OOAK Table Tennis Forum

Beginner's corner- please comment
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Author:  Jay Random [ 16 Mar 2016, 06:58 ]
Post subject:  Beginner's corner- please comment

So decided to start my TT journey after playing TT about 25 years as a recreational player Since most my questions will not be serious enough I decided to limit myself to a single thread. I hope this may help other beginners. But I will also appreciate comments and advises from more experienced players and that's the nain purpose.

So why beginner after so many years? Because I never took any formal coaching or any real attempt to learn from proffesionals. My wife is a piano teacher and she says those who try to learn to play piano themselves can learn to "press keys" but their movements will likely be incorrect and they will have to learn again (which is harder) when they go to a teacher. Same thing here. So my first question on the forum was how to find a TT coach, and this thread gives sone good advises: viewtopic.php?f=6&t=29389 .

Why taking TT more seriously? Well the question I should have asked why the beep I have not done that much earlier! This is pretty much the only sport I enjoyed as a kid and later on. First, there was some pride that I can beat my school friends and why bother, secondly I was trashed by a 12 yo who has been going into TT and "oh I will never play like that:(". Then uni, work, kids... But I hope it is never too late:) and even though I may not get to high ranking I personally enjoy doing things properly and learn properly.

The other reason is that I was trying to set up TT at work for few years. Finally with the help of senior managers it became possible and I am running like a TT club at work. We are a big organisation and about 150 people are interested. There are only 3 tables at the moment in 3 locations, but the main one has at least few meters behind it (it is very hard to convince office people that playing TT does not mean standing at the table edge and pushing balls and you need space). The floor is still carpet and ceiling is low but overall setup is ok.

I know that pros look at office TT as something rudimental but to me it is still promoting the sport and I believe it has positive impact on work. I was asked to run a TT tournament at work with over 100 people joined... Tbc

Author:  Retriever [ 16 Mar 2016, 10:40 ]
Post subject:  Re: Beginner's corner- please comment

Hi Jay,

Welcome back. Good to hear that you are getting people to play at any level. Your questions are serious.

How are you running the work tournament? Best of 3 games to 11? Straight knock out? Little round robin groups then the winners are into knockout?

FWIW groups of 3 works: A plays B & C scores, B plays C and A scores, A plays C and B scores.

Author:  RebornTTEvnglist [ 16 Mar 2016, 15:40 ]
Post subject:  Re: Beginner's corner- please comment

Could be an interesting thread Jay. I'd like to hear how you get coached having spent so long playing without a coach and how far you progress like this. And also what bad habits you find hard to shake. Also the office competition sounds interesting. Be good to see you take up club competition somewhere and see how you feel the two competitions compare.

Author:  Jay Random [ 16 Mar 2016, 16:22 ]
Post subject:  Re: Beginner's corner- please comment

Thanks Retriever and reb!
On office tournament, I asked people to nominate beginners or intermediate groups they wish to play in. My mistake was that I did not provide any description what each group means, And we have got a bit of extreme in both groups. Next I was lucky that the numbers in both were close to 2^x*3 well I mean most people got in groups of 3 and should play 3 matches a group. Another slight mistake was to play 3 games per match, we should have went to 5. It is best of 3 to win but I collect all scores and request people to play 3 games anyway, reason being what to do if all 3 win one match and benchmarking for future ladders/tournaments.
It may sound funny that in terms of IT systems to run the tournament I use ... Just excel and few lines of handwritten Python code to seed the groups and generate match schedule. I looked at the websites but did not like and wanted full control over my data.
We are going through round 1, after which we will be left with playoffs. I made a rule that whoever completely ignores to play their match in the next round, a loser from his group will play instead.
If this proves to be successful I hope to get better TT set up in the office and see what other things we can do. I was also thinking of inviting a coach to run group sessions for whoever wants them. Maybe get in touch with other office TT enthusiasts to organise something.
One of my other experiences so far is that people are lazy like I was. I know some guys are good in TT for my level and used to play when table was in the meeting room next door. But they do not bother now that it is in much better set up but on a different floor. But I was no better when i lived next to the place where i think one of the best coaches run a club and never turned up there..

Author:  iskandar taib [ 16 Mar 2016, 17:12 ]
Post subject:  Re: Beginner's corner- please comment

Just out of curiosity - how many of the players thought that games go to 21 points? :lol: The reason I ask is the group I play with only switched to 11 points a few months ago. People at the other place I play (when they play - we haven't for some months now) still play to 21! It's probably still 21 points in many a basement all over the world. Playing to 21 does feel weird, since I'm now used to 11 points, but at first 11 points felt weird.


Author:  Jay Random [ 16 Mar 2016, 19:03 ]
Post subject:  Re: Beginner's corner- please comment

Yeah, you are right, Iskandar.
I found a very good summary of TT rules for busy people who will not read much: http://www.experttabletennis.com/table- ... egulations and wrote 3 times in different communications that games are to 11 points 2 serves each. And yet got someone reporting 1 game played to 21 points.
It is still in people minds, but I have got to the new rules.

What i find hard is to play someone you have even never met before! So trying to apply strategy dynamically is hard. Especially when one has not much experience playing competitevly and no idea about tactics at all like me. So usually trying all different things trying to work out what works best. But sometimes making wrong assumptions. For eg this guy looked quite skilled with proper serves and i decided to give no high balls and play very low but got caught few times with heavy backspin by his h2 rubber. My friend played him more open front end and the guy missed few shots so my friend did better in the end.

Author:  iskandar taib [ 17 Mar 2016, 00:54 ]
Post subject:  Re: Beginner's corner- please comment

For someone who's been playing in an informal setting, I think the main priority, before tactics, is reading and dealing with spin. If you learn two or three serves incorporating sidespin and topspin, and sidespin and backspin, you'd be able to beat most players at that level, even with shaky strokes, because most of them can't deal with those serves. (Of course, I don't think this'd work with someone who knows enough to use H2!) The next priority would be to learn proper strokes, and this is where some coaching helps, I think - if you can't get coaching, get books, watch videos, etc. And then you can start thinking about tactics - the most common one being the third ball kill.

Office (church, dorm, intramurals) tournaments are interesting - you get a lot of informal players but you'll find, among them, two or three people who've been playing at least semi-seriously. Some might even have a USATT rating, some might even be highly rated, though usually they won't enter office tournaments. Now intramurals, though - where I went to college, they divided up the whole campus into three "divisions" - frats, dorms, independents. The finals were between the champs of the three. The frat kids were almost entirely basement players, they took part because the frats made them do it (the frats earned participation points). The dorm and independent players, though, took part because they played at least semi-seriously - these groups were much smaller (maybe only 3 or 4 dorm people and 3 or 4 independents). Among the independents you had grad students, when I was there one of these was rated 1800+ and won pretty much every year. One year we even had a PhD student from China who was a second-tier national player (and a pips-out hitter) but he didn't enter the Intramurals.


Author:  Retriever [ 17 Mar 2016, 06:41 ]
Post subject:  Re: Beginner's corner- please comment

For coaching, I imagine you won't necessarily want one who will attempt to take everyone back to basics and make them into 2 winged loopers. I assume most people will just want to become better with what they can do. Some may want to go back to basics, however. You should establish with the coach your (and your fellow players') aims with the coaching. I assume that you are looking at group coaching. Table Tennis NSW may be the best place to start inquiring. It may also be difficult if you only have the one table in any place. If people are really interested you may have to organise something out of hours at a different venue with more tables. Apologies for the stream of consciousness.

Author:  Jay Random [ 17 Mar 2016, 07:16 ]
Post subject:  Re: Beginner's corner- please comment

Ok back to coaching...
After enquiring about it (for myself) at this forum and getting link to ttnsw accredited coaches and playing venues I tried contacting ttnsw regarding coaching for myself and group coaching as well. I pretty much got an expected answer for myself and contacts of 3 coaches who could do Sydney CBD for group sessions. I left group sessions consideration for now, deciding that people first try to plai in the tournament and then better realise if they want something. I also need to agree some formal things with management.

As to myself, i initially approached a coach whom I knew before as he was running one TT club where I used to play. Most people there are much much better than me and prefer just having a hit. I also used to go to another club with tournaments even closer but there i was put into the lowest grade and waiting time vs actual play time ratio was not the best. As I said before I could not play competitively well also. So I found the first mentioned club working better. So I asked the coach there and got an answer that he was busy. Then i started to come to have a hit with the guys there and asking for advice. Finally one of them said something to the coach and in the end he found a timeslot for me!

Before starting the first session he asked me about my goals. The first session was pretty much FH and BH drive. Despite me watching videos of pingskills etc and trying to do what they say my body movement was completely wrong, i.e my body did not contribute into the shot. It was almost like I was trying to mimic the movement I saw on the screen without it helping me. The arm was better but still high elbow and over-following the shot. That was multi ball training where i was put against slow no spin balls to learn how to use my body. BH was even worse, i never was able to make much of it and always chop. It appeared that my stance was wrong for a BH shot as well, so tried to learn that as well.
Ok my stop is next..,

Author:  RebornTTEvnglist [ 17 Mar 2016, 16:35 ]
Post subject:  Re: Beginner's corner- please comment

Glad to hear you got some coaching now Jay. You might improve more in one year than you have in 25 now.

If you have the time, look around youtube for videos of companies that are using tabletennis as a way to invigorate their employees. There' quite a lot doing it. There's an Aussie IT company that won Employer of the year 2015 (and more I think) that does it to start. You could use these examples to demonstrate to management that other companies are investing in their employees this way.

Author:  Jay Random [ 17 Mar 2016, 19:43 ]
Post subject:  Re: Beginner's corner- please comment

Thanks, Reb, will check those!
And Isk is quite right about how people treat those office TT tournaments. I think really strong players just look down at such events as non professional, but... That's their business!

Back to coaching. I want to avoid saying something incorrectly or providing not enough information so that people may thing Coach is not doing right. But everyone's different especially when they had some experience. So after the first session I did not feel like it was hard because I was not doing much footwork and 1 hour passed very quickly. The Coach mentioned that my noname bat is not good enough but that was it.

However second session was much more intense! I was learning base footwork while continuing fh and bh drills. My legs were completely tired after he would feed all the balls. I also felt muscular pain at my lower back left where i did not know i had muscles before:) that was from the body movement. But my weak point are my legs! I was following advise to bounce after every hit and it is pretty hard! I wish i could do exercises to strengthen them! I also realised my joggers are no good for side movements and so did the Coach said. After reading this forum decided to go for mizuno wave cross trainers. one other thing was my bat. He said that the rubbers were no good and that he would make me one. I had a spare 729 blade which I gave to him and wondering now which rubbers I will get next time:) i never thiught EJ stuff was that important for my level but after playing with few guys with good rubbers i can feel the difference. Anyway thanks to the Coach for looking after me!

When i came back to work and tried to play using my new knowledge... I could not. Old habits... I tried to change style for more attacking to practice what i learnt but could not get because my friend there would not just do fh/bh drills. I still have an instinct to chop everything. but will try to learn and apply..

Author:  RebornTTEvnglist [ 17 Mar 2016, 21:18 ]
Post subject:  Re: Beginner's corner- please comment

It takes time to break bad habits but if you are paying a coach then you should try to follow his advice. There is nothing wrong with chopping when its appropriate, but if you have new things to groove into your game, then trying to practice those things over and above your old game is very important. You can practice things the coach has told you in front of a mirror and also hitting a ball onto the floor if you don't have a table.

Author:  NextLevel [ 17 Mar 2016, 22:10 ]
Post subject:  Re: Beginner's corner- please comment

If you are an adult over 30, you need to find a coach who has experience working with similar players and making them better. Most coaches try to make people play better largely by putting the students through the same things they went through and this is usually more effective for children than adults.

The approach I take is usually to get people to to hit the ball properly. Once they can do that, I try to get them to do it in balance while moving as well. Movement is important but not as critical as having good strokes. Overdoing the movement in the absence of good strokes can lead to all kinds of bad habits.

The other thing to realize is that a good stroke initially is all about form and has nothing to do with whether you make or miss the shot. Making or missing the shot is really about reading the ball. This is something many adults get wrong and which leads them to use bad strokes. You will make shots over time as you learn to adjust your stroke to reading the ball. But if you focus on putting the ball on the table, you will never develop better strokes. The truth is that your body always wants to put the ball on the table so focusing on the form is sufficient - the rest happens subconsciously if you let it.

Author:  Japsican [ 17 Mar 2016, 22:39 ]
Post subject:  Re: Beginner's corner- please comment

NextLevel wrote:
The other thing to realize is that a good stroke initially is all about form and has nothing to do with whether you make or miss the shot. Making or missing the shot is really about reading the ball. This is something many adults get wrong and which leads them to use bad strokes. You will make shots over time as you learn to adjust your stroke to reading the ball. But if you focus on putting the ball on the table, you will never develop better strokes. The truth is that your body always wants to put the ball on the table so focusing on the form is sufficient - the rest happens subconsciously if you let it.

Golden advice there. :clap:
TT is such a game of epiphanies, where often you know something to be true, but aren't necessarily practicing and implementing it. This is a great reason to let go of winning as a measure of success!

Author:  Jay Random [ 18 Mar 2016, 13:18 ]
Post subject:  Re: Beginner's corner- please comment

I am definitely trying to follow the advices from the Coach and practicing whatever I learnt. I would prefer spending time at the table doing the drills only. But my mates want to play games so as Jap said for me it is not about winning those but practice.. What i complained about myself is that often habits work before i even think about it, but on a good side of things i manage to catch myself not following the advice more often. I am focusing currently on:
Executing the strokes correctly with the right movement
Positioning myself to the ball with the right footwork
It is already hard for me:) BH is harder because i got used to do it from under armpit letting ball go on my left (i am right hander) and the Coach says start your bat from stomack area. I miss a lot of strokes due to wrong movement/angle I think.

I like absolutely all what you said NL, and i enjoyed reading your blog and especially watching videos! It is great to watch videos of someone much better yet not top pro because a lot of times i do not understand much how pros do what they do. But much easier to follow you! And i think the Coach adjusts his approach to me as an adult. At least i am not doing footwork only for the first 3 months like he says chineses kids who are trained professionally do. A bit of everything. Anyway he knows better. The only thing is he charges like a doctor ;) but one has to pay if they want to learn..

Jap i like what your signature says and hope one day to be able to enjoy the beautiful game:)

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