Purposeful Practice in Table Tennis

Feb 8, 2017

Every time you step near the table tennis table for practice, do you have a specific goal for your practice. If you are training with a coach does he have a plan for the day's practice and more importantly does he share the plan with you?

Purposeful practice is, as the term implies, much more purposeful, thoughtful, and focused than this sort of naive practice. In particular, it has the following characteristics: Purposeful practice has well-defined, specific goals.

I have seen some coaches come to practice and randomly assign drills for students to practice, even if the coach has a plan if he does not share the purpose with the student, she might not understand what the focus is and this goes against well-defined goals as the focus of the coach, and the trainee might be different.

So what are the characteristics of a purposeful practice?

Purposeful practice is all about putting a bunch of baby steps together to reach a longer-term goal. If you are focusing on improving your topspin, purposeful practice would be to focus on the start position on one day, finish position the next day, point of contact, weight transfer, movement and so on.

Purposeful practice is focused.

As mentioned above you narrow down the focus on one thing at a time to achieve your goal.

Purposeful practice involves feedback

Feedback might be in the form of a coach giving you instructions and/or you recording your play and analyzing it to see how your practice is going on.

Purposeful practice requires getting out of one’s comfort zone.

Even if you feel you have great looping techniques you will need to get out of your comfort zone and experiment new things, for example, you can change the distance from which you are used to, change the speed, aim for the baseline or a particular spot. If you never push yourself beyond your comfort zone, you will not improve.