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Real Point of Changes in My Game thread

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mjamja View Drop Down
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Joined: 05/30/2009
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    Posted: 05/31/2019 at 2:55pm
As Mickd pointed out, I like to mix in some humor in my posts even when there is a serious side to the issue being discussed. In the "Changes to My Game" post there was a serious issue that I did not do a good job of bringing out so I wanted to start this thread to talk about that Issue. 

Since arriving in Salem I have been doing a lot of coaching and I have been videoing myself in matches, practice, and robot training. Most importantly I have really been studying those videos very closely. There are 2 things that really stand out. The first is fairly well known, but is still worth mentioning. I do not play the same way (even just in practice matches) as the way I drill. I start a practice match with the idea that I am going to put into action something I have been drilling. But in the games I just revert to my old playing style. It takes great focus to continually bring a new stroke or tactic into a match. It also takes a willingness to let your ego go and sometimes lose a match you might have won if you were not working on your game in that match. But to truly get better you have to get your new skills out of drills and into matches.

The second thing that jumped out at me is how much better form all my students have than I do. I would never put up with my students hitting 5 balls with the form I see myself using hitting against the robot. I certainly know not to do the things I am doing wrong. But before looking carefully at the video I just did not know I was doing all those things. And even once I saw it, it was (and still is) extemely hard to start doing things in the more standard form. I just did not feel wrong since that was the feeling I had been experiencing for so long. I actually had to feel wrong in order to hit the ball correctly.

So my serious point is that regularly taking video including some slow motion video is a necessity for improving if you are not getting regular coaching feedback on your game. And you need to really study that video closely. Compare it to video from Pingskills, of a good player at your club, or even of you slowly shadow stroking. If something is glareingly different consider if that difference is likely related to something that is going wrong in your play. For example, one of my problems is that in topspin rallies I hit a lot of random fliers (balls that shoot very long off the table) with my BH. When I watched video, I saw this weird backswing where I lowered the racket like underspin was coming and then raised it before starting forward. Most of the time I still hit the ball on the table. But it explains the fliers because sometimes I am late in raising racket back up (on faster/deeper balls) and hit way up on the ball without realizing it. So that is something I am working to change.  You do not need to perfectly match every detail of standard form. But if something really, really looks different it is most likely not good for your game.

So do not be like me and let all kinds of bad habits creep into your game.  Video yourself regularly and catch them 1 at a time so you do not have to fight 19 opponents at one time.

I would like to add that for people with physical limitations standard technique may be impossible. In those situations a really good coach can give you a modified technique that is optimized for you. Shots are still ultimately governed by the laws of physics, so there are always basic principles you need to follow. And once you are shown that technique you need to video yourself regularly to make sure you are using it and not falling back into bad habits. 

Mark - Not the greatest coach and not the greatest student (but at least consistently ok)


Edited by mjamja - 05/31/2019 at 2:58pm
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