The Way the Chinese use Multi-ball

Rowden 2011

There are a number of ways in which Chinese coaches use multi-ball which in fact highlight some of the common principles inherent in their coaching tradition. Below are a number of the more common and frequently used exercises.

The coach feeds a short, backspin ball to the player's forehand. The player moves in and pushes the ball directly back to the coach; the coach then pushes deep anywhere on the table, with the expectation of a forehand attack from the player.

Practice makes Perfect?

Rowden 2011

Practice makes perfect! This is a phrase we hear quite often, especially in sport and in various learning processes. But is it true? Surely it is more accurate to say ‘Practice makes Predictable’! Practice in fact usually makes us more rigid and inflexible in our thinking. We perform the same action time and time again, until we no longer need to think about it, until it becomes completely ‘automated’. This is exactly what we do when we are learning table tennis; we train until we don’t need to think about what we are doing and react automatically.

Professionalism in Europe

Rowden 2011


Why is it that European table tennis players, apart from the few rare exceptions, are no match for the Asians? Why are even the real top players in Europe quite old, many 30 to 40 years or more (and still able to win major events in Europe) while many of the top Asians are early 20’s or even in their teens and dominate at world level? Why don’t we in Europe get our young players to the top levels earlier?

Evolution of the Player

Rowden 2011

Technical development

– The 9 Stages
1. Athlete will be able to produce and explain a proper grip, including pressure points (‘a’ grip, as different grips will lead to differing styles).
2. Athlete will be able to demonstrate an appropriate ready position (different ready positions will also lead to differing styles of play).
3. Athlete will be able to execute the following basic strokes with correct form, directional control, and with an 80% success rate when fed by coach:
• Backhand push and forehand push against backspin
• Backhand and forehand blocks against topspin
• Backhand and forehand drives against topspin
• Backhand and forehand topspins against backspin

Develop Excellence and Expertise in Coaches

Rowden 2011

The prime component of any expert system is significant, pertinent and ongoing knowledge and experience. Such experience is never transferable in its entirety to other areas or subjects, though some parts may be. Regarding for example top athletes being fast-tracked into coaching, the downside is that unless their own coach was a great teacher and had them fully understanding the whys and wherefores of workout designs, they are completely missing the foundational skills of coaching. Doing and knowing are rarely the same thing.

High Level Performance (Summary)

Rowden 2011

The 7 essential aspects of top-level table tennis:

• Receive of Serve

• First 3 Balls

• Opening

• Effective Pushing over the Table

• Control of the Rally

• Ball Placement, the Special Areas

• The Specialty


The Psychology of the Rally

Gunther Straub 2010

Manfred Muster quotes statistical evidence to show that players are impressed or motivated by the quality (or lack of quality) of a shot produced by themselves or their opponents respectively. According to Muster´s data a piece of luck or a sense of frustration at a certain point in a rally both might have an impact on the result. Thoughts like ‘Saved by the bell!’ which occur because an opponent has neglected to convert a chance, are rather more performance-enhancing than ‘I just blew my chance!’ – despite the fact that both situations are the result of a mediocre shot by the opponent.

Mental Grip

Rowden 2011

The Problem

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.

The Young Brain

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.

Women: Is practice in Europe relevant?

Rowden 2011

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?

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