Can grownup gamers change approach?

You’ll be able to’t train an previous canine new tips, so the saying goes. However are you able to train an grownup desk tennis participant a brand new approach? 

As a later developer myself – and having spent the previous 10 years teaching lots of grownup gamers – I understand how difficult it may be to vary the best way you play a shot.

When you’ve gotten spent years (or many years!) taking part in a shot in a sure method, it may be very tough to vary approach. The neural pathways are fairly deep and the muscle reminiscence could be very set. Your physique appears to behave independently of your mind. Regardless of how a lot your mind thinks about what you must do, your physique reacts in the best way it’s most acquainted with.

Altering this generally is a very tough problem. However not not possible.

The key I’ve learnt – each in my very own sport, and thru teaching others – is slowness. It’s a must to develop the brand new approach slowly and provides your self lots of time.

Whenever you attempt to make a big approach change there’ll doubtless be a number of issues you could alter, e.g. physique mechanics, swing trajectory, timing, bat angle, contact on ball. Principally, you might want to vary all the pieces.

A giant approach change is identical as studying a brand new ability. And with any new ability – tying shoe laces, studying to drive, talking a brand new language – you begin with the fundamentals, at a gradual tempo.

My garbage backhand

As an instance this course of, let me let you know about my backhand approach. Once I performed for enjoyable as a baby, I developed a really uncommon method of taking part in backhands. I’d attain forwards to the ball and swipe sideways. It was an odd approach and never very efficient!

The ‘reaching forwards’ a part of the stroke turned a behavior and one thing which has at all times stayed with me.

Once I began taking part in once more as an grownup, I attempted to keep away from utilizing my backhand as a result of it was so unreliable. I used to hate the warm-up with my opponent earlier than a match. Forehand to forehand could be OK. However after we switched to backhand to backhand, I might solely play two or three photographs earlier than messing up. Any opponent with a mind might see my backhand was ineffective after which, within the match, would play numerous balls to my backhand and beat me simply.

To enhance, I needed to fully rebuild my backhand approach. At first I attempted to play backhand assaults like the very best gamers within the membership. Did this work? Under no circumstances. I’d possibly get 1 in 10 on the desk. The one shot I landed could be nice. However I had no actual concept why it labored and why the opposite 9 missed. It was extra luck than judgement.

I made a decision to take the other strategy and return to the very fundamentals.

I taught myself how you can do a really fundamental backhand drive, at a gradual tempo. I simply wished to get the basics proper – the timing, the contact, the swing trajectory.

This in all probability took me three years. There was lots of unlearning to do. My tendency was nonetheless to succeed in forwards to the ball and swipe, so to vary this behavior took a very long time. However throughout these three years I did handle to develop a constant backhand drive. It wasn’t a lot of a menace to my opponents, however it stopped being such an apparent weak spot. It was constant. I started to imagine within the new approach.

Then I began to evolve my backhand drive right into a backhand topspin. This required utilizing my wrist extra and brushing the ball. That is one thing I had by no means achieved on my backhand. As soon as once more, I did this slowly. My topspins weren’t very quick or very spinny, however I used to be simply getting a really feel for the best approach.

Progress wasn’t straight ahead in any respect. My backhand would change between flatter drives and smoother topspins, and I didn’t at all times really feel answerable for what I used to be doing. When beneath stress in league matches, my previous behavior of reaching forwards to the ball would come again and my new approach would break down. However a minimum of I used to be recognising why my photographs have been going mistaken and what I wanted to vary.

This course of from evolving my approach from backhand drive to backhand topspin took one other three years. However now I had an ‘OK’ backhand topspin approach, which was dependable and sometimes able to successful photographs.

The subsequent stage was to extend the velocity and spin, however preserve consistency. I did this regularly. Everytime I attempted to be too aggressive, the approach would break down and the previous habits would creep again in. So I elevated the velocity, slowly. The main focus was on retaining a superb technical form for my backhand topspin, however play at a tempo which might problem my opponents extra.

That is the event section I’m nonetheless in. My backhand transformation shouldn’t be full, however it’s getting there. When I’m relaxed I can play good high quality backhand topspin assaults, that are able to successful factors towards superb gamers. Towards some opponents, I actively interact them in backhand to backhand rallies as I do know I’ll dominate and win.

Annoyingly, when there may be lots of stress, the previous behavior of reaching forwards nonetheless creeps again in, however it occurs much less often now. 

This complete course of has taken me 8 years thus far. It has been gradual going. I’m certain I might have achieved this in much less time, if I actually targeted on it. Or possibly I’m a gradual learner.  However the course of has labored.

The slowness impediment

This gradual strategy to altering a way generally is a main impediment for a lot of grownup gamers. They don’t wish to really feel as if they’re getting worse. They don’t wish to threat shedding to a participant they might usually beat. They suppose it’s greatest to stay with what they’ve.

Different gamers merely don’t suppose they’ve the time. It’ll take too lengthy and can take an excessive amount of effort. I can perceive this. Gamers are often in a rush to enhance and my ‘gradual methodology’ isn’t a fast repair. 

However ask your self this query: will you continue to be taking part in desk tennis in 5 years’ time?

If sure, you’ve gotten time to make an enormous technical change. Years 1 and a couple of will in all probability be irritating, as you develop the brand new approach, however don’t actually see any profit in your match outcomes (and you might worsen!). 

However in years 3, 4 and 5, you’ll actually see enchancment and you’ll be so glad you dedicated to the technical change. You could have a brief time period dip, however in the long run you expertise an enormous enchancment.

Making an enormous technical change as an grownup generally is a big problem and may take a very long time. However it’s potential to show an previous canine new tips. It’s a must to begin slowly. Deal with your self as a newbie. Settle for you might worsen initially. However put ego to at least one facet and maintain targeted on the long run objective. And most significantly, take your time.

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