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PostPosted: 04 Dec 2017, 18:25 
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Don't put too much pressure on one tourney to measure a year of improvement. It's too random how you show up on the day. Could be great, or lousy, or average, it's just a snapshot. You really need four or five to see if the upward trend you are hoping for is there.

About NL's suggestion to hit different placements from the same body position -- that contradicts William's long-form footwork part 2 video. I think those were extra videos sold separately on ttedge, did either of you buy them? Anyway I'm curious what brett would say on that. I'm kind of thinking you should get into optimal position to execute your shot and let the opponent read the body language. If the placement is good, as in to the elbow or outside their effective range so they have to step out of position, then you are in control of the point


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PostPosted: 04 Dec 2017, 20:46 
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BRS wrote:
Don't put too much pressure on one tourney to measure a year of improvement. It's too random how you show up on the day. Could be great, or lousy, or average, it's just a snapshot. You really need four or five to see if the upward trend you are hoping for is there.

About NL's suggestion to hit different placements from the same body position -- that contradicts William's long-form footwork part 2 video. I think those were extra videos sold separately on ttedge, did either of you buy them? Anyway I'm curious what brett would say on that. I'm kind of thinking you should get into optimal position to execute your shot and let the opponent read the body language. If the placement is good, as in to the elbow or outside their effective range so they have to step out of position, then you are in control of the point


Some of what William discusses in that video can be achieved with more rotation of the shoulders to give you more placement options. Or taking the ball earlier or later in the stroke path. There is no real contradiction, look at the TTEdge App, you can use the footwork to optimize ease of placement or use shoulder rotation to get good placement with deception. But the key is not to be locked into playing the shot to the same spot on the table all the time. I have started placing too many balls to the forehand and some opponents notice it too easily.

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PostPosted: 05 Dec 2017, 04:06 
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BRS wrote:
Don't put too much pressure on one tourney to measure a year of improvement. It's too random how you show up on the day. Could be great, or lousy, or average, it's just a snapshot. You really need four or five to see if the upward trend you are hoping for is there.

About NL's suggestion to hit different placements from the same body position -- that contradicts William's long-form footwork part 2 video. I think those were extra videos sold separately on ttedge, did either of you buy them? Anyway I'm curious what brett would say on that. I'm kind of thinking you should get into optimal position to execute your shot and let the opponent read the body language. If the placement is good, as in to the elbow or outside their effective range so they have to step out of position, then you are in control of the point


Yeah I think the reason I wrote my comment about 1 tourney to determine my improvement is because it likely wont. Putting pressure on myself with this one is pretty silly, but I have put a lot of focus on it because it helps me get to my goals. If I do poorly then I just want to make sure that I don't get upset so much that I quit playing for a while so it is important to be realistic about expectations and discuss what needs to be worked on further. In no way do I believe this is as good as I am going to get.

I didn't buy those videos. There is so much content that I'm just cherry picking what I find most useful. I think NL is mostly discussing the idea of being able to hit different angles from similar positions and even able to change direction on people who fish/retrieve. Federer is a god at this and occasionally I've done it. My issues are against good retrievers. I am in control of the point but errors happen. It's gotten much better the last 3 months.


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PostPosted: 18 Dec 2017, 12:56 
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The tourney blog...day 1 of the us open.

Well, doing 1 tourney a year just isn't enough! Pretty rough day. I'm a little bit sick and played like it.
To start off I was expected to lose all of the matches and I did. Pretty difficult draw and I think even if I played my best I likely would have lost all except perhaps the last one.

First match I was soundly beat as the second seeded player was able to counter-top spin with ease. He would serve with a top spin ball and then crack the return. My returns were simply not good enough and he was all over every top spin. In the 3rd game I tried to play a softer return and that worked a lot better but still lost that game.
Positives: returned up to my standards and tried something else in game 3 that had some success.
Negatives: Served really poorly myself. Lots of mistakes, nerves early on.

Second match was against the top seed rated over 2000. Young man had a hell of a good game from both sides. He crushed me in game 1 but in game 2 I actually won. I'm not really sure how that happened. He was able to beat me on games 3 and 4 pretty easily and it seemed like he relaxed a bit and really hammered my serve. Winning that game 2 felt good but it also made me pretty tired. It felt like that was pretty much all I had left for the day and I wasn't even half done!
Positives: took a game off a 2k player
Negatives: not much, still serves could have been a lot better. returns again need to be better but I did not get served off the table.

Third match was against a player who did not look that great but he was a crazy good counter to me. I'll have to review the tape but he took care of me big time. I was really lost out there. His backhand was fantastic.
Positives: not much...
Negatives: I never really found a solution in that match.

Fourth match was against a youngster with really good forehand and backhand strokes. He served extremely low also. I watched him in other matches and he liked to push a lot so I thought I could use that to my advantage. I did, we went 2-2 in games and in the 5th game his coach/mom told him to serve flat and deep to my shoulder. His serve is low and pretty fast, but I was able to return it...but that was all part of their plan. He would then attack the relatively weaker return with his backhand and win the point. Good tactics and he very well might have lost without the coaching. I did adjust by moving back but the truth was my backhand just was not good enough to attack the serve.
Positives: Played solid tactics.
Negatives: Return just was not crisp enough.

I know I'm mostly writing this for myself and I will upload the videos for all to see. I'm sure there are tons of other issues going on, but this is my personal feelings on the matches.

So I don't think I was served off the table for once. I was able to see top spin and backspin but dead balls were a little tougher to pick out. So a couple of notes: all of these players punished mistakes or weaker balls. There were few mistakes on put aways. My return was punished over and over. I pretty much have improved to the point where I have found new ways to lose - not on the serve but on the 3rd ball! I can see that I need to become more aggressive on return - I think this will come but I will need to push it in training. I also need to be better at the 3rd ball attack myself. I really need to reduce the errors when an easier ball comes to me. Their 3rd ball confidence was certainly the difference.

I also need to not be sick during the one tourney of the year but that's life. I was pretty frustrated after all of that but the truth is they all were pretty solid players and even my best game was likely not enough to beat any of these players except perhaps the match that went to game 5. In the end much of my training is against players where I tend to be the aggressive player and make the winners but against this lot I was faced with players who are even better at offense and have real confidence in it.


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PostPosted: 19 Jan 2018, 03:05 
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A month ago I started a new friendship. Yesterday I learned my friend passed away of a heart attack/stroke. This was sudden and surprising. I did not sleep very well last night. I only knew this friend for a month and not really outside of table tennis yet. He was taken away from me and all of us TT players much too soon.

He was extremely friendly from day one and really enjoyed table tennis. He wanted to play all of the time! He had been sick with a cold (perhaps?) for the last couple of weeks and had mostly been working drills with me. I learned a whole bunch from him in that short amount of time.

The first night I met him we played some matches and I won, then we played again and I won a closer match (he was figuring me out). Some other guy wanted to play me and I ended up losing. This new challenger was able to attack my serves really well. Next my new friend wanted to play him and just before he started playing he told me "low and slow to the middle". I didn't think he had a chance. He proceeded to serve exactly that and won in a close 5 set match. I was amazed! His change in tactics was worth a lot of points. That sort of experience and knowledge is pretty darn impressive to see. He totally changed the dynamic of the match.

So I've been trying to think of the positives out of the entire situation and where to go next. He was becoming a big part of my training/playing time. He really wanted me to get better and I think he was a very good coach and with time, if he kept at it, he would have become a great coach. That is a shame for everyone as he could have helped dozens of people in actually improving.

With all of that said, since I will never get his training again I think it's best I write down everything I can remember that he taught me while it's still fairly fresh. If anything a little of his knowledge will be retained and maybe passed on some day through me or others.

His backhand was his best stroke.
Against backspin, bring the paddle straight down and in a relaxed motion, hit the side of the ball a little while coming up. Hitting the side a little reduces the amount of spin incoming - this could also be used against a dead ball. Moving to the ball (in or out) and hitting it off the bounce (rather than waiting a long time) helps with this technique. Against top spin use a more closed paddle and start from the backhand side a little bit. Also try to hit the outside of the ball to reduce the incoming top spin effect on your paddle.

A couple of nice things occur when you implement these slightly technique changes: You can play a bit closer to the middle of the table as a top spin ball slightly to your outside is part of the sweet spot to strike it. The outside of the ball hitting seems to really be effective over the table or in situations where it is difficult to make a large stroke and yet get a lot of meat on the ball. It also can create a backhand that spins away from your opponent's backhand or when going down the line can spin towards the shoulder (against a right hander).

For myself, he noticed that I come down with a closed paddle against backspin and lost a lot of power when doing so. "Slow down just go 60%, it's plenty of power". "You don't need to worry about moving your body down then up on the backhand yet until you gain consistency but that is the next step".

Some of the same was said on the forehand side, hitting the outside of the ball again. While personally I found it less important to be used here (the forehand stroke can be so big it doesn't tend have the same issues when trying to overcome spin) it sure can help to get more meat on the ball while moving to the forehand side and you can start to hook the ball short over the net and create nasty angles.

Working against pips is really important. He went out and got short pips, long pips and anti-spin for us to work with so I could feel all types and improve against them. He was known as a pips/anti killer, beating players one, two or even levels above him. I'm sure having practiced with and against these rubbers really helped. He did not give specifics on how to play against these players but used actions - the equipment itself to train me. The one thing he told me was: "take it easy hitting against them, they want you to get tired and work hard. Just make nice shots and take your time. They will get the ball back but if you look relaxed and put the ball in good spots then it will really worry them". I think also having a coach use the different rubbers also gives a different ball and is fairly easy for the coach to block yet providing a different feeling ball.

We had some discussion about hitting 1000 balls from your hand on to the table. Throw the ball up and make it touch both sides like a heavy top spin serve. He said the kids he trained did this and improved dramatically with this training. Sadly I don't think I'll really know what is supposed to come about from this training. I tried it some and was going to show him and get feedback.

He had another drill which is fairly simple: hit the ball in the same area 5 to 20 times in a row. Usually a corner. Once you can do 20 in a row then you will be able to do it in a match without thought. Just put a broken ball near the edge of the table and hit that spot over and over. I was starting to see how my own shot to the same spot was returned based on the angle I used. He explained that better players know where to go after they hit a ball at a certain angle.

One of the last things he showed me was serving by gripping the side of the paddle, entirely removed from the handle. He told me he was still messing around with it but he saw a 2400 player doing this with great success. Maybe he was on to something here.

I will update this post as I remember more, also with my friend's name, but I do not want to post that until others have had time to learn that he passed away.

Thanks for reading.


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PostPosted: 19 Jan 2018, 06:39 
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You can post his name, the main people I thought didn't know already do, they just held it closer to their chest than I expected because of how strong they were trying to be and how deeply it affected them.

He was a pretty good guy, I might look through my channels to see whether I have any matches of him at his best. He played a lot even when not feeling particularly well so I got more matches against him when I was getting better and he wasn't which skews the appearance of the matches. So I will only post something if I can find something that truly represents how he played.

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PostPosted: 11 Apr 2018, 02:18 
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It's been a few months and time for a good old update.

I posted a video of a match from Dec here:



My rating is 1440 or so right now. Honestly I ended up with a lot of matches I could not win in Dec. My shots were not powerful enough to be a challenge to the 1800+ crew which is what I faced many times. I was OK with my performance since I was sick for the first couple of days.

---------------------------------
I wrote much of this on another TT forum so I'll splat that here.

"What I learned the last time I went to the TT club:"
I learned that my backhand flick is coming along and confidence in my backhand is high right now.

I learned my forehand flick isn't there yet and I had this little muscle even become sore working on that shot. This is one that I can work on the robot.

My anticipation is improving, doing a backhand - forehand random drill for the third time (BRS suggestion!) but I need to continue to work at it. I'm now noticing my failure to read where the ball is coming in matches. Self awareness is higher if anything. First step to improving this problem I suppose.

I also learned everyone else in my practice group is obsessed with EJing. One guy even makes his own blades. When I started in the group I was possibly the worst player but now I am the best player (by just a little bit). Practice smarter than the other guy and use your time wisely each drill should have a purpose.

------------------------------------

I'll talk about some things that have improved for me since Dec.
1. Looping backspin 3rd ball attack. It's getting solid against the U1400 crowd on both wings. There is still tons of room for improvement there but I'm able to rip these balls from both sides if the return quality isn't high enough.
2. For once my fitness level is good enough to play a few matches and not fall apart. It sure could be a lot better but it's so much better than last year at this time. So much so that I'm able to push myself during a session and work a little harder.
3. Flicks. Both wings are much better. That isn't saying much I know but I win points here and there now off the return.
4. Forehand feels more solid. I feel like I can hit balls at 60% power and be consistent. This is a pretty good rally shot that I can rely on and be ok with the ball coming back.
5. Using a little more side spin on balls. This has been a useful tool that has allowed me to get more meat on the ball, specifically half long balls. I hit one awesome forehand yesterday that I was very proud of. Isn't it great when practice shows up in a match?
6. For the first time I've finally passed my co-worker / main nemesis. I don't lose games anymore to him anymore. He's 1550 USATT. His style can frustrate many players.

Always need some goals, this would be goals for early July:
1. Work on footwork/anticipation.
2. Improve over the table flicks.
3. Lose 7 pounds before US Nationals (Early July). I've lost a few since my last blog post and I'm going in the right direction again. On a good note I made it though the holidays and such without gaining. I'd like to have lost some but I'm pretty happy to be able to pick up where I left off.
4. Consistency. Many say I'm 1800 or so if I can bring down my errors.
5. Be comfortable with shorter strokes. People who punch block my loops are difficult for me. More compact strokes would be very useful here.


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PostPosted: 12 Apr 2018, 07:34 
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Nice update wilkinru! I'm glad you are liking the random drill.

Your progress and goals have a lot of overlap with mine. Over the table play, consistency, bringing in more sidespin, shorter strokes (or faster resets, whichever way you choose to think about it), those may be constants you keep working on through several hunded usatt points.


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