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Inconsistency is likely the main reason for your poor performance in tournaments. Will doing more drills help you? Possibly.
Here at the Samson Dubina Table Tennis Academy, we aren’t just concerned with the number of hours, we are also concerned about the quality of the hours realizing that each individual player might need to adjust his/her drills slightly. In this article, I’m going to briefly outline the 3:1 principle that we have developed.
During drills, you can isolate a specific skill or skills. During practice matches, you can test those skill to see if you are implementing them correctly. A practice match is like a quiz. If you want to do well on the final exam, you need to take the quizzes to test yourself. If you are failing every quiz, then you need to learn the content better. If you aren’t performing well in practice matches, then you need to go back to the practice hall and work on specifics.
When doing a private lesson, I usually have my student begin with a slight footwork drill for warm-up, consistency, and confidence. After a couple minutes, I’ll usually have him start with serve or serve return for the remainder of the drill. Many of my students are “bummed” when we start the drill with the serve because it “messes up” the drill. Before reading the rest of this article, I want you to watch a very short video of me doing a drill without the serve then doing the drill combining it with a tournament serve.
At the lower-levels, it is critically important to unit-task, to focus exclusively on one particular skill and get it right. With many of my students who are rated 300-800, I will focus exclusively on their forehand loop or backhand push for 20-30 minutes and give them homework on doing shadow strokes or robot practice for just one skill at a time.
One of the most frequently asked questions is..
“Samson, why do you do drills? Wouldn’t it be better to exclusively play matches each day?
Good Question. In preparing for the Olympic trials, there are many aspects of my game that I need to continually sharpen – strokes, footwork, serve, serve return, short game, offense, defense, etc… For isolating one or two aspects of the game, I can select unique drills to work that aspect over and over again during a 10 minute drill. So for performing drills, you can work on the specifics.
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If you are a beginner, I would recommend starting your practice with drills 1-5. With the spin set on TOPSPIN and the head angle set at TWO, select the drill number and begin. If the drill is too fast, then give yourself more time between balls by adding +20% on the wait adjust. As you progress, make it more fun and challenging by decreasing the wait adjust, giving you less time between balls.