What is your Table Tennis Playing Level
When we play our objective is always to go to the next level . No matter what your level is , Beginner , Intermediate , Advanced , You want to get to the next level.
To prepare to get to the next level , it is very important to understand 2 things
What is your current level ?
What will be your next level ?
I have always felt the broad classification of Beginner , Intermediate and Advanced is good from simplistic perspective , but in reality every player has overlapping capabilities between those 3 levels . For Example - A player might be at advanced level in his/her 3rd ball top spin game , but he/she may be at beginner level in his/her 4th ball block game. ( elaboration - 3rd ball is played when you are serving , 4th ball is played when you are receiving)
The above mentioned overlapping is just one of many complex mappings which as a player we will face .
So the key question becomes . How to determine once level ?
As a player , how do you answer above 2 questions reliably ?
In my below paragraphs I will try to elaborate some simple rules of thumb to understand your game better . Then use that better understanding to move to the next level.
What is your current level?
To start understanding your own level , you got to be able to think about your own game very clearly . To think about your own game you got to play the game in your mind - Visualization is the word for it . It is very important to keep the thought limited to your own self and not visualize your opponent .
Which service seems to be most easy for you, BH-cut , BH- sidespin , FH counter and the list goes on . The trick is to map your strongest service on the advanced level .
As 3rd ball return which is the most effective return you do for a specific service eg on BH cut service , what is your 100% stroke you do not miss . That stroke will be your Advanced level stroke
How well the integration of your service with your 3rd ball stroke is , will determine your level for first 3 balls play level .
Following table will help you summarize your assessment.
The above exercise will help you understand your first 3 balls playing level . Continuing similarly you will need to assess your receive capabilities , to assess your 3 balls playing capability when you are receiving .
Once the first 3 balls playing assessment is done , you will need to move to 5 ball assessment , 7 ball assessment and 9 ball assessment .
Those assessments will enable you to analyse your opponents also on a similar scale and when you play next time against those opponents you will know what to expect .
What will be your next Level
Once you have established your level for various different parameters you will be working closely with you coach or practice partner to define a growth path to move to the next level. A clear plan with simple milestones will help you get to the next level .
For example if your assessment summary in the last step looks like below
Clearly things which can be inferred from the table above are .
Player needs to work on his/her backhand cut service.
Player needs to work on his/her backhand push to place the ball in various areas on the table.
Player needs to work extensively to be able to return the 3rd ball with backhand push 100% of the times
Considering above 3 points you and your coach need to work on creating a dedicated plan to work out the next step for first 3 balls.
The simple illustrations above would have given you a fair idea , how technically complex game of table tennis is . But any complexity can be mastered by proper breakdown and planning.