Tuesday 26 January 2016

MHTT World Champs Buildup Diary: Matchplay

I'm now 2 weeks into some very serious preparation with a good 3 weeks still remaining. Last Friday I played in the club league and played 4 matches. I was able to win 3 but lost to former US National Team member Adam Hugh who is a very experienced player.

Adam Hugh - US National Team
I played some more practice games with Adam and Joey Cochran today and I'm really realizing how much I have neglected practice matches in my training and playing of table tennis. Essentially I have just completely overlooked it. I generally have the opportunity to play practice matches on Friday nights in the league but now I find myself playing league about once per month. This means I haven't really been playing any matches at all aside from tournaments. This is a big problem and I believe one that has contributed to a big drop in my matchplay level recently.

Fortunately I have the opportunity to play more matches with Adam which is really great for me. Adam was in division 3 with the US team at the 2014 World Champs so he is really the perfect competition for me to be playing against. I managed to push some games to deuce and have some set points but wasn't able to convert any.

Here is what I noticed and learnt:

- Adam told me when playing at a higher level (which div 3 is for me) opportunities don't often arise to win points, you really have to work hard to create opportunities in each point.

- I was able to maintain a relatively good service game throughout but receive still needs some work to stay tight.

- I seem to be hesitating on the long ball, probably through lack of good footwork. Sometimes a long ball will be a perfect opportunity to open but instead of really pushing for position I will return the ball long, giving away the point essentially.

- Because opportunities are harder to create in a tight game, I found when I managed to set the ball up I tended to rush a little too much and miss my opportunities by making simple errors.

Thanks to a small amount of match practice I was able to lock down some key flaws in my game. In short if I can identify these problems after playing a few matches, then I should be practicing matches at least 3-4 times per week in a serious environment.

I had a couple of days of not so great training after recovering from shoveling a ridiculous amount of snow, my body is finally starting to loosen up so hopefully I can get my mentality refocused and get straight back into things.

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