Get Close to High-Level Competition

By Carl Danner

We all know the benefits of seeing great table tennis played live. But you can also learn from watching top athletes in any sport up close. For example, I just attended an LPGA golf tournament and saw some of the world’s best hitting shots from just a few feet away.

So what did I notice of value for table tennis? First, the golfers all took a solid athletic stance before each swing — without much variation between players. There is a right way to set up, and they all follow it to the letter. Second, golf involves intense periods of concentration, perhaps more so than even table tennis. For four hours, players walk several miles while periodically having to pay complete attention for brief intervals. Each of the golfers did this well, and many had particular routines they followed to prepare themselves for crucial swings or putts.Third, although golf can be played in semi-athletic or non-athletic ways, these professionals were having none of that. Their shoulder turns were full, their arm extensions complete through the ball, their legs driving to create power, and their follow-throughs graceful and balanced.

Even a non-golfer can learn from seeing professionalism like this. The same is also true for any sport played at the highest levels. Pick a sport you like — whether it is golf, tennis, skiing, basketball, soccer, hockey, or anything else. Try to go to a competition where you can really see what the best players are doing. Chances are that their attitude, concentration and athleticism will suggest something useful for your own pursuit of table tennis excellence.