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PostPosted: 15 Feb 2017, 02:01 
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I think for many amateurs the gap between block and random practice is pretty fuzzy because only high-level players can block precisely so that regular drills are really regular. Moreover, at my level I am overwhelmingly happy if I have a chance to practice with anybody who can block at all. And during practice I think about misplaced balls as "random element" to learn from :) My blocking skills are quite abysmal as well (not asking for an advice, just appreciating the fact it takes a lot of experience to block well).


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PostPosted: 15 Feb 2017, 04:13 
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I just use the distinction to appreciate why I should stop complaining when someone isn't giving me perfect practice and why I need to accept the responsibility to adjust to the ball. It also enables me (as well as Brett's stuff on how to learn ) to see why I am not adjusting as well as I need to in a certain situation so I don't beat myself up. I used to think that my inability to loop topspin was a personal defect until I realized that I didn't do it and never really practiced it. Now it's far more natural regardless of whether I make it or miss it as I have worked out the issues with practice. The most important thing is to expose yourself to a wide range of experiences and opponents with a bias for what you play most often.

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PostPosted: 15 Feb 2017, 09:42 
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BTW, my favorite random drill is 2 serves each. Each person serves twice and you play the point out. Let's you try all kinds of things without thinking about the score.

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PostPosted: 15 Feb 2017, 14:30 
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Brett Clarke wrote:

Hey Ringer, I've been considering your post for a couple of days.

For learning adults there is a large gap between training set routines and performing in matches. I'm tempted to make up some trash here by announcing a structured pathway, but that's not really my thing. The road is dynamic, uncertain, unproven and I know that no one really has a precise answer. It's very easy to sell a training program though as that's what everyone really wants. William Henzell had absolutely no training program and he made up his exercise on the fly. In my experience, other highly ranked players generally do the same.

When I coach students privately, I think I have an instinct for what to do next to progress an individual player. It involves slowly moving towards randomness. I'm considering lots of variables such as the player's technique and consistency levels. When I introduce a new routine, I'll pull back if the player can't handle the randomness. I'm not saying my instinct is optimal but it's all I have.

I've always thought that it's a waste of time to continue doing set exercises when you can already do them well. I'm a bit alone on this one though. I liked to play a lot of training matches myself, although I was no World Champion. I've seen many top players doing a lot of set exercises even though they could play well extremely well in match situations. I've also seen players who played well in matches and looked bad in training (less common).

I clearly need more time to consider how to respond to Ringer.


Thanks for the sincere response, Brett. That's one of the reasons I like asking you these types of questions.

When you say that you "slowly" move towards randomness, can you give any specific examples? Do you have your students do any type of half-random training, for example? In case you don't know what I mean, an example of a half random drill would be a FH/BH transition drill where the feeder or controller gives either one OR two balls to the backhand, followed by one OR two balls to the forehand. Sometimes the student knows where the ball is coming, and sometimes he doesn't. If a student can perform a block FH/BH transition drill to your satisfaction, would you move on to the half-random version or skip straight to the fully random version?

From what I remember, you don't make any mention of half-random training in LTT34.


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PostPosted: 18 Feb 2017, 09:17 
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Ringer84 wrote:

Thanks for the sincere response, Brett. That's one of the reasons I like asking you these types of questions.

When you say that you "slowly" move towards randomness, can you give any specific examples? Do you have your students do any type of half-random training, for example? In case you don't know what I mean, an example of a half random drill would be a FH/BH transition drill where the feeder or controller gives either one OR two balls to the backhand, followed by one OR two balls to the forehand. Sometimes the student knows where the ball is coming, and sometimes he doesn't. If a student can perform a block FH/BH transition drill to your satisfaction, would you move on to the half-random version or skip straight to the fully random version?

From what I remember, you don't make any mention of half-random training in LTT34.


Since I have discussed some of these things with Brett, let me pretend to give an informed response.

If you remember the video where Brett is serving topspin to the guy in order to help him learn to push topspin. Brett could toss in a couple of backspin serves and see if the student still pushed them correctly and not tell the student at all that he tossed them in. If teaching a student to loop topspin, he could throw in a couple of backspin balls to see if the student adjusted without issue by reading his stroke. If doing one forehand, one backhand, he might go to the forehand twice and pretend it was a mistake to see if the student was moving early or was actually waiting until he was sure where Brett was putting the ball before moving. That kind of randomness is subtle but probably even more important than explicit randomness. How well do you adjust when your expectations are violated?

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PostPosted: 18 Feb 2017, 16:39 
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NextLevel wrote:
Ringer84 wrote:

Thanks for the sincere response, Brett. That's one of the reasons I like asking you these types of questions.

When you say that you "slowly" move towards randomness, can you give any specific examples? Do you have your students do any type of half-random training, for example? In case you don't know what I mean, an example of a half random drill would be a FH/BH transition drill where the feeder or controller gives either one OR two balls to the backhand, followed by one OR two balls to the forehand. Sometimes the student knows where the ball is coming, and sometimes he doesn't. If a student can perform a block FH/BH transition drill to your satisfaction, would you move on to the half-random version or skip straight to the fully random version?

From what I remember, you don't make any mention of half-random training in LTT34.


Since I have discussed some of these things with Brett, let me pretend to give an informed response.

If you remember the video where Brett is serving topspin to the guy in order to help him learn to push topspin. Brett could toss in a couple of backspin serves and see if the student still pushed them correctly and not tell the student at all that he tossed them in. If teaching a student to loop topspin, he could throw in a couple of backspin balls to see if the student adjusted without issue by reading his stroke. If doing one forehand, one backhand, he might go to the forehand twice and pretend it was a mistake to see if the student was moving early or was actually waiting until he was sure where Brett was putting the ball before moving. That kind of randomness is subtle but probably even more important than explicit randomness. How well do you adjust when your expectations are violated?


NL's response is good. There's more that I want to say and it's going to take me some time to write. I'll answer Sunday US time.

On Sunday nights US time, I'm considering having a chat to BRS on Google Hangouts On Air. NL will be invited and so will freeagent. If others think this is a good idea, I might broadcast it live on Youtube and/or invite others into the live meeting. I don't have a set structure in mind and it may just be us talking about irrelevant stuff. Thoughts?

For those in Melbourne, I'm running a backhand loop session at Croydon tomorrow. Here's a link to the ad https://www.facebook.com/CroydonDistric ... =3&theater

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PostPosted: 22 Feb 2017, 00:54 
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Brett Clarke wrote:

On Sunday nights US time, I'm considering having a chat to BRS on Google Hangouts On Air. NL will be invited and so will freeagent. If others think this is a good idea, I might broadcast it live on Youtube and/or invite others into the live meeting. I don't have a set structure in mind and it may just be us talking about irrelevant stuff. Thoughts?


Did this ever go down? If so, I'm just curious to know some of the topics of discussion or if there's a way to view it online.


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PostPosted: 22 Feb 2017, 02:46 
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It did.

We talked about getting more explosion in loops on both sides. Also in serve video having a frame where the hand/paddle are at 90° to the forearm. (You posted about the best pendulum practice video I've ever seen maybe two years ago, so that would be old hat to you.)

There was also a long discussion about my tournament experience the last two weeks. They badgered me about training with weaker players so i can hit backhands with no tension because there is no pressure to win. I failed (for the 1000th time) to see how that's going to help me at 9-9 in a tournament when I get super tense and my whole arm literally locks up like the Tinman in Wizard of Oz.

Brett gave some physio advice, and showed a CNT practice video. It was good. I hope he has time to make it a regular thing.


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PostPosted: 22 Feb 2017, 05:03 
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BRS wrote:
It did.

We talked about getting more explosion in loops on both sides. Also in serve video having a frame where the hand/paddle are at 90° to the forearm. (You posted about the best pendulum practice video I've ever seen maybe two years ago, so that would be old hat to you.)

There was also a long discussion about my tournament experience the last two weeks. They badgered me about training with weaker players so i can hit backhands with no tension because there is no pressure to win. I failed (for the 1000th time) to see how that's going to help me at 9-9 in a tournament when I get super tense and my whole arm literally locks up like the Tinman in Wizard of Oz.

Brett gave some physio advice, and showed a CNT practice video. It was good. I hope he has time to make it a regular thing.


That's a subtle misunderstanding. There is pressure to win, but things should be taking place at a speed that allows your brain to process what is going on and practice and you can correct yourself in the same match/game as most lower rated players will repeat what previously worked to make you miss. The point is to give your self a chance to get really good at taking care of the easy stuff and to learn to process things at your own pace. So when a better player is giving you the same quality of ball, you don't waste time as you know what to do with it.

When I used to have the energy and health to play a lot, I had a lot of customers. A customer is someone at least 300 pts lower rated than you, probably closer to 500 or more, who you like to play and who likes to play you and who expects to play you just as you expect to play him when you both show up at the club. I would serve and third ball them as much as possible, or try to loop balls I wouldn't usually loop. I would try to play them first to win 30 games and try to beat them 30-0 if they were my favorite customers and under 1400 USATT. For them, winning one or two games made their day. For me, losing a game was annoying, but the most important thing was seeing how my game evolved as I got more tired but still had to find ways to win. Because of the match length, I could play games using different strategies.

Too many players focus almost exclusively on how they play vs their peers or better players. How well you beat up on lower rated players given their inconsistent and weird spins and placements is very important as well, and doing it just by pushing easy balls and floating balls off the table isn't going to give you the confidence to attack when the game is on the line. Beating up on worse players is a very important part of developing match technique.

Watch the video below and carefully related it to table tennis line by line. Literally, line by line:

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PostPosted: 22 Feb 2017, 06:49 
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NextLevel wrote:
I would try to play them first to win 30 games and try to beat them 30-0 if they were my favorite customers and under 1400 USATT.


Rejecting this advice is basically why I shut down my blog, but I'll try one more time to explain why I'm just not buying it.

My home club is 4 tables for 20+ people three hours two nights a week. Nobody's playing 30 sets.

I'm the highest-rated player in the club by 20 - 1200 points. So I already beat the hell out of weaker players. A lot. It has not cured my Tinman syndrome.

I'm rated 1825 today. I have three regular training partners who are 1735, 1804, and 1920. They like to drill and are serious about it and have some ability to block and feed multiball, serve, useful things like that. To make time for 30 sets with a 1400 I would have to give up a day of training with one of them. There are no more days in the week. I don't think that would be a net positive for me.

It's very rare for me to play anyone much stronger. Maybe 2% of my matches are with players >2000, and 40% are with players <1500 (some by a lot). Most of the remainder are with four club regulars 20 - 120 points below me.

That's the context of me saying it would be nice to once in a while play guys who would punish me for making garbage shots. And no matter how many times you say it, I don't believe that playing a 1400 10 times is better than playing a 1950 once. Because I've already done that, and it isn't.


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PostPosted: 22 Feb 2017, 07:21 
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Ringer84 wrote:
Brett Clarke wrote:

Hey Ringer, I've been considering your post for a couple of days.

For learning adults there is a large gap between training set routines and performing in matches. I'm tempted to make up some trash here by announcing a structured pathway, but that's not really my thing. The road is dynamic, uncertain, unproven and I know that no one really has a precise answer. It's very easy to sell a training program though as that's what everyone really wants. William Henzell had absolutely no training program and he made up his exercise on the fly. In my experience, other highly ranked players generally do the same.

When I coach students privately, I think I have an instinct for what to do next to progress an individual player. It involves slowly moving towards randomness. I'm considering lots of variables such as the player's technique and consistency levels. When I introduce a new routine, I'll pull back if the player can't handle the randomness. I'm not saying my instinct is optimal but it's all I have.

I've always thought that it's a waste of time to continue doing set exercises when you can already do them well. I'm a bit alone on this one though. I liked to play a lot of training matches myself, although I was no World Champion. I've seen many top players doing a lot of set exercises even though they could play well extremely well in match situations. I've also seen players who played well in matches and looked bad in training (less common).

I clearly need more time to consider how to respond to Ringer.


Thanks for the sincere response, Brett. That's one of the reasons I like asking you these types of questions.

When you say that you "slowly" move towards randomness, can you give any specific examples? Do you have your students do any type of half-random training, for example? In case you don't know what I mean, an example of a half random drill would be a FH/BH transition drill where the feeder or controller gives either one OR two balls to the backhand, followed by one OR two balls to the forehand. Sometimes the student knows where the ball is coming, and sometimes he doesn't. If a student can perform a block FH/BH transition drill to your satisfaction, would you move on to the half-random version or skip straight to the fully random version?

From what I remember, you don't make any mention of half-random training in LTT34.



Here's my 9 point, step-by-step strategy for transitioning good technique to match play:

1. I push long (multiball) to the forehand until the player can loop the ball consistently over the net
2. I then hit (multiball) to the forehand until the player stops looping off the end of the table
3. I feed a mix of pushes and hits (mulitball) to forehand until the player can auto loop both on the table.
4. I push long (multiball feed) to forehand, player loops, I actually block to forehand, player loops again.
5. I push short (multiball feed), player returns short, I push long to forehand, player loops, I block to forehand and then player loops again (all forehand)
6. Repeat steps 1-5 for backhand
7. I push short and then randomize steps 5-6. Eg, I push short (multiball), player returns short, I push long to either the backhand or forehand, player loops, I block, player loops against block
8. Add short serves to step 7
7. Exercises such as LTT34
8. I serve short and long and the player returns a bunch.
9. Play lots of match.

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PostPosted: 22 Feb 2017, 07:33 
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BRS wrote:
NextLevel wrote:
I would try to play them first to win 30 games and try to beat them 30-0 if they were my favorite customers and under 1400 USATT.


That's the context of me saying it would be nice to once in a while play guys who would punish me for making garbage shots. And no matter how many times you say it, I don't believe that playing a 1400 10 times is better than playing a 1950 once. Because I've already done that, and it isn't.


Playing lots of matches against a variety of standards is obviously best. I think that beating up on bluebelts is a good thing providing it's not 100% of your training. When you are consistently playing bluebelts, it's good for your power. They give you a bunch of easy balls and let you develop your big shots. Playing against blackbelts is good for speed, anticipation and spin reading. You need both.

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PostPosted: 22 Feb 2017, 07:41 
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Ringer84 wrote:
Brett Clarke wrote:

On Sunday nights US time, I'm considering having a chat to BRS on Google Hangouts On Air. NL will be invited and so will freeagent. If others think this is a good idea, I might broadcast it live on Youtube and/or invite others into the live meeting. I don't have a set structure in mind and it may just be us talking about irrelevant stuff. Thoughts?


Did this ever go down? If so, I'm just curious to know some of the topics of discussion or if there's a way to view it online.


I didn't record the chat as it was too experimental. I just wanted to see the quality of the session and get a feel for whether or not this format has potential.

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PostPosted: 22 Feb 2017, 08:33 
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Brett Clarke wrote:
Ringer84 wrote:
Brett Clarke wrote:

On Sunday nights US time, I'm considering having a chat to BRS on Google Hangouts On Air. NL will be invited and so will freeagent. If others think this is a good idea, I might broadcast it live on Youtube and/or invite others into the live meeting. I don't have a set structure in mind and it may just be us talking about irrelevant stuff. Thoughts?


Did this ever go down? If so, I'm just curious to know some of the topics of discussion or if there's a way to view it online.


I didn't record the chat as it was too experimental. I just wanted to see the quality of the session and get a feel for whether or not this format has potential.


If it's possible to put up video as part of the chat and it would get recorded it could be really interesting, imo. Like the homework you assigned freeagent, to see video of his work on it during the next one would be cool.


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PostPosted: 22 Feb 2017, 15:43 
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BRS wrote:
NextLevel wrote:
I would try to play them first to win 30 games and try to beat them 30-0 if they were my favorite customers and under 1400 USATT.


Rejecting this advice is basically why I shut down my blog, but I'll try one more time to explain why I'm just not buying it.

My home club is 4 tables for 20+ people three hours two nights a week. Nobody's playing 30 sets.

I'm the highest-rated player in the club by 20 - 1200 points. So I already beat the hell out of weaker players. A lot. It has not cured my Tinman syndrome.

I'm rated 1825 today. I have three regular training partners who are 1735, 1804, and 1920. They like to drill and are serious about it and have some ability to block and feed multiball, serve, useful things like that. To make time for 30 sets with a 1400 I would have to give up a day of training with one of them. There are no more days in the week. I don't think that would be a net positive for me.

It's very rare for me to play anyone much stronger. Maybe 2% of my matches are with players >2000, and 40% are with players <1500 (some by a lot). Most of the remainder are with four club regulars 20 - 120 points below me.

That's the context of me saying it would be nice to once in a while play guys who would punish me for making garbage shots. And no matter how many times you say it, I don't believe that playing a 1400 10 times is better than playing a 1950 once. Because I've already done that, and it isn't.


This is fair. It is a different level of attention and ball quality playing people who are willing to attack consistently against you when you put the ball in the wrong spot. But there are other related issues not worth discussing here.

IF the blue belts are not punishing you for making garbage shots, I guess it is really the style of play in Florida. The blue belts I play know that if they don't do something to the ball, they won't see it, so they keep me relatively honest. You played a penholder in my club - he is about 300 USATT pts lower than you and about 20+ years older (he is 600+ pts lower than me). He was one of my blue belts for a very long time, more so because he had good sidespin serves (Even if long) and a heavy push. For you, he probably didn't feel like a blue belt, and it took me some time to turn him into one. But he has played me enough that he knows what to do to my balls now and some ways to serve to me to win points. It doesn't translate as well to other players, which is how you know it isn't purely a level change, even if I do think he is playing better. He takes lessons from me from time-to-time now, so it's not quite the same anymore.

I wouldn't pick a player who has absolutely nothing that I hate playing against. The point is to play someone who really wants to beat you and is willing to try hard to take a game off you. That is what makes it fun. The ones that scream when they win points or celebrate when you miss are the best ones to play. They inspire you to want to keep them winless for the rest of their TT careers.

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