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There have been a surprising number of people who learnt to play a new sports well after childhood, going onto for example the Olympic Games held in Sydney 2000. You can do that too in table tennis maybe for no less prestigous comps.

By 'copying' the article 6 Ways to Get Active at Any Age from 'www.shape.com', I would like to help our members get fitand healthy and enjoy the pleasures and fun of table tennis. Moreover, I would like to encourage the older or mature members to use some simple methods to improve their skill level which will enable you to smash that little plastic ball around at will.

There are a very few number of people like Tiger Woods or Sharipova who had talent and trained from toddler age to becoming rising stars by the time they were teenagers.

The rest of us aren't super talented but we don't need such innate qualities to be excellent table tennis players. These are some tips from people who went on to be Olympians after starting a new sport well after their teenage years.

 

CHALLENGE YOURSELF

It’s never too late to learn a new sport and get really good at it,” says Rebbeca Rusch (world mountain bike champion). "Everyone should expand their sporting horizons.” Want to expand yours? Rush recommends getting educated and using your experience to help you take on the challenge. “We are smart and savvy and have learned some life lessons,” she says. “Let that guide you in attacking a new sport. Solicit expert advice via a coach, a local club, or a friend who’s already involved in the sport. Just a few sessions with an expert will save hours of fumbling and learning the lessons yourself the hard way.” Playing at our club is ideally suited to those who want friendly free advice on how to play shots properly. Often people are very busy but don't be shy to ask for tips. Usually a quick analysis of your shot and a demonstration will set you on your way. Nowadays YouTube videos can help although the quality is a bit of a hit and miss.

 

EXERCISE PATIENCE

“I approach running with a long term vision that includes room to continue growing,” says Conley, a Team New Balance Olympic athlete. To accomplish your long-term goals, set smaller, intermediate ones and practice patience. “Success is not achieved overnight but takes hard work and time,” says Conley. One of her favorite quotes is: "It takes years of hard work to become an overnight success." Conley adds, “I read this to myself a lot in the years leading up to the Olympic Trials, believing all along that one day I would emerge definitively on the landscape of American distance running.” And she did.

Table tennis can be frustrating because it's no use hitting the ball as hard as you can if your shot doesn't land on the table. Your opponents know how to make you miss the ball or return it softly to them for their winner. The average person will take ten years to progress from beginner to division one level (if they ever make it) and you should be satisfied with making it to division two. As you can see from our Technical section, there are sixteen types of major shots to master if you want to be competitive. But take your time. Concentrate on the most important shots that will be useful to you and practice those first.

 

MAKE FRIENDS AND HAVE FUN

Starting something new can feel overwhelming, but a group of friends can make it a lot more fun. Evelyn Stevens (World Road Racer) suggests finding a buddy who does what you’re interested in. If you don’t know anyone, you can join a club or ask your local shop. Then, it’s all about enjoying it. Table Tennis is such a freeing sport that gets you in great shape pretty quickly. Have a hit with newly made friends, join a team, boast about your wins and make excuses why you lost, factor in a coffee stop and enjoy a good workout while lost in the highs and lows pressure of a competition match.

 

MOTIVATE YOURSELF MENTALLY

“It’s been a pretty fast track,” says Gwen Jorgensen (Olympic triathlete). “It’s definitely different when you come to a sport later in life but it helps you appreciate it more,” she says. Steal a slice of Jorgensen’s success by making a list of why you deserve to achieve your goals for a mental edge. “Before a race, I look back at what I’ve done, think about my motivation, and write down why I should succeed,” explains Jorgensen. “It puts me in the right mind set and gets me focused to do my best.”

Table tennis players have ample opportunity to plan competition matches or championships and before too long their level far outstrips their friends' who become amazed at the magic spins produced by their erstwhile beginner level social or work colleague. Maybe you don't want to play comp, so just make plans or scheme to be better than your friends. Beware - our junior students often start beating their dads after a couple months of coaching!

Australia's own In Van Le who was  2014 World Veterans Championship (70s category) in New Zealand says'

“I do physical training every day and also coach several students.

“I have my own training room and prefer to have one on one classes.”

 

Click: In Van Le

 

WARM UP AND RECOVER RIGHT

Certified personal trainer at Asphalt Green in New York City, Dejuana Richardson works with athletes of all ages from eight to 82. In his experience, one of the biggest physical hurtles he sees adults facing is the slower recovery time. “You just don’t have that young body that bounces back right away the next day,” he says.

That’s why a proper warm-up and recovery are of the utmost importance. Richardson recommends a 10-minute warm-up. If you’re someone who is very tight, then do some light dynamic stretching before your activity or sport. Afterwards, cool down by doing some static stretching while the muscles are warm and using a foam roller to loosen up any trigger points. And don’t forget to mix things up on your training days. “Most exercises we do are linear. In most sports, you’re typically reacting a lot to a ball or person. Training yourself to be more responsive and varying things with dynamic moves in various directions is huge,” he says.

Table tennis does not require as much running as footie or badminton. But due to the quickness of the game, players do need to move laterally or in-out very quickly and your game will improve by carrying out a few minutes of skipping or sidestep and in-out footwork practice at home.

The club has seen former members return to play at the club after a couple years absence. Unfortunately a couple of them experienced muscle and ligament sprains which needed rest and treatment. So please carry out lots of warm up/cool downs when you come back to table tennis after a long lay off.

 

TRAIN YOUR MIND, NOT JUST YOUR BODY

Sport psychologist David E. Conroy, Ph.D., an assistant professor of kinesiology at Pennsylvania State University, reminds athletes that just as your body adapts to training (think: increasing fitness or strength), so too does your mind. One of the biggest mental challenges you’ll encounter is persisting through failures. “You will fail frequently when you learn a new sport or activity—if you don't, you're not challenging yourself enough,” says Conroy. “The trick is to make each failure a learning experience so you fail better each time.”

Conroy suggests reminding yourself that although the mental and emotional changes you experience may be less noticeable than some of the physical changes, they are happening and your focus has to remain on giving yourself the opportunity to improve through repeated practice. “Focus on learning and improving as your goal instead of comparing your ability level to others. Immerse yourself in learning,” adds Conroy.

Table tennis can be a pleasurable sport due to the large amount of complex shots to learn. Apart from learning many basic shots to counter top, back, side and no spin balls, there are over twenty types of serves that you can execute. There are forehand and backhand serves, the various spins and there are two-finger shakehand, penhold, pendulum, axe, inside-out and side swerve grips or motions- just for serving. Unfortunately for the beginner, if you don't know the theory or basic motions of these serves, your return of the serves will be disadvantaged ie, you will have no idea of the spin that will be coming to you. Worst of all, the advanced players develop serves that are deliberately misleading - they serve with the same motion but the result can be top, side, under or no spin! So table tennis is not a sport where you just roll up and run, swim or pedal as fast as you can. Of course these athletic sports are not that simple but you cannot play table tennis without constantly scrutinizing your opponents' every action and using your mental faculties to devise counter tactics.

The above tips, although copied directly from 6 Ways to Get Active at Any Age , apply remarkably to table tennis. Our sport does not rely solely on physical strength but greatly on technique and mental skills. It is quite ideal for mature players to take up the fun sport, improve their skills after some dedicated and well thought out training, and who can take part in a variety of competitions with inter club, district, interstate and overseas travel at world veterans events. While Australia finds it impossible to produce Olympic or world champions we actually do quite well at veterans level and have had several champions at various age groups, the most notable being 100 year old Dot de Lowe.

 

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