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How To Start a Table Tennis Training Session

I walked into Natanya’s (Israel) Table Tennis Club and observed initially. Personally, I find it fascinating watching how players start a table tennis training session.

I have been coming to this club for the past 22 years (I attend the club while on my personal family visits). I have been popping into the club once sometimes twice a year. I used to come as a player and today I’m welcomed as a coach.

Natanya Table Tennis Club

They have some of Israel’s best juniors and seniors with access to their playing hall, 6-days a week. They have a lovely hall with 7 squeezed tables set up and not the best of run-backs. Nevertheless, the club is full to capacity every day and has two wonderful people who mainly coach and run the club. Tal Martini is the head coach, a man with pure passion and love for the sport and his players. He is limited financially and physically at the club but remains upbeat and treats the club as his own family. Michael is the manager/owner/coach, he created the club (I believe) and to this day manages the club. His passion does not seem to have faded and after 22 years of knowing him, the fire in his eyes remain lit.

Some things never change:

I clearly remember the first time I visited the club, aged just 15 and super excited to train at the club. The way they began their table tennis training session seemed odd. It was accustom to knocking up backhand to backhand and forehand to forehand cross-court, in England. At Natanya’s club, they started with pushes! I remember back then asking why? And I was given the answer by Michael, it’s important to feel the ball first before hitting it.  And to this day they begin their training sessions in the same way.

Does the start of a training session matter?

I always say it’s not how you start but how you finish! Which, in my opinion, is 100% correct, nevertheless a good start can have a significant effect on the final outcome.

Today, I don’t agree with Natanya TTC’s opening routine. I believe a positive stroke must be introduced initially not a passive shot.

Positive over Passive:

Passive shots:  Pushing, short touch, fishing, lobing and blocking.
Positive shots: Forehand and backhand attacking strokes (Topspin or Loop), flicks, counter topspin and power blocks. Statistically speaking we win 70-80% when playing a positive attacking stroke as opposed to 20-30% of passive shots.

How should we start a training session?

A good warm-up:  A physical warm-up off, the table allows us to get our muscles warm and loose. It mentally prepares us for battle and focuses our minds and body on the present moment.
2-5 minutes of service and return:  We forget the first shot in the game which is either a serve or a return. So why do we practice everything before those two key shots? Start with your Serve and Return. This will help you improve your serve and focus on getting control and feeling prior to an official knock up.
Knock up:  Start slow, often we go BH-BH and FH-FH drives strokes, we hit the ball hard and fast. Without feeling, control, timing or focus on our strokes (technically). Build the speed once you have felt your timing is where it should then follow that with FH and BH Topspin attacks.

It’s your Choice and Your Routine

After that, you can implement a routine of your choice. I like to follow up with short touches and then loop to loop AKA forehand to forehand topspin away from the table. I like to evolve and change my warm-up routines constantly. E.g BH to BH top to top, drives and top-spins down the line or middle table. The more variations the better I believe. But try to stick to a strict initial routine as mentioned above. This allows you to hone in the fundamentals throughout your playing career.

How we start often will give us the best possible ending, one of which we want and require.

WrittenEli Baraty

eBaTT (Eli Baraty Academy of Table Tennis)
Coach Me Table Tennis
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