Coaching players for over 17 years and watching them at tournaments and events, it's clear 99% don't know what makes them tic!.
I believe if you asked 100 coaches if they teach their players/students how to knock up (and take away anxiety) in a tournament, many would say yes but only 1 YES would be correct!
So I've decided to write this to help coaches and players.
We all know how important it is to train but we struggle to have the same confidence in tournaments as we do in the practice hall.
Three key elements:
1. Prepare as you do in practice,
Don't become aware of your unforced errors or mistakes in a tournament day, unless you're aware of them in practice. We take practice for granted and are unaware consciously of unforced errors. in tournaments if you look at 95% of players you'll notice they become hyper aware of each and every error. Its as if we all of a sudden make ten times more mistakes compared to practice. This couldn't be further from the truth, in fat you probably are making less errors due to awareness, so i suggest having a simple numbers routine in practice e.g. fifty drives and 10 topspin's both sides, count how many open ups you get out of ten both wings. once you have your practice routine ratios, you can implement this on the big stage and we clear as to whether you are actually not playing well or visa versa.
2. Warm up properly
90% of players have a good warm up routine in practice but as soon as they enter the hall, they grab a bat and ball and jump on a table. Why change a routine on the most important occasions? stick to your routines regardless..
3. You're trade mark exercise
Do a regular footwork exercise which you're good at and makes you feel positive about yourself and your game. once you find a routine which compliments your game use it to boost your confidence, in tournaments.
Why do something completely different to the way you normally do it? Makes no Sense right? So the answer is simple keep it the same and the outcome will generally be the same. but if you change the input then the output will generally change..
Watching a film inspired me to play table tennis but entering an unknown domain should and could have destroyed my inspiration!
We all start somewhere and the initial impact can shape the direction we choose to go. Getting hammered by every opponent was not a pleasant experience, we all experience some sort of humiliation by certain individuals for not having good skills and that can be soul destroying. I remember progressing in the sport yet at the time my level was still low and after six month of playing I remember a common theme; I would ask good players to play with me and their response would be sorry "I'm playing x,y and z maybe later! or "your not good enough" "I'm tired" then go off and play with someone else! there were many more excuses and it dawned on me there and then, (if I ever become a top player, I'll play with anyone..)
We all start at the bottom, of course some progress faster than others but in reality our starting point is virtually the same, 'BEGINNER' level. At 18 I was fortunate to inherit a coaching job from one of my original coaches (Gideon Ashison). I soon realised that coaching is much more than just correction of strokes and game development.
Coaching gave me the opportunity to help others in their game but most importantly believe in them, something I wanted as an aspiring young player.
Today I've coached many national and international players simply because:
I have studied and never stop studying Table Tennis
I want to see players I coach regardless of age or level; learn, improve and achieve...
So, if you're really serious about your game, contact me so I can help you develop your table tennis.
FB: Eli Baraty
other TT services: www.ebattsport.com
We fight an endless amount of external forces, when playing a match or competition.
But our biggest enemy is non-other than YOU!
How a game/match sways, sometimes is out of your control and it can change at anytime, due to; tactical change, external distraction of some sort, or that voice inside which questions your ability.
Be aware of any tactical change and adapt to it and try to focus on your breathing to stop any external distraction.
One thing you must never do is question your ability! If you're able to do it in practice, you can replicate it at any given situation.
I watch players lose momentum and at times that slight shift can turn the whole match around from a winning position to a losing one.
Being a massive Roger Federer fan I've learnt that he has one attribute that sets him apart from everyone.
Watching him play over the years I've never seen him question his ability. He went through a 5 year period where he hardly won (some expert's believed his time had come to an end due to age) but he never doubted himself. I also began to doubt his ability to compete at the top and in fact thought it was game over when he had a knee operation and was unable to compete for 6 months.
Then I saw him uploading videos of himself training and expressing his hunger and 'will' to make a come back at 35 years young. Federer won the Australian open and three days ago another tennis title.
Federer, if you watch him play never questions his ability regardless of his opponent, crowd or score board. Due to his inner confidence he has achieved more than any other tennis player in history and is aiming to become no.1 once again.
In Roger's words.. if I'm behind on the the score board, it becomes irrelevant! "while the match is still alive, I can win".
Table Tennis coaching for kids begins with nurturing your child’s learning process
If your son or daughter has shown some ability or dare I say it “talent”, for the game, the next step would be to get a good coach for further development.
Finding a good table tennis coach for your son or daughter can be like walking through a desert looking for water and occasionally you will see a reservoir.
I chose to write this blog in attempt to help players, mum’s and dad’s and even coaches themselves.
Tip 1: Find a club or Academy that has a low player to coach ratio.
There is an abundance of camps, academies, coaches and clubs out there that would all love to have your hard-earned cash. They may even have big names and famous past background playing careers.
However, you need to do your homework and find out if your child will actually be coached by these so called top coaches/players, or is your child in a group of many players overseen by an aspiring young coach who is mentored by a legend but has limited interaction with your child!
Getting a one-on-one lesson if possible it's a great way of advancing your child’s game. Of course the price will depend on the coach which is dependent on location, past and present success. The advantages of a private coach are the same as in a school classroom; the one-to-one ratio ensures the teachers full attention and causes your child to focus on the teacher and their learning, not his/her classmates. Sometimes A two-to-one or three-to-one lesson can be even better, as the players may feed off of one another but beyond that the learning becomes decreased.
Therefore if your child is in a big group constantly their growth in development is reduced unless there is a ratio of max 1-8 players.
Tip 2: Find a self-developing coach.
If you have decided to appoint a coach on a 1-2-1 or small group lessons, you need to discern which coach is the right one for your child.
How to evaluate a good coach? Look at his/her resume and find out where they have coached, who have they coached, have they developed and moulded their coaching style over the years to keep up with the modern game?
DO NOT evaluate a coach form his/her qualification. Why? ‘you ask’ would you take a brain surgeon with the highest marks in England for his PHD and he has only done one surgery? or would you take a surgeon lower level PHD marks with 20 years of experience and 500 successful surgeries under his belt? The answer should be clear..
Qualification gives the fundamentals and in a certain aspect grants permission to do what you do in your field, it does not state your level of coaching ability.
Tip 3: Sometimes what you see is what you think!
By this I mean, does the coach keep him or herself in good condition physically?
Does he or she play regularly?
Why does this matter? well for several reasons: (there are exceptions of course)
Tip 4: Watch the coach in action.
If you are allowed ask a coach when there next training session is on and go have a look, watch them in action. If they have video tutorials on YouTube have a watch and see if you like their coaching style.
Tip 5: Your child’s perspective
Everyone is different and we all respond differently to things, therefore a simple recommendation is to ask your child what they thought of the coach? Often, they know if the coach is right for them.
A good coach in most cases will be able to adapt to that child’s specific needs, character and learning style.
Tip 6: The Past has gone, the future is not here yet, so focus on the present
A club or Academy’s past is irrelevant, it’s a guide but does not determine the present state and the prospect of its future. Therefore, I recommend looking at the history of the coach and his environment and using that as a guide line. But more importantly look at what the coach is saying and doing, are they ambitious are they driven and do they still possess passion?
Simple questions would be:
What’s your goals?
How long do you expect to be at this club?
What drives you?
I hope this has been a useful insight for people looking at getting a coach.
Growing up, I was unaware of how mentally tough I was! I wanted to win and that desire drove me through many hurdles.
My personal desire to win as a player faded due to many reasons (that's another story) but I want to share 3 key elements which I believe can help you win more matches.
1. Talking to yourself:
We all have that voice that pops up saying "you're going to lose this match" "don't bottle it" that's the voice that likes to say negative things and find excuses and reasons for us to lose.
As soon as you hear that voice, over ride it and speak to yourself, internally or externally, repeating positive words and phrases such as; "this is my point" I'm capable of winning this match" etc.
2. Facing the challenge head on:
I often hear and see players given excuses prior and after a match. "I haven't trained this week" "my rubbers are dead" "I've been unwell". The fact of the matter is you have a match regardless, so why not face it head on? If you lose you lost with your specific circumstances and on that occasion it wasn't meant to be! You give yourself a greater chance accepting your so called issues and going into the match with what you have. if you manage to win you did it despite your issues..
It's like being thrown into three different cages with a lion.
Cage 1: You have a gun
Cage 2: You have a knife
Cage 3: Only you stand before the lion
In all three circumstances you have no choice but to fight for survival. If you choose not to fight regardless of cage number, you will lose your life! If you choose to fight in all three cages your chances of survival are increased.
I'll never forget watching one of the all time greats Wang Liqin and he had a special formula which he used to control the tempo of a match.
If he won a point on his serve he would bounce the ball twice on his bat and then serve. If he lost a point he would bounce the ball 4 times!
On the return of serve, he would wipe his hand once on the side of the table and twice if he lost the point.
Now you have some inside secrets to perform regardless of the situation, go out there and perform your magic..
By Eli Baraty
Facebook: @coachmetabletennis by Eli Baraty
1. Multi-ball or Robot:
If you have a sparring partner who can do multi-ball (Multi-ball tutorial click here). This is a system that was introduced by the Chinese to increase consistency by hitting 100's of balls within a short space of time.
The system develops muscle memory and gives you the ability to hit thousands of balls working on footwork, technique and consistency . This system is extremely beneficial and compared to a normal practice of 1 ball per rally, followed by time spent on picking up the ball, its a no brainier
If you don't have access a sparring partner or coach and wish to get a similar results, you can purchase a table tennis robot. The same principle applies, you are able to hit many balls within a short space of time.
The issue (you may or not agree with me) the variety of shots accessible and the spin received can be unrealistic. Furthermore there may come a time (shortly after initial use/purchase) where you will get bored due to limited sequences and zero interaction, or feedback.
2. Single Ball Training
The polar opposite is a 'single ball training session' but with a twist! One of my former coaches had a theory (if you train with one ball in a large hall) it encourages full focus on a single rally and reduces unforced error's. When you have lots of balls near by, your focus is reduced on unforced errors.
I must admit this helped me in two ways; 1) focus became "match like" and 2) the disappointment of an unforced error was thought about while fetching the single ball.
I suggest doing this kind of training at least once a month and depending on the amount of times you train this can be increased or decreased. I also believe this type of training is better suited for advanced players..
Having the perfect technique is not vital for consistency but it may harm progression.
The key, regardless of poor or good technique is to find what works for you. Once that has been established you must focus on re-enforcing that movement and make it muscle memory. If a technically varying stroke had been been developed and used in match play, you will notice many unforced errors due to technical deficiencies. So repetition of a correct movement is vital to maintain a stable stroke through an exercise into a match. Please note, different stokes are needed for different types of balls received, e.g. a back spin ball requires a different stroke to a topspin ball received
They say 6000 times is needed to build muscle memory so I would focus on developing a stroke that works and follow it up with 6000 reps.
Equipment plays a big role in consistency make sure you buy a good bat that will give you the best possible chance of developing your game. A few personal recommendations for developing or advanced players please click here
There's no real secret to becoming consistent, it's about correct reps and developing the mindset which believes in the work you have put in.
Facebook: Eli Baraty
Business W: www.ebattsport.com
‘How do we deal with different individuals?
Many years ago I went running at my local park when a 9 year old popped out of nowhere saying "I can beat you in a race" I thought who is this little 'Muppet'? But I felt sympathetic and the 'foot race' began! I won using my fast walking pace and the young kid was disappointed in himself but quickly bounced back by saying "I'll beat you at table tennis" I tried not to laugh as he had no idea I was one of England's best players at the time!!
So I invite little Zak to my TT club and showed him that not only was I slightly better than him but I was also able to beat him using my brick Nokia phone!
I was fascinated seeing a 9 year old whom had only played once on holiday (yes once and he thought he could beat me), able to coordinate his hand effortlessly in making contact with the ball.
I know some may say there's no such thing as 'talent' but he had a gift and I was certain of it! I was so sure that told his mum if you let me coach him he will be no.1 in England.
A bold prediction I know but he's ability to adapt and absorb information was second to none.
A month later two new students entered my club one extremely confident 'externally' but clearly had some issues (anger management), his name was Guy. The third was a son of a former England player and a legend in my eyes when I was an aspiring young TT player. Reece, was trained by his dad but their relationship on the table broke down and his dad wanted me to take over.
So I had three players: Zak a so called natural, Reece an all-round ability and Guy poor hand eye coordination.
Zak - Was able to do what I told him at an instant but rarely trained and when he did he was lazy, or messed about at least that's what it felt like! (Although you could say it was his way of learning by experimenting)
He was strong minded and had a great fighting attitude...
Reece - Was relatively hard working and also possessed great ability but he needed to hone his skills and lacked self-belief. Possibly due to expectation put on him by his dad and matching his dad's past achievements.
Guy - Was the hardest working kid I'd ever seen! Unfortunately his coordination was of a two year old. For example, I had to tie his legs with a piece of string at a certain length to keep them at shoulder width, rather than almost a ballet split position!, this was alongside his dad holding his waist and free arm to possess the correct body balance needed for certain shots. Furthermore I put barriers behind Guy so he wouldn't drift backwards and I would give him visual, vocal, and technical instructions. Fortunately he was willing to do whatever it took in order become a top player! He would train for hours on end before and after group sessions.
All three reached an incredible level nationally, the following positions were achieved no.1, 2 and 5. Given this information I ask you to predict who reached what ranking in their respective age group?!
Specific training I used:
Mr talent - I had to always think outside the box to engage and mentally stimulate him. This meant that I would stay up some nights without sleep preparing something different and special just so I could keep him happy and 9 times out of 10 he would find a reason for it to be a waste of his time!!! But I would challenge him by saying something like I've got over 50 different type of serves, I'm sure you could do all of my 50 serves, the question is can you do one extra, one that I have not seen before or one that I am incapable of doing and it's unique to you?! (He did just that, and had one extremely special serve)
I would challenge his physical and mental skills alongside one another, for example; if I told him to do a normal drill he would get bored after two minutes so I would take a piece of paper and have Zak train while attempting to hit the paper and if he achieved it then he would have to fold it in half continuously. Then the challenge would be, giving Zak the option of placing the folded paper anywhere he wished, on their side of the table and attempt to hit it. This would become harder and harder as the paper got smaller and the location would be moved continuously. After 10 minutes of doing the exercises Zak found a location which was virtually impossible to hit but legal and it just highlighted his maverick kind of behaviour.
Zak was always challenged to think outside the box and when it came to the crunch moment he would produce some sort of magic that nor I or anyone could have taught him under those circumstances.
Mr all-round: He enjoyed every training session and he would do his best to learn and do as he was told. The problem came when pressure was introduced, so I would constantly find scenarios that would put Reece under pressure such as "your dad won this tournament" that would instantly get him worked up and his face would turn red in anxiety to either achieve that target or he would go into a shell and crumble under that pressure.
This meant I would need to find the balance of when to pile the pressure and when to take it off to get the best out of Reece. I would always find a way of putting pressure on him via drills or matches. For example his dad often watched him train, so I would say here's an exercises, then go to his dad and say are you willing to pay out if your son fails? In general he would agree. So I made the odds 10-1! I said Reece you have 10 chances to open up if you get 80% on or above I will buy you and your dad a drink. But if it's less your dad will be buying me 10 drinks. As he got nearer the target I would increase the pressure by using verbal pressure words such as "in a tournament you know you would miss this shot" and any other verbal triggers I could think of. If Reece passed the test I would remind him of his success at tournaments by saying "remember when I bet you that you'll get over 80% well show me that it was not a one off.
Reece, learnt how to use the pressure of training and often said to me can you give me a trigger moment which he would put into a real match situations.
Mr hard work: Guy was willing to do anything to win but his skill were restricted by his limited coordination and often his desire to win was unmatched by his technical inability. So I had to find ways in which to give him the opportunity of winning even though he may not have had the skill required compared to his opposition. I found two aspects; 1) his natural speed and 2) his awesome power. This meant I needed to constantly work on increasing his speed and hone his power to be used when the time was right. For example I would say after the third shot go for it (boom, show them the power), eat lighting and crap thunder (Mickey from Rocky).
I would do special drills such as multi ball using two tables on Guy's side giving him the ability to increase his speed while generating power. I went one step further, I would initially allow Guy to play backhands but as his speed increase I limited him to forehands only. Guy had become so fast that no matter how hard his opponents hit the ball and no matter where they placed it Guy could get there and had possessed incredible retrieval ability.
Can one person overcome bigger opposition?
There was a local club rival and they had players of the same level and age as us (Barnet TTC at the time.
I was the only coach at my club and they had, a head coach alongside 4/5 Chinese coaches and sparring partners. On paper we should stand no chance of competing, right? Wrong!!!
We often played each other in leagues and tournaments but more often than not we won.
How could one coach beat 5 coaches?
I believe this was mainly due to my coaching style versus there's.
I catered for my player’s individual needs while they were coaching their players in a particular style like robots. Everyone would do the same drills and no one would be given the freedom to express themselves. It was a set regime that had to be followed or you were out! I quickly worked out their style and was able to guide and give my players a winning formula against their systematic match play.
3 keys to my coaching success which you can use:
1. Truly work out your players individual needs and ability and hone in on it. This may include their body shape, height, speed, strength, mentality, background mind-set etc.
2. Understand that some will have more natural ability then others but that does not mean they cannot achieve high level as seen from the above players
3. Challenge yourself as a coach by thinking outside the box rather than doing the normal training exercises. Patterns are everywhere but if you are willing to continuously develop and innovate then there is no pattern and your opposition/rivals will struggle to beat you. I have never met a top coach who has done it exactly by the rule book.
A quick story on point no. 3 the Chinese have dominated my sport for most of its existence but in the 80's and 90's they met their match, with a small country called Sweden.
When the Chinese faced the Swedes they would tell their players to play against player 1 this way, player 2 that way but against player three who is regarded as the greatest of all time, it was a different story. He changed, moulded and adapted his game constantly and was so innovative, creating new shots that it was virtually impossible to predict his game pattern or style. So against player 3 the Chinese coach said "do your best!"
I read a book by Napoleon Hill, he interviewed the likes of Thomas Edson and Henry Ford. After interviewing Henry, Napolean said, "how is this guy ever going to be a success" and after interviewing Edson, he said this guy can only be a success, after all, he was willing to fail over 10,000 times to finally create a light bulb! My point on this continues later..
I went up to an England selection coach at a tournament and said look at these three young players I'm working with. Zak was instantly picked to train with the England squad (U15), as for Reece, I was told he needs a little more work especially mind-set and Guy, I was told he would never be any good and he's a waste of time!
I was determined to prove this coach (a Muppet in my eyes for judging so quickly) wrong. He judged these three youngsters at such an instant which I didn't agree with so I worked extra hard to make sure all three improved and within a year all three were training inside the England squad. Furthermore I was given a job within the England youth development squad! You can imagine what I said to that England coach after all three were selected.
Admittedly my thoughts which were spoken out loud didn't go down too well and I found myself out of a job, Lol, oh well!
Napolean, judged both Henry and Edson according to what he saw and heard in the complete opposite! But his judgement was only 50% correct as both achieved greatness as we all know! The England coach judged all three differently but all three achieved England stature! The moral, never judge your players at an instant and provide them your best regardless of your personal opinion.
Zak reached no.1, Reece no.2 and Guy no.5...
we can all achieve greatness if we're willing to step into the uncomfortable situation and work through it to develop regardless of our circumstances
Fail to plan, plan to fail
There are three types of sports people in life: a loser, a participant and a winner.
More often than not we choose our destiny (consciously or subconsciously).
Most have the same aspirations and dreams "to be a Winner" but most don't have the PLAN and true WILL to be a WINNER!
As a child I generally played on the streets, rarely seeing my mother or father, I was able to explore and do what I wanted. This gave me the belief that anything is possible and I developed the hunger, heart and determination needed to become a champion but I lacked one key factor a PLAN.
I had dreams of becoming world champion and I was willing to do whatever it takes in order to achieve that dream. Unfortunately I did not have a guide/coach so I took it upon myself to do what I thought was right (watching the best players play and practice).
I practiced very hard like a professional and I emulated the technical aspects which I saw. I progressed very fast and throughout my junior career I genuinely believed I would become world champion one day!. At 17-18 years of age reality hit me and I realised that I was nowhere near the level I needed to be to achieve my ultimate ambition. So I stopped playing table tennis at 19 only to come back a year later.
I had a dream and the desire but I didn't have guidance and nor did I have a specific plan, this ultimately lead me into the losers category.
You must have someone who has either experienced your chosen journey or the knowledge needed to guide and direct you towards your destination. I was ignorant and didn't know that it was virtually impossible to become a table tennis world champion starting at the age of 14 being based in England (a relatively weak table tennis nation).
If your under the age of ten you have a chance but you must have a guide/coach to porvide the knowledge needed and set a plan...
Your guide or coach
They need to be:
1. Be realistic- this means the ultimate goal must be recognised early doors. So if the child says he wants to be world champion but does not have the mind and attribute needed then you need to find the pathway and plan for their vision.
2. Have experience or a vision which co-insides with the pupils vision and belief
3. MOST IMPORTANTLY the coach must have a PLAN. It's easy to quit, it's difficult to stay in the game and it's virtually impossible to become world champion. So to become special you must have a plan in place to drive you and make you hit targets on your way towards success. Often we are caught in a system and become either a follower (participant) or we leave (loser). If you have a vision and know what you wish to achieve then creating a plan is easy because you know where you are going.
We see something we like and decide to go into that field but more often than not we are sucked into a system. A set way of training, a set tournament schedule and a set belief system.
You are an individual which means if you follow or copy others it's highly unlikely that you will be a champion.
You must have a plan in place that suits you specifically.
Things which need to be taken into account:
Your body shape and height
Your mind set
Your work rate
Your sacrifice (level)
And so on
Once all of this has been taken into account a plan can be placed with a specific training schedule; mental training, nutritional plan, physical training and optional target hitting chart.
Please note a plan can be altered or changed depending on the situation but a plan must always be in place if you truly want to be in that small group of Winners.
Over time no matter who you are, you will face tough times and you will make mistakes.
I have no shame in owning up to my miss fortunes but unlike most, every-time I face a stumbling block or get a hit I force myself to find away around or get up and move forward.
When I first started playing table tennis which was after watching 'Forrest Gump' I entered my local table tennis club believing I can beat anyone and become World Champion like 'Forrest'. I challenged everyone and the few that accept my challenge wiped the floor with me. I left the club with my tail in between my legs but told each and everyone that I will be back next week. I came the following week and received the same treatment!! but I kept coming back for more and after about 4 weeks I had my first win :-) shortly after I started beating most of the players at the club and in a year I was no.1 at the club. I moved onto bigger and better clubs with the same mentality and today I am proud of my level and achievements due to my stubbornness and perseverance. I achieved so much success in a short lived career due to one factor perseverance.
If you truly want to be a good table tennis player you need this quality far more than any other quality. Remember if you get hit get up and move forward because no matter where or who you are you will face tough times.
The picture shows two former world champions and two former students of mine. Both students hardly play anymore due to many factors and reasons but ultimately due to lack of perseverance. Unlike both Wang Hao and Wang Liqin who endured blows and hits that most wont face in their lives to achieve special things.
Never give up, keep fighting and if you cant win don't stop just change direction and find away to win elsewhere!