Do you guys know what it takes to go from a club level player to an elite level player in table tennis? This question has been asked countless times and will be answer here today.
But first some answers that might turn you off
First, people always say that there is pathway/environment to improve to a certain level. Yes there is definitely a path to a higher chance of success. Some examples are:
Get coaching from a young age like in China. Get a very good table tennis coach. Have parents that support sports instead of just grades in school.
Have money to spend on table tennis, hiring top coaches, buy the best table tennis bats. Train at the best academies. Then you will definitely reach the a high level of table tennis, if you don’t give up.
However even if there is a higher chance of success to be an elite player. Then why are there so many kids training right now in academies all over the world but are not making it a successful career?
Definitely having all these will help you in a ton of ways but it boils down to really a bit of “luck” and it cannot be controlled. However being hardworking is something you can control.
Second answer, people say that if you reach 10,000 hours, you will definitely be a perfect player. But that is sadly, also untrue.
Even though you have reached 10000 hours, there are still so many variables at play, how many hours spent just fooling around, how many hours training the wrong or right thing, or putting in enough effort, etc.
Some players are born with natural talent in certain areas and there is no specific hour to aim for. Granted 10000 hours will give you a ton of experience and you should be near an amateur professional level by then. But to reach the top it takes a lot more than hours.
There are many factors that go into play for an athlete to reach a high level.
Now age is really important, from the ages of 9-12 years old is the peak at which the kid can absorb the most techniques and start to understand how to play the sport. These 3 years are the most important to build a strong foundation and to really grind table tennis into the body.
There are exceptions who start late and still reached the top in the world. However, why take that chance? Start your kid early if you want them to do well.
What should you do if you are above the age of 12 and want to reach the elite level?
Simple, you got to work hard, and not only put in the hours, but you got to work smart. Now this is important >> YOU NEED A GOOD MENTOR, someone with experience playing professionally, and has to REALLY CARE about helping you. There is no point getting a top player turned coach who does not care about the student. You will learn nothing.
Also, getting a coach with no experience and only book knowledge will not get you far either.
Next, if you cannot afford a coach, get a good sparring partner, or better yet, make friends with an elite player and keep playing with that level of players. I know it is very hard to find but if you show passion, most people will not turn you down.
As you play with higher level players, your body will start to adapt to the speed, the game play etc. Be patient and you will see improvements. Now i am not going to lie to you, you need to put in the hours even if you are playing with elite players already, the number of hours is still important, maybe 2 hours 4-5 times a week minimum.
You need a good training regime. If you have a solid coach who can do this for you, great! If not, you need to really sit down and think, maybe discuss with a close table tennis friend on what to improve, and really lay it out so you can understand how to plan.
You need a variety of doing drills, point play, matches, etc. You also need to refine your technique however this must be done as early as possible with a good mentor so you do not get bad habits.
You need to put in the hours. Minimum for casual club players who want to reach an elite level is 2 hours a day 4- 5 days a week. You can go take a break from work and join an academy for 2 months, or you can travel around to compete in tournaments. Being consistent in you practice sessions is a serious way to improve. But you have to be ready for a long commitment of maybe 6 years and above.
Getting the moral and financial support to train from age 6 to age 26 is a huge factor. This is very important, thus if you do not have the financial means, you need to really work hard to get local results, and ask sponsors for money. This is uncontrollable and boils down to luck or connections.
You gotta work hard. Period.
If you choose to put table tennis as the first priority in your life, you will often be left feeling empty and hopeless, especially after losing. However the temporary sacrifice for 10 years or so is important if you want to succeed.
Of course as a casual player you don’t need to do that. But you still need to keep table tennis training as one of your top few priorities if you want to reach the elite level.
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