Analysis of my coaching video with Ben (31/05/17) - Complete and Unedited

I thought about these videos a lot over the past couple of days. Do I edit them down to the good bits? Do I show a video of my failures and of my successes? Do I want people to see what I do at all? It has been a case of self reflection. Firstly, I think these videos show what a fantastic coach Ben is. Yes, I am coached by him and yes, I am officially a teacher's pet but after many years of sport and numerous sessions I have a lot of appreciation for the patience and time Ben is dedicating to me. This video also shows how badly I play table tennis a lot of the time. In fact the majority of the time I am trying and failing to do what Ben tells me. Until I watched this video I thought I was twisting on every forehand and I was using my arm rather than my shoulder. Well I am not. In fact I am 90% of the time trying and failing to do things I am meant to. Fortunately, Ben didn't call me a moron and refuse to talk to me again. The crazy thing is this is a massive improvement from a month ago. So lets take a look below at what is the first half an hour of a two hour session:

Ok, so the first thing you can see here is my shoulder (as mentioned earlier). Up and down, up and down. There is no need to shrug on a forehand. It is the first of many bad habits than can become quickly ingrained. Over time I have managed to correct a lot of this through Ben's explanation of feeling the ball through my hand rather than my shoulder.

Secondly, there is a lack of rotation. Something I have changed quite a bit in the time since this video was made. You can see Ben picking up on it very quickly but it remained largely unchanged until I watched this video back. The reason for this is that I basically thought I was rotating more than I was. I thought I was transferring weight from one foot to the other. It was only when I watched this video that I realised that I wasn't changing it enough to make any real difference. It took another two sessions with Ben and numerous amounts of shadow play at home to get myself to a decent standard.

Both of these things create a problem with the generation of topspin. I strike the ball too hard. There is a lot of bat and not enough rubber being used. With my body position being so wrong it was hard to make contact with the ball effectively. If I knew I was making poor contact I would often make a kind of superman position with the bat to guide it to its destination.

The other large issue is the position of the body. My body is quite upright. I should be like a little old lady but most of the time I am trying to keep an upright (uptight!) posture. It is unnatural for me to slump and relax forwards but I now understand the value of being in that position.

The final major issue with my forehand is the movement itself. My feet are not always moving in the crap-like way they should. Sometimes they do, sometimes they are a bit slow and I am caught ball watching and I then create what Ben likes so call a "funny shape". Think if a table tennis player is the shape of an old lady with her legs wide apart (no jokes please) then I create the shape of a squirrel that is midway through being electrocuted. It doesn't create the best shot in the world and it has required and awful lot of concentration and time to resolve.

If we move onto the backhand it is a bit of a mess. Especially as I have now spent the past 5 days working on it. It should be a shot with my bat coming out from the pocket in my midriff and finishing like a Frisbee throw forward with a lot of whip. My shot is like I am doing the robot upside down and quite badly. I am also so twitchy that my shoulder rolls back on my right side like I have been shot. Nothing is relaxed, there is no wrist movement and to top it off I look like an idiot.

I have found the backhand particularly challenging, I watched videos of the pros and got a bit confused between the banana flick and the actual backhand. I then created my own shot I shall from now on call the "banana backhand". Which like its namesake causes me to miss the table and look like a banana.

The backhand is partially so difficult due to the lack of recovery between shots. This is something I am keenly aware of and have been trying to improve a lot over the past week or so. If I am not recovered and stay in the forehand position it means I am unable to play the backhand effectively. Obviously, part of this is due to my reading of the game and my anticipation but if I do not recover and then get back into the right shape to play the next shot I will continue to look exactly like the video above.

Lastly, I want to highlight what training is. It is hard. It has no rewards. There are a few pats on the back from your coach but none from anyone else. It requires enormous patience. You repeat the same thing over and over and try as you might to get a different result it often doesn't come. It might be 2,3,4 or more sessions before there is anything noticeably different. When the difference does happen, the irony is, you don't even notice it. I don't even notice my improvements in games. I now beat people I never used to with a load of consistency but I have barely even thought about it until I wrote this final part of the blog post. The magic of training is that you have to believe it will come together. Give me 2 or 3 months and in my head I utterly believe I will be a different table tennis player. Having been two weeks since this session I can already tell you that things are starting to click and my next video will be different again.


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