Why are so many of us inclined to mess up at the precise moment when messing up is the last thing we want to do? Why are we so prone to fail when we most want to succeed? For years the paradox of ‘choking’ seemed incomprehensible to psychologists and sportsmen alike. It is only in recent years that neuroscientists have glimpsed the answers, and they are both intriguing and revelatory.
David Dobbs 2011
Parents often find themselves unable to understand why youngsters, not only teenagers but also young adults into their early and mid 20’s, act the way they do. They often seem quite arbitrarily ready to take life-threatening or life-changing risks, without seeming to evaluate logically what can happen. In the late 20th century brain-imaging technology was developed and researchers were able to track both the physical development and the patterns of activity. The results were surprising. The brain takes much longer to develop than most scientists had thought.
If we want to compete against the best women in the world, then we need to study how they play and what tactics they use. What do we find when we carry out an in-depth evaluation of how points are won and lost in women’s play at top level?
High-performance athletes are able to assess the quality of a shot much more effectively than lesser players and also can more easily predict the advantage or disadvantage arising from a ball which just has been hit by an opponent. This major difference between players of different skill-levels is applicable significantly to the first three strokes of a rally.
To be a champion at table tennis requires you to have the right weapons, both generally and specifically. By generally we mean for the men’s or the women’s game, by specifically we mean relevant to the way you play as an individual. Weapons usually refer to 3 areas, physical, mental and technical/tactical.
Table tennis is an ‘antagonistic’ sport. This means that it involves power and judgment from two opposing parties, who both influence what happens to the ball. To play the most effective shot to suit the situation at hand we have to consider both:
• the type of incoming ball
• the precise amount of effort needed in our stroke
Q. Is there really a big difference in coaching male/female players?
Until we fully understand that the men’s and women’s games are ‘two completely different sports’ we will never raise the level of women’s play throughout Europe. Women have many more differing styles of play which are effective at world level. The men don’t. In the women’s game it is almost always speed which wins over spin, which is exactly the opposite of what happens with the men. There are also many more material players among the ranks of the women and coaches must be more fully informed as to the why, the how and the what. The mental and physical capabilities are also radically different. To work with and develop girls/women demands a great deal more from the coach.
• Value speed, spin and accurate/effective change; aim to use your strengths and take the initiative within the framework of all-round control
• Attack constantly and keep the opponent guessing. Any attack should be constant and varied and should keep the opponent under pressure in one way or another. Change in different forms will also keep the opponent off balance
• Table tennis is all about CONTROLLING the play (which means being consistent) until you can win the point by some form of CHANGE (more power or spin, different timing, better placement or angle, softer, shorter ball etc). These combinations of change whether in speed, spin or placement are the way our game is going to develop. This aspect of change must be executed by you FIRST before the opponent can do it
Stefan Weigelt wrote his Doctoral thesis on ‘Motor speed in Sport’.
His main proposition is bold: He states that basically speed is coordination. Some coaches might be shocked by this statement because – at least in Germany – speed and co-ordination are conceptualized as two different animals. Speed usually is seen as a component of physical fitness and very often theoretically separated from coordination which is assigned to motor fitness.