What is the best approach to learning table tennis? To learn a flashy flicks and smashes or to merely return the ball and stay in the game?
Our inspiration mostly stems from experts. With table tennis, this would involve looking at rallies where pros outdo each other using techniques they have practiced for decades – smashes, spin, chops, flicks and the like.
Looking at pros work their magic leads us to imitate them. We often leap forward to learn these techniques rather than mastering the important, but boring art of simply returning the ball every time.
But the objective of table tennis is to return the ball. By definition, the player who fails to do this loses a point. The most fundamental skill needed in most racquet sports is to merely stay in the game.
The problem with flashy is that it often comes with a hidden cost. Every attempt at a smash comes with a risk of making an unforced error. Every hour invested in learning how to smash keeps us from mastering the fundamentals.
The most effective way to master any skill is to focus on the important, but boring. Jumping to flashy seems like progress at first, but is oftentimes the opposite.