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William Henzell's Blog March 6, 2013 - Tournaments

I've been about as pleased with my training recently as I could be. I feel like my game is finally starting to come together as a whole, from the fragmented state it's been in for the past 5 months. Firstly, I've been able to put in 3 good table tennis sessions per week as well as 1 or 2 weight sessions in the gym. With less training than that, I feel slow and inconsistent with my shots when I play. Secondly, I've put more focus on serve and return of serve and have worked these elements into my exercises more regularly. Whereas my exercises mainly focused on footwork or control before, I've been doing similar exercises but importantly, I've started these with a match-like serve and return of serve.

So for the past months, my exercise may have been free-to-backhand (one of my favourites where I am getting balls all over my side and topspinning with either my forehand or backhand. All my shots go to my opponent's backhand which makes it easier for him to play many shots on the table in a row, thus increasing the level of physical difficulty for me) and I'd start with just a simple counter-hit serve. This means an easy start to the rally and more balls in play. Good for practicing your shots and movements. But recently, I would have started the exercise with a match serve (like pendulum backspin or sidespin tomahawk serve) and a backspin push to the middle of my table. This increases the difficulty (as it's more likely the receiver will miss my serve, or that I'll miss my riskier first topspin) and makes it more like the shots that would be played in a match. Shorter rallies but more realistic rallies if you are going to be playing tournaments soon. Doing more of these exercises has toughened up my serve, receive and first topspin game which is crucial for table tennis.

It's been great to get back into the gym and I feel much stronger already. My sessions are pretty short (45 minutes) and I fit in 5 or 6 exercises, with 3 sets of 8 - 10 repetitions. It's by no means a full gym program but just maximising what I can do with the short time I have available. I do my squats (great for quads, bum, stomach and lower back), lunges (bum, balance / control), bench press with dumbbells (good for forehand topspinning I find), bent over row (injury prevention, shot recovery, power), back exercise on Swiss ball (balance, injury prevention, ability to stay low and forwards) and stomach exercises (control and power of body rotation, ability to stay low and forwards). I feel straight away that I have an extra spring in my step and that I'm hitting the ball harder.

My first tournament is on Monday and I'm putting new rubbers on my racket tonight. I've had the same set of rubbers on for a few months and most of the grip is long gone. Playing tournaments after a long break from them (5 months) is difficult as it's not easy to maintain the concentration of competition when you're training. That focus and the nerves that come with competing are almost impossible to recreate in training which is why match hardness is a skill that needs to be practiced.

I'm almost finished with my next coaching video as well, which will be released this weekend. It's about where to stand when receiving serve and goes through how this changes for different players depending on what your strengths and weaknesses are. Ma Lin stands in a very different position when receiving than Zhang Jike does, and there is good reason behind it.

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Published date: 
Wed, 03/06/2013 - 22:30