Coach Samson Dubina US National Team Coach 4x USATT Coach of the Year

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Written by Scott Badillo

Two and a half years ago I started playing table tennis, one of the things that was mentioned to me many times is the importance of staying physically fit to a certain degree. Over the course of that time I have played 47 tournaments and would like to share my thoughts on this common topic. This article primarily targets the developing player.
As many players know table tennis is a very technical game. So to some physical training and strength may not be that important in the beginning but in this article I will explain to you why it is important from the beginning and how this concept should benefit you greatly.
As mentioned previously the need for extreme leg and core strength is not vital till 2200+ levels. Having said that training and tournaments are huge factor to putting all these skills into competition play before even reaching these levels. So with this article I want to give you tips on how to get a good jump-start on reaching this level of fitness to be prepared for that time, but more importantly on your way up to this level you can train much harder and perform well through long long tournaments and still not take any time away from table practice. Which if you are a beginning player like me this is the most important thing or else these skills learned from your lessons will never actually reach your game without the proper practice. But at the same time still having the energy on match number 15 at the end of day 1 while working your way up the ranks is very beneficial. It shows that you not only have energy for your last match but that all your earlier matches were also played at your strongest. Not only is this the time where you play the most matches cause of your lower level and ability to enter multiple events but you also run into several matches that will go down to the wire due to the fluctuations in your level and styles.
As far as which workouts to do there are many options you can choose from such as leg, core, and upper body workouts. To just mention a few, pull-ups, pushups, dips, lunges, squats, sit-ups, etc. Most importantly with this physical training and all your practices it is very important to include stretching. This helps you stay lose overall and have much better movement. It also helps to prevent injury in general especially if you’re doing a lot of extra working out besides just practicing at the table.
Firstly if you try to practice a lot at the table without doing much physical training you have probably noticed many recurring issues popping up in your shoulder, legs and the rest of your body. These issues could stem from other problems such as bad form or lack of sufficient nutrition only. Or could just simply be a lack of strength in certain muscles that are being over used while practicing. It could also be a combination of all of these factors put together. If that’s the case working out should keep you at your highest performance level or help compensate for pain even more so when it is due to bad form and lack of sufficient nutrition.
Practice at the table and working out to gain physical strength and endurance are two important factors to developing yourself as a high level player. Now here comes the tricky part and most important part of the segment and where I started to run into issues balancing these two things myself.  Which is more important?  Most important especially if you are a developing is the table practice. With the lessons and without this practice you will begin to understand the game very well but will not be able to execute what you know very well and are thinking. This can be very frustrating as you start to gain expectations on yourself since your mentally starting to grasp it, which is a start but still far from having your new skills.
Once I had realized the importance of being stronger and having better endurance. I mistakenly started to put too much effort into this aspect. Not because I didn’t want to practice but that I just didn’t have the energy to.
Now the question is, how do I keep my practices at the same time gain significant strength in many areas? The answers are relatively easy, like most things it just takes a little preparation and planning. For instance, take note of how many practices you need to get in on the week, keep in mind if you’re playing a tournament that weekend. Also coordinate these well with your private lessons and your instructor, as he or she may also be able to help you set up a good plan.
On the week where there is no tournament feel free to push yourself to your maximum level of physical training. It is ok during this time because if you end up sore or accidently go a little too hard the consequence isn’t too sever if you reach Saturday super sore. Now when I say push it to the max, keep in mind that you still need to get your practices in that week. So it is very important to find what your maximum level of physical training is without missing quality practice time and matches at the club. This is simply done by starting small and working your way up. If is has been a while since any physical training or this is new to you in general feel free to start with warm up exercises as your work outs. In the end don’t get too discouraged with low amounts of reps and keep in mind there is a precise plan in mind.
Now comes the most important part of this article, tournament weeks. The biggest mistake about this week is to think that you can take off all physical training and just practice at the table. You definitely want to decrease the amount of PT drastically but do not eliminate it completely. Once active for a while your body gets used to functioning on muscles that are nice and warm and active. By not working out this week you could put all those new stronger muscles into a sleep mode and come Saturday they are less good to you then before when they were weaker. For this paragraph I have included a video that demonstrates not only my workouts during the weeks of tournaments but also my morning workout before my final practice going into the big day. Remember to find a series of workouts that are right for you and try to work out the areas that really get sore. Also DON’T be afraid to start small.

It will defiantly take some time to get a good plan together and to figure out what’s right for you and where to start. But hopefully with this article you can narrow down your plan much quicker than I did.
Written by Scott Badillo