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 Post subject: Re: a BRS blog
PostPosted: 01 Apr 2016, 03:13 
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Thanks wilk. Watching the ball after hitting a nice shot is a huge problem in my game. If I would have hit this shot against most 1600-1700 players, then I would have probably won the point immediately. But against a 1970 player that trains me every week? Nope.

To be honest, playing a forehand pivot after a strong backhand opener is just something that's not built into my game yet. It should be, but it isn't. I am always using the excuse that I don't have enough room to pivot in my basement. But to be honest, I could probably pivot on most balls to the BH except the really wide ones.


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 Post subject: Re: a BRS blog
PostPosted: 01 Apr 2016, 03:36 
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Pivoting was not the key as much as being ready for a weak ball or regular return. And yes, quality of opponent relative to you always matters, and it matters more for drive than it does for spin.

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 Post subject: Re: a BRS blog
PostPosted: 01 Apr 2016, 04:23 
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Pivot or not, be ready!

I think the size of your room can hurt your pivot practice. My room has the same issue on the left side. I've angled my table a little more and more to give me more room.

On a kind of related note, in a match last night I did a pivot at the same time on the table to my left another player was scrambling to get to a forehand. We were still at least 2 arms reach away but it entirely messed up my shot. The amount of space you have does matter. I guess in my case my eyes were not all focused on the ball too.

I think it's just really important that you make sure to drill pivot when you get the chance outside of the basement.

Lots of pivot talk to day and I have one other comment about it: it's fun! It feels aggressive and powerful. Once you hit the first forehand you can pretty much lock into forehands for the remainder of the rally too.


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 Post subject: Re: a BRS blog
PostPosted: 25 Oct 2016, 12:47 
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You all know Brett coaches me long-distance. So I write him a post-tournament email after every event, usually with some links to match video. Brett asked me to post this one from yesterday. He thought it was funny, but really it's just exactly what happened.
= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =

I don't have the footage ready yet, but I wanted to send you the whinging email whlle it's all fresh.

First time on a tournament day I overslept. No oatmeal, wtf! How can I function on no oats? The other excuses would bore you if i wrote out sentences so here

Sick
Cold in the club
Not enough shirts
Shaky and can't serve
Bad practice friday night
Hate to drive myself
Forgot to charge camera batteries

That's enough I guess.

I played horrible, blew leads like 8-3 in the 5th, and 9-5, 2-0 in sets, and missed many easy winners. Also I played lots of non-tt shots, wasn't sure to attack or play safe, basically had no clue and felt like the worst player in the history of the world. Video will be bad.

But on the plus side, I had my highest yet tournament win vs a 1996, finished 4-4, and gained 5-10 points. Best of all, I played a guy I dislike in the rr, he cheats, we used to be even now he's 1530, and I won the third set at 0. So, petty vindictive person that I am, especially with a cold and shaky and playing horrible, that was good. Also, I didn't smash my bat in the last match, a 3-2 loss to a 17## guy, even though I really wanted to so badly, and it deserved a smashing. I need it for Lakeland this Saturday.

Here's a tt story for you, that maybe you haven't heard before, that I probably will not tell anyone else. I'm playing a late match, and between games I go over to my handkerchief which is drenched in snot, and find the driest patch to blow my nose in. We start the new game, my serve. I feel some snot smeared on my face from the used-up hanky, so I wipe it with my hand, hand on my shorts, and we play the first point. I win. When I get the ball back I feel a booger (perhaps bogey in Australia) on the ball. I don't want to announce it, so I clean the ball with my hand and wipe it again on my shorts, then serve. As we are playing this point my opponent lobs, and I can actually see the booger on the surface of the ball. I smashed it exactly like you taught me, for a winner, and when I looked down the booger has migrated to my rubber. So I wiped the blade on my wet shirt, then on my shorts, problem solved, 2-0 me. What does the ITTF rulebook say about that, I wonder.

I'll send links in a day or two. I really sucked, maybe you shouldn't even watch.

How is China? No trouble getting cheap chinese, I would think.

Cheers, Ben


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 Post subject: Re: a BRS blog
PostPosted: 25 Oct 2016, 12:55 
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Thanks for giving me the best laugh I have had in a year. I thank Brett for asking you to post this and thank you for complying.

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 Post subject: Re: a BRS blog
PostPosted: 05 Jan 2017, 11:30 
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I enjoyed LC and wilkinru's 2016 year in review posts so thought I would add mine.

The highlight of this year was spending time with Brett in person. More time than he expected I'm sure, and I loved it. The gains that stuck from all that work are better serves, pivoting, loop against chop, and some ability to smash lobs where I had none before. Things I lost from lack of use after he left are short pushes and flicks, and I never got my bh loop vs backspin or straight-arm hook/fade vs high balls really right even when Brett was here. Those will have to wait for a trip to Melbourne.

It was also great to have a match coach at two tournaments for the first time. Those opportunities were precious and I wish I had more of them.

The last major change Brett made was to replace my custom "log from the forest" blade with a Bty Grubba. I hated the Grubba, it felt like a frying pan and I smashed two of them at NL's club in fits of childish rage. But I'm using a Yasaka classic ALL blade now and I'm very happy with it. The $26 price tag is a plus too, since as noted above I get through a lot of blades.

Another big change that started at Brett's instigation last spring was moving away from 5-6 days a week robot practice and playing more different people at more clubs. Where I live that means driving ~250 miles a week for TT. At first that seemed crazy, but like anything else you get used to it and now it seems normal. Fewer days with the robot made it more expendable to the point that I sold it and am robotless for the first time in four years. NL and Brett stressed the importance of finding or building training partners close to home, and now I have four within 35 miles. I still don't get the volume of quality training that I would ideally like, but who does? At least I can work on stuff in a semi-organized way. When I'm alone at home I do lots more serves, and various ball drop exercises to replace the robot. I think it's better, actually, but I guess the proof will be in the results.

So my game, practice habits, and equipment all had big changes in 2016. I don't anticipate as much change for 2017. I'm set on my equipment, and I only want to change my routine to add trips to the big club 125 miles away at least twice a month. I love that place. Another goal for 2017 is to incorporate loads of TT into a planned trip up north this spring. Even driving far from here I have to play the same people over and over. So I hope to hit eight or ten different clubs up there and if the timing works out play some tournaments away too.

Skills-wise I'm working on getting all my regular serves short in competition, not only in practice, and on a reverse side-backspin serve, although I don't expect that to be tournament-ready until 2018. The other skills I want to improve this year are bh open vs push, fh flick receive, and bh punch vs high slow loops. Mentally, a challenging area for me, I want to accept the variance in my performance and be willing to use whatever shots I have working on any given day to try to scrape out a win, without getting super pissed off at myself about what's not working. That will improve my results and my enjoyment, and save $$ on blades.


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 Post subject: Re: a BRS blog
PostPosted: 05 Jan 2017, 11:50 
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Not sure how I missed the October match report above, it was hilarious. First time I've laughed that much on a forum.

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 Post subject: Re: a BRS blog
PostPosted: 15 Jun 2017, 04:27 
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I was practicing last night with my two regular partners when I had a super-obvious realization. I'm stuck in an 1800-1850 rut for a year now, and have known for a while that to break out of it I need to build consistency. I play some great points, also miss plenty of easy balls, but mostly have mediocre shots that sometimes I can get away with and sometimes not. My shot selection goes from too aggressive to too passive, with brief stops at a sensible level in the middle. This is all good enough to keep me at 1800.

The players right above me have a better understanding of their limits and capabilities, take shots that are just about good enough for the position they find themselves in, and they land more of them. So to move up to a shiny new rut between 1900 - 1950 I don't need to add any new skills. I only need to get more consistent at the strokes, serves, receives I already have. Should be easy, right?

So I have known this for a while and have been practicing a lot, but I'm still stuck. And yesterday my super-obvious realization was that consistency doesn't come from more practice, it comes from getting a million small details right on every single shot. This is basically what ringer84 told me years ago about why serve practice makes me insane. But stupidly at the time I didn't see that it applied to everything else in TT. In matches I cycle through a litany of small errors, correcting one while making the next. A typical sequence of corrections to myself in a long game, win or lose, could go something like this:

focus on the serve
recover into ready position
loop the long push to fh
relax the swing
recover after your loop
stop lollipop blocking
move between shots
spin the ball don't hit it
don't stand up
be ready for the block to come back
stay on toes
watch the serve contact
Relax!
just flat smash the high ball
swing over the ball
read the spin
stop looping into the center fh
spin the effing ball!
active receives
don't lean backward
Relax!!
stay on your toes
move don't reach
SPIN THE BALL GODDAMMIT!!!

I have some kind of correction for myself after 80-90% of points, even points I win. Realistically I'm probably making at least two or three technical errors on every shot. Trying to remember and focus on all of them is a fool's errand. I'm lucky if I can keep one thing in my head for more than a point or two.

I have no idea how to train away all these mistakes at the same time. I've done a lot of work individually, like on serve recovery and relaxed loop swings. But in practice some of those potential mistakes are always missing. So even random drills, anything other than playing free points, doesn't really test attention to and command of all of them at once. And there are a lot of false positives and negatives, where I do everything right but the shot is bad for some weird reason, or do ten things wrong but somehow the shot is perfect anyway. Even video analysis doesn't show a lot of these mistakes which are mental. It's hard to tell what I was focused on from video.

Fortunately I enjoy practicing, and have three semi-reliable training partners, so I'll just keep working. And if 1850 is my ceiling, at least it's a decent level to reach after starting from zero at age 43. What I will no longer do is think that if I had only made a few more shots at the right time, I'd be 1900 or 2000, even when I play close matches with higher-rated players. Because I'm really not that close.


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 Post subject: Re: a BRS blog
PostPosted: 15 Jun 2017, 05:02 
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It isn't hard to have technical flaws in one's game and produce quality balls. I think you are applying the attitude that players with highly structured games take and many of them start in the womb and put In 20k hrs. In the end, you have to focus on the things that win points. Clean technique doesn't win points, in fact may players that are 2300 have highly capped games relatively speaking. The million details approach is categorically wrong if the goal is winning matches.

What works is focusing on the things that win points. That is why serve improvement works, it puts you in charge of the point. But if people return your serve properly, you need a good response. And when returning serve, you need good responses.

If I had to guess, a lot of your success revolves around how well you return serves. Your rally game is fairly effective and I wouldn't argue that mine is that much better than yours. But I would be surprised if you spent hours practicing returning serves. That's the exception, not the norm.

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 Post subject: Re: a BRS blog
PostPosted: 15 Jun 2017, 05:39 
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I mentally prepare two items to the practice hall I want to work on as I'm walking towards the door.

I'm hoping at some point that I will work these errors out of my game.

I think if you focused on 'recover into ready position' and keeping low through the point while executing shots you've practiced it'd get you a long way.

These have been my focus for the last month myself! I've reduced my serving patterns and only offer small variations of two serves. This way I can really work on doing those two things above much better.

K.I.S.S. and yeah NL is right....focus on the things that will win you more points. Worrying about the lolipop block I think is pretty low on this list. Yeah it isn't great, but it means someone hit a ball you were rarely going to return - why was that?


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 Post subject: Re: a BRS blog
PostPosted: 15 Jun 2017, 07:33 
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NextLevel wrote:
What works is focusing on the things that win points. That is why serve improvement works, it puts you in charge of the point. But if people return your serve properly, you need a good response. And when returning serve, you need good responses.


This is a tautology. Hitting the ball on the table one more time than your opponent wins points. The things I listed are stuff that causes me to miss the table. Doubting that I will hit the table makes me hesitate to attack.


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 Post subject: Re: a BRS blog
PostPosted: 15 Jun 2017, 07:41 
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wilkinru wrote:
I mentally prepare two items to the practice hall I want to work on as I'm walking towards the door.

I'm hoping at some point that I will work these errors out of my game.


I have tried this too, thinking that I would finally, conclusively fix one thing, say serve recovery, and then move on to another thing, permanently and irrevocably fix that, and so on. So far it hasn't worked out that way. It's entirely possible that I am doing it wrong, or am an extremely slow learner, or both.


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 Post subject: Re: a BRS blog
PostPosted: 15 Jun 2017, 07:46 
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Step 1. Get the ball back on the table in any way possible (beginner).
Step 2. Get the ball back on the table so that it is where you want it and hit the way you want it (intermediate).
Step 3. Putting Step 2 into practice such that it plays to your strengths (advanced).

There is not a lot of difference in technique necessarily between intermediate and advanced. As NL I think said, there are 2300 (US) players with technique that is not necessarily optimal but good enough but with tactics and a strategies that have put them up there.

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 Post subject: Re: a BRS blog
PostPosted: 15 Jun 2017, 09:33 
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BRS wrote:
NextLevel wrote:
What works is focusing on the things that win points. That is why serve improvement works, it puts you in charge of the point. But if people return your serve properly, you need a good response. And when returning serve, you need good responses.


This is a tautology. Hitting the ball on the table one more time than your opponent wins points. The things I listed are stuff that causes me to miss the table. Doubting that I will hit the table makes me hesitate to attack.


That's possible. I am speaking as a higher rates player shonhas played you. Missing the table is not everything. And the idea that technical issues make you miss the table is a relative truth not an absolute one.

Your comments are not very specific so my comments may sound tautological. My point is that by developing set plays, you gain time. By expanding those plays to deal with more situations that cost you pts is how you get better. And it may not be a technically uncapped or correct fix. It just has to be good enough to win points. Like say pushing long to the wide forehand on serve return.

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 Post subject: Re: a BRS blog
PostPosted: 15 Jun 2017, 10:58 
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BRS wrote:
...

focus on the serve
recover into ready position
loop the long push to fh
relax the swing
recover after your loop
stop lollipop blocking
move between shots
spin the ball don't hit it
don't stand up
be ready for the block to come back
stay on toes
watch the serve contact
Relax!
just flat smash the high ball
swing over the ball
read the spin
stop looping into the center fh
spin the effing ball!
active receives
don't lean backward
Relax!!
stay on your toes
move don't reach
SPIN THE BALL GODDAMMIT!!!

...


It's a good list of 'swing thoughts', but here is a thing from my perspective:

* Some of these are perfectly fine to remember/recite between points during a match (e.g. watch the serve contact, focus on the serve, what do I serve, what do I expect to do on 3rd ball etc.)
* Most of others should not be in your head during the point. At least I can't have them - if I need to remember not to drop my shoulder on the backswing or something like that, I'm much more likely to miss. These things should be drilled to instinct level during practice, I think.
* Tactical combos, on the other hand - 'serve short to FH, push return long to deep BH' are more useful than purely technical 'swing thoughts'. These do not need to be on the instinctive level, since you have more time, I suspect. They also win points. IIRC both Der_Echte and NextLevel at some point tried to show me a couple of simple combos that help if not win point outright then at least take control of it. I wish I paid more attention - I think this is what separates better players from good ones, once you can put ball on the table reasonably well.

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