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A New TT Project

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mjamja View Drop Down
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    Posted: 10/23/2020 at 9:35pm
Now that I am back on the road I guess it is time to come up with a new TT project.  I did my "No Playing/ Shadow Stroking Only" video series.   I did and am continuing to do the  "Shadow Stroking with Mountain Man"  series.  However I want to do something more serious.  So I have decided  to do ... wait for it ...

100 Days of Table Tennis

I am going to do 100 straight days of some kind of TT training and post short videos of  the training.  Because I am traveling, most of the training will be away from the table and without a ball.  I will be working on my stance, basic footwork patterns, and of course shadow stroking.  I hope to get to a table about 2 times per week until end of Dec and then I will have access just about every day.  

I expect a lot of days to be repetitive so I will not post videos each day.  Probably a day 1 when I start working on a specific skill and a last day when I feel that I have mastered that skill well enough to move on to the next.

The big news is that the Vegas oddsmaker have the over/under at 10 on the number of days before I miss doing some training.  Actually if I make over 50 out of the hundred days I will be pretty happy.  But "63 Days of Table Tennis" was not such a good title so I rounded up.

Day 1 is actually at the table with member mts388.  Going to focus on my serve return footwork that was mentioned as being so bad in another thread with one of my playing videos.  Then I am going to focus on my stance and very basic movement for a month.  

Video of match with Mts388 showed all the same serve return footwork problems as in the "Another Interesting Match" video.  So I am going to start with focusing on my stance.  Video below shows my current stance and the stance I am hoping to end up with.  The "current stance" shown in the video is actually a little better than my stance in matches.  In matches my feet are closer, stance more square, and knees less bent if you can imagine that.



I went and looked at several TT stance videos.  Gregg Letts had great advice on foot width.  "Spread your feet till in hurts and then spread them a little farther".  Joking, he said "Spread your feet till it hurts and then move them slightly closer".   From Pingsills I got a lot of good info.

I know some of you think I focus too much on the minute details of mechanics.  So I decided to use a simplified approach to getting the stance correct.  Based on analysis of the Pingskills video all I am trying to do is get 111deg knee bend, a 2.33 foot spread/shoulder width ratio, and a 62 deg back angle.  I am not going to fixate on the toe angle of each foot, the exact amount each heel is lifted,  nor the exact distance the elbow needs to hang forward of the body.

Right now I am simply getting in ready position and seeing how long I can hold it before the pain makes me quit.  After 2 days I am up to 15 sec before uncontrolled leg shaking and 30 sec before the pain is too much.  I figure a month of this and a lot of hill climbing and I will be ready to use the new stance in a match ( well at least in part of a game).

Mark - Who is and always will be a work in progress. 

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stiltt View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote stiltt Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10/23/2020 at 9:38pm
Can you do the stance again while watching the yellow sign? and I think in order to watch the path of the ball and its spin you should bend over a bit more, Timo style.

edit: joke aside, I'd like to propose an upgrade of your already fine video, the idea is to get a dynamic stance where you actually jump at returning the serve. When the imaginary server toss the imaginary ball, you crouch a bit and jump at your receive.

Is it true that we should ALWAYS feature a jump at the receive no matter long/short the serve is? the thought came to me with your video (thanks). 

We often say that a serve should feature the recovery to ready position for the 3rd ball. Same idea here, make it dynamic.




Edited by stiltt - 10/23/2020 at 9:44pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote mjamja Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10/23/2020 at 9:42pm
To stiltt,

The highly technical part is monitoring the voltage change from the solar panels to determine if I am low enough to get most of my shadow off the panels.

Mark
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote stiltt Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10/23/2020 at 9:45pm
I added to my silly joke some technical thoughts, I am curious about your take on them.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote blahness Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10/23/2020 at 10:21pm
Tbh I think you look more unstable with the wider stance than you are with your current stance... You need a lot more leg muscles (quads/hamstrings/calves) to support the wider stance to enjoy all the benefits of a wider stance (more recruitment of leg muscles hence more spin/power with loops, closer distance between eyes and ball resulting in more accuracy, and wider reach). At your age I think you're gonna be susceptible to a lot more injuries playing with that wide stance.

I did measure Ma Long, Fan Zhendong, Xu Xin for eg and they have an insane 3+x shoulder width stance which I have no idea how they do it (but they're world class athletes so it does make sense)...  I'm most comfortable at around 2 to 2.5x shoulder width (which is a bit wider than your wide stance still) but I have strong legs from many years of squatting heavy in the gym. 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote blahness Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10/23/2020 at 10:31pm
Originally posted by stiltt stiltt wrote:

Can you do the stance again while watching the yellow sign? and I think in order to watch the path of the ball and its spin you should bend over a bit more, Timo style.

edit: joke aside, I'd like to propose an upgrade of your already fine video, the idea is to get a dynamic stance where you actually jump at returning the serve. When the imaginary server toss the imaginary ball, you crouch a bit and jump at your receive.

Is it true that we should ALWAYS feature a jump at the receive no matter long/short the serve is? the thought came to me with your video (thanks). 

We often say that a serve should feature the recovery to ready position for the 3rd ball. Same idea here, make it dynamic.



+1 for the dynamic stance. I found that it works incredibly well and throws off opponents seriously (they don't know what your stance is because you're moving as they serve). This is basically how Ma Long stands for the most part. 

For my ready stance I stand with my left leg aligned to the left edge of the table, with my right leg directly behind my left leg. I place my right leg to the right during the serve to get into the standard two wing looping stance. This saves energy and also moves your legs to warm them up before the point starts. The incredible thing is that, I can actually choose to place my left leg to the left which allows me to do a one step FH pivot loopkill without moving all that much, and the opponent wouldn't know that in advance. So basically you can choose from a two wing approach or an aggressive whole table FH approach without telegraphing it to your opponent. 


Edited by blahness - 10/23/2020 at 10:32pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote mjamja Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10/24/2020 at 9:53pm
Got to try out my new stance today playing with mts388 and Bh-man.

My results were pretty good, but it was still pretty much me winning with good serves or going into survival blocking mode and hoping for a mistake.  I never counter-attacked when they opened and when I did get in the first attack all I seemed to be able to do if the ball came back was start blocking.  They seemed much better at following up their initial attack with a winning shot.   Bh-man had a bad time with losing sight of the ball in table glare.  Since mts388 and I both stay much closer to the table than Bh-man we really did not have that issue.

Really can not evaluate the stance thing to much.  Just could not stay in it more than one shot a point.  It did not seem to help my serve return that much and seemed to hurt it when I got deep serves to the elbow.  In the warmup where I did stay in it longer it did seem to help my Fh topspin.

So I am up to a mind boggling 4 days in a row of TT and should easily make 5 since I am scheduled to play mts388 again.  Mon and Wed of next week will be the tough days since I have a long hike and a long kayak trip planned.  Hopefully I can get some "stance" work in later in the evening.

Only 96 days left.

Mark - Who never got past 87 bottles of beer on the wall




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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote blahness Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10/24/2020 at 10:11pm
Originally posted by mjamja mjamja wrote:

Got to try out my new stance today playing with mts388 and Bh-man.

My results were pretty good, but it was still pretty much me winning with good serves or going into survival blocking mode and hoping for a mistake.  I never counter-attacked when they opened and when I did get in the first attack all I seemed to be able to do if the ball came back was start blocking.  They seemed much better at following up their initial attack with a winning shot.   Bh-man had a bad time with losing sight of the ball in table glare.  Since mts388 and I both stay much closer to the table than Bh-man we really did not have that issue.

Really can not evaluate the stance thing to much.  Just could not stay in it more than one shot a point.  It did not seem to help my serve return that much and seemed to hurt it when I got deep serves to the elbow.  In the warmup where I did stay in it longer it did seem to help my Fh topspin.

So I am up to a mind boggling 4 days in a row of TT and should easily make 5 since I am scheduled to play mts388 again.  Mon and Wed of next week will be the tough days since I have a long hike and a long kayak trip planned.  Hopefully I can get some "stance" work in later in the evening.

Only 96 days left.

Mark - Who never got past 87 bottles of beer on the wall


Mjamja you've got some very good blocking skills haha...Tbh you should treat your block as a point winning weapon rather than a liability...

Actually the wider stance is always better imo, but it's really tiring and sometimes I even get lazy and stand up during the point if I'm not being challenged much. It takes quite a lot of strength and stamina to maintain that low stance throughout entire matches. I really admire Timo Boll's discipline, even against amateurs he still maintains that low, wide stance!  
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote blahness Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10/24/2020 at 10:27pm
One thing I saw most pros do is that regardless of height their hips are usually at the table level (about 76cm high to be precise)...

My plan on shadowing practice is to use a measuring tape, put it at 76cm and make sure I do all my shadow strokes with my hips at that 76cm level. 

Edit: I realised my IKEA chair is precisely 78cm high so that becomes a super easy point of reference...


Edited by blahness - 10/25/2020 at 1:36am
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote mjamja Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11/18/2020 at 6:31pm
I am almost 4 weeks into my 100 days of TT project (26 days).  In that time I traveled about 1800 miles and played TT in 3 states (3 days with mts388 in Ca, 3 with wturber in Az, and 2 days with a friend here in Rockport Tx.).  I think I did about 10-12 days of work on my stance and some shadow stroking in the new stance.  Sometimes in my trailer and other times in front of laughing people and barking dogs in several RV parks.  So I am not going to make 100 straight, but hopefully I will get above 75 out of 100.  

So what have I learned, or think I learned so far.

Stance - My width was a little narrow, but the main thing wrong is not getting my knees bent and my butt down.  Without this I can not get any forward lean (bend at waist) without falling over forward when I swing.  If I stay upright I am on my heels and falling backwards on all my shots (especially Fh's).   I need a lot more leg strength to be able to sustain this during a point.  Am doing isometric in the stance and mountain bike riding to strengthen the legs.

Fh topspin- I have decided to focus on imitating one player, Jeff Plumb from Pingskills.  I do not think he has a world class optimized Fh, but I think the simplicity of his stroke is something I have a chance of duplicating and of course there is so much good instructional video featuring him.  Below you find a video of my first attempt.  It is not right and the problem is I can not exactly tell what is different, I just know it is not same when I see it.  I think it my be in the backswing.

Bh topsin - I am putting together bits and pieces from several different short pips videos to arrive at my style.   What I am trying for is something between an inverted punch block and an inverted Bh drive.  So using  some of the forearm pivot around elbow idea from the Bh drive, but having more solid contact like a punch block and having a more linear swing path than the circular path of the drive, but not as pure linear as in a punch block
See the video below.

One thing I did learn today was that I definitely am playing too close to the table.  In match videos my Bh backswing was backup against my stomach.  This required some extra forward movement of my elbow at the beginning of the Bh that made timing difficult and caused my blade angle to open more than I expected.  So today I made a point to backswing such that I kept about a softball size space between forearm and stomach.  At first I could not get the swing started soon enough.  In fact I found that I had to start the swing well before the ball bounced in order to have the right timing.  This is very hard to do.  I moved back about a foot and suddenly I could use the right backswing and have time to accelerate the racket forward even if I waited until the ball bounced.  I have problems with faster/quicker balls to my Fh also so I think this 1 ft adjustment will be useful there as well.  Will need to work on my service and serve return footwork so I am not staying jammed up against the table.





Mark - Only 74 days to go




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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote pitigoi Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11/18/2020 at 7:52pm
I'm far from expert but I am also correcting my moves to follow pingskills.

Your FH counterhit looks fine to me. I like your hip rotation.
You are a bit too high, but this may not be the low hanging fruit.
Are you on the balls of your feet? Some weight shift?

Also, if you can be more relaxed and close the elbow at the moment of
contact, you'll get more topspin.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote mjamja Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11/18/2020 at 8:47pm
In the video I am trying to loop not counterhit.  So if it looks like a counterhit I must be doing something really wrong.  Need to go back and check the pingskills counterhit video.

Mark
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote mickd Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11/18/2020 at 9:34pm
Hey Mark. Looks good! It definitely looks more like a loop than a counterhit to me. I haven't seen the pingskills video in a long, long time, but to me your arm looks a little stiff, almost like you're using your shoulder over your body to swing your arm. I'm not sure if that makes sense. I see it in my own stroke too and it's something I'm trying to change.

I like the burst of speed you're getting from a short and efficient backhand stroke! Don't really have anything in particular to add :)
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote mjamja Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11/21/2020 at 10:12am
Originally posted by mickd mickd wrote:

Hey Mark. Looks good! It definitely looks more like a loop than a counterhit to me. I haven't seen the pingskills video in a long, long time, but to me your arm looks a little stiff, almost like you're using your shoulder over your body to swing your arm. I'm not sure if that makes sense. I see it in my own stroke too and it's something I'm trying to change.

I like the burst of speed you're getting from a short and efficient backhand stroke! Don't really have anything in particular to add :)

I think you are spot on the use of the shoulder vs body to generate the forward motion.  What is so sad is that in this video I am doing one of the best I have ever done of using the body.  In lots of the older videos you can see the racket move forward, hit the ball, and start the follow through before there is any sign of the shoulders and hips turning.  Lots of work to do yet.  It is like I hit the ball with the arm and when the stroke is complete I suddenly rotate hips and shoulders to get back to a forward facing position.

In my active block and counter I actually do a very good job of driving the racket forward with hip and shoulder rotation.  But as soon as I start trying to spin the ball the forward swing is all arm.

With whatever infection I have it looks like I wil lose at least a week of playing or even shadow stroking.  That 100 days is dropping fast.

Mark 


Edited by mjamja - 11/21/2020 at 10:13am
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