Throughout my foray into table tennis (2y3m now), I've struggled with other people's advice.
Everyone thinks that the best way to win at table tennis is to do what they do. I've had a huge number of people tell me to "ditch the pimples" because I'd be a "much better player without them".
I've encountered really
bad coaches. A local level 3 coach is renowned for telling people to "slap through pimples". I've seen him lose to a mid-table pimples player by trying to do exactly that.
Recently I encountered a really
good coach. He insists that I have to continue learning a backhand counter despite never using that in a game. I struggled with that advice but other than that I agree with everything he told me. However, I'm also pretty confident that if I went to him with a sub-par chopping game (i.e. my backhand chop was really bad), he would try to convert me to a normal inverted player. So if I'd gone along 18 months ago, I think I would've come away feeling really frustrated because I suspect this coach might have tried to move me away from the game I've always set out to play.
The majority of coaches only know how to play one or maybe two different styles of play. They have developed attacking players and watched them climb to meet their potential. They don't know how to do that with you, nor do they know what the potential is for your style. You can't really therefore blame them for trying to "improve you".
I would however like to pass down a few pearls of "wisdom" from my learning curve:
- My league of 5 divisions and ~220 players has no hardbat players in D1 or Premier, 5 that I can think of off the top of my head below that
- My league has 6 pimples players in D1 and Premier
- The best pimples player in my league averages 70% in the Premier division (he doesn't attack often, either)
- My belief of any non-inverted material is that in comparison to inverted rubbers they make you better early on, then it becomes significantly harder to improve
I think I accelerated up the divisions quickly because of my pimples. Now I think that if I was playing Premier and I'd been practising inverted on both sides since day 1, I'd be a better player. I'm OK with that though because it can be attributed to the fact that a) I have twice as many shots to learn, b) I have two directions of movement which I have to work on more than inverted players and c) there isn't a single coach within 100 miles who actively coaches my style of play.
Sometimes, "in real life", you have to ignore table tennis advice from other people. However, that's where forums like this come in. My blog has been running since the very early days of me starting table tennis and throughout it I've had brilliant advice from leatherback, Lorre, DA, Pipsy, carbo and a multitude of others. Experienced players who play the same style, or players like carbo who have huge experience of table tennis at a high level. You can add all of that feedback up and help it to guide your choices... but eventually it comes down to you.
Whatever you do though, carbo is spot on - pick one set of equipment and train it relentlessly. That's ESPECIALLY important when it comes to pimples because knowing your equipment inside-out is the only way to take certain advantages away from your opponents. If you want to use hardbat for example, your service return must be excellent - angles, depth and the ability to attack weak serves - else you will just lose to attackers from a certain point.
Realistically, neither you nor I, having started TT as adults, will become world class. My ambition is to play Senior British League but even then I know that I can't become a top player in that league for various reasons (started too late, not enough time to prac, not high enough quality of opponents to prac against etc). I think a good hardbat player could play in SBL and we know that a inv/LP player can play on the world stage. So don't let people put you down about your choice, just weigh up the pros and cons, pick a setup and...
... train the right things.
That's the important bit for me. Video your matches and get them on here so our good players can help to suggest drills that would benefit your game. There's no point relentlessly drilling a hardbat counterhit stroke if you intend to chop on your backhand. Do it a bit, sure, but focus your practice to the shots that you need to learn and the situations that you struggle with.
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: "Learning to play: as a modern defender": http://ooakforum.com/viewtopic.php?f=58&t=22254