Step-Around Footwork Drill

Newgy Robo-Pong

Here's a good drill for footwork and variation in your strokes. It can get vary fast paced and tiring but very useful as it simulates a point in real play. Set your Newgy to give a medium height ball about 4-5 speed and 5-6 frequency to start. Aim the Newgy into the back-hand corner. Hit 3 easy backhand balls consecutively cross-court and on the 4th shot, run around with a quick side step and hit a forehand smash down the line similating a kill in a real game. Then immediately side-step the other way, getting back into position to hit 3 backhands again. As you get better, increase the speed and frequency. You can also practice variations in your shots by blocking the first backhand, looping the next backhand and then smashing the 3rd backhand before running around. This drill gives you a good cardiovascular workout from all the running around, helps develop variation in your shots, quickens your footwork and rehearses a point that is played a lot in real game situations. Just look at Deng Yaping.

Read more →

Unique Footwork Drill

Newgy Robo-Pong

Always doing the same stroke may be a wrong thing to do as it is rare to have the partner at the club serving you balls consistently the same way in a match, even in practice. Have your ping pong robot send balls (underspin or topspin) to the middle of the table at a low frequency so you have time to:

  1. Hit, loop, or push the ball with your forehand, depending on what stroke you want to practice.
  2. With your free hand, first touch your backhand corner and then your forehand corner of the table.
  3. Execute a backhand stroke (your choice).
  4. With your free hand, touch first your forehand corner and then the backhand corner of the table.
  5. Repeat.

It just adds a little bit of randomization and helps to better integrate the environment. Once you can successfully do this drill with the ball sent to the middle of the table, try this drill with the ball sent slighlty to either side of center. Another variation is to change the depth of the ball. E.g., set up one drill with the ball landing midways between the net and endline of the table and then another drill with the ball landing either shorter or longer than in the first drill.. I suggest 3 minutes each drill. Have fun, Yazel.

(Editor's Note: I did this drill and it is surprisingly fun to do. It has a pleasing variety of body movements and is very good for helping footwork It blends table tennis movements with non table tennis movements, so it feels strange to someone used to doing traditional ping pong drills. Also it is mentally challenging because I had to keep myself focused on the proper sequence of motions. Depending on how forceful your strokes are and how good of shape you're in, you may not be able to do this drill for an entire 3 minutes. Vary the duration of your drill accordingly. This is somewhat similar to the Chair Drill, where actual strokes are combined with other movements.These types of drills are a great way to add variety and spice to your workouts.)

Read more →

Combining Forehand and Backhand

Newgy Robo-Pong

Once you are proficient at forehand and backhand block and counter strokes, it is time to learn how to combine forehand and backhand strokes. Maintaining a good ready position is the most important aspect of combining strokes. A good ready position decreases reaction time, permits easy movement in any direction, and assists in making a smooth, flowing transition from one shot to the next.

Most of the drills described in this chapter require you to have good footwork. If you have trouble maintaining consistency when you have to move your feet, take time out to read Chapter Nineteen Footwork, pages 63-64, and shadow practice the footwork until you feel comfortable with that kind of movement.

Lesson 14: Ready Position

To assume the ready position, keep your:

  1. Feet apart, at least shoulder width or wider. Your right foot is slightly further back than your left foot.
  2. Weight on the balls of your feet with the heels slightly off the ground and your weight evenly distributed on both feet.
  3. Arms hanging down with the forearms bent at an approximate 900 angle to the upper arms. This should place the elbows slightly in front
  4. Knees bent according to your height. A tall person needs to bend his knees more than a short person. Avoid standing up straight with your knees locked.
  5. Racket pointed forward, not favoring forehand or backhand.
  6. Head tilted up with your eyes focused on the ball.
  7. Entire body balanced, relaxed, and in a state of alert readiness.
  8. Mind clear, ready to jump start the body into action as soon as ball speed, spin, and trajectory are perceived.

The basic sequence of a rally is as follows: First, assume the ready position. Second, judge the trajectory of the ball. Third, move to the ball. Fourth, stroke the ball. Fifth, return to ready position. The ready position begins and ends every stroke and every rally. Practice this by:

  1. assuming the ready position,
  2. taking a quick two-step (refer to Footwork, for an example of two-step footwork) to the forehand
  3. Executing a shadow stroke forehand counter
  4. Taking a two-step back to your original position, and
  5. Reassuming the ready position. Repeat this action until it feels comfortable.

The next drill will be to repeat the same drill as in the preceding paragraph except you add a backhand counter. For this drill you would:

  1. Start in the ready position
  2. Take a quick two-step to the forehand
  3. Shadow stroke a forehand counter
  4. Take a two-step back to your original position
  5. Reassume the ready position
  6. Shadow stroke a backhand counter
  7. Finish by reassuming the ready position once again. As before, repeat until it feels comfortable.
Lesson 15: Combination Block Strokes With The Ready Position

To practice forehand and backhand combinations, turn the robot off and set the sweep control levers to the numbers 2 and 5 positions. The ball will land from the middle of your forehand court to the middle of your backhand court.

Assume the ready position just to the left of the center line. Make sure your racket is pointed straight forward and that the racket and your forearm align with the center line of the table. Turn the robot on at a slow speed and frequency and practice a backhand block when the ball lands to the left of the center line and a forehand block when it lands to the right of the center line. After each stroke, make sure you assume the ready position before stroking the next shot. Do one drill in which you place all blocks (both forehand and backhand) crosscourt, and a second drill where you place all blocks down-the-line.

Gradually build up your speed, but be careful not to go so fast that you forget to return to the ready position between strokes. Once you have reached your upper limits without losing good form, increase the range of oscillation by changing the sweep control levers to positions 2 and 4, if you're right handed, and 3 and 5, if you're left handed.

At these settings the ball will land randomly from your forehand corner to the middle of your backhand court. Repeat the above drills, but this time move whenever the ball goes to the wide forehand. Again, do one drill placing all blocks crosscourt, and a second drill placing all blocks down-the-line. Start at slow ball frequency and build up. Lastly, set the oscillator to sweep the entire width of the table (sweep control positions 3 & 4) and repeat. Be sure to use a backhand block whenever the ball lands in your backhand court and a forehand block whenever the ball lands in your forehand court. Gradually build up ball speed and frequency. Your goal is 50 successful blocks in a row at each stage.

Read more →

Forehand Counter

Newgy Robo-Pong

This stroke starts the same as the forehand block in the last chapter. Your stance and position to the table are the is struck at the top of its bounce. Unlike the block, which is executed with a relatively still racket, the counter has a medium-sized backswing and follow through. This is done by pulling your racket backward with your forearm and then pushing it forward and slightly upward. Be sure to maintain the correct racket angle throughout the stroke.

Stroke the ball mainly with the forearm, using your elbow as a pivot point. Hold your racket slightly below the height of the ball at the beginning of the stroke and finish with it slightly above the height of the ball. Stability in the stroke is achieved by making sure your racket is at or slightly above the level of your elbow at contact. An indication of a complete stroke is the tip of your racket pointing forward or slightly to the left at the end of the stroke. Keep your wrist tilted down and do not let it flop back and forth.

Lesson 5: Forehand Counter With No Foot Movement

Aim the robot so it will shoot balls to the middle of your forehand court and turn off the oscillator. Starting at a slow speed, begin to forehand block the ball crosscourt. When you get a feel for the ball, take a quick step backward. At the same time take your racket back by twisting your waist and shoulders, and pulling back your forearm (not the upper arm). Timing your swing with the oncoming ball, swing forward into the ball as illustrated in Photo 8 on the next page. Remember to swing primarily with your shoulders and waist, not with your arm.

Focus your eyes on the ball until just before contact. Keep your head steady and don't let it turn as you twist your torso. Time your twist so the ball goes crosscourt. If you twist too soon or too quickly, the ball will go wide to your left. If you twist too late, too slowly, or not enough, the ball will go down-the-line instead of crosscourt. Be careful to keep your wrist straight and tilted down. When you are ready to place the ball down-the-line, bend your wrist slightly backward and time your twist the same as you did when you placed the ball crosscourt.

Develop a forehand counter following the same procedure as you did with the forehand block. First, at low speed and frequency crosscourt, then down-the-line, and finally alternating crosscourt and down the-line. Gradually turn up ball speed and frequency until you have reached your upper limits. As you turn up the frequency and/or speed, remember to do a complete stroke. Don't turn up the speed to the point that you shorten your stroke. Your goal is 25 successful counters in a row at each stage.

Lesson 6: Forehand Counter With Foot Movement 

Follow the same sequence as you did with the forehand block. Move the sweep control levers to the 1 and 4 positions for right-handers or to the 3 and 6 positions for left-handers. Practice your forehand counter in a crosscourt direction with the ball moving randomly within your forehand court. Then practice hitting the ball down-the-line, and finally alternate between crosscourt and down-the-line. Gradually build up the ball speed and frequency. Be sure to move your feet and get into good position before stroking the ball. Avoid reaching for the ball within your arm. Your goal is 25 successful counters in a row at each stage.

Photo 8: Forehand Counter (crosscourt)

Notice how the whole right side of the body is twisted into into the ball and how the forward swing and follow through are about the same length.

Images 1&2: End of back swing. The racket is raised to the anticipated height of the ball and the racket angle is adjusted slightly. The back swing is chiefly a twisting back of the waist and shoulders and a pulling back of the forearm (not the upper arm).

Image 3: Forward Swing. Mainly a twisting forward of the shoulders and waist.

Image 4: Just after ball contact. Notice the closed racket angle and the very quick acceleration from its position in Image 3. This was accomplished mainly by snapping the forearm forward and rotating the upper torso. The upper arm still has not moved very much.

Image 5: Follow through. The upper arm continues to move the racket forward and upward.

Image 6: End of stroke. The racket ends up in front of the face in line left.

Read more →

Footwork

Newgy Robo-Pong

This chapter is intended for those who need assistance in moving to the ball. If you can perform a stroke well while keeping your feet in one spot, but you lose consistency when you start practicing the stroke with foot movement, then you need to improve your footwork. When learning footwork, slowly shadow practice several sets of the described footwork until you get the hang of it. Then combine practicing footwork with a particular stroke or combination of strokes using the robot to deliver balls to different points on the table.

Having proper footwork greatly assists in executing good strokes. With proper footwork, a player will move into good position and then execute his strokes from a solid, balanced stance. This leads to consistency, quickness, and being able to use full power. Without good footwork, a player will reach, lean, and hit the ball from an unbalanced position. Strokes end up being jerky and erratic, more like slaps than strokes.

In table tennis, you won't have to cover a lot of ground, but you will have to move to a spot very quickly. Therefore, most table tennis footwork consists of one or two steps, usually fairly short. During all footwork, it is crucial to stay balanced. Always start your foot movement from the balanced ready position.

Place your weight on the balls of your feet with your heels lightly touching the ground. Keep your shoulders centered over your knees. Eliminate any up and down movement. Move the instant the opponent has committed to his shot, not before. Move to where the ball will come before starting your stroke. Avoid stroking while moving.

For side-to-side movement, you may use one-step, two-step, or three-step footwork.

One-step footwork is normally used for short distances, two-step for medium distances, and three-step for long distances. One-step footwork is very common when moving left to cover a wide backhand. It is performed by simply shifting your weight to your right leg and pushing your left foot further to the left. Vice versa if you want to go to the right. One big disadvantage of one-step footwork is it can leave you in a "stretched out" position if you have to move more than a foot or two. Once stretched out, it is difficult to get ready for the next shot.

The two-step footwork is the most common form of footwork. It is used to get into forehand position for balls to your wide forehand two-step footwork, you lean on your right leg, pull your left foot toward your right foot, then quickly shift your right foot to the right. You end up with your feet in the same relative position as when you started the movement except 2-3 feet further to the right. It is a side-skipping type of movement.

Three-step footwork is used to cover shots hit deep to the forehand comer, angled off the wide forehand sideline, or to step out wide on your backhand side to hit a forehand. It is very similar to the two-step except an additional small step is made before both feet are shifted. To move right, take a small step with your right foot to the right (6 to 8 inches), shift your weight to your right leg, then perform a two-step movement.

Figure O: Footwork Diagrams

Below are diagrams showing how to place and move the feet f or one-step, two-step, and three-step footwork. The diagrams are for a right-handed player. You should practice these patterns until they become second nature. When practicing, remember to stay balanced and in a good ready position. Strive to keep your shoulders level and on the same plane (no up and down movement of the body and no dipping or raising of one shoulder).

Read more →

Random Footwork

Newgy Robo-Pong

The biggest difference between playing a robot and hitting with another player is that a robot can hit everything the same, while a player's shots always have some variation. However, the Newgy robot is designed to give you random shots over a pre-arranged area, via the oscillator and the oscillator's range levers. You don't have to have it hit every ball to the same spot. This allows you to work on your footwork as well as your stroke.

On the back of the robot is the "robot oscillator range levers." (Editor's note: These are listed as "Oscillator Control Levers" in your robot Owner's Manual, part #'s 61 & 62.) These show the various ranges the oscillator can sweep through, depending on which setting you choose.

Assuming you've taken the time to develop decent forehand and backhand strokes, it's time to learn to move and stroke. More specifically, it's time you learned to cover a certain proportion of the table with each stroke.

Set the robot on topspin. Set the robot's oscillator's range levers to 1-4, so the robot sweeps over just the forehand side of the table. (You can adjust the robot to sweep over a smaller area when starting out, if the 1-4 setting sweeps too much area.) Put both the speed and frequency settings in the 3 to 4 range. Turn on the oscillator to about 6, and the balls will shoot out randomly to the forehand side. Return each ball with your forehand. (Editor's note: this assumes you are right handed. If left-handed, place control levers to the 3-6 settings.)

To do so, watch the robot very carefully, and move your feet to follow the direction it is pointing. Keep your weight on the balls of your feet, with your knees at least slightly bent (Editor's note: the taller you are, the more you need to bend your knees). Move with short steps, keeping your weight centered at all times. Try to be in position for each ball without having to reach—move into position so the ball goes through your forehand hitting zone.

Now set the robot's oscillator range levers to 3-6 (1-4, if you're a lefty), so the robot sweeps over the backhand side of the table. Repeat the drill with your backhand. When you feel comfortable with that, do the same drill—with the balls still sweeping over your backhand side—but use only your forehand from your backhand side.

It is important to learn to hit the forehand from the backhand side because often you will need this skill for put-away shots. You normally should not play backhands from the forehand side, however.

Next try covering larger areas of the table, but this time using both forehand and backhand. At first set the oscillator's range levers so that the robot doesn't quite cover the entire table, and practice making clean shots, both forehand and backhand, by moving to each ball, not reaching. As you improve, increase the area until you are able to cover the entire table this way.

When the robot is set to sweep over a relatively small area of the table, the frequency setting is not too important as the balls will effectively come out randomly over the assigned area either way. When you start covering the entire table, however, the frequency setting begins to matter. Start off relatively low, at a pace you can cover somewhat consistently, and work your way up to faster and faster frequencies. Consistency is the key; don't set it so fast that you are leaping and diving after balls!

As you improve, you can also increase both the robot's speed setting and how hard you hit your own shots. You should also try the above drills with the robot set on backspin, and either attack or push. Generally, attack backspin when using your forehand (unless it goes too short, in which case you should either push or flip), while either pushing, driving or looping with the backhand.

There are two basic skills the preceding drills are designed to develop. First are the footwork skills to cover the table by moving to the ball, not reaching, so that you can consistently hit clean shots. Second is what is called "neuromuscular adaptation"—the ability of the brain to quickly make a choice, and react. This is developed in the drills where you have to choose whether to use a forehand or a backhand. Developing these skills will greatly enhance your ability to play strong rallies comfortably.

Read more →

Chair Drill

Newgy Robo-Pong

An adaptation of a drill presented by Victor Tolkacheva at a Dan Seemiller clinic known as the "CHAIR" drill. Done to work on footwork, aerobic fitness and concentration, the chair drill requires the placement of a chair about 4 feet behind the table and the robot to be set on topspin. The chair drill starts with student behind chair, first moving left beside chair as ball crosses the net. Moving forward and to the right, the student must then execute a FH counter or loop to the cross - court angle. After doing the stroke, footwork away from the table places the student in position to start all over again! Increasing the frequency of the balls requires the feet to work more and more efficiently and changing the robot from topspin to underspin will dramatically increase the effort needed to perform at a consistent level. I highly recommend doing this drill first as shadow practice to familiarize yourself then be a test of the additional factors that weakens a persons ability to loop / counter. If you have a training partner, both can do this drill at the same time and really tax the timing aspects of footwork. BUT USE CAUTION not to hit your partner with the follow through of your stroke or you might need to find a new partner!

Read more →

Footwork Drills

Newgy Robo-Pong

The Newgy Robot is very useful for footwork practice. You are forced to keep moving because the robot rarely misses. Here are some footwork drills you can do with your Newgy Robot:

Side to Side Footwork Drills
One-Step Footwork 
    1. Set Oscillator Control Levers to 2,5 (narrow sweep range). 
    2. Adjust oscillator speed so ball are place at each end of the sweep range. 
    3. Hit ball coming to your forehand court with forehand strokes, hit balls coming to your backhand court with backhand strokes.
Two-Step Footwork 
    1. Set Oscillator Control Levers to 1,6 (no oscillation). 
    2. Alternate your forehands and backhands to hit balls back.
Three-Step Footwork 
    1. Set Oscillator Control Levers to 2,5 (narrow sweep range). 
    2. Adjust oscillator speed so balls are placed at each end of the sweep range. 
    3. Hit balls coming to your forehand court with backhand strokes and balls coming to your backhand court with forehand strokes.
Stepping In/Out Footwork Drills
Two-Step Footwork 
    1. Set Oscillator Control Levers to 1,6 (no oscillation). 
    2. Adjust head angle and ball speed so balls bounce twice on your side of the table. 
    3. Step in to forehand hit a ball after it bounces once, then step out to forehand hit the next ball after it bounces twice, step in to backhand hit the next ball after it bounces once, and finally step out to backhand hit the fourth ball after it bounces twice. You should be moving in an "8 on its side" (_) route.
Three-Step Footwork 
    1. Set Oscillator Control Levers to 2,5 (narrow sweep range). 
    2. Adjust head angle and ball speed so balls bounce twice on your side of the table. 
    3. Hit balls in the same manner as described in previous two-step footwork drill, except you now need to take 3 steps to make it to the balls.
Notes: 
  1. If you find the 2,5 sweep range too wide for you, change it to 1,5 or 2,6. 
  2. If you find the 2,5 sweep range too narrow for you, change it to 2,4, 3,5 or even 3,4. 
  3. If you're right-handed you should step in with your right foot closer to the table, or you won't be able to bring your playing hand close to the ball. 
  4. If you're left-handed, you should step in with your left foot closer to the table.

Read more →

Step-Around Footwork Drill

Newgy Robo-Pong

Here's a good drill for footwork and variation in your strokes. It can get vary fast paced and tiring but very useful as it simulates a point in real play. Set your Newgy to give a medium height ball about 4-5 speed and 5-6 frequency to start. Aim the Newgy into the back-hand corner. Hit 3 easy backhand balls consecutively cross-court and on the 4th shot, run around with a quick side step and hit a forehand smash down the line similating a kill in a real game. Then immediately side-step the other way, getting back into position to hit 3 backhands again. As you get better, increase the speed and frequency. You can also practice variations in your shots by blocking the first backhand, looping the next backhand and then smashing the 3rd backhand before running around. This drill gives you a good cardiovascular workout from all the running around, helps develop variation in your shots, quickens your footwork and rehearses a point that is played a lot in real game situations.

Read more →

Forehand Block

Newgy Robo-Pong

The first stroke to learn is the forehand block. It is called a block because you want to block the path of the ball with your racket. The block almost feels like no stroke at all. You do not swing at the ball, but merely intercept the ball with your racket almost like a bunt in base ball. The block uses a ball's speed and spin to make your return go back over the net. The block does not add more speed or spin to the ball. It simply redirects the speed and spin back to your opponent. It is used to return topspin.

Intercept the ball with a still racket as the ball is rising and just before it reaches its peak. Angle the racket open or closed by rotating the forearm to make the ball return low over the net. If your return is too high, angle the racket more closed by tilting the face of the racket toward the table. Conversely, if your return is too low and doesn't clear the net, angle the racket more open by tilting the face of the racket closer to vertical.

One common mistake for beginners, when they are getting ready to hit a forehand, is to reach out and touch or lean on the table with their free hand. This is a direct violation of the rules and will cause you to lose a point in a match. So keep your free hand up and use it to counterbalance your racket hand.

Forehand Block With No Forehand Movement

Now that we are ready to play against the robot, pick up your racket and hold it with a shakehand grip and with the racket face perpendicular to the floor and the wrist tilted down. Position yourself right at the end of the table, just to the left of the center line as shown in the Photo below (left handers need to stand to the right of the center line and will have to substitute right for left and left for right in all further instructions.) Take up a slightly sideways stance so you can make contact with the ball to the side and slightly

With the robot controls set as follows: spin - topspin, ball speed - 2 to 3, ball frequency - 3 to 4, oscillator speed - off, oscillator range - 3 to 4, head angle - C or D, head directed to forehand court. Turn the power switch to "ON" and after waiting for the balls to load up, prepare to block the ball back across the net with a still racket. DO NOT SWING AT THE BALL. Merely intercept the ball just before it reaches the peak of its trajectory after it has bounced on your side of the table. Experiment with tilting the racket angle downward until you can consistently place the ball back in a crosscourt direction and low (approximately 2-3' inches over the net. Make the ball go back by redirecting the ball's speed and spin.

PhotoForehand Block (Crosscourt)

Note angle of the racket. It is tilted slightly down (to compensate for the topspin on the ball)
and slightly to the left (to to the right with about 60% of the weight on the right leg.

Do not add more speed to the ball with your stroke. Remember to keep your wrist steady and tilted down. Do not allow it to flop around. Your goal is to correctly execute 50 crosscourt blocks in a row without missing.

Once you have gained consistency at blocking the ball back crosscourt and low, bend your wrist backward slightly so your return goes down-the-line, in stead of crosscourt. Practice this down-the-line block until you can consistently place the ball back low over the net. Your goal is to correctly execute 50 down-the-line blocks without missing.

The next step is to alternate crosscourt blocks with down-the-line blocks. Practice until you can successfully execute 25 patterns of one crosscourt block followed by one down-the-line block. When you can do this, you're ready to add more frequency and speed to your shots.

Turn the ball frequency off. Reset the ball speed setting to 3-3 1/2 so each ball is delivered close to the end line on your side of the table. Turn the ball frequency to 4 and practice crosscourt blocks until you do 50 in a row without missing. Then practice down-the-line blocks until you do 50 in a row. Finally, practice alternating crosscourt and down-the-line blocks until you successfully do 25 patterns without missing.

Turn the ball frequency off and reset the ball speed to a higher setting. When you turn the frequency control back on, adjust to a setting higher than your previous setting. You do not necessarily have to turn up the ball speed and frequency to the same level, although this is usually the case with the block. You may also need to adjust the head angle to keep the ball on the table. When you turn the ball speed higher than 3-4, you have to raise the head angle so the ball doesn't bounce on the robot's side of the table first. Rather, the ball is delivered so it first bounces on the player's side. Repeat the same sequence of crosscourt blocks, followed by down-the-line block, followed by alternating crosscourt and down-the-line blocks. It may be helpful to back off from the table slightly as you turn up the ball speed to allow more time to position your racket correctly.

NOTE: As you build up the ball speed, it becomes increasingly important not to swing at the ball. Be sure to attain consistency at each step before proceeding to the next step. Keep increasing the ball frequency and ball speed settings until you have reached the limit of your current ability and you begin to get erratic in your ball control and placement. Make note of the settings when you have reached your maximum limits.

Forehand Block With Footwork

When you have reached your current maximum limits, you are ready to combine movement with stroking. To add movement to the robot, with the main switch off, set the sweep control levers to the numbers 1 and 4 positions if you are right handed and to the numbers 3 and 6 positions if you are left handed. Set the ball speed controls to 1-2 points below your maximum rate, as determined in the preceding lesson.

Turn the main switch on and adjust the ball frequency to a comfortable level. The balls will be randomly fed to an area from your forehand corner to the center line of the table. Practice blocking the ball back crosscourt with your forehand until you are consistent, then practice down-the-line blocks, and finally alternate crosscourt and down-the-line blocks, all with the ball moving to random positions at a slow speed. Once you complete this sequence at below maximum speed and frequency, gradually turn up the ball speed and ball frequency controls until you reach the upper limits of your current ability without losing consistency.

It will help if you watch the robot head to see which direction it is going to shoot so you can move into position before the ball is thrown. When moving sideways to hit a forehand it is important to move the feet to the remain upright and bent slightly forward. Remember to move first, stroke second. Avoid reaching for the ball. If you are having trouble moving, you might want to shadow practice table tennis footwork .

Read more →