In table tennis training, there are times when multiball training is absolutely necessary and there are times when it is over-used. In this short article, I’m going to give you some advice on when to use it or when not use it.
Simplifying for Beginners
For complete beginners who have never played before, sometimes using a robot or multiball is easier because it allows more time between balls. As soon as the beginner is able to make contact with the ball, I highly recommending transitioning to single ball instead of multi-ball.
Pushing the Pros
For some coaches, they are unable to block for professional players. In this situation, they need to do multiball to have good rallies for their students. Also, with multiball, certain situations can be created that actually make it much much harder than real life. Such as a coach smashing 10 consecutive balls from point-blank range.
Isolating the Specifics
This is the best use of multiball. When there is one aspect of the game (such as backhand loop) that needs thousands of repetitions, then it is best to use a robot or multiball for this. In the video below, you will see me demonstrating multiball to Aryan, who is just learning the backhand loop.
Ok now here is where I step on some feet…
Many many many coaches across the US are overdoing the multiball training. By playing more multiball then single ball, they have created an illusion of what the game is actually like, but the timing, speed, spin, and everything about their multiball isn’t like a game. So day after day, week after week, and month after month, players are improving their skill in playing multiball (BECOMING MULTIBALL CHAMPIONS), but it doesn’t transition over to match play and they become discouraged. Another downside of multiball is the feedback. Many players will be missing or hitting low-quality shots, but they are unaware of it in multiball. In single-ball training, the player can feel when he is missing and the player can feel when he is giving good quality or bad quality shots.
In China and other countries, they are doing about 25-35% of their practice time in multiball, but it never exceeds 50%. Playing single ball, playing matches, playing real game scenarios is nearly always better…. UNLESS
The beginner needs it simplified
The pro needs to be pushed to the limit
The specific problem needs repetition in isolation