Hi guys – thanks for joining me. In this video I’m just trying out my partner’s webcam so I’m sitting in front of my desktop for a change just to see how it works out. So we’ll give it a go and see how the quality is.
While I’m doing that I just thought I might as well do an actual topic for the video, and the topic that I want to bring up for you guys to have a think about is that they do say that it takes 10 years roughly or about 10 000 hours to become an expert in something, and that may be very well true, I probably wouldn’t disagree with that too much, but what I would just like to add is that I see a lot of guys down my local centre that I’ve known over the years, they have been playing more than 10 years and really haven’t improved at all even though they are only at intermediate status.
I can understand that if you are a high advanced level player, it’s difficult to keep improving because the law of diminishing returns will eventually catch up with you. You can’t necessarily do enough training to keep improving stuff. If you can only train 3 or 4 times per week, you may not be able to physically do enough training to keep improving, because it keeps getting harder to improve.
But I do see a lot of guys who are really at the intermediate stage, not bad, not great, lots of room for improvement, but they really haven’t changed much in the last 10 years or more of playing.
So the question I would like to pose is do these players have 10 or more years of playing, or really 1 or 2 years of playing 10 times over? Are they just repeating the same stuff and going through it over and over again?
I think for these sort of guys who stall at a level that is way below their potential, I think that’s the case, I think what’s happening is that they are just really going through the motions – having fun, but not really working at it, so year to year just repeating, not doing anything new.
If that’s the case for you, if you’ve found that you have stagnated and haven’t really improved much in the last year or two or longer, then what I’ve got is three points that I think are worth thinking about, that might help you get out of that rut.
The first point being that you’ve got to be engaged, you’ve gotta be focused and concentrating on what you’re doing, when you’re playing and when you’re training. That’s the first thing, if you don’t have the focus and concentration, it’s very hard to do anything else because you don’t really know what’s going on. So firstly, when you are out there training, when you’re out there playing, make sure you’re focused on the actual table tennis – what’s going on, what are you hitting, what are you doing, not talking to other people, listening to music, chatting or just daydreaming generally kind of thing. Pay attention.
Presuming that you’re paying attention, the next one that quite often gets mentioned by myself and other people – point 2 – is try to notice and correct your mistakes. So when you do something wrong, try and pay attention, think about what went wrong, what happened, why did it happen, what can you do to fix it, and then making sure that the next time that that situation comes up, you attempt to correct it, and then paying attention to whether your attempted correction did actually work.
So that’s why this leads from point 1, if you’re not concentrating, you won’t know what went wrong, but if you are concentrating, you can say look, I hit the ball off the table, it went a foot over the net and the ball had no spin so it just kept going straight, it didn’t dive down. So therefore when I next try and do that same shot I will hit the ball lower over the net, I will put more topspin and a little bit less speed, and try and get the ball to dip down. And then you try and play the shot, you see whether it works, and so on. So you have that corrective mechanism feedback, using negative feedback, using your mistakes to correct it.
The third thing, the last thing which doesn’t often get mentioned, which I’ll just bring up, is to also use positive feedback, use good feedback. When you play a good shot, try and repeat it. Try and think to yourself, what did I do, what was so good about it? Was my technique good, did I move well, all that kind of stuff. When you do something right – try and repeat it again. The little proviso I’d just like to make with that is I mean when you do something good, not when you do something lucky, and a lot of people hit an amazing shot that a world champion would get 1 out of 10 times – so something incredible – and they think I’ll do that again, and obviously the next 3 times they miss it – because it was lucky, it wasn’t great. You’re looking for good technique, something where you did the right things, you did good technique and you got a good result, then try and repeat that. Don’t try and repeat luck – you had a wild amazing swing and no technique but the ball just hit the centre of your racket and happened to go on. You don’t want to try and repeat that, that was just a fluke.
Those are the three things, be focused, know what you’re doing and pay attention to what’s going on.
If you do something wrong, work out what it was, look for a solution, try and implement the solution, see how did it go. If it worked, great, if not, correct and try again.
And finally, when you do something right, when you do something good, not just lucky, but when you do something good, try and repeat it. OK? Thanks guys.