Coach Samson Dubina 2016 US National Team Coach 2015 - 2018 USATT Coach of the Year
 

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The Drills - Part II

Read the details of advanced robot training!

In this blog posting, I’ll be detailing robot drills 11-20 and giving some tips on how to perfect your game using these drills.  Every robot comes with FREE lessons when purchased at www.samsondubina.com
 
 
Drill #11
This drill simulates the most common pattern used by Olympic medalists Zhang Jike and Wang Hao.  With the new development of the backhand banana flip, most of the world’s best athlete’s choose to serve short to the forehand.  After the receiver is drawn from the backhand corner, then the next ball is quickly attacked to the deep backhand.  This is the pattern of this dril.  It first gives a short serve to the forehand followed by a quick ball to the backhand.  After the backhand, the robot gives you a short rest to prepare for the next rally.  Instead of continuing with a marathon rally, this drill stops after two balls to give you time to recover.  If you are a right-handed player, make sure to step forward with your right foot, let the ball reach the top of the bounce, make a quick flip down-the-line, get back quickly in position and perform a backhand loop.  When backhand looping, be sure to stay on your toes, lean forward, and brush the ball primarily using your wrist and forearm.   If this drills seems to be too difficult, start at +40% wait adjust and gradually decrease your wait as you improve.  If this drill seems too easy, try to use forehand on both balls, which requires you to move a longer distance in the same amount of time.
 
Drill #12
This is the first footwork drill that starts with a serve.  The robot serves a short topspin ball to the short forehand, followed by a quick ball deep to the middle, followed by a medium speed ball to the backhand, and ends with another quick ball to the middle.  The critical element to remember is to make small adjustments with your feet between middle and backhand.  When hitting the middle ball, use your forehand and shift your feet slightly from your back foot (right foot for righties) to your front foot as you rotate your waist.  When hitting your backhand, keep your feet more parallel to the table.  If you are close to the table while hitting the middle ball, you probably won’t need to move forward for the backhand.  However, if you are far from the table while hitting your middle ball, you will need to move forward to hit the slower ball thrown to the backhand.  Also, you should try to keep score.  Play games to five points.  If you can make all four balls on the table, then your score one point.  If you miss any of your four hits, the robot scores one point.  After a game to five, pick up the balls and take a short rest to regain your focus.
 
Drill #13
This is another great drill that combines the serve with a short rally, similar to a game.  After the four balls, the robot gives a short break so that you can recover for the next rally.  First, the robot will give you a short ball to the middle, followed by a deep topspin to the forehand, a slower ball to the middle, then another fast topspin ball to the wide backhand.  If this drill seems to be too difficult, try shortening your stroke on the fast balls (to give you more time) and keep your normal stroke on the slow balls.  Usually, you should play the middle and forehand balls with your forehand and the backhand ball with your backhand.  However, by being more creative, you can add more variation and depth to your game.  Sometimes, try using your backhand from the middle ball or your forehand from the backhand ball.  I like to try to finish the last ball with a killer backhand loop.  See if you can make seven-out-of-the.  If you are making fewer than seven, then low down and add more spin.
 
Drill #14
This drill gives you one ball to the short forehand, followed by a deep ball to the forehand, followed by a deep ball to the backhand, followed by a medium-soft ball to the middle.  After the ball balls, you will get about three seconds to rest between every series.  Try to perform this drill for five minutes continuously.  During the entire five minutes try hitting different locations.  Flip the first ball to the middle, loop the second ball to the wide backhand, loop the third ball with your backhand to your opponent’s middle, then step forward to finish the last ball wide to your opponent’s forehand for a winner.  After your have become familiar with this drill, try to vary the speed and spins on your attack.  Try to loop the first ball at 60% speed, the next ball at 30% speed, then the last ball at 90% speed.   Being consistent while varying your shots is the key to improvement.  More variables in your game will make it difficult for your opponent to adjust to your attacks.
 
Drill #15
This is one of my favorite drills on the Robo-Pong 2050!  There is a training center in Faulkenberg, Sweden that often uses this drill – that’s where it got its name.  This drill starts with short serve to the forehand, followed by a deep topspin ball to the backhand, followed by another deep ball to the backhand (use your forehand for this ball), and concludes by a difficult topspin ball out wide to your forehand.  If you feet are fast enough, use the side-to-side shuffle movement while moving to the wide forehand.  If you aren’t quick enough, I would recommend using the cross-over step.  For righties doing the crossover step, start by taking a mini-step with your right foot, take a big step with your left crossing over your right, and contact the ball as your left foot contacts the floor.  After completing the last stroke, get back in position.  Although this drill stops after the fourth ball, it is critical to develop a good habit of getting back in position.  I would highly recommend using this drill in your daily training routine!
 
Drills 16-20 are serve return drills that accurately simulate real-game serves.  In each of the drills, the robots a different spin and within each drill, the robot will throw the ball short, medium, or long.  As the player, you must adjust for the depth and width of each ball.  The robot will give you 2-3 seconds between each ball so that you can return to ready position and be prepared for the next serve.
 
Drill #16
In the drill, the robot will serve the ball with backspin, short, medium, or long.  This serve is similar to what Ma Lin uses  - the 2008 Olympic Gold Medalist.  In order to properly return this serve, you must first determine the location.  Watch the robot’s head and adjust to the forehand or backhand position.  By watching where the ball contacts your side of the table, you will be able to tell if it will be coming long enough to attack.  If the first bounce on your side hits close to the net, the serve will be short.  If the serve hits around the mid-point on your side of the table, it will be half-long.  If the serve hits deep on your side, it will be long enough to loop.  If you are a beginner, I would recommend pushing all the serves ball.  To push, start your racket flat and gently spin on the bottom of the ball so that your racket continues toward the net.  If you are an intermediate player, I would recommend pushing the short ball and looping the long ball.  If you are a advanced player, I would recommend flipping the short ball and looping the long ball.
 
Drill #17
In this drill, the robot will serve a combination spin of backspin and right/sidespin.  This serve is similar to what Ma Long uses – the #2 ranked player in the world.  As in the previous drill, it is vitally important to read the placement and depth.  After moving into position, make sure that you contact the bottom right side of the ball.  This is true on both the long and short serves.  The spin will try to take the ball to the right side of the table.  So when you hit the ball, the safest return is to the left side (a righty’s forehand side).  As your skill improves, you can lengthen your swing and add a bit more power.
 
Drill #18
In this drill, the robot will serve a combination of backspin and left/sidepin.  This serve is similar to what  lefty Timo Boll uses on his normal pendulum serve.   After reading the placement and moving into position, contact the ball on the bottom left side of the ball and stroke toward the right side of the table.  If you merely touch the ball, the spin will bite into your rubber and the return will be extremely difficult.  By stroking though the ball, you will be able to control the return more easily.
 
Drill #19
In this drill, the robot will serve a combination of topspin and right/sidespin.  This serve is similar to Werner Schlager’s side-top pendulum serve.   Contact the ball on the top right of the ball and stoke it toward the left side of the table.  On the long ball, you can lengthen your swing slightly.  On the short ball, step forward with your right foot (if you are right handed) lean forward and gently stroke the ball to the left side of the table.  If you want to stop the sidespin, you can also move your racket slightly from left to right.  If you want to add to the sidespin, you can move your racket from right to left.  For beginners, I would recommend merely directing the ball onto the table or stopping the spin.  For the advanced player, I would recommend adding to the sidespin to give your opponent a dose of his own medicine!
 
Drill #20
In this drill, the robot will serve a combination of topspin and right/sidespin.  This serve is similar to Dimitri Ovcharov’s backhand side-top serve.   Contact the ball on the top left of the ball and stoke it toward the right side of the table.  Swinging toward the right side of the table is easier with your backhand.  So if you are having trouble dealing with the sidespin, I would suggest using your backhand to receive the spin, even if it require you to move more.  If you are using your forehand to receive this ball, you might need to bend your wrist back slightly while still contacting the top left side of the ball.   
 

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