I was recently watching Timo Boll’s latest video on the 3 common mistakes players make, and some of the tips I found suprisingly interesting. Here is the video in question. He mentions:
- Paying attention to a low position. This is a pretty basic aspect of table tennis play. Nothing really new here for most people and yet an invaluable tip. From my experience, inspite of the simplicity, being mindful of this and being able to apply it at all times is a different story 🙂
- Racket angle. He mentions that he opens up the racket angle during the backswing and closes it as he initiates the stoke. The reasoning is that when you have very little time to react to a shot it’s much easier to close the angle instead of opening it, which kinda makes sense (he does a much better job than me explaining it in the video). I think the goal here is to improve the consistency of your shots, especially in difficult situations. I found this idea pretty interesting and it’s something that I will try to apply in my training/games and see how it goes.
- Abdominal tension. This. This is the main reason I am making this post. He mentions tensing your abs at all times during play and says that it’s something that he wasn’t aware of for a long time but it improved his game tremendously once he started applying it… This took me aback a bit as it was the very first time I heard someone mention this. Never have I had a coach talk about this and I haven’t found anything online about this either, when I tried looking.
Which brings me to my question to the coaches. Is tensing your abs something you do yourselves? Is it a well-known secret that I somehow never encountered in my playing time? What’s the science/ kinesiology aspect behind this, if any?
I can’t wait to hear your thoughts,
Yes I’ve seen some of Timo’s videos with tips and they are good ones for sure. All the ones you’ve listed above I think are good to focus on to help improve.
The abs tension is definitely something that most players actually don’t think about, or at least they forget about it often. I would say that myself and Dan do think about it but probably not in the same way Timo mentions. Usually I focus on tensing the abs as I play the shot and through the contact of each shot for extra strength and to keep balance and a good stable body position. This I do think is important so you don’t lose your centre of gravity and keep a good position at the table.
I don’t think many players actually tense their abs the whole time like Timo mentions but that clearly works well for him. I would definitely suggest trying to focus on abs tension throughout the contact, especially on shots like a powerful forehand topspin where you are looking to generate power but not lose balance etc. Also this will help a lot when lifting backspin to give you the strength from your body and not just the arm.