What do you do when you’re not playing table tennis?
That’s one of the issues that I faced since I started playing back in Spain and Mexico.
I don’t have a table at home (I never had) and my club only opens on weekends. Therefore, I have very limited table time during my week.
Also, the past two weeks I was out of town, treating my cat’s cancer at UC Davis Veterinary Hospital. I couldn’t attend last weekend’s training and league.
Not Playing for 2 Weeks
Apart from missing it so much, I was worried that not playing for 2 weeks was going to affect my level and my consistency. I think it does. For this sport, and most likely any, if you miss several days of your training, it takes you a while to recover when you’re back.
My solution was to try some off-the-table exercises. I surfed the web to gather information, and I ended up doing the following.
Off-The-Table Table Tennis Training
I got a skipping rope and I started jumping. I heard that it’s a good way of improving your footwork. I always kind of liked it – I think it’s a good aerobic exercise. It’s good for endurance.
It was tiring indeed! My calves were so sore the days after. But I was happy I at least did that two or three times during the past 2 weeks.
Leg power is fundamental in table tennis. Skipping develops endurance, I think, and squats develop power and explosiveness. Both qualities are extremely important in TT, and I personally suffer more from lack of the second. I can go on for a long time, but I can’t really be explosive for a long time (yet!). So I did some of these too, and man, it makes your leg muscles burn!
Basically, it’s a fancy name for “practicing your strokes without a table”. Some people recommended it in different blogs.
At first, I thought I would look silly, but it was actually great! I got to work on the technique I’m training with my coach.
I focused on doing Falkenberg, for physical training. I’m still slow, as you can see.
Forehand and Backhand Looping
My technique for forehand looping is not too bad, but for the backhand, I’m definitely not confident. I watch videos and tried to practice without a table. I use three balls to do the looping over and over. I need to get better “grabbing time” of the ball, and that’s what I was trying to practice.
The Mental Side
When I’m not playing table tennis, I’m thinking of table tennis a lot.
I watch a lot of games and training videos on Youtube. I think over and over what my coach said. I “prepare” mentally for my next game. I think of the day when I finally am able to loop and spin great balls in matches.
All this sounds romantic, but I’m not sure it’s any good.
It doesn’t really improve your game. In fact, I’ve noticed that it might make me feel more tense, with higher and unrealistic expectations.
When I actually grabbed my racket and went down the hotel room to practice, just by myself, I had a more accurate feeling of what my table tennis game is. And I could start improving from that. If it’s just in my mind, it’s like pie-in-the-sky.
In addition, it’s very important to pay attention to what you’re doing at any given moment. If I’m not playing table tennis, watching table tennis, or reading about table tennis, I try not to think too much of table tennis. Because I’d probably be doing it just to avoid whatever current situation I’m in.
Table time beats any kind of other training in table tennis (it’s in the name, dude). So, I hope I can find ways to increase that time.
But meanwhile, these 2 things seem to work:
- physycal exercises aimed toward the specific needs of the game
- shadowing the strokes that I’m learning at the moment (technical skills)
Those two are important, because, as Tom Lodziak says, “Gone are the days when you can be a little soft around the middle and still be a top 10 player“. Time to get to train!