Skills in Table Tennis
I’ve never had a table tennis DVD before. I’ve watched hours and hours of table tennis online but I’ve never had an actual physical copy of a table tennis DVD. That is until now. Samson Dubina, a professional table tennis player and coach from the US, has just released a training DVD called ‘International Table Tennis Skills’ and was kind enough to send me a copy to watch and review.
So, who is Samson Dubina? If you’re from the US you probably already know him, but if you’re from the UK (or somewhere else in the world) perhaps you don’t. Samson Dubina is based in Ohio. In fact, he is the #1 player in the state of Ohio! He is a very highly rated player, with a USATT rating of 2463, and coach to many of the top up-and-coming players in Ohio. He is also active online with a table tennis coaching website, YouTube channel, and he even does Skype coaching.
Samson has 19 years of table tennis experience under his belt and in this training DVD, that costs $59.99, he is sharing it with the world. The DVD is split into nine sections;
- Return of Serve
- Match Strategy
- Mental Game
- Physical Training
- Final Thoughts
The whole DVD is just over two hours long. I watched it over a couple of days as I was pausing it, taking notes, going back to watch something again. It took me a long time to get through it all. There is a lot of content in this DVD. I’ll say it again; there is a lot! It’s brilliant but it’s very fast-paced. In order to take it all in you are much better watching a scene or two at a time and then stopping. This isn’t something that you should watch from start to finish. Do that and your brain might just explode.
It’s a really professional product (you can see that from the trailer). The DVD packaging looks good and is well designed. The video work and quality is excellent and the effects in between scenes are nice without being too distracting. You can tell that Samson has investing in working with an experienced company in Profusion Productions, who have produced the DVD.
I will review the DVD using the nine sections as a framework.
I’ll warn you now; this is going to be comprehensive! To review a summary please scroll down to the bottom of the article.
The DVD begins with the loop. I was a little surprised, as I was expecting it to start with things like grip, stance, ready position and then some of the basic shots like the drive (counterhit) and push. This is making me think that the DVD is aimed more at the intermediate player than the beginner. It is assuming that you have most of the fundamentals already in place and are looking for help with the next level of strokes.
Samson had loads of great tips for learning to loop. He highlighted the importance of first concentrating on spin and then moving on to combining spin and speed. He also briefly covered the hook and fade sidespin varieties.
When he moved on to talking about looping against backspin he had a really nice troubleshooting section, with actionable tips if you are looping the ball into the net like; use your legs more, open the bat angle, start with the bat lower and focus on more spin. Sometimes training videos just tell you how to do it perfectly, almost assuming you’ll be able to do it correctly straight away, and don’t anticipate the common mistakes.
I also really liked the way Samson would explain the basic technique and then and an option to make it more advanced. For example, with the backhand loop he said that you start off just using the wrist and arm but once you’ve mastered that you can play a more advanced shot by incorporating some waist rotation into the ball. His did the same thing when talking about the backhand loop against backspin, stating that first players should focus on going up the back of the ball and then once they get the hang of it they can start going more forwards, over the top of the ball.
I really liked this tip; when the ball is coming at you slowly you can use a longer backswing but when it is coming fast you need to shorten your stroke and use more wrist. Great advice!
Samson demonstrates each stroke both without the ball and with the ball. It gives you a really good idea of what it should look like. The one thing I found difficult was the speed that we strokes were covered. It only took 9 minutes to get through all of that and it felt a little like there wasn’t time to breathe. It was, “Now I’m going to show you this. Now I’m going to show you this. Here it is without the ball. Here it is with the ball”. It was very fast.
Samson finished the strokes section by covering the forehand and backhand block. Again there was a lot of very good information but it came and went very very quickly. If you were actually trying to learn these strokes from the DVD I would recommend watching it several times. It would have been nice if there was a bit more time after each stroke to point out a couple of the key points to focus on.
The footwork section began with lateral movement in the form of the side-to-side shuffle. Samson clearly made the point that if you want to move to the right it is the left foot that needs to initiate the movement but that both feet need to move simultaneously. It’s easy to understand when you can do it but I would have liked to have seen a little more time spent on this, with a bit more video footage. I think some players that struggle with footwork may whizz through that section still not completely understand what they are doing wrong. A troubleshooting section would have been a nice addition here.
Then Samson covered in and out footwork, which is often ignored and is just as important as lateral movement. He again made the good point about playing a longer stroke when you are further back and have more time, and playing a shorter stroke when you are closer to the table. It would have been nice to really break down what his feet were doing though. Perhaps in slow motion.