Everyone has seen those dudes that come out the gym and they are massive. These huge hulks have been working hard on their bench press, bicep curls and shoulder press. But then you look down at their legs. They’re skinny chicken legs and all of a sudden you realise they are not the ultimate in human capability that you originally thought.
There is a very similar phenomenon in table tennis. Those players that train really hard on their topspin shots and they have lightning footwork when doing regular drills. Along comes a player who doesn’t have the most powerful shots and looks considerably weaker in the warm up. Put them in a match however, and you begin to see that the first player has been skipping serve practice. Although they looked great in the warm up. They no longer look the same calibre of player. The second player, although at first didn’t look very special, dominates the other player that can’t get into a rally at all. They play clever with great serve variation and spin and in the end are victorious.
Photo via ITTF Flickr
This is an important lesson. To be a top player you not only need to work on the showy shots which look great in the highlight reel. You also need to work on the stuff which is really going to make a difference in your matches. For example, instead of practicing topspin to topspin, spend some more time working on touch to touch. Or, instead of working that same regular footwork drill, try and work in an irregular exercise starting with a serve or receive. The benefits to your actual match play will be as big as that guy from the gym’s biceps 💪
Lesson: Don’t skip leg day in the gym, don’t skip serve practice in the training hall.