2017 has been a very important table tennis year for me.
I’ve gone back to playing after a 5 years break or so. More importantly, I have found a club, the Sunset Table Tennis Club in San Francisco, where I can practice regularly and with a goal in mind.
Table tennis is now part of my life again. And I’m very happy and thankful for it.
Being more specific, these are 10 points that summarize my current table tennis state at the moment:
1. Preparing properly for forehand looping
Technique has gotten better, but there’s still a lot of room to improve. My forehand is pretty nice and effective when I get it right. That caveat is where I’m working on at the moment: being able to do everything that needs to be done before the shot so I’m ready, in good position, and I can execute the loop successfully and with intention.
2. Developing a consistent backhand
My backhand/backhand loop is not so great, and especially not very consistent. But recently (last week) I started feeling much better with a flatter “hit-and-spin” stroke instead of a looping. It could be a good way to not missing so many backhand shots (I doubt is ever going to become a real weapon for me).
3. Improving service efficacy
Service is ok but hasn’t improved very much, despite having done quite a bunch of baskets. Probably not enough baskets, though. My serves are still the same: one underspin service (not very spinny), one sidespin pendulum serve, and a very obvious topspin serve. None of them represents a real challenge for my opponents during matches, but they get the game going and sometimes I can prepare for a good 3rd ball with them.
Footwork and Positioning
4. Adjusting footwork and position to current game conditions
I would say I’m definitely more adapted to the table and the different phases of a game/point. I can move faster and more accurately. Most of the time, I can execute some specific shot with the next one in mind and move accordingly in advance.
5. Transitioning from a “close to the table” to “far from the table” strategy
I still have many problems transitioning from a service position + 3rd ball (close to the table) to a looping and counterlooping position (far from the table). I can do it sometimes, but for some reason, I can rarely stay in that “far from table” position and execute control shots and finishing shots from there.
6. Getting the “pause before shot” right
Timing is still a big issue – but at least I know it is so for many players, even at higher levels. I am working on getting my pause right before shots, especially before forehand looping and attacking, and counterlooping.
7. Closing the gap between training and match competition
That gap is probably the most frustrating aspect of trying to become a better table tennis player, for most people. Losing matches, even though it hurts, it’s not the worst. The worst is when you know you can play better, when you have executed good, solid strokes in training or practice, and you just can’t get them out during your match. Or when you know deep in your heart that you could have done better, that you underperformed, that your game wasn’t at your 100%. I’m working hard, mentally and physically, on closing the gap, and to achieve in matches the same level of energy, excitement, and flow that I often get during training.
8. Less nervous and less afraid of losing
Alright, is not as bad as it used to be before. I still get a bit nervous for the matches and I still fear losing. But more times than not, I can overcome that feeling and focus solely on the game, as I should.
9. Letting negative thoughts go
Occasionally, though, I have really bad days when I become negative and my recurrent negative thoughts come back: “what’s the point of training if you can’t win matches”, “you’re losing against people that are worse than you”, “you think you’re so good in training and now look at this match”, etc. I’m sure you can relate to this. I call them negative thoughts because you can get lost in them and they don’t lead to anything productive. So I try to just not pay attention to them and keep on playing. It usually only lasts, well, just for a really bad day.
10. Participating in my first USATT sanctioned tournament ever
Competition wise, I participated in my first USATT Tournament, and it was a great experience overall. Read more about it here.
A Great 2017 Table Tennis Year
So, as I said, it’s been a really interesting and exciting table tennis year. I am deeply grateful that I found the Sunset club and I have a great coach like Masaaki. It was also fun to find an online Table Tennis community, the Expert Table Tennis Academy, and become part of the team and one of their blog writers.
I hope 2018 is an even better year for table tennis. Not only for me, but also for you that are reading this post 🙂 Enjoy!