Monday, 11 April 2016

How to Become a More Powerful Table Tennis Player

Today we ran a Spring Break training camp and I found myself working again with a very short, small player who happens to be the US National 10 and under champion. I wanted to focus on building some more power in his game and so I thought it would be a great time to write a post on some tips for increasing and developing power in your game.

Be sure to check out all the content for helping improve your table tennis at The Coaching Blog.

Wang Liqin, three time world champion
What Does it Take to Execute Powerful Shots?

Powerful shots are not necessarily the result of brute strength. Power can be achieved by players who aren't as strong through better mechanics, weight transfer and muscle memory. In saying that players with brute strength are usually able to play powerful shots also. This post is more for the players who don't have that luxury.

Make Your Strokes Efficient and Correct

First you need to look to your technique and analyse whether there are any problems with it which are restricting your ability to create powerful shots. Are your strokes too compact? Is your swing direct through contact and follow through? Is the weight transfer complete from your legs into the ball? There are many small details which combine to make a correct stroke.

Conditioning and Strength Training

Are the parts of your body necessary to generate power in your shots part of your training regime? Are you doing physical training outside of table practice to improve your physique? Exercises to strengthen explosive power in the legs and rapid movement of the core will help increase the effectiveness of weight transfer in your strokes. Exercises like squats, lunges and frog jumps are all great for the legs while bicycle kicks, core twists (with weight), planks, sit ups and leg raises can help with the core muscles.

Developing Muscle Memory

Often we practice being consistent and a lot of repetition in training. It is also important to address power once a player is developing. Even if this takes up small parts of training sessions it is necessary to practice in order to build muscle memory. There are a few useful multiball drills which are great for developing power in shots which I will talk about next.

Positioning

Getting in position is crucial to achieving power in shots. Without balance and good body position it is difficult to achieve good technique and weight transfer.

Here is a blog I wrote on How to Develop Top Footwork and Positioning

Ma Long's forehand, a great example to follow

Two Multiball Drills to Help with Power:

Today I used 2 multiball drills to help the player I was teaching with power on his forehand. I was told by Li Xiaodong (a chinese national coach) that these were common in China for just this purpose.

The first is a slow chop-float ball about double the height of the net fed one by one. The idea is that there is nothing on the ball. The player has to get into position and generate almost 100% of the power on the ball. Top that with the fact that the ball is slightly high and they are working towards an attacking strokes which will win the point or put the opponent on the back foot. This drill really focuses on a full weight transfer from the legs.

The second is a slow topspin ball. This has the same principal except the ball is kicking towards the player. In this scenario the power has to come more from core acceleration as you are driving into the ball more when it is topspin.

Training Partners Who Can Help Develop Power:

Players who are strong blockers or who have pips or chop are great training partners for developing power. I train with Lily Yip who blocks with short pips which makes every ball dead, it helped a lot in improving my weight transfer and power. Also when the plastic ball first came out it was very useful for adapting to it's limitations.

Practicing with choppers will also help build your muscle memory, stamina and stroke strength especially against heavy underspin balls.

One thing which will also help develop power is practicing against someone who can fish the ball well. This is a lower lob return usually which some topspin imparted, generally these types of shots don't usually bounce above shoulder height. These are the perfect type of ball to practice power looping against.

Hopefully these tips have been helpful, as always if there are any questions don't hesitate to email me at mhtabletennis@gmail.com :)

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