If you want to improve your match play in table tennis and ultimately your results, then you need to have the right set of drills and exercises in your training which allow you to do so. This video looks a 3 high quality training drills that professionals use to improve decision making and anticipation. These drills we demonstrate and explain are aimed at intermediate and advanced level players, they are irregular exercises that you can build into your training sessions and will help you to improve your match play!
Drill 1: 1 or 2 backhands, 1 or 2 forehands
The first drill is an adaptation of the commonly used 2 backhands and 2 forehands exercise, the blocker will control with their backhand and place 1 or 2 balls to the topspin players backhand and then 1 or 2 balls to the forehand side. This drill is brilliant for reading changes in direction and speeding up the switch between the backhand and forehand side which in match situations will give you that extra time to play a higher quality shot.
Drill 2: Backhand to backhand then switch or pivot
In this drill both players are working simultaneously together at a situation that happens often in modern table tennis. Both players play backhand to backhand and at any time either player can switch down the line or pivot to play a forehand on the backhand side and the rally is played out as a point. The reason we like this drill so much is that you really learn to watch your opponent and their body language as well as focusing on your own strokes and movement. You need to keep an eye on the other player to see if they are looking to turn around for a forehand and you can make the switch to catch them out, but at the same time protecting your wide forehand in case you are switched.
Drill 3: Half to whole table starting with serve
In this drill we start with a serve and long push to any area, the blocker can then play anywhere on the table and the topspin player has to play everything back into the backhand side. This means the topspin player has to constantly watch and adapt to the changes in direction and maintain a good recovery and strong footwork which are all elements that are vital to improving your match play.
All to often we see player doing regular drills where they know exactly where the ball will go, now sometimes this is fine for improving technique and timing, but if you’re serious about improving your match play you need to use irregular drills and practice in situations where the ball placement is random which creates more decision making, anticipation and quick changes of direction.
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