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PostPosted: 11 May 2008, 02:36 
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Count Darkula
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I've been developing this "training partner" for sometime now. I wanted someone who would be available to me whenever I wanted and would only want to take a break when I wanted to. As I couldn't afford a robot I figured I needed someone who would perform this service for me very cheaply. And I was willing to forgo some of the niceties that a robot can provide like 36 variations of spin, and being able to fire balls at me every second. So my chosen partner is still learning what spin they can put on the ball (with my assistance), and they don't hit the best shot at me all the time. Many fly over the end, but I am working on this with them and its getting better. And there is plenty of room for development yet, and lots of scope for changing the angles of the shots so they don't fly over the end (unless I just smash too hard for this poor beginner). The best thing about this partner though is that they are just as good as any coach that multiballs at you, but they don't cost a fraction of the coach's fee. Interested?

So who is this loyal slave I have engaged to help me improve my TT shots? Well its actually not a who, but a what. Yes, I know it sounded like I had gone and captured some 12 year old and put them in chains on my TT table, but its really not so. What I have been developing is a training board!

Now for those of you with a robot or a practice partner whenever you desire, this is not such a big deal. But for those who have a table at home, but don't very often get someone to play with you, and you can't afford a robot, this might interest you. A while ago on the forum there was a link provided showing a training board which cost quite a few hundred dollars (approaching the cost of a cheap robot, but claiming to be a fraction of the cost). Now this gave me the idea of building one myself, but its taken a while to get there. I first considered buying a heap of cheap TT rubbers and gluing them to a board, but it was still going to need about $100 in rubbers just to start with.

This board I have developed for a grand total so far of about $30 plus a few bits and pieces I already had lying around. So here's the recipe for anyone interested. I got a 12mm sheet of mdf and painted it black (any color would do I guess, but black seemed a good background color). Then I laid on several coats of silicon all over the board letting each one dry overnight. This gave me a board that is not as "pingy" hard as an uncoated board, and one that will grip the ball and send it back with spin, when a ball is hit with spin against it.

Then I built a frame to house the board. The frame is a simple structure made from two long fence pickets with legs hinged off the back of them, and two cross timbers to hold the uprights at the right distance apart and also provide a place for the board to sit on.

I have attached some sponge (strips made from the foam inside bicycle helmets (the spares you get when you buy a helmet) , to give the board some cushioning and not move with vibration. The frame has hinged legs at the back so that the angle of the board can be changed, and I also intend to have a lever at the back of the board that will allow the board itself's angle to be changed.

I also intend attaching wings to the board (which will also be silicon coated) which will allow it to return sideshots at angles, which should create some interesting shots to deal with.

I am actually finding this a very useful training tool. I can hit an overlength serve at the board and it returns it back to my side like it were a player, and then I can play the shot back I want to practice. Sometimes its a put away, but often the board enters into a rally with me LOL. (I allow it the shots of the ceiling to count seeings as it is a beginner LOL).

Anyway, I have included a pic below to show you what it looks like.

Now given that balls tend to go everywhere I have a bucket of about 60 balls I use, pick up and re-use. For anyone who knows how much of a hassle picking up 60 balls is, I have also developed a handy little ball pick up, to save bending and long winded retrieval. So I got a golf ball pick-up (which was too thick for TT balls, but I applied silicon to the mouth of it to a point where it now picks them up nicely. But it would only fit about 20 balls, until I cut the other end out of it and glued on the lid to the bucket the TT balls came in. So now I can pick up 60 balls (in fact it will fit about 80) and walk back to my basket and undo the bucket and dump the balls in! Whala! There you have it. Oh. there is a pic below of this device as well.

I hope someone finds these ideas useful, and if not, well... you must have a robot, no TT table, or a dedicated practice partner :lol: Feel free to ask questions. :D

Image


Image

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PostPosted: 11 May 2008, 12:16 
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Hahaha... Reading your post something comes to mind.... Laziness is the mother of invention... Hahaha...

Actually, good job on the DIY Reb...
It's interesting idea and I would have liked to try it myself if I wasn't too lazy. What I really mean is... I'm not too keen playing not with real people. That's the same reason why I didn't get a robot.

Your room is too cramped. It would have been hard to pick up balls, especially when the ball slides in the nicks and cranny of places...

Good luck and would be interesting to hear updates on this project...

:thumright: :thumleft:

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PostPosted: 11 May 2008, 16:51 
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hey nice, and very inventive :D

Does anyone come by your place to practise training Reb? that table looks brand new!

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PostPosted: 11 May 2008, 17:21 
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Yes very nicely done Reb!

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PostPosted: 11 May 2008, 23:27 
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Count Darkula
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metal monkey wrote:
hey nice, and very inventive :D

Does anyone come by your place to practise training Reb? that table looks brand new!


I have a couple of mates that come around for the odd hit, but not as much as I'd like.

Table is fairly new, but I have just put a clear finish on the top to try and keep it in good shape. Ball marks were starting to appear and wouldn't polish out. So I did some "DIY" improvements lol.

It cost me $147 delivered a few months ago after I won the bid on ebay. There is some minor damage to one leg underneath, so they refunded me $27. So it cost $120 all up. All-in-all I'm pretty happy with it. Oh, the top is 16mm, and the bounce is good. The clear finish has not changed the bounce at all.

Rok, the room is pretty cramped with the table correct, but you'd be surprised how much room there actually is. You can play a decent game, just can't get too far away from the table. The end the pic was taken from actually has more room as I train from that end. I usually let guests play from that end and I cram a bit at the other end, although it still has 4-5 feet (enough to swing a TT bat, maybe not a cat LOL).

When I put the wings on the board, I'll put up another pic. Perhaps I'll take some vid at some stage to demo me training with it. Not as much fun as a real person agreed (although can hit some better shots than some players LOL) :lol: :lol:

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S/U 1: Blade: Bty Gergely . FH Black Andro Rasant 2.1 . BH Red Tibhar Grass Dtecs
S/U 2: Blade: Bty Gergely . FH Black Hexer+ 2.1 . BH Red GD Talon
S/U 3: Blade: Bty Gergely . No rubbers...thinking of adding Red Dtecs and Black Rasant
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PostPosted: 12 May 2008, 00:19 
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RebornTTEvnglist wrote:
Rok, the room is pretty cramped with the table correct, but you'd be surprised how much room there actually is. You can play a decent game, just can't get too far away from the table. The end the pic was taken from actually has more room as I train from that end. I usually let guests play from that end and I cram a bit at the other end, although it still has 4-5 feet (enough to swing a TT bat, maybe not a cat LOL).

When I put the wings on the board, I'll put up another pic. Perhaps I'll take some vid at some stage to demo me training with it. Not as much fun as a real person agreed (although can hit some better shots than some players LOL) :lol: :lol:


That's too small for me. I need space to move back. I'm changing my play so I stand and be closer to the table during play, but it takes time.... :cry: I figure I need to stand and play closer to the table because then I exert less energy, can be more aggressive, and it makes me more versatile as in I can play anywhere (even at places smaller than my club).

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PostPosted: 12 May 2008, 01:15 
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Count Darkula
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Yep, then you can come over and play at my house too! :lol: :lol:

I like having space to move back if needed too, but I generally stay fairly close anyway. So its not too big an issue for training (on the longer end I can be as much as about 6 feet back, but I don't usually go back this far as it does then restrict my swing. About 2 feet is enough.

TBH, I'm just glad I have a room in my house big enough to fit a TT table at all. Most houses around where I live don't have it. Some have carports with more room, but playing at night outside is not my cup of tea in 12C or less.

Playing close has its benefits, because it teaches you better blocking, and as you say, it helps play more aggressively at times too.

I have been focussing my training on my BH attack. I am getting my stroke smoother and smoother all the time and getting much more consistent. Now I just have to be able to produce more of it on a game. I can in practice games, but it leaves me a bit in comp. I think the more I practice and practice the shots, they will just come out with instinct in the games as do the other shots I have developed over long time periods.

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I'm always in the dark, but the Dark sheds lights upon everything!! :twisted: Beauty is only pimple deep! Beauty is in the eye of the pipholder!
S/U 1: Blade: Bty Gergely . FH Black Andro Rasant 2.1 . BH Red Tibhar Grass Dtecs
S/U 2: Blade: Bty Gergely . FH Black Hexer+ 2.1 . BH Red GD Talon
S/U 3: Blade: Bty Gergely . No rubbers...thinking of adding Red Dtecs and Black Rasant
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PostPosted: 12 May 2008, 01:52 
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Yeah, currently I need wide and long space. In smaller places my game suffers. At my other clubs we have 5 tables in the main room where it's wide and long, and 2 tables in two small rooms. When I have to play in the room I smacked the wall (behind me) every now and then. And I lose to players I usually win with. It's both physical and mental restrain for me.

I'm training my BH attack too. I used to have a great BH smash but it slowly diminished. Now I noticed that I only block, chop, and drive for placement instead of attacking like I used to. When I'm training with my coach the BH seems even better & effortless than the FH, but somehow when I play the BH stays on defend mode most of the time... :cry: :cry: :cry:

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PostPosted: 14 Dec 2008, 00:28 
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RebornTTEvnglist wrote:

Then I built a frame to house the board. The frame is a simple structure made from two long fence pickets with legs hinged off the back of them, and two cross timbers to hold the uprights at the right distance apart and also provide a place for the board to sit on.

I have attached some sponge (strips made from the foam inside bicycle helmets (the spares you get when you buy a helmet) , to give the board some cushioning and not move with vibration. The frame has hinged legs at the back so that the angle of the board can be changed, and I also intend to have a lever at the back of the board that will allow the board itself's angle to be changed.


Image



Nice job Reb. I am having a hard time picturing the frame from your description. Any chance you could post or PM me some pics?

Thanks in advance !!

.


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PostPosted: 14 Dec 2008, 06:46 
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Great Job Reb, nice idea to use silicon and to put up wings well done. :D
I would have same problem like Rok with the space even that I can play wery efective close to table but dont like to stay close for long.
If third ball wasnt winer I step back imedietly and play from 2-4 meters distance unles Im playing def player who pushes a lot and drop shots short. I should copy your board and use when i get board with robot.

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PostPosted: 14 Dec 2008, 10:40 
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Nice job, ReBorn, I guess you are a good handyman.

I have a return board myself, but I didn't build it, the board was the left over material when I remodeled my showers in the summer. I simply taped the edges and placed it at the end of the table with an angle. A return board is done.

The problem of return board is that you have to constantly feed and hit the balls with top spin, any side spins or under spins won't come back to your side of the table. However, without a live person to play with, that is the only other choice.

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PostPosted: 05 Jan 2009, 11:40 
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I know this is an older thread but I must admit that I have recently changed my mind about the potential of integrating a return board into your practice especially if do not have access to a coach or robot or just want to practice things when nobody is around.
This turn around in thinking has arisen when I watched it being used by reasonably skilled players to practice stokes, footwork & serving. Specially apologizes to Reb who has always promoted the usefulness of this training aid

The following are some links & clips for those interested in exploring this option.

general strokes & training (full table width boards)
http://au.youtube.com/watch?v=A7NRksJHoKM&eurl=http://com.martinspin.ch/video/topspintraining-mit-maximalem

http://au.youtube.com/watch?v=WahRbdS1LTQ

service practice (great for evaluating your actual spin generation)
http://s552.photobucket.com/albums/jj351/Edge63/?action=view&current=servicepractice.flv

serving & flip practice
http://s552.photobucket.com/albums/jj351/Edge63/?action=view&current=serveandfliptraining.flv

http://s552.photobucket.com/albums/jj351/Edge63/?action=view&current=beginnersfliptraining.flv

I have also found only a few clips of players trying to practice underspin stokes but these are obviously very limited compared to training your topspin stokes. If anyone has any clips or ideas of underspin options please feel free to contribute.

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PostPosted: 05 Jan 2009, 17:06 
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I really must put together a vid of me using my training board! I've just been using it in fact. And I've been practicing some serving Mars. It sure does show whether its top or chop, but as yet I can't positively make sure its top or chop that I put on it each time lol. Seen most those vids before, btw. But the last one is good as it shows a training board that is obviosuly not professionally made, so its more real.

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I'm always in the dark, but the Dark sheds lights upon everything!! :twisted: Beauty is only pimple deep! Beauty is in the eye of the pipholder!
S/U 1: Blade: Bty Gergely . FH Black Andro Rasant 2.1 . BH Red Tibhar Grass Dtecs
S/U 2: Blade: Bty Gergely . FH Black Hexer+ 2.1 . BH Red GD Talon
S/U 3: Blade: Bty Gergely . No rubbers...thinking of adding Red Dtecs and Black Rasant
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PostPosted: 05 Jan 2009, 17:23 
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RebornTTEvnglist wrote:
I really must put together a vid of me using my training board! I've just been using it in fact. And I've been practicing some serving Mars. It sure does show whether its top or chop, but as yet I can't positively make sure its top or chop that I put on it each time lol. Seen most those vids before, btw. But the last one is good as it shows a training board that is obviosuly not professionally made, so its more real.


I figured you would have seen most of these before but I thought others like me who simply dismissed the value of return boards would not have bothered to look them up.

Its good to hear that the service practice is coming a long & it would be very interesting to see you using your setup for a range of different exercises.

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PostPosted: 06 Jan 2009, 03:27 
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Thanks for this Mars. I really like the service video. A good demo of the variations of backhand serving.

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