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Practice Tecnique vs Match Technique

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    Posted: 03/20/2019 at 2:07pm
I have made some significant changes to my technique recently.  It took a while but in practice I am regularly feeling myself hitting the ball the way I want to and seeing real improvement in consistancy and ball quality.

However, as soon as I play a match almost every shot feels wrong.  I know it takes time to get practice stuff into your match play.  But at my age and the rate I seem to be incorporating new technique in matches I will only get to use it on that "Big Ping Pong Table in the Sky".

So what are some things to try to help get the new technique into my match play more quickly?

Mark - So many bad techniques so little time to fix them.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote GMan4911 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 03/20/2019 at 2:36pm
I think it's easier to work in a new technique when playing against lower rated players because higher rated players put too much pressure on you.  Against higher rated players, it would help to not care about winning and focus more on improving your technique while under pressure.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Tinykin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 03/20/2019 at 2:51pm
Originally posted by mjamja mjamja wrote:

I have made some significant changes to my technique recently.  It took a while but in practice I am regularly feeling myself hitting the ball the way I want to and seeing real improvement in consistancy and ball quality.

However, as soon as I play a match almost every shot feels wrong.  I know it takes time to get practice stuff into your match play.  But at my age and the rate I seem to be incorporating new technique in matches I will only get to use it on that "Big Ping Pong Table in the Sky".

So what are some things to try to help get the new technique into my match play more quickly?

Mark - So many bad techniques so little time to fix them.


Sometimes it's physical, mostly footwork. The tension of a match situation stiffens the body and the feet refuses to move as desired. Solution; relax in whatever manner.
Other times, it's simply the brain has not yet installed the technique update into the subconscious. Eg, that wonderful over the table bh shot that you've been practising, cannot be executed because you keep dropping off the table. Solution; treat the match as a practice session and relax.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote tommyzai Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 03/20/2019 at 2:52pm
One thing I realized a long time ago . . . 
Rallying, not training, helps with exercise, hand-eye coordination, muscle-memory, and familiarizing yourself with new gear, but it doesn't help much beyond that in terms of getting match ready.
Training and drills in simulated situations is more helpful for winning points. 
I used to think it was useless to play/practice with lower level players, but after talking about this with a senior champ I came to realize this is not true . . . every player has some skills and strengths, and the higher level player can grow by taking advantage of those, i.e., instead of avoiding a lower level player's strong backhand . . . intentionally exploit it! Do the opposite to what you'd normally do (avoiding strengths). 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote vanjr Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 03/20/2019 at 4:39pm
In club (not League or tournament) play I would focus on what you are learning against all players. Even (especially!) better players. Lose now, win later.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote mjamja Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 03/20/2019 at 5:59pm
Originally posted by vanjr vanjr wrote:

Lose now, win later.

You only say that because we play the next 2 weeks and then not for 8 months.

Mark
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote maurice101 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 03/20/2019 at 6:37pm
Mjamja, I wish I had an answer to your question as I suffer the same issue. This week i was practicing opening up against backspin in multi ball and I could hit balls with good power and good spin. In a game it all disappears.
I think one issue is bad anticipation skills. I do not seem to have time to get into a good footwork and body position for the forehand against backspin. The mind comes into it too by rushing and just repeating my bad habit shot.
My plan is to shadow swing the correct stroke each day. Include moving to the side footwork in the shadow swings.
Then play against the ttedge apt using shadow swings to add a random element.
Then robot, then robot random. Then multi ball  then multi ball with a random element. Then I serve and my training partner pushes and I open up.
Then just going for it in a game situation with the attitude of going for it and I do not care if I lose. I expect my rating will go down in this process for a while.
In 6 months I hope to win against the pushing style players that have a great push.
If anyone else has good tips on this topic I would love to hear from you.


Edited by maurice101 - 03/20/2019 at 6:38pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote pingpungpeng Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 03/20/2019 at 7:05pm
I think your approach is wrong.
you see table tennis as something to be approached methodically, like going to the university or a job, and after you are good at all the possible situations you would be a great player.

you need to forget about all that.
just grab the paddle, look at it, and think "my objective is to pass every ball to the other side".
then just let go and play matches until your knees fall off.

that's all there is to table tennis.

after more than 10 years playing all I do is 10 mins free fh, 10 mins free bh, then matches.
all the rest is pointless, a waste of time.


Edited by pingpungpeng - 03/20/2019 at 7:07pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote maurice101 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 03/20/2019 at 7:40pm
pingpungpeng, I play against 2 players in my club who do as you suggest. They play 4 or 5 times a week and never do any training. They have no focus on technique. They just play and play.

One year ago we were even in the comp results. In one year I now beat them pretty easily as I believe my technique is so much better. Please note that I do not play as much as they do each week. My win percentage in the local comp is much better too compared to these players as compared to last year.

They have improved but I have improved more.

Another guy is 10 years younger and has great speed, reflexes and amazing unorthodox strokes. He never trains but just plays. For 3 years he always beat me and now it is 50 50.

When I get more of my training strokes in a game situation that could take a year or so I think my win percentage in my local comp will go up from 50% to 90%.

I feel if you have capped technique you can only improve so much just from playing. As an adult learner I have many bad habits.

Why do all the pros do so much training? Why do the Chinese do so much multi ball?



Edited by maurice101 - 03/20/2019 at 8:22pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote ericd937 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 03/20/2019 at 8:22pm
Just because you don't see people focusing on technique doesn't mean they aren't. I don't take my lessons from my coach at the normal place where I play. Most of the people in there don't even know I have a coach. If you want to improve, just keep working on it. Sometimes you hit plateaus and you just get stuck there for awhile. I was stuck somewhere around 1900 to 1950 for the longest time, maybe 2 years or so. A few months ago, I finally got off that plateau. I'm currently probably playing around 2100 or so. Just stick with it. Eventually, something will click, you'll figure something out, you'll start getting more consistent, or you'll start getting faster. Keep learning, keep practicing, and get a coach. 

For about the last 10 months, I've been playing 6 to 7 days per week. Sometimes I play twice a day. I only take lessons with my coach every couple of months. I personally don't find it more effective to take lessons consistently every week. I'll take 4 or 5 lessons in a span of a week or two, let him teach me a few things and then go practice on my own with my practice partners. A lot of people would tell you to stick with the same equipment and don't change. I went back and forth from short pimples, medium pimples, and inverted for years. I've tried lots of blades and rubbers. All that was a learning experience. Now I can play with pretty much any of those styles on either wing. Currently, I'm at the conclusion that inverted on both sides has the most advantage and the least weakness. But, because I played with all of those different styles, now I know how to play against all of those styles. 

I'll stop rambling now, just stick with it, don't be afraid to try new things or even new coaches. I've had different coaches teach me different ways of doing the same thing. Sometimes its just the method of explaining it or training it that is different and I understand it better. Don't give up, just keep learning. Eventually, you will see some improvement. There isn't any one magic thing someone is going to tell you that is going to drastically change your level. 


Edited by ericd937 - 03/20/2019 at 8:27pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Slowhand Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 03/20/2019 at 9:58pm
Visual feedback with video and choreographed points. And patience. Muscle memory is stubborn.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote pingpungpeng Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 03/20/2019 at 10:32pm
Originally posted by maurice101 maurice101 wrote:

pingpungpeng, I play against 2 players in my club who do as you suggest. They play 4 or 5 times a week and never do any training. They have no focus on technique. They just play and play.

One year ago we were even in the comp results. In one year I now beat them pretty easily as I believe my technique is so much better. Please note that I do not play as much as they do each week. My win percentage in the local comp is much better too compared to these players as compared to last year.

They have improved but I have improved more.

Another guy is 10 years younger and has great speed, reflexes and amazing unorthodox strokes. He never trains but just plays. For 3 years he always beat me and now it is 50 50.

When I get more of my training strokes in a game situation that could take a year or so I think my win percentage in my local comp will go up from 50% to 90%.

I feel if you have capped technique you can only improve so much just from playing. As an adult learner I have many bad habits.

Why do all the pros do so much training? Why do the Chinese do so much multi ball?


if your level is good, you have a good training partner .... yes, do some training.
basic training.
even pros do exercises that are pretty simple and basic.

in clubs however I see many players who can't do basic shots consistently and try to do complex exercises.
the result is they spend most of their session picking up the ball from the corner.
that's why I say do something really basic.....fh to fh from all distances, bh to bh from all distances, then matches and your time actually playing will be much more than if you are trying to do very specific and complex things.


Edited by pingpungpeng - 03/20/2019 at 10:38pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote GaryBuck Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05/25/2019 at 12:44pm
Originally posted by pingpungpeng pingpungpeng wrote:

I think your approach is wrong.
you see table tennis as something to be approached methodically, like going to the university or a job, and after you are good at all the possible situations you would be a great player.

you need to forget about all that.
just grab the paddle, look at it, and think "my objective is to pass every ball to the other side".
then just let go and play matches until your knees fall off.

Originally posted by maurice101 maurice101 wrote:

pingpungpeng, I play against 2 players in my club who do as you suggest. They play 4 or 5 times a week and never do any training. They have no focus on technique. They just play and play.

One year ago we were even in the comp results. In one year I now beat them pretty easily as I believe my technique is so much better. Please note that I do not play as much as they do each week. My win percentage in the local comp is much better too compared to these players as compared to last year.


For me, this is a very interesting disagreement, and gets to the core of how we should learn to play table tennis. Frankly, I think both pingpungpeng and maurice101 are correct, if that is possible.

In my own case, I started playing about two years ago. I have focused on development of my technique and practicing my shots. I have tended to avoid matches whenever I could. I just want to hit with whoever I can. So when I hit with players better than me, I often do very well, but then when I play matches, I do very poorly. A friend has taken just the opposite road. She started about the same time, plays matches all the time--I never see her training or doing drills. So I think I have a much wider range of shots, can hit harder and spin the ball more, but she tends to beat me when we play matches. (We are both currently round about 1000 level, I think.)

So who chose the best path? Perhaps it is too early to tell, but I know that I have much to learn about playing competitive matches--things she has already learned, presumably. Firstly, there is a huge mental side to competitive sports, something everyone has to deal with, and something I do not find comfortable; secondly, the other player is trying to mess you up in ways that do not happen in practice play, so tactics become a huge factor, and that can only develop with experience; and the flow of play is just very different. There is no doubt that I have much to learn about match play.

But what about the future? If I focus on playing matches for the next year, will I catch up with her in match play, and will my long focus on developing my shots enable me to overtake her? I do not know. All I do know is that there is huge difference between what I can do in practice and what I do in matches. That seems to be a common theme, and I do not know how to deal with this, except to just accept it, and keep practicing.

The conclusion for me, so far, is that both are necessary: drills to work on technique and lots of match play. I would lover to hear comments from more experienced players.


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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (2) Thanks(2)   Quote NextLevel Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05/25/2019 at 1:20pm
If you are lower rated,  you should be playing a lot of matches whenever you decide you want to start playing competition.  You should start playing once you have technical strokes and understand what it means FL hit the ball with your body/technique. 

The problem is that when people focus on technique, they often don't work with coaches who have experience making adults better players and when they do, they often argue too much with such coaches.  The whole point of technical practice is to learn to hit the ball with your body and to build up the muscles so they do so automatically and effortlessly at an appropriate speed. When you understand this, then multiball makes sense. Looping to block for consistency makes sense.  What doesn't make sense is trying to hit the ball so hard that you lose your form.  Yet this is what many adult learners do despite the best advice of their coaches.

If you play without ever working on technique,  unless you got lucky and learned table tennis in a perfect environment,  you will find it hard to hit balls correctly.  You may improve by hitting more balls, and reading spin and opponents better, and the question ultimately is whether your progress in that system and with your own style of play is sufficient for you.

But I think part of the reason that some people are skeptical of coaching is that lots of coaches just don't even explain to you why you are are doing that you step doing in a way that makes you want to do it.

Finally,  working hard at table tennis is not the only thing that guarantees good play. Many variables are in play.  But a good coach should help you manage your expectations around what is a reasonable outcome of your training and if you are serious and the coach is serious about helping you improve,  the coach should want to review and address the issues that are coming up in your match play with appropriate drills. Anyone not doing this isn't really coaching,  consider then more like hitting partners or rote tutorials. 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote BH-Man Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05/25/2019 at 2:30pm
Mark, I seen U play, your basic rally shot technical ability is not what is killing you, that part is a relative strength of your overall game.

Your improvement will mostly come from improvements in serves, serve receive, choice of grip pressure for the given ball, selecting the shot to construct the point for all the different shots in the rally, and seeing/knowing/being more adaptive to the opponent.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote hunkeelin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05/25/2019 at 3:36pm
Nah, just practice. Both service receive and normal drills. You will improve. For every 10x rally = 1 shot in match play. So if you want 5 continuous shot in match play, make sure you can do 50x in practice. It's that simple. 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote BRS Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05/25/2019 at 10:59pm
I think the opposite of hunkeelin.  Play more matches and less practice.  Think of the matches as practicing playing matches.  If you can do the skills in practice already, doing them more in practice isn't going to change anything.



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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote obesechopper Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05/26/2019 at 12:11am
You have to be confident in your shots and then go for them with conviction in games. I see people stuck at the same level for years... never learning a new stroke or technique, and hardly improving at all. 

They hit a base level and perhaps subcobsciously think it's good enough. 

I trained my new strokes until I felt confident with them. And now in games, I dont hesitate or pull back and do some dorky half stroke that sucks even worse... I just relax, believe I will make the shot and give it a go. I take more risks during tournament games, whereas others are afraid to lose so they never progress. My win rate has shot up dramatically since doing so, as I can now focus on match tactics against each opponent and less on the "omg can I even land this stroke!?" Doubts 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote col6628 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06/18/2019 at 3:25pm
played at 16 to a very good level then pack up, Ive been playing for 5 years , started playing at 55, been  coached by moderator apw46, Ive done drills , serves, played tournaments, league matches, and vetts ov50 and ov60 and i am very happy with my game now , I think you need both training and matches to in prove, there comes a point you need to play in tournament to get better first you lose big time then next time you take an end but when you do win your game goes though roof
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote mjamja Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Yesterday at 3:16am
Well, I have the losing big time part down to an art form.  Just waiting for the win part.

From what I have seen of and read from Apw46 I believe my game would improve vastly if I just got the chance to shake his hand.  Maybe one of these days I will get across the pond.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote col6628 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16 hours 56 minutes ago at 4:03pm
apw46, I call him mr table tennis done wonders for my game.
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