By Carl Danner
New United States champion Ariel Hsing is a welcomed addition to the JOOLA family. She is the leader of a growing group of young American women making their marks on the national and world scene. Like most champions, Ariel has some habits and qualities from which all players can learn — even if your schedule does not permit the same kind of intensive training she pursues:
1. Be aggressive: Modern table tennis is all about the attack. Even defensive players must depend on big forehand loops they pull out at every opportunity. Ariel always attacks, from the first point of the first game until the last. She does not let up, she does not play down to lower-rated opponents, and she does not stop. By contrast, most players have lulls in their games when they view a lead as sufficient, an opponent as already beaten, or themselves as just needing a rest. To be like Ariel, try increasing the number of points each match that you play in a fully aggressive manner.
2. Practice with full intensity: It’s an old adage — difficult practice makes competitive matches easier. There is no goofing around at the table for Ariel during her training sessions or league matches. She concentrates fully, and works hard. Of course, this doesn’t stop her from making errors or having things go wrong. It does, however, also give her more experience at correcting those issues. Chances are that your training time is more limited, which should make it even more precious. To be like Ariel, make every practice opportunity count.
3. Seek out and learn from expert advice: We are fortunate to have a growing group of expert coaches working in the U.S. these days, from world champions on down. Ariel has been fortunate to receive coaching from many of them — and more importantly, to listen to their advice to make improvements in her game. You can do the same by attending one of the high-level clinics these experts offer. Oddly enough, some players seek out but don’t actually listen to high-level coaches, perhaps because they are a little stubborn, or because they fear a temporary loss in playing level from making substantial changes. Ariel’s not that way, and you shouldn’t be, either. To be like Ariel, don’t be afraid to get help!
4. Use technology: If Ariel is playing or training, chances are the video recorder is also at work. Likewise, her coaches use video and Internet capabilities to research opponents, develop game plans for matches, and analyze her results. There’s nothing quite like seeing yourself on video, or examining a couple of prior matches a key rival has played against others. To be like Ariel, get a video camera and use it.
5. It’s a team effort: Ariel comes from a close-knit family of table tennis players. To that great foundation, she adds the resources of numerous coaches and table tennis friends who are happy to lend a hand. While Ariel is the only one at the table, the results are more than any one person could achieve alone. She and her family think in terms of a team effort, and are extremely gracious and appreciative to everyone who helps. To be like Ariel, develop your own team spirit of mutual support at your club, and see it pay dividends for everyone involved.