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PostPosted: 09 Oct 2011, 00:18 
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Hey there. I'm kind of a beginner, and when someone loop or play any offesive shot againts me, I have almost zero time to react, and almost all of the shots get through before I even think about playing a stoke. So how do I improve my reaction time (the so-called reflexes). Thanks anyways

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Last edited by li2so4 on 07 Jan 2012, 09:33, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: 09 Oct 2011, 00:35 
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Reaction time comes hand in hand with the way you observe your opponent.
After a stroke don't see only the ball, but also your opponent, his position, racket direction, etc
You can't change the stroke by looking it right ?

With this your reaction time will be much better.
The other method is by training of course :) If you are well fed with faster and faster ball, your body will adapt.

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PostPosted: 09 Oct 2011, 03:00 
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li2so4 wrote:
Hey there. I'm kind of a beginner, and when someone loop or play any offesive shot againts me, I have almost zero time to react, and almost all of the shots get through before I even think about playing a stoke. So how do I improve my reaction time (the so-called reflexes). Thanks anyways

If you play very close to the table, step back a few feet. It will give you more reaction time.

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PostPosted: 09 Oct 2011, 03:03 
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With practise and experience, you'll acquire a subconscious ability to anticipate where the ball is going, even before your opponent has struck the ball. This gives the false belief of faster reactions, but is as effective non the less.

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PostPosted: 09 Oct 2011, 08:13 
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You can do other things as well. Playing other sports that require quick reaction will help. And/ or get a reaction ball ( looks like r or t superballs glued onto each other).

The best way to increase reaction rime is by doing thongs that require a fast reaction.

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PostPosted: 09 Oct 2011, 12:19 
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Fish wrote:
With practise and experience, you'll acquire a subconscious ability to anticipate where the ball is going, even before your opponent has struck the ball. This gives the false belief of faster reactions, but is as effective non the less.


Yes, Fish is correct. The real issue is not primarily reaction times, but is anticipation - the ability to reasonably predict what is going to happen next. Also important, and perhaps more important is your stroke follow through, stroke preparation and footwork. In other words, doing what you can to make it easier to take action once you know what you need to do next.

I'll walk through a stroke and return to give you some ideas about the practical steps that you can take to improve in these areas. But keep in mind that you need to practice these things. Simply being told something and understanding it won't help much. You need to turn knowledge into near automatic (subconscious) reaction. That's what practice and training does.

First of all, the typical time between ball contacts is about .5 seconds. Watch the pros. They manage their table distance to keep the time between contacts to about .5 seconds. That's because typical human reaction time is about .25 - .3 seconds. They want consistency, so they work to get that .5 seconds so that they can make high quality shots. So the goal here is to make good use of the .5 seconds between when the ball leaves your racket and your opponent strikes the ball.

1) The first place to save time is on your follow through. On your forehand loop, do you cross the midpoint of your body. If you do, you are making it harder to react to the next ball. So try not to cross your body even on a hard shot. If you cross your body, it had better be a strong "kill" or your opponent should be well back from the table. Rotating that much has a price. Make sure its worth it if you are going to follow through BIG. I'm sure you've seen that guy who makes a great loop or smash only to have it blocked to the open court that he can't cover because he's falling away from the table with his big follow through.

2) Don't spend any time checking to see if your shot lands. Once you hit it, there's nothing you can do about it any more. So just assume it's going to hit where you aimed it. You've got other things to do in the next .5 seconds. Many players "strike a pose" as they wait and watch their ball land (or not). That's time wasted. Immediately after contact your priorities are to reset your feet and get back on balance. You can usually do this with a short hop backwards and a bend of the needs. Think "hit and hop." This is easier to do if your swing was compact and didn't cross your centerline as mentioned in item one. While you are hopping back to a neutral and balanced position, you should be bringing your racket back to its ready position. Don't "force" it back, just relax your arm (releasing any swing slowing tension while doing so) and let it drop back to a comfortable neutral position with your elbow near your side and the racket in front of you. From this position you can easily prepare for a backhand or a forehand shot. (BTW, do this when you warm up as well. Most players go directly from the end of their follow through to their backswing when warming up and drilling. I think this ingrains a bad habit of not returning to a neutral/ready position. So when practicing, try to relax to neutral after each stroke, then begin the next stroke. It will feel awkward, but doing this will reward you long term.) This is actually what you should think of as the end of your stroke. The follow-through isn't the end of the stroke. Returning to ready and balanced is the end of the stroke. If you can return to ready before your shot lands, you are in good shape to deal with your opponent's return.

3) While you were returning to ready, you should have been subtly shifting your focus from the ball and toward your opponent. Where is his body going? What is his racket doing? Is he preparing to loop, push, or block. By watching his body you should be able to pick up on all kinds of clues as to what he's planning. And guess what? You are already on balance and ready to react to whatever that is because you're already in a neutral/ready position. You might want to keep the thought in mind that your heels shouldn't ever touch the ground. You are always on your toes ready to hop into position. You are gliding around - floating on your toes. If you really need to plant strongly, don't worry. Being on your toes won't slow you down. Staying on your toes is hard work. But it pays dividends. Also not planting your heel makes it less likely that you'll put nasty torque stresses on your knees.

4) You are now in good shape to return the ball. You can probably tell almost exactly where your opponent is going to hit the ball. And guess what, you may actually have more than .5 seconds to react if you anticipate correctly and decide before your opponent hits the ball. If your opponent had to move to his right you should be adjusting to your right, not with big steps, but with a short hop or hops. If he's winding up to loop hard, you might be hopping backwards as well to give yourself more time to handle the pace. Watch the pros, they typically work themselves back from the table as the shots get stronger and faster. Note how if you watch them you can imagine them connected by rope that crosses the over the table. As one player "dances" left, his opponent also dances left. Your opponent's position dictates to a large extent where he can hit the ball. When one player can't keep up with the "dance", he usually loses the point.

5) So you were right. Your opponent loops cross-court to your forehand ... and there you are ... waiting. Wow! You have great reflexes! Nope - not really. You just didn't waste the time that you had (about .5 seconds) between when you hit the ball and when your opponent hit the ball. Of course, you won't typically be in perfect position. After all, you may want to wait until you are sure where the ball is going. your opponent might deceive you, hoping to catch you guessing and hit to the middle or your backhand. But that would be OK. You are on balance and in a good position to move to those positions if necessary. If you do move, you move your feet first and not your racket hand which you keep in front of you. Remember, FEET FIRST! But in this story your movement will be simple. You make a short hop to rotate your right foot back and your left foot forward. You keep your racket in front of you and make make micro-adjustments (tiny hops) to your position as the ball comes closer. You only backswing when you are very sure where the ball is going and then, you don't backswing too much. In fact, most of that backswing motion should come from your hip rotation and not your arm. Anyway, since you are in perfect position you proceed to make a strong counterloop or counter drive right up the line. Your superior position would allow you to go to either corner or to the middle, but I like up the line shots, so that's where you go. This is my story after all. Of course, you don't over-rotate on your follow-through and your stroke doesn't cross your centerline. In fact, before your loop hits dead-on into your opponent's backhand corner, you've already bounced back into a ready position and are preparing for your opponent's return because you wisely always assume that even your best shots will be returned and always prepare so that you are ready for it when it comes back. If it doesn't come back, big deal. Yer in it for the exercise anyway - right? And, of course, you only noticed where the ball landed through your periphery because as soon as you hit the ball, you let your attention move to your opponent's body - which was lunging sidewise to try to block your loop with his backhand. He's lunging because he overswung which left him off-balance - silly 1400 level player that he is. You are already sizing up where he might be able to block the ball from his off-balance position, knowing that if you get into position correctly that your opponent is so off-balance and out of position that you'll probably be able to hit a clean winner without even hitting the ball very hard.

So, it isn't really reaction time. If it comes down to that, you either played poorly or your opponent is much better than you. Reaction time schmeaction time. It's about stroke mechanics, footwork and practice. ;^)

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Last edited by wturber on 10 Oct 2011, 01:25, edited 5 times in total.

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PostPosted: 09 Oct 2011, 13:35 
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A lot of good advice here already, hard to add much. Reflexes can be developed and sharpened, but it takes time and practice. If you have already developed them in other things as oneguy said, you have a headstart. If you learn to build your focus in the game, it will assist you to be quicker to react. It only takes a moments lack of focus for your reflexes to be thrown way out.

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PostPosted: 09 Oct 2011, 13:38 
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wturber wrote:
Fish wrote:
With practise and experience, you'll acquire a subconscious ability to anticipate where the ball is going, even before your opponent has struck the ball. This gives the false belief of faster reactions, but is as effective non the less.


Yes, Fish is correct. The real issue is not primarily reaction times, but is anticipation - the ability to reasonably predict what is going to happen next. Also important, and perhaps more important is your stroke follow through, stroke preparation and footwork. In other words, doing what you can to make it easier to take action once you know what you need to do next.

I'll walk through a stroke and return to give you some ideas about the practical steps that you can take to improve in these areas. But keep in mind that you need to practice these things. Simply being told something and understanding it won't help much. You need to turn knowledge into near automatic (subconscious) reaction. That's what practice and training does.

First of all, the typical time between ball contacts is about .5 seconds. Watch the pros. They manage their table distance to keep the time between contacts to about .5 seconds. That's because typical human reaction time is about .25 - .3 seconds. They want consistency, so they work to get that .5 seconds so that they can make high quality shots. So the goal here is to make good use of the .5 seconds between when the ball leaves your racket and your opponent strikes the ball.

1) The first place to save time is on your follow through. On your forehand loop, do you cross the midpoint of your body. If you do, you are making it harder to react to the next ball. So try not to cross your body even on a hard shot. If you cross your body, it had better be a strong "kill" or your opponent should be well back from the table. Rotating that much has a price. Make sure its worth it if you are going to follow through BIG. I'm sure you've seen that guy make a great loop only to have it blocked to the open court that he can't cover because he's falling away from it with his big follow through.

2) Don't spend any time checking to see if your shot lands. Once you hit it, there's nothing you can do about it any more. So just assume it's going to hit where you aimed it. You've got other things to do in the next .5 seconds. Immediately after contact your priorities are to reset your feet and get back on balance. You can usually do this with a short hop backwards and a bend of the needs. Think "hit and hop." This is easier to do if your swing was compact and didn't cross your centerline as mentioned in item one. While you are hopping back to a neutral and balanced position, you should be bringing your racket back to its ready position. Don't "force" it back, just relax your arm (releasing any swing slowing tension while doing so) and let it drop back to a comfortable neutral position with your elbow near your side and the racket in front of you. From this position you can easily prepare for a backhand or a forehand shot. (BTW, do this when you warm up as well. Most players go directly from the end of their follow through to their backhand when warming up and drilling. I think this ingrains a bad habit of not returning to a neutral/ready position. So when practicing, try to relax to neutral after each stroke, then begin the next stroke. It will feel awkward, but doing this will reward you long term.) This is actually what you should think of as the end of your stroke. The follow-through isn't the end of the stroke. Returning to ready and balanced is the end of the stroke. If you can return to ready before your shot lands, you are in good shape to deal with your opponent's return.

3) While you were returning to ready, you should have been subtly shifting your focus from the ball and toward your opponent. Where is his body going? What is his racket doing? Is he preparing to loop, push, or block. By watching his body you should be able to pick up on all kinds of clues as to what he's planning. And guess what? You are already on balance and ready to react to whatever that is because you're already in a neutral/ready position. You might want to keep the thought in mind that your heels shouldn't never touch the ground. You are always on your toes ready to hop into position. You are gliding around - floating on your toes. If you really need to plant strongly, don't worry. Being on your toes won't slow you down. Staying on your toes is hard work. But it pays dividends. Also not planting your heel makes it less likely that you'll put nasty torque stresses on your knees.

4) You are now in good shape to return the ball. You can probably tell almost exactly where your opponent is going to hit the ball. And guess what, you may actually have more than .5 seconds to react if you anticipate correctly and decide before your opponent hits the ball. If your opponent had to move to his right you should be adjusting to your right, not with big steps, but with a short hop or hops. If he's winding up to loop hard, you might be hopping backwards as well to give yourself more time to handle the pace. Watch the pros, they typically work themselves back from the table as the shots get stronger and faster. Note how if you watch them you can imagine them connected by rope that crosses the over the table. As one player "dances" left, his opponent also dances left. Your opponent's position dictates to a large extent where he can hit the ball. When on player can't keep up with the "dance", he usually loses the point.

5) So you were right. Your opponent loops cross-court to your forehand ... and there you are ... waiting. Wow! You have great reflexes! Nope - not really. You just didn't waste the time that you had (about .5 seconds) between when you hit the ball and when your opponent hit the ball. Of course, you won't typically be in perfect position. After all, you may want to wait until you are sure where the ball is going. your opponent might deceive you, hoping to catch you guessing and hit to the middle or your backhand. But that would be OK. You are on balance and in a good position to move to those positions if necessary. If you do move, you move your feet first and not your racket hand which you keep in front of you. Remember, FEET FIRST! But in this story your movement will be simple. You make a short hop to rotate your right foot back and your left foot forward. You keep your racket in front of you and make make micro-adjustments (tiny hops) to your position as the ball comes closer. You only backswing when you are very sure where the ball is going and then, you don't backswing too much. In fact, most of that backswing motion should come from your hip rotation and not your arm. Anyway, since you are in perfect position you proceed to make a strong counterloop or counter drive right up the line. Your superior position would allow you to go to either corner or to the middle, but I like up the line shots, so that's where you go. This is my story after all. Of course, you don't over-rotate on your follow-through and your stroke doesn't cross your centerline. In fact, before your loop hits dead-on into your opponent's backhand corner, you've already bounced back into a ready position and are preparing for your opponent's return because you wisely always assume that even your best shots will be returned and always prepare so that you are ready for it when it comes back. If it doesn't come back, big deal. Yer in it for the exercise anyway - right? And, of course, you only noticed where the ball landed through your periphery because as soon as you hit the ball, you let your attention move to your opponent's body - which was lunging sidewise to try to block your loop with his backhand. He's lunging because he overswung which left him off-balance - silly 1400 level player that he is. You are already sizing up where he might be able to block the ball from his off-balance position, knowing that if you get into position correctly that your opponent is so off-balance and out of position that you'll probably be able to hit a clean winner without even hitting the ball very hard.

So, it isn't really reaction time. If it comes down to that, you either played poorly or your opponent is much better than you. Reaction time schmeaction time. It's about stroke mechanics, footwork and practice. ;^)


Fantastic post! :rock: :rock: :rock: I'll sticky this thread so that every will see it! Thanks wturber :up:

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PostPosted: 10 Oct 2011, 00:43 
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Thanks a lot, you have no idea how much it helped me


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PostPosted: 10 Oct 2011, 05:35 
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1500 words, all relevant - that must have taken you hours! Absolute superb post. Thank you for posting Jay.

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PostPosted: 10 Oct 2011, 06:30 
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after every shot recover quickly to the ready position for the next ball :P.. knowing how to hit a ball hard/fast/ lots of followthrough is one thing but getting back to hit the next one is more beneficial..

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PostPosted: 11 Oct 2011, 00:39 
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Superb guide by sir wturber :clap: :clap:
Don't forget to train your peripheral vision too as stated ;)

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PostPosted: 11 Oct 2011, 03:10 
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Fish wrote:
1500 words, all relevant - that must have taken you hours! Absolute superb post. Thank you for posting Jay.


Not as long as you'd think. It just happens to be the main group of things I've been focusing on improving over the summer.

I'm glad others think the post was useful. I think the basic ideas covered are as important or perhaps more important than strokes. They are certainly more important than the blade or rubber you are lusting after. :^)

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PostPosted: 11 Oct 2011, 03:47 
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wturber wrote:
Fish wrote:
1500 words, all relevant - that must have taken you hours! Absolute superb post. Thank you for posting Jay.


Not as long as you'd think. It just happens to be the main group of things I've been focusing on improving over the summer.

I'm glad others think the post was useful. I think the basic ideas covered are as important or perhaps more important than strokes. They are certainly more important than the blade or rubber you are lusting after. :^)
yes great post and many thanks

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PostPosted: 11 Oct 2011, 03:53 
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I believe Table Tennis helps your overall reflexes, try trowing a table tennis ball between two table tennis players and thier hands are like lightning lol, Yes work on those things Wthurber,Fish and others have suggested, even using a robot on a bit faster would help, but overall Table tennis will help you with your general reflexes

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