Many table tennis athletes begin the season with refining their basic technique and working on developing a solid base for footwork and consistency with many systematic drills. As they get closer to their peak tournament, they then begin a more tactical approach. When they know which exact opponents they will compete against, then they begin specific tactical preparation for that exact opponent.
This is good, but I’m going to propose a slightly different approach for you…
Consider starting the season by watching your target opponents and begin specific tactical preparation against them specifically. As you learn the details of their game, figure out which parts of your game need developed and work the whole season to develop those necessary tools.
Why am I proposing this?
Because many players spend hours the night before an important tournament (like Olympic trial or Pan Am Games or World Championship) studying their opponents only to realize that their skillset hasn’t be properly training to beat that specific opponent. With only 24 hours before the match, they are limited in how much they can adjust their preparation. If the specific preparation had begun 6 months earlier, it would have been easier to develop specific serve, specific receives, and specific patterns to give the rival trouble.
For sure, the basic technique, consistency, footwork, etc… needs to be solid. But in addition to those things, if you begin mentally preparing for specific opponents during the season, you can train with more focus and more determination and more specific for specific opponents.
So what if you possibly have 100 different opponents? What should you do?
Just pick 5!
Pick five of them and target developing the needed skills to beat those five guys that are at your level or a level better than you. Having rivals (in your mind) is one of the best ways to up the intensity in your training this year!
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