-By Coach Samson Dubina
If you have played for many years with the incorrect stroke, should you change it OR should you keep it and improve other aspects of your game? This is a tough question. Personally, I feel that YOU need to be on the one to answer this question. But as you think to answer it, there are some stroke considerations that you should make in evaluating your own stroke and evaluating how a change would help or hurt your progress both short term, mid range, and long term.
(the questions seem below can be applied to any stroke)
At what point is your stroke the very best?
At what point does your stroke tend to break down in drills and matches?
Does your stroke look relaxed and adjustable?
Are you able to target hitting from anywhere to anywhere on the table with that stroke?
How consistent is your stroke? Are you able to make it on 50% or 80% or 90% in match play?
Are you able to easily change speeds going from slow to fast to medium with that stroke?
Are you able to easily adjust to various incoming speeds, spin, heights, and depths from your opponent’s shots?
Are you able to setup this particular stroke with your serve and receive pattern?
Are you able to follow-up after this stroke with another stroke?
For this particular stroke, how is your balance, positioning, and timing?
How much time have you spent developing your current stroke?
How much time are you planning to dedicate during the next 12 months to make a stroke change?
How mentally strong are you to make the change happen, even when it seems to temporarily hinder your progress?
Print off this coaching article.
Take out your pencil.
Write answer to the above questions.
Once you have answered these questions, then you will begin to have a starting point for if you want to change your stroke. Making small adjustments is somewhat easy (like keeping your racket slightly higher in your ready position). Making major adjustments is difficult (like learning a different weight transfer or changing your grip or changing your action on the ball).
If you have played less than 2 years, dedicate the time to get the stroke right, especially if you have high and lofty goals of reaching an elite level. If you have played more than 2 years with a particular stroke, it will be difficult to change. I’m not trying to discourage you from trying to change, I’m just saying that it will take more time because the permanent muscle memory has set in longer.
#1 Get an expert coach. Your chances of changing are 100x more likely with the assistance of a competent coach.
#2 Shadow strokes day and night in front of a mirror. If you are going to make a change, it is easier without the ball. When the ball comes, your body will revert back to the original muscle memory.
#3 Record every hit. Yes, every robot drill, every coaching session, every match, record it and watch it. If you are serious about making the change, then stop your practice and make sure you are doing it correctly.
#4 Patience and Persistence… that’s what it’s all about. You need to be patient with yourself realizing that it takes time to change and persistent at doing the right thing!
Thanks for reading!
USOPC Coach of the Year
4x USATT Coach of the Year
USATT National Level Coach
ITTF Level III Certified Coach
Should you CHANGE your stroke?