Table tennis for concentration & benefit*
*Rhymes with fun & profit - get it?
I had an interesting session last night with a 9-year-old kid, who we'll call "Sammy." He was having trouble with both consistency and concentration. The two go together. Like most relatively new players, he had developed decent stroking technique, but had trouble repeating the stroke over and over - and as all coaches know, if you can't repeat it over and over in practice, it's going to fall apart in games. (See my comments at the end on how this relates to table tennis players in general.)
Like I tell many students, I told him you don't really have a forehand or backhand until you can hit 100. That seemed way too many for him, so he said how about going for 30? We compromised on 50, and I told him that if he got 50 forehands, I'd say he had a "halfway good forehand" - but he'd need 100 before I would say it was a "good forehand." I also told him that something like 3/4 of new players go right from 50 in a row to 100, since once you get the stroke down - and more importantly, the ability to concentrate - there's little difference between 50 or 100 in a row.
After several attempts in a row where he kept missing at around 30 or so, including a disheartening miss at 45, he wanted to quit. I convinced him to keep at it, that it would click.
It clicked. In what might have been our last attempt for that session - we did need to work on his backhand and other stuff - he hit 178 in a row. I wrote on the ball, signing my name:
June 8, 2011
The ball is now on his trophy shelf. (I also challenged him to hit 50 backhands in a row; he got I think 82. He'd never come close to either of these numbers.)