After not playing for a few weeks, you might feel a bit sluggish or out-of-sync with your game. In this article, I want to explain why and give a few helpful tips that you can use to quickly restore and build your playing-level! When you don’t play at all, these are the first three things that you usually lose… timing, footwork, and serve return.
Most players say that their strokes feel different. But when you see the stroke, it looks similar. The timing is what makes it feel different. Keep in mind that if you continuously hit the edge, your stroke is too late. To fix this problem, take a faster backswing or shorten your swing or focus on hitting the ball more in-front of your body. Keep in mind that if you continuously whiff the ball, your stroke is too early. To fix this problem, wait for the ball, see the approaching ball then swing as it is approaching, while adjusting the backswing based on the speed, spin, height, and depth of the incoming ball.
Even though you might feel out-of-shape, a critical reminder is to move for every ball. Often there is a primary movement based on the location and type of hit you just did, a secondary movement based on what you see from your opponent, and a final movement based on adjusting for the incoming ball. If you physically cannot handle that much moving, try to make at least one movement to get to the ball. If you haven’t played at all, it will be tiring, but it is necessary. Adjusting your feet with also help your stroke to “feel” better and improve your timing, speed, spin, placement, consistency, and allow you to play with more variation. You should also start doing light fitness each day. Go for a 10-min jog, do some light upper body and core training, while keeping in mind that the fitness doesn’t replace table time, it supplements it.
There are 2 main aspects of serve return – reading the spin and adjusting based on what you read. Discipline yourself to watch your opponent’s racket very carefully and also watch the incoming ball, if you can’t read the spin, then wait for the ball – the longer you wait the less speed and spin the ball has – the easier it will be to return. Once you read the spin, adjusting your stroke accordingly and swing with confidence. Generating your own spin is a huge key in returning the serve – you must do a real stroke like loop, flip, push, or chop. Simply blocking a serve is not a legitimate way of returning. This is difficult without the footwork and timing. First get the footwork and timing back in shape then move toward getting your serve return back to par.
Yes, you should be practicing 6 hours per day. But the reality is… life happens. You have a crazy hard project for school that takes you from 3pm-2am every day. You have a growing family and just had your 7th child. Your boss piles up work during tax season. Yeah, I get it. But don’t get depressed and quit. Take necessary steps to get back on schedule and be more determined than ever!
See you soon at the NEW Samson Dubina Table Tennis Academy! Join us this summer in Akron, Ohio for the Ohio Mega Camps as well as some awesome tournaments!
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