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

To see this website as it was intended, please update to a modern browser!

-->

100 Steps to Elite Table Tennis

Written by ITTF Coach Richard McAfee

In this article, Richard McAfee lists 100 steps that every top player need to take to reach perfection in table tennis.  I hope that reading this will be as beneficial to you as it has been to me.
 
Technical development
STAGE 1
1. Athlete will be able to produce and explain a proper grip, including pressure points.
2. Athlete will be able to demonstrate the proper ready position.
3. Athlete will be able to execute the following basic strokes with correct form, directional control, and with an 80% success rate when fed by coach:
 Backhand push and forehand push against under-spin
 Backhand and forehand blocks against topspin
 Backhand and forehand drives against topspin
 Backhand and forehand topspins against under-spin
4. Athlete will demonstrate an understanding of the basic elements of all strokes:
 How to touch the ball - Friction versus force type of ball contact
 When to touch the ball - The proper timing for each of the basic strokes
 Where to touch the ball – The proper contact location on the ball for each of the basic strokes
5. Athlete will learn basic under-spin and topspin theory. This includes:
 How spin effects the flight of the ball
 Where to touch the ball to produce each spin
 The concept of going with or against the spin
6. Athlete will understand the following basic theories:
 The role that racket acceleration plays in all strokes
 The role of the back swing in helping with stroke timing.
7. Athlete will learn basic serves as he/she learns each stroke.
a. Example: Backhand push = learn a backhand under-spin serve
STAGE 2
8. Athlete will be able to produce correct 2-step footwork in both directions while executing correct strokes.
9. Athlete will be able to produce mixed stroke combinations against both under-spin and topspin, using all of the basic strokes with a success rate of 80%.
10. Athlete will be able to successfully complete simple consistency drills with a partner.
11. Athlete will be introduced to the concept of inside and outside ball contact to control the direction of the ball.
12. Athlete will be able to change their point of contact on the ball to correct for the change between topspin and under-spin ball feeds.
13. Athlete will be introduced to the concept of using the lower body to produce power.
STAGE 3
14. Athlete will be introduced to the concept of producing topspins at different speeds (gears) by controlling the amount of body used.
15. Athlete will learn and be able to produce the Modified Forehand Serve Grip.
16. Athlete will focus on developing the necessary hand skills to produce heavy spin services.
Page 7 of 12
17. The Athlete will be introduced to the concept of “stopping” the spin on the opponent’s serve when returning serves.
18. The Athlete will learn the relationship between racket acceleration and going with or against the spin on the opponent’s strokes.
19. The Athlete will be able to produce both Forehand and Backhand drop shots, flips, and pushes against short serves.
20. The Athlete will be able to produce and explain the effect of sidespin on the ball.
21. The Athlete will be introduced to the concept of applying and redirecting power against an opponent. .
22. The Athlete will be introduced to the concept of becoming “un-weighted” when generating maximum power.
23. The Athlete will be able to produce both Backhand and Forehand Loops against both Topspin and Backspin ball feeds.
24. The Athlete will be able to practice (with a partner) using the five ball sequencing system. This consists of practice focusing on one of the first five strokes of the game:
 1st. – Serve
 2nd. – Serve Return
 3rd. – 3rd. Ball Attack
 4th. – 4th. Ball Defense or Counter Attack
 5th. – 5th. Ball Attack
STAGE 4
25. The Athlete, working with the coach, will begin developing his or her own personal style of play. This will be accomplish by examining:
 The characteristics of the styles of play currently used at the World Level.
 Their strengths and weaknesses and which style of play they best match-up with.
 What style of play would they most enjoy playing?
26. The Athlete will learn basic strategy consisting of the four ways to win a point. These include:
 Power
 Setting traps for the opponent, varying speed, spin, height, and placement to force errors
 Special Techniques – combination rackets, special serves, or unique shots
 Time Pressure – playing faster than your opponent is comfortable playing
27. Practice will focus on developing patterns of play which best suit the style of play of the athlete.
28. The Athlete will develop effective techniques from close, mid, and far distance from the table with the bulk of the practice focusing on the ideal distance from the table for the athlete’s style.
29. Crossover footwork will be introduced and practiced during this stage.
STAGE 5
30. The Athlete will develop the advance stroke techniques necessary to complete their own style of play.
31. The Athlete will be able to make the necessary grip adjustments during play to enhance specialized strokes.
32. Drills will focus on consistency and learning the new skills.
Page 8 of 12
33. The Athlete will focus on improving their serve and receive game focusing on the correct serve placements and patterns for their style.
34. The Athlete will focus on improving their footwork focusing on the movements necessary for their style.
35. The Athlete’s training will continue to focus on the development of their strongest strokes (main weapons)
STAGE 6
36. Practice during this stage focuses on adding the advanced techniques into the Athlete’s style of play using the 5-Point System of training.
37. The athlete should now have the technical skills necessary to implement any of the four basic ways to win a point against any opponent’s style of play.
38. The Athlete’s main technical development should now be complete.
STAGE 7
39. Practice during this stage focuses on specific tactics against different styles of play and at various stages of the match.
40. Drills during this stage become more and more random, forcing the Athlete to begin to concentrate more on what the opponent is doing.
STAGE 8
41. Practice during this stage focuses on making small technical changes that have been proven necessary through intensive match play.
STAGE 9
42. Practice during this stage focuses on preparing the Athlete to “Peak” for major competitions.
Goal Setting
Athletes should:
STAGE 1
43. Establish written technical performance based goals and share them with coaches and parents. These goals should be reviewed regularly. The purpose of these goals is to have the Athlete concentrate on technical development not competitive development. Example: To execute 8 out of 10 forehand drives, against topspin that are placed alternately from the middle of the table to the wide forehand of the athlete.
STAGE 4
44. Set realistic but challenging competitive goals and separate them into:
 Long-term 5 years
 Intermediate 2-4 years
 Short-term 1 year
These goals should include ranking levels and specific tournament results.
45. Be able to develop specific objectives necessary to achieve the short-term goals. These include:
 Technique
 Strategy and Tactics
 Physical fitness and training levels
 Sport Psychology
Page 9 of 12
STAGE 5
46. Be able to demonstrate that he/she is developing intrinsic motivation during training and matches. This includes:
 Showing consistent intensity during practice.
 Showing dedication to physical and psychological training.
 Moving towards independence as a player
 Becoming more involved in the planning of their training plan
47. Be able to demonstrate that he/she is developing intrinsic motivation during training and matches. This includes:
 Showing consistent intensity during practice.
 Showing dedication to physical and psychological training.
 Moving towards independence as a player
 Becoming more involved in the planning of their training plan
Periodization
Athletes should:
STAGE 4
48. Demonstrate an understanding of the training cycle principal.
49. Work with their coaches to develop the yearly competition schedule and to establish which events they wish to “peak” for.
50. Demonstrate an understanding of the different phases of the training cycle. These include:
 Preparation
 Pre-competitive
 Competitive
 Active Rest
STAGE 5
51. Work with their coaches to develop specific training cycle plans for these “peak” events. These plans should include:
 Goal Setting
 Initial Evaluation
 Technical Training
 Development of an aerobic base
 General and specific table tennis anaerobic training
 Strength training
 Power training
 Psychological Skills training
STAGE 9
52. Be able to shorten their training cycles which will allow for more “peak” tournaments during the year.
Page 10 of 12
Physical Training
Athletes should:
STAGE 1
53. Be introduced to a program of basic exercises that become part of their warm-up program. These exercises need to be age appropriate and are designed to prepare the athlete for future training.
STAGE 2
54. Be introduced to simple movement exercises that help develop the needed foot skills necessary for the sport.
STAGE 3
55. Begin a program of general physical training that consists of age appropriate exercises without added weights.
56. Begin a program of aerobic training through on the table movement drills.
STAGE 4
57. Understand the need and begin a program of regular physical testing.
58. Incorporate a program of circuit training (without added weight) designed to improve anaerobic fitness.
STAGE 5
59. Begin a program of supervised age appropriate weight training to develop the needed base of strength needed for the sport.
60. Understand the role of strength training, aerobic training, and anaerobic training within their planned training cycles.
STAGE 6
61. Understand the need for and incorporate a regular program of flexibility training in their overall training program.
62. Incorporate Power Training (Plyometrics) into their training cycles.
STAGE 7
63. Be able to help the coach in designing their own fitness program that incorporates the principals of periodization.
STAGE 9
64. Be able to design their own year-round fitness program that fits into their overall long and short-term goals for the sport.
Injury Prevention
Athletes should:
STAGE 1
65. Demonstrate an understanding of the role that proper warm-up, stretching, and cooling down play in injury prevention.
STAGE 3
66. Understand the concept of R.I.C.E. when treating injuries.
 R – Rest
 I – Ice
 C – Compression
 E – Elevation
Page 11 of 12
STAGE 5
67. Understand the 5 levels of pain, what treatment to seek and how much play is safe at each level.
 Level One - Discomfort or mild play that goes away with warm-up.
 Level Two - Mild pain during play but goes away within 24 hours.
 Level Three - Mild to moderate pain during play that continues after 48 hours.
 Level Four - Moderate pain that continues during play and is not helped with warm-up.
 Level Five - Moderate to severe pain that alters table tennis technique.
STAGE 6
68. Understand that strength training is important in both injury prevention and improving performance
Nutrition
Athletes should:
STAGE 1
69. Understand the importance as well as practice proper hydration at all times during and after practice and competition.
STAGE 2
70. Understand how to make healthy food choices from all the nutrient groups in the food pyramid.
STAGE 4
71. Understand the importance of maintaining the optimal body weight
STAGE 5
72. Understand how to eat properly before, during, and after competition
73. Understand the negative consequences of drug use in life and sport.
STAGE 6
74. Understand how to make good nutritional choices when traveling both domestically and internationally
Sport Psychology
Athletes should:
STAGE 1
75. Be introduced to the importance of keeping competition in the proper perspective.
76. Be able to use imagery to rehearse or to change technique before or during play.
STAGE 3
77. Develop a ritual before every serve or serve return that will enhance relaxation and concentration.
78. Be able to use imagery to correct incorrect strokes during practice or competition.
STAGE 4
79. Develop a ritual before every serve or serve return that will enhance relaxation and concentration
80. Develop a confident physical appearance during practice and competition.
81. Understand the body/mind relationship and how one can affect the other.
Page 12 of 12
82. Understand how important the role that positive self-talk plays in reducing stress, enhancing self-image, and allowing the body to perform at its highest level.
83. Understand how damaging negative self-talk can be on performance and the enjoyment of the game.
STAGE 6
84. Be able to concentrate on court and develop mental techniques to help develop the skill
85. Understand that he/she must concentrate only on the things that they have control over.
STAGE 7
86. Understand the level of arousal that they need to train or compete at the highest level and develop techniques to deal with under or over arousal issues.
87. Understand how to recognize negative mental scripts and actively change these into positive scripts by through active rehearsal.
Media Skills
. Athletes should:
STAGE 5
88. Always be friendly and cooperative with reporters.
89. Always speak positively about opponents.
90. Always make sure that your sponsors’ logos and products are visible.
STAGE 7
91. Always dress appropriately for all interview or public situations
92. Maintain good posture and make eye contact with fans or press.
STAGE 8
93. Be able to speed clearly and slowly when speaking in public.
94. Make an effort to show their personally when giving interviews or public speaking.
95. Be aware that you do not need to answer any personal questions that you feel uncomfortable in answering.
Sportsmanship
Athletes should:
STAGE 1
96. Understand that honesty and integrity on the court are more important to one’s life than winning.
STAGE 4
97. Demonstrate proper on court etiquette before, during, and at the conclusion of the match.
98. Always take responsibility for their actions.
STAGE 5
99. Know the rules of the sport and how to properly deal with difficult on court situations.
STAGE 9
100. Appreciate the benefits that you receive from table tennis and be willing to give back to the sport.

Category: