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PostPosted: 01 May 2020, 19:15 
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Hey guys, as many of you know, I’m working on a new book (see sig) that focuses on optimizing athletic performance in table tennis through the latest sports science. One of the chapters is on motor learning and discusses ways to tweak your practice so that long-term learning occurs and performance improves.

One of the things I’ve discovered is the effectiveness of using analogies when learning.

In one study performed on novice table tennis players, researchers compared explicit instruction versus instruction by analogy. The explicit learning group was given a set of instructions that detailed exactly how to hit a forehand topspin. The analogy group was simply told to imagine a right-angled triangle and to swing his or her racquet up along its hypotenuse while hitting the ball. The authors state that the effectiveness of the analogy hinges on its ability to “integrate the complex rule structure of the to-be-learned skill in a simple biomechanical metaphor that can be reproduced by the learner” and that “Most importantly, the essential rules needed to impart topspin do not need to be explicated; they remain disguised in the right-angled triangle analogy.”

At the end of the trial, they found that novice table tennis players who learned the forehand topspin stroke by analogy performed better, had a better implicit grasp of the stroke, and their skills held up better under pressure compared to the explicit learning group.

I thought maybe we could tap into the collective hive-mind here and come up with a list of good analogies to use for various strokes / aspects of play.

We have the right-angled triangle one from the study for helping novices learn topspin.

I also liked the box analogy Matt Hetherington used in his backspin serve tutorial.

One cue I like to use with athletes who tend to bob up and down when moving laterally is “stay in the tunnel.” This does a great job in helping them implicitly understand the need to stay low.

What else can we add?

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PostPosted: 04 May 2020, 20:57 
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I tried something similar in my table tennis club and noticed that it increased the spin and speed of some of the players, but it was very temporary and very hard to adapt if you are already playing table tennis for a while.

The exercise was - While playing a forehand topspin, focus on rotating body with power mainly from the hip and assume your hand is just going for a ride, and the paddle hits the ball on its way.
It worked well for slow balls, the shot had much more spin and speed and players felt no strain on their arms on shoulders. However it felt very unusual and hard to adapt and players, subconsciously, returned to their old styles of playing

Regards,
Rahul


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PostPosted: 04 May 2020, 22:14 
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rahulsteel wrote:
I tried something similar in my table tennis club and noticed that it increased the spin and speed of some of the players, but it was very temporary and very hard to adapt if you are already playing table tennis for a while.

The exercise was - While playing a forehand topspin, focus on rotating body with power mainly from the hip and assume your hand is just going for a ride, and the paddle hits the ball on its way.
It worked well for slow balls, the shot had much more spin and speed and players felt no strain on their arms on shoulders. However it felt very unusual and hard to adapt and players, subconsciously, returned to their old styles of playing

Regards,
Rahul


That's a good one!

It'd be nice if a simple cue was enough to completely overwrite someone's habitual stroke right from the get go, but the real value comes when it's used during practice and drilling. It will take time, but it *is* possible to groove a new technique with the right type of practice!

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Get on the early bird list for my new book: Peak Performance Table Tennis.
Feel free to PM me with any health, training, or nutrition questions :)

Kit: TSP Trinity Carbon | MX-S 2.2mm | Troublemaker O.5mm


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