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PostPosted: 27 Oct 2017, 18:19 
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I wrote up a massive post all about the camp, what we did, and my reflections. It took *for-ever*, and then I lost it. I couldn't face trying again....

*TWO MONTHS LATER*

So the summer has been very interesting. I started working with a new coach, focussing on correcting a number of flaws in technique, reading spin, being more active with LP, and generating spin with my FH. I feel like I made a fair amount of progress. I'm now fairly mindful of my technique, and I can feel when I did something wrong. I'm definitely more active with my LP, especially when returning serve, and combined with better spin reading, I'm now more able to think about where I want to place the ball, rather than just being satisfied with getting the serve back on the table.

I spent more than half of last season, and all summer, playing with inverted on my FH. This was very interesting and useful. I finally learned to brush the ball, and spin it properly, especially against push/chop. However, my FH attack is naturally a hit, especially against light spin, float, or topspin, and I don't like playing from distance, and especially don't like loop/counter-loop rallies.

So, at the start of the season, I decided to return to SP on my FH, which has been a positive move. I'm now much more aggressive and much better at opening up against push/chop, and also returning serve with my FH.

I'm playing in the top flight of both local leagues this year, where my aim is to get 1/3 and cement my place as a worthy contributor. If I can do better than that, I'll be very pleased.

Current training objectives are:

- Better footwork in all areas -- get to the ball and then play
- Better anticipation -- get to a ready position, and don't "guess" where the next shot is going
- Read serve spin and length to FH, and select and play the appropriate attacking shot
- Don't let FH technique breakdown in a match - stay compact and fast, don't overhit and overcommit.
- Faster recovery after FH hit - expect the ball to come back and be ready to hit again
- Introduce twiddle/FH chop as another way to get a push, and to handle the situation in which I'm somewhat away from the table on my FH

Mentally I'm much improved. Much less susceptible to discouragement, and no angry/sweary outbursts.

Physically I'm in good shape, although I injured my leg in the summer, the day before a tournament, and then played anyway, and while it was ok for the first 1 1/2 matches, by the third I couldn't play properly, and pulled out. A few physio sessions and some targeted gym work has fixed that. I'm working hard on strength training and cardio / high intensity workouts.

In terms of equipment, my trip to Portugal was quite challenging. The opinion of the coaches was that I should change my blade to something more modern (I was using a Primorac), change my FH rubber to something more modern (I was using Sriver), and go back to OX LP (I was using Dtecs 0.5). I took their advice. They suggested a fast balsa blade, which I tried, but found too hard to keep the ball short, and settled on a Nittaku 7 ply, two of which are glass fibre. It's fast but controlled, and has a huge sweetspot. Definitely the nicest blade I've ever used. I went back to Dtecs in OX, but wasn't quite happy with my control, so, on the basis of a recommendation from a highly rated friend, I tried Hellfire, and immediately fell in love. For me it combines all that is good about Dtecs and Dornenglanz. On the FH I briefly tried Rasant, M1, and Fastarc G1, settling on G1 (although they're all very very similar). Upon reverting to SP, I've gone with Dragonow. I could happily use any of half a dozen SP rubbers, but Dragonow was one I had in the right colour and size, and it's working well, so that'll do me until the summer, when I quite fancy trying Beautry.

On the whole I feel like I'm improving at the moment, rather than on a plateau, and I can see the next steps. In the summer I felt I'd hit a ceiling with my (then) coach, but the change to a more technical approach over the summer has unlocked that ceiling, and I'm now able to train with my old coach as well, doing game-like drills, and implementing the technical improvements. This seems to be a good combination.

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Read my blog: "LordCope's Latest Learnings Log": http://ooakforum.com/viewtopic.php?f=58&t=24452


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PostPosted: 27 Oct 2017, 23:25 
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I think you have arrived now mate.Top div is excellent.Are you aware of the Adam Gittings Vs Stephen Nelson-Smith on you tube.Im not sure if you have have this in the blog already.You play well.


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PostPosted: 28 Oct 2017, 02:43 
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peterpong wrote:
I think you have arrived now mate.Top div is excellent.Are you aware of the Adam Gittings Vs Stephen Nelson-Smith on you tube.Im not sure if you have have this in the blog already.You play well.


Hah - that was quite a long time ago. I'm a lot better than that now.

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Read my blog: "LordCope's Latest Learnings Log": http://ooakforum.com/viewtopic.php?f=58&t=24452


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PostPosted: 28 Oct 2017, 03:56 
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you may have seen this one before.


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PostPosted: 29 Oct 2017, 02:37 
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I devoted 15 mins of my training session today to a structured fitness / physical / footwork drill. I'm recording it here for my reference, and in case others want to do it too:

Find a space about the length of a full court - a squash court is a good size.

Exercise 1:

Sprint from the back to the front, and jog backwards. Repeat 10 x

Exercise 2:

Side step facing one way, the length of the court and back again. Repeat 5 x then face the other way and repeat 5 x.

Exercise 3:

Find a line on the court:

a) Jump, feet together, side to side, each side of the line, x 20
b) Jump, feet together, front to back, each side of the line (ie turn 90 degrees), x 20

Exercise 4:

a) Start at the back of the court, feet together, and spring forwards in a big jump. Repeat until you get the the far end (3 or 4 or 5 big jumps, depending on your size and power). Walk back. Repeat 5 x
b) Start at the back of the court, feet together, and make smaller, faster jumps, until you get to the end. Walk back. Repeat 5 x

Exercise 5:

Squat thrust / star jump: Start standing up, bend down, hands either side of feet, put your weight on your hands and thrust your feet back; jump your feet to your hands again, then spring up into a star jump. Repeat 20 x

Exercise 6:

Wall sit for 2 mins.

I finished off with a ten minute run, but that's optional.

_________________
"When one eye is fixed upon your destination, there is only one eye left with which to find the Way."

Read my blog: "LordCope's Latest Learnings Log": http://ooakforum.com/viewtopic.php?f=58&t=24452


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PostPosted: 19 Nov 2017, 01:26 
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BH: Hellfire OX
Time for a quick update, I think. In the league I'm now on 4/15, which is one win short of my target (which is a reliable 1/3). To be fair, in the first match of the season I was 2-1 and 10-4 up, and lost in the fifth, and then 2-2 and 5-1 up and lost in the fifth... I know you need to close these out, but I feel like I'm not far short of 33%. I've had some decent wins, and generally played ok against the stronger players.

Training is going well - on the technical side, it's mostly about movement and anticipation, fast recovery etc. The shots are pretty solid, I just need to make sure the technique doesn't break down under pressure. Probably the weakest area in my game now (at the level I'm now playing) is my serve, so I'm going to be putting a lot of time into that.

I've been encouraged by my coach to spend ten or so minutes every so often trying out different FH rubbers, just as an information gathering exercise, and to see if there's anything obviously better than my current rubber, which was literally chosen almost at random. So far I've tried Degu again (rejected) and 802-40, which I liked very much indeed, and could well be one to change to in the future. Meanwhile, I stick to the main setup, so as not to damage my consistency.

I did try out the Dtecs 0.5 again (mainly to back up something I wrote on another thread). It's a great rubber, but for me it's a bit fast at the moment. Hellfire works well, though.

Should get to play a few tournaments before the end of the year, which I'll look forward to.

Overall I feel as if I'm making steady progress, and I have pretty clear ideas of where I need to focus my attention.

_________________
"When one eye is fixed upon your destination, there is only one eye left with which to find the Way."

Read my blog: "LordCope's Latest Learnings Log": http://ooakforum.com/viewtopic.php?f=58&t=24452


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PostPosted: 29 Dec 2017, 01:37 
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BH: Hellfire OX
So for the last 4-5 weeks I've been madly busy personally and professionally, and have had literally no time to train. I've played a few matches, in which I didn't really play that well. One reason is that somehow I misplaced the bat case (I have two identical ones) containing my regular setup, so had to play with my 802-40 / Dtecs 0.5 for the last few weeks. The other is that without some training in between matches, I just don't stay sharp enough, and my timing and touch drops off quickly.

I had a chance to have a knock with my team mate one evening before Christmas, and even without the pressure of a match, my touch and timing were just terrible.

Had a chance to train for two hours yesterday, and by the end of the session I was starting to feel a bit better. Then, joy, in a tidy up, I found my regular bat case, so this morning I was able to train for an hour with that. I tell you - it was like an old friend! My consistency jumped up, on both FH and BH, and my confidence in making shots was correspondingly better.

Going to train with a friend tomorrow, then I have a tournament on Saturday (where, fingers crossed, I don't injure myself after two matches!).

_________________
"When one eye is fixed upon your destination, there is only one eye left with which to find the Way."

Read my blog: "LordCope's Latest Learnings Log": http://ooakforum.com/viewtopic.php?f=58&t=24452


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PostPosted: 31 Dec 2017, 07:33 
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BH: Hellfire OX
I played in a "ratings tournament" today - 8 matches over the day. The top couple of players were somewhat stronger than the rest of the group, owing to the nature of "losing" ratings points after a period of time. They would have been competitive two groups higher.

The last league match before Christmas I wasn't in a very good place mentally - had received some bad personal news, and was tired and hungry, and probably should have pulled out. However, I didn't put my heart into the match, and really didn't enjoy myself, and allowed a poor umpiring decision to get under my skin.

I was determined to put that behind me, so my objective for today was to focus on "game face" - not reacting too much, and maintaining a steady cadence when serving, and staying focussed.

I managed to do this to great effect in all eight matches - I was very pleased with my mental attitude all day.

In terms of results, I finished one or two places above where I was seeded, and won the games I won quite convincingly. Had a few close matches, and against the top two made them work very hard for their wins.

Overall a good day - I played well, and gave a good account of myself. The best I've played in a tournament, I think.

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"When one eye is fixed upon your destination, there is only one eye left with which to find the Way."

Read my blog: "LordCope's Latest Learnings Log": http://ooakforum.com/viewtopic.php?f=58&t=24452


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PostPosted: 04 Jan 2018, 10:02 
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Important match tonight, against one of the sides who, along with us, are fighting to avoid the relegation zone.

First match v TP. I played the best I've played against him, and it was neck and neck for much of the match, but in each game he just managed to pull away at the end. Returning serve wide into his BH was effective, but my FH attacks needed to be more cleverly placed, as he won a number of points with good blocks.

Second match vs SA. Last time we played I won 3-1, but it was very close. Today was a comfortable 3-0 to me. I mostly defended, with a bit of counter-hitting. Never really felt threatened.

Third match v KB. I went into the match with a 2-0 lead in head-to-heads, but he's had a good season so far, so I wasn't taking anything for granted. However, I won pretty easily. Just played to keep the ball in play, and varied spin and speed and placement. Mostly served short no spin to his fh, as he likes to attack serves on his BH, and is dangerous. Defended well, and won 3-0.

My first brace in the top flight, so I'm pleased!

Mentally was exactly the same as the tournament. Poker face, and no rushing. I was calm and relaxed, and able to think. Again, my focus was actually on the mental approach, trusting that the rest would sort itself out.

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"When one eye is fixed upon your destination, there is only one eye left with which to find the Way."

Read my blog: "LordCope's Latest Learnings Log": http://ooakforum.com/viewtopic.php?f=58&t=24452


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PostPosted: 04 Jan 2018, 13:42 
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Well done LC, the new calmer approach seems to be working for you. Mid last year I vowed to not take things as serious. Not sure my results improved but perhaps a little more enjoyment came out of the games. Sometimes we forget that at the end of the day, we play because its fun.

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PostPosted: 05 Jan 2018, 01:44 
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I've actually found that my enjoyment goes way up when I focus on breath, concentration, and rhythm. Not explicitly worrying about the player or the result, and instead thinking in the abstract as a puzzle to solve, and a mental challenge has really helped me.

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Read my blog: "LordCope's Latest Learnings Log": http://ooakforum.com/viewtopic.php?f=58&t=24452


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PostPosted: 05 Jan 2018, 02:57 
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Me too...this is very timely for me, and is actually a scoop on the next post for my blog.

I care less about winning and ratings these days, and care more about having fun and solving the game. It's a very meditative approach, that keeps the challenge inward vs. outward towards your opponent.

That's the reason I have changed to attacking (both double inverted and Jpen)...for simplicity and for fun. I am more calm and focused. I am far worse at the game, mostly because I have not trained as an attacker, but I think (For now) I'm happier while I'm playing it.

Jpen is as simple as it gets so far as you are always trying to setup your forehand. Footwork is a different story. But the actual strokes and spin is far simpler to understand, once you practice it.

I find that it his helping my chopping game as well with footwork and attacking, so there is a net positive on that side.

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PostPosted: 05 Jan 2018, 04:48 
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You mean I'm the only one here who still routinely loses my mind and has to take timeout during a practice match because I'm too angry to play?

Damn! I can't believe you guys would leave me out here on my own like that.


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PostPosted: 05 Jan 2018, 07:09 
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BRS wrote:
You mean I'm the only one here who still routinely loses my mind and has to take timeout during a practice match because I'm too angry to play?

Damn! I can't believe you guys would leave me out here on my own like that.


Some people play better while 'angry' (Tahl Leibovitz is one, I'm told), so may be you are one of them?

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PostPosted: 05 Jan 2018, 15:42 
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Japsican wrote:
I care less about winning and ratings these days, and care more about having fun and solving the game. It's a very meditative approach, that keeps the challenge inward vs. outward towards your opponent.


This inward/outward thing has been the key for me. It may just be a phase, but it seems to me that when I make the challenge inward, I relax more, enjoy it more, and, as a side-effect, play better.

Quote:
Jpen is as simple as it gets so far as you are always trying to setup your forehand. Footwork is a different story. But the actual strokes and spin is far simpler to understand, once you practice it.


Fun! I used to play cpen for a laugh, usually pub games etc.

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"When one eye is fixed upon your destination, there is only one eye left with which to find the Way."

Read my blog: "LordCope's Latest Learnings Log": http://ooakforum.com/viewtopic.php?f=58&t=24452


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