this topic instead and get comments and insights.  Stress and technique will be next week.)

We often hear stories of lower rated players being avoided by higher rated players or higher rated players hating the quality of practice they get from lower rated players.  In a club where people are together and trying to improve, training is very important and sometimes, when you don't have your ideal training partners to work with, you need to find a player that may be well above or well below you to work on your game.  My hope is that this article will help you when it comes to making reasonable assumptions about what your partner wants.  

The biggest rule is that there is nothing wrong with being explicit and polite about EXACTLY what you want.  The second biggest rule is that it is good to offer your partner a chance to work on what they want.  Part of what creates trouble when hitting with people is assuming that people know "better" (which often equates with being good mind readers) and being too upset when they don't.  The problem with mind reading is less prevalent in clubs where most if not all the players are getting good coaching because certain habits are common place, but there are still exceptions to these habits for a variety of reasons, some of which I will cover below.

There is nothing wrong with refusing to hit with someone per se.  There are many legitimate reasons why one might refuse to do so, including one's prior experience with them, personal injury etc.  This post attempts to bridge the gap caused by players coming together without knowing what tools they need to get a good practice from each other.  It's not hard to practice profitably with anyone as long as you understand how to get good practice.

I was fortunate to play in a club and hit with a lot of players above my level when getting better at table tennis.  Part of this was a cultural change that was in part enabled by my coach, who also got better as an adult and didn't like the attitude of some better players when it came to hitting with developing players, and part of it was simply that I hit well enough in some ways to be a decent practice partner even when I was 400 - 800 pts below the level of the people I was hitting with.  Till this day, I will hit with anyone at any rating level in my club for at least 10 minutes, and much longer as long as they bring a co-operative attitude to the hitting session.

Here are some tips directed at both players so that this  

ALL

  1. Be as politely explicit upfront about what you want to practice.
  2. Start the drill/hitting with balls of easy quality (slow, hit to the middle of the table, same pace and spin) and build up from the.
  3. Go for consistency over power or extreme placement.  You are training, not trying to win a point.  That said, it is okay to go for deep placement consistently.  50-60% power is reasonable, and can be ramped up or down, depending on how well the opponent is controlling it - lower level players don't always react positively to depth.  Higher level players may have to stick at the 50% mark or even get to 40% sometimes in order to allow the lower level player to control the ball.  Lower level players should probably stay at the 50% mark for a different reason - their control tends to suffer when they go for higher levels of power.
  4. Keep the drill discipline for as long as you can.  If it's a forehand to forehand exercise, don't play the ball to the backhand for fun unless you have agreed to do so.  It is okay to tolerate deviation after a certain number of reps and agree on this if you want it.  On the other hand, some players want in cases of minor deviation to work back into the drill pattern - this can be an interesting test of control skills.  Others prefer to proceed to open play.  These options are fine as are others. 
  5. Be willing to take turns getting practice that benefits you.  Let one player spend time working on something, then the other player goes next etc.
  6. Note the age of your practice partner - kids (usually under 15, sometimes even under 18) aren't as disciplined or focused unless they are already at a very high level of play well beyond the scope of this article.  Therefore, you may have to make more concessions to their desire for free play in order to get a good session with them.
  7. Use multi-ball when possible.  If there aren't enough balls to do multiball, set up your partner for successful returns as much as possible within the drill discipline.

TIPS FOR LOWER RATED PLAYER

  1. In a practice rally, your job is to keep the ball on the table according to the drill rules, not to try to out hit the higher rated player.  This probably the biggest mistake lower rated players make - they try to impress the higher rated player with their power, when the higher rated player will be far more impressed by your drill control and reaction time when the drill breaks down.  Lower rated players often do things like hitting the ball into the backhand side on forehand to forehand drills, or smash winners in hitting practice.  If the higher rated player OCCASIONALLY smashes a winner by you in the drill pattern after hitting back and forth a few times, note that the higher rated player is actually helping you by testing your reaction time and trying to stop you from being too complacent.  Don't take that as an opportunity to repeatedly smash anywhere - try to anticipate that smash and respond to the ball when it comes the next time.
  2. Develop good multiball technique.  Everyone wants to work with a good feeder.
  3. Develop good technique on your defensive strokes, especially the block and the push.  Being a good blocker goes a LONG way when people are looking for practice partners - a lot of my practice with higher rated players was counterhitting/blocking on X's and H's (X=crosscourt, H= down the line) and blocking loops.  Learn to block consistently without adding topspin.  Having a good push makes you a good partner for third ball attack drills with loop vs. underspin. 
  4. Learn to serve the basic spins (top, side, back) to different points of the table in case the higher rated player wants to practice vs. a specific serve.
  5. Don't be too demanding about what you want (unless of course, you are multiball feeding) - just by getting to consistently practice controlling a higher quality ball, you are getting a lot out of the session.
  6. Be polite and receptive to tips.  You don't have to keep or accept them - just be sure acknowledge the tips politely, try to implement during practice and if you have a coach, run them by him/her.  If not, evaluate the source and the effectiveness of the tip using your best judgment during and after the practice session.  However, don't ruin the tone of the practice by debating the tip too violently in real time.

TIPS FOR HIGHER RATED PLAYER

  1. Evaluate and appreciate the limits of your partner.  Start at a reasonable level, but be ready to be flexible.  Usually, careful placement in the middle of the table at the start of the drill lets the lower-rated player build confidence and control before the speed/spin gets ramped up.
  2. Take responsibility for being the primary ball controller of the drill.  In other words, your consistency and placement will often drive how good the drill will be.
  3. Feel free to break down the play once after  a few consistency reps to test your power shots. Some players agree on a number of reps (5 or 6) to do this.
  4. Wear a coaching hat when you are not getting what you want.  Give a few pointers on good technique so that the drill can flow better if it is not to your satisfaction.  Look for the partner's strengths and get practice against them. Do remember that there is also value in practicing against balls that are of lower quality than your usual opponents as those balls are sometimes produced by your usual opponents and you need practice punishing them adequately.
  5. Explain hitting etiquette to your lower rated practice partner when he is going too far astray.  Be as non-judgmental as you can about it.  
  6. Talk to your partner as you ramp up the difficulty of your practice strokes so they don't get frustrated when their consistency goes down.


CLOSING POINTS

This post is far from exhaustive and is meant to be the basis for a discussion that I have always wanted to have a baseline for.  I would like to thank Herbert Hodges as he was the player who talked me through how this worked when I was just starting out in tournament table tennis.  I made the mistake of assuming that because he told me this that everyone knew it and agreed with it, but my experience has not confirmed this assumption.  So I hope following these tips/rules make you a better practice partner at the club.


Edited by NextLevel - 04/09/2015 at 8:41am
I like putting heavy topspin on the ball...
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote CraneStyle Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04/06/2015 at 8:34am
Nice one...

For developing players I would suggest to learn to block well...

This makes you a great practise partner for better players, who will then extend their patience and tips when it's your turn to drive/ loop...
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote NoRema Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04/06/2015 at 8:48am
These are very good guidlines, I often find myself getting frustrated with a lower level player that's trying to hit it hard past me. Also when this keeps happening i tend to find myself losing a bit of self control and just hitting it back in the same manner. This causes both players to get little to no training from the drill.


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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote NextLevel Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04/06/2015 at 9:14am
NoRema, I do it as well. Sometimes, even after you explain, some players just don't have the ball control. Others may have had it in the past or on one lucky day and don't want to accept their current level of control. What I do in the right frame of mind is remind the person that the reason they can hit the ball so well is that I am putting it in their sweet spot and that they might not do as well if I started moving the all around or ramping up the spin. I am pretty good at hitting extremely wide angles so rather than use power, I slow down the smasher as best I can these days by going to the elbow and then going wide. Sometimes, I may serve extremely light topspin on the serve if the practice partner isn't slowing down just so I can get them to have to generate off the serve as opposed to smashing it.

Ultimately, its still best to have the conversation. Some of these players are used to hitting with extremely high level coaches and don't know how to moderate their control when their practice partner is not as adept at controlling their ball. I wish coaches would walk them through this in practice but it doesn't happen for various reasons. Paradoxically, that control issue has nothing to so with level. I still know some 2000+ players who will try to drill holes through you during the warm up. They just don't know how to practice swinging any other way.
I like putting heavy topspin on the ball...
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote NoRema Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04/06/2015 at 9:28am
@NL 
I like most of these tips on how to keep them going slow. My coach holds group lessons (1-4 students) as well as 1 on 1 lessons and this is wonderful. Will set up drills with other students in the group lessons so we are forced to play a controlled game in order to get more REPS in.

She will have one student on one side and three on the other side as we warm up. After about 3 to 5 balls (depending on what the drill calls for) the first student in the group of three will strafe to the side and the next will come up continuing to hit. It forces students to learn to hit more controlled because if they smash it the next student gets screwed over. Also the player on one side by themselves gets to experience controlling the ball with various different players strokes.'

group lessons did wonders for me when i started and i wish more coaches/players would partake in them.


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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote jrscatman Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04/06/2015 at 4:34pm
Very good suggestions. 
Yes, the number one problem with lower level players is the idea of hitting winners. If players starts doing this - I would ask them "do you want to play a match?" - this way I don't have to worry about placing the ball in the right spot for them to hit winners. I just practice trying to win the points using my weak strokes against their strong strokes.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote pdotec Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04/08/2015 at 12:06pm
Great Post.  Agree 100%.  Communication is important.
Like to add - even for equal rated players, try not to kill the first ball (serve) because it kills
rallies before they even start.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote bes Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04/08/2015 at 12:36pm
Another great post!

One of my pet peeves is strangely common with players from beginners up to "good enough to know better"...  Warm-up serves!  It is remarkable how many players can't seem to start a practice rally with a "decent" serve.  It gets aggravating when you try to warm up or practice with someone where every serve is a footwork and spin reading exercise.  

I used to think many just didn't know better, but it seems that many just don't seem able (psychologically or physically???) to initiate FH-FH rallys with a topspin serve to forehand.  Instead I see serves that go to backhand, to belly, and to FAR forehand.  Then there are those who can apparently only serve with lots of weird sidespin - usually to very random locations!  (Note that AFTER I have a chance to warm up, I'm totally fine hitting with these players, but getting in any sort of groove with them is tough!)

Naturally, when trying to warm up BH-BH, they serve mostly to FH! 

I've started to discuss and practice this (simple warm-up serves) as a regular thing when running group lessons.  I want my students to be good players and good practice partners.  I always tell them that if they can block and control the ball, that they will have little trouble finding practice partners.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote fatt Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04/08/2015 at 1:03pm
I would recommend to make it a sticky right here in the coaching section; a practice partner is hard to find and hard to keep; nextlevel's guidelines are pure gold for those seeking a serious practice partner.



Edited by fatt - 04/08/2015 at 1:05pm
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Excellent post, stickied!Thumbs Up
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote atomant Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04/09/2015 at 12:53am
Another tips for higher level. Blocking for low level is a skill as the shots can be very unpredictable. The benefits are:
- Train how to control unpredictable spins/shots
- Train how to return the balls to the same area with little top spin   
- Train the look at the blade
- Train to control emotion and urge

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Clarence247 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04/09/2015 at 3:25am
The tips NextLevel points out are great and will help a great deal of players - I agree with all the tips, and many show the right attitude to be taken etc...  I'd like to add some further pointers for the more disciplined player (generally the higher player but not always) to keep the practice session as fruitful as possible. I will restrict myself to technical aspects - because I think all that has been said about the attitude to be taken is right and enough.

Warm up:

warming up well should be a 20 minute process:
1) FH to FH across at 60% aiming for consistency and placement
2) FH to FH across - 1 player spins at 75-80% the other blocks, the aim is to manage as many spins as possible, practising recovery - therefore if someone is trying to hit winners or is hitting flat power shots, remind them that this is an exercise based on spin technique and recovery. Towards the end 3-4 rallies can be tried at higher power once the feel has been established.
3) switch spinner and blocker

Tips for blocker: blocks have to be passive block (no punch blocks) blocks are not intended to put difficulty to the opponent

Total 10-15 mins:

Repeat the same for the BH:
1) BH - BH
2) drive vs block, moving towards spin vs block when active side gets the feeling of the ball
3) switch

Focus always on placement, consistency, bigger numbers (for recovery and footwork practice)

Total 10-15 mins.

Bes mentioned "warm up serves" - warm up serves should not exist - it's not a serve - its just getting the ball across to you to spin. If you partner does not do this well (some people add underspin or side without knowing) - simply catch the ball with your hand and start it your self... you tap it over, he drives slowly back and the drill starts...

After the good warm up, take out a timer - set to 15 mins... decide upon your drill and explain it, explain it's goals and explain what the receiver or passive side or defender has to do.... 

As NextLevel wrote... the higher level player has to evaluate what the lower level player can do well and ensure he practices something which the lower level player can cope with... for example from my experience, even low level players  can cope with underspin serves if you show them how and you repeat the same serve each time... this means you can tell them to return for example always to your BH and use it as 3rd ball practice... you'd also have to explain that after the 3rd ball it's an open point and now it's OK to try and win the point! Exercises like this are useful when the partner is too low level to block or counter driver consistently, or has  really unorthodox technique that will not benefit consistency drills.

When it's the lower rated player's turn for his 15 minutes, see if he has ideas of what he wants to practice... if not recommend some, or have him do the same drill you were doing if it's adequate.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote BRS Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04/09/2015 at 7:49am
This is a great post.  The dismissive attitude toward much-lower-rated players exists at all levels.  It's not just 2000s.  As soon as someone feels like they know how to play, maybe 1300 - 1400, most guys don't want to hit with 1100s, or 800s.   Everyone says some variation of 'I play better against better players.' like 1100s have TT cooties and they'll catch it.  

I think that really hurts the growth of TT here, because how do people get started and how do they improve, if they can't/won't invest a lot in a coach right away?  

So here is my one tip.  When you are bummed to only have a lower-rated player to practice with, remember that somewhere a guy is practicing alone with a robot because there is no one to hit with.


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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote beeray1 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04/09/2015 at 8:10am
Hey NextLevel, you ever think of starting a TT blog? You've got a lot of great topics. 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote NextLevel Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04/09/2015 at 9:36am
Originally posted by beeray1 beeray1 wrote:

Hey NextLevel, you ever think of starting a TT blog? You've got a lot of great topics. 
Thanks for the compliments.

Yes, I did when one notorious poster was driving me up the wall - some people don't realize that trolls drive away posters who aren't willing to handle the abuse.  

I do prefer the forum interaction and I have lot of good friends here and even if I ever started a blog, I would at least like to show that mytt is not an EJ haven because of some conspiracy theory.  Forums are notorious as EJ havens and I don't think it has anything to do with forums as such, but more that equipment is actually the only thing in real TT that is easy to discuss on forums, even if sometimes wrongly and (IMO) mostly correctly.
I like putting heavy topspin on the ball...
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote fatt Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04/09/2015 at 9:38am
When blocking show that you care: bounce on your feet take it super seriously even if you're the higher rated player.
Sharing time between exercises: If the vast majority of points in real matches do not go past the 5th ball then serves and serve returns represent 30% or more of our strokes. Ask yourself if you want to replicate that in case you did not decide to work on something specific; better, all drill points should start with a formal serve not too hard to return and followed by a controlled return that will build or maintain solid foundations and automatisms for serve and serve return. As players know each other better they'll increase level of both without threatening quality of practice.


Edited by fatt - 04/09/2015 at 9:40am
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+1
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote NextLevel Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04/09/2015 at 10:28am
Originally posted by BRS BRS wrote:

This is a great post.  The dismissive attitude toward much-lower-rated players exists at all levels.  It's not just 2000s.  As soon as someone feels like they know how to play, maybe 1300 - 1400, most guys don't want to hit with 1100s, or 800s.   Everyone says some variation of 'I play better against better players.' like 1100s have TT cooties and they'll catch it.  

I think that really hurts the growth of TT here, because how do people get started and how do they improve, if they can't/won't invest a lot in a coach right away?  

So here is my one tip.  When you are bummed to only have a lower-rated player to practice with, remember that somewhere a guy is practicing alone with a robot because there is no one to hit with.



To be honest, 2000+ adults are less dismissive of hitting with 1200/1300 adults who are their friends because the friendship makes the lower rated adults usually coachable and the 2000 player has the control to handle the crazy balls from the 1300 players.  When it's an unknown person, it can be uncomfortable lecturing someone you don't know.  I'm just one of those honey badgers who has no problem doing it.  Others would rather hope that the player would go away or leave the player alone.

Cue up honey badger video... (bad language warning)



The 1400 vs. 1100/800 dynamic is a bit more complicated.  What is usually happening there is that both players want to hit at full power and neither has any real control to speak of (they usually are primed for one kind of spin at one kind of speed) so the high rated player makes it a ratings issue to protect his ego.  

If both players worked on keeping the ball on the table with the right stroke (or elements of the right stroke), both would experience a jump in their level, regardless of whatever they wanted to actually practice.  Tracking a moving ball is difficult enough, especially from a player with less structured technique. Consistently doing that tracking with a good stroke (good arm/body mechanics, okay footwork) builds automatic improvement at any level.  I mean, one day, look at how much a control a coach has to have to give you a consistent ball to practice with.  If a 1400 hits with an 800 player and tries to keep the ball on the table, he has to match something like that to have a real rally.  It is not impossible  - it's just harder and more rewarding that people give it credit for - it's more dance than debate and most people want to debate rather than dance.  And it translates straightforwardly to hitting with higher rated players as well.

My second major improvement in TT came a long time ago when I was about 1200 and 2100 player told me that I was hitting the ball all over the place and I should stop going for more power than I could control (a theme that I never fully understood, though the little I understood then took me a long way, as I am now trying to sell the theme as if it is a new insight).  

Immediately, after he told me that, almost like magic, I went to hit with another guy on the next table who was about 1400 and we hit a rally for about 50 FH to FH shots because neither of us was trying to hit the ball past each other.  It was a relatively slow rally, but  I must have gained like 200 stability points in that session because I understood the ball so much better after that.  

I became comfortable working with practice partners who were lower than I was once I had seen they could be consistent because I realized that how consistent someone was often about the quality of ball I fed them - I didn't have all the insights that I did into what makes a ball quality that I do now, but I knew not to hit the ball hard unless the person was back off the table.  I saved that hard hitting for my coach or (unfortunately) for match play, but those stories are for another time.

Your parting point is really important - some people in the US don't have full time TT clubs and practice partners.  So it's really sad when you go to a full time club and some people don't want to hit with lower rated players.  But to help, both players must know their parts in feeding the problem.   Practice is a dance.  Even in some ways, a TT match is a dance as much as a debate.  My opponent needs to push my serve to give me my loop, and I need my opponent to play certain shots to give me a chance to display my full training.

If people realize this and work towards it, it makes everyone's game better.  But if you are rich or lucky enough to be able to hit hard with higher rated players in the 2300+ range all the time and keep that as your sole practice, go for it. LOL
I like putting heavy topspin on the ball...
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote NextLevel Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04/09/2015 at 10:43am
Originally posted by fatt fatt wrote:

When blocking show that you care: bounce on your feet take it super seriously even if you're the higher rated player.
Sharing time between exercises: If the vast majority of points in real matches do not go past the 5th ball then serves and serve returns represent 30% or more of our strokes. Ask yourself if you want to replicate that in case you did not decide to work on something specific; better, all drill points should start with a formal serve not too hard to return and followed by a controlled return that will build or maintain solid foundations and automatisms for serve and serve return. As players know each other better they'll increase level of both without threatening quality of practice.

In principle, I agree but with the following caveats: 

blocking technique varies from person to person as well as their focus when practicing.  At the level we play, we should be careful not to confuse personality/technical differences with best practice.  I don't bounce when I block and I know at least one 2100 level player who when he plays looks like he is on vacation 90% of the time.

The second part is really about the dance of TT that I discussed in my response to BRS.  TT Consistency Practice should be viewed as a dance and less of a battle.  Even the competitive drills should be dance as much as debate.  The dance is in the rules, the debate is in the shots.  The pride should be in winning on consistency, not on placement, until everyone agrees that consistency when playing easy balls is no longer the issue.  MY main practice partner and I have reached this point - he blocks my forehand too well now for me to continue to just feed him consistent shots.  After about 5 reps, it becomes a war of attrition forehand to forehand, though he mostly has to block but can use other weapons if necessary.
I like putting heavy topspin on the ball...
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote baribari Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04/12/2015 at 11:54pm
This seems overly complicated... The best thing for both players to do is to stuff their pockets with balls and always have balls ready to feed in their free hand. That way missed shots don't slow down practice. It also helps to have a box of balls instead of having to pick them up off the ground.

Everything else is just common sense and courtesy.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote NextLevel Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04/13/2015 at 8:24am
When players don't like playing with you because of the rhythm of the practice, it has little to do with the number of balls being practiced with in my experience. Yes, more balls makes running to pick up balls less frequent.    But practice should allow you to develop your shots under controlled conditions. People who don't do this practice should not be surprised that their games cap out fairly quickly.

And yes, getting good practice without knowing some things about how to do so is complicated. If it was that easy, people wouldn't be complaining about hitting partners. Some people just practice badly because they don't know how not to. And it is very easy to say that so-and-so is too low rated to practice with when the real issue is that one or both players do not know how to practice.
I like putting heavy topspin on the ball...
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote AcudaDave Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04/13/2015 at 10:16am
Good post NextLevel about hitting with lower players.  One thing I read a long time ago is that if you're hitting with a lower player they probably won't be able to hit it in the same spot as well so use that as an opportunity to improve your footwork.
Since I started our club about 3.5 years ago many of the lower players look up to me to help them out so I'm happy to walk around spending some time with lower players as long as they are good listeners and really try to do the things I recommend to them to improve their game.
It's also a shame some of the higher players won't help out lower players by hitting with them a little. I understand if you want to improve your game and hit with better players, but if some of the higher players would just spend 10 - 15 minutes with the other players that would help.  We actually have a 2200+ player come to our club a few times that has really made some derogatory comments to lower players when they ask him to hit with them for a few minutes.  One guy was a 1900+ player that has an unorthodox style and when he asked the higher player to hit with him his response was "I need to practice with someone that has a proper stoke". Needless to say this didn't go over to well with the lower player so he walked away. He later apologized for his comment and tried to make it up with that guy but the damage was done and the lower player said he would just find other players to hit with.  I still laugh about his comment sometimes and thought about printing that on a T-shirt. LOL.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote baribari Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04/13/2015 at 10:26am
If you're ever playing against someone who doesn't hit where they aim, just consider it match practice.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote NextLevel Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04/13/2015 at 10:50am
Originally posted by baribari baribari wrote:

If you're ever playing against someone who doesn't hit where they aim, just consider it match practice.

Then why not just play a match, as jrscatman pointed out?

Maybe this problem doesn't exist in Japan, but it is a problem in the US.  One of the barriers to developing better players is finding ways for players who want to improve but don't want to go broke paying for coaching is to spread the right kind of culture around hitting.  Again, if you want to play a match, play a match. But if you need to warm up your strokes, you need the drill discipline.    No one expects you to be laser point precise in your control, but hitting to the backhand when the drill is forehand to forehand warm-up ignores the fact that the main reason you can tee off on the ball is that your opponent gave you a warmup ball, not a match ball. 
I like putting heavy topspin on the ball...
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote NextLevel Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04/13/2015 at 11:04am
Originally posted by AcudaDave AcudaDave wrote:

Good post NextLevel about hitting with lower players.  One thing I read a long time ago is that if you're hitting with a lower player they probably won't be able to hit it in the same spot as well so use that as an opportunity to improve your footwork.
Since I started our club about 3.5 years ago many of the lower players look up to me to help them out so I'm happy to walk around spending some time with lower players as long as they are good listeners and really try to do the things I recommend to them to improve their game.
It's also a shame some of the higher players won't help out lower players by hitting with them a little. I understand if you want to improve your game and hit with better players, but if some of the higher players would just spend 10 - 15 minutes with the other players that would help.  We actually have a 2200+ player come to our club a few times that has really made some derogatory comments to lower players when they ask him to hit with them for a few minutes.  One guy was a 1900+ player that has an unorthodox style and when he asked the higher player to hit with him his response was "I need to practice with someone that has a proper stoke". Needless to say this didn't go over to well with the lower player so he walked away. He later apologized for his comment and tried to make it up with that guy but the damage was done and the lower player said he would just find other players to hit with.  I still laugh about his comment sometimes and thought about printing that on a T-shirt. LOL.

LOL.  People can be mean.  That said, it can be hard to warm up with unorthodox players until you have grooved your stroke - I play in a club with lots of long pips players and some sidespin loopers as well so I don't have an issue, but I can see how a topspin player at any level might.  However, even some of the pips players or sidespin loopers would find more partners to hit with if they learned to feed a regular dead or light topspin ball.  It's just a good practice requirement and I don't think it is too demanding for any style unless you use long pips on both sides.
I like putting heavy topspin on the ball...
Nexy Qabod
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote BRS Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04/13/2015 at 12:08pm
Another problem is that most clubs are multi-use rooms like in a community center or school, with TT one or two nights a week.  So people want to / have to play matches and not practice.  Often there is a rule like winner stays, but only two matches.  The only practice/hitting is pre-match warmup.  And there is often a wait list.  

So I see the higher-rated players side of it.  Do they want to use one of their two matches for that turn on the table playing someone hundreds of points lower?  And if not, then they don't hit with that person at all.   

The amount of time NL gets to spend doing drills and various forms of pure practice at Trolley Car TTC is very unusual.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote NextLevel Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04/13/2015 at 12:44pm
Originally posted by BRS BRS wrote:

Another problem is that most clubs are multi-use rooms like in a community center or school, with TT one or two nights a week.  So people want to / have to play matches and not practice.  Often there is a rule like winner stays, but only two matches.  The only practice/hitting is pre-match warmup.  And there is often a wait list.  

So I see the higher-rated players side of it.  Do they want to use one of their two matches for that turn on the table playing someone hundreds of points lower?  And if not, then they don't hit with that person at all.   

The amount of time NL gets to spend doing drills and various forms of pure practice at Trolley Car TTC is very unusual.



Yes, it is very unusual when you don't live close to a full time club/training center, but it is the norm wherever you find a full time club/training center - I mean, some people consider my club a no-go area because it has no regular 2500+ players there.

If you don't live in one of these areas with a full time club (plenty of NJ, NY city, DC/MD/VA Metro, part of TX, CA, WA and OR, good college teams or just about anywhere where a former US Pro or a high level immigrant has opened a club) then your chance of seeing high level TT is pretty near impossible.  That was BH-Man's point a while back and he is feeling the effects of this in Upstate NY.  I have thought about it and realized that if I moved 50 minutes away from where I lived right now to DE, my level would drop just as much if not more than BH-Man's did.



Edited by NextLevel - 04/13/2015 at 12:48pm
I like putting heavy topspin on the ball...
Nexy Qabod
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote takethat Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04/14/2015 at 1:23pm
Blocking against good loopers, could require fair amount of skill. Lower level players enjoy slipping one through good players. I would think it would be hard to find a medium that can fully benefit, both levels of players. That being said, old school, I remember the better players would play lower ones, games. The better player could only play, one set all backhand, next set all forehand, etc. They found it good practise, for footwork and placement. Caveat: There was no Penholders then or there.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote cole_ely Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04/14/2015 at 1:37pm
I play against lower rated players literally 90% of the time.

I really try to focus on footwork and form.  I make sure to take a step on every point and set up to smash the ball, then place it back under control.

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Please let me know if I can be of assistance.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote takethat Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04/14/2015 at 1:47pm
If you do, that is a high percentage, do you play games? If not you should try the one side next side, they actually try harder to beat you.
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