The Use Of Video Analysis In Table Tennis Coaching

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The age of print is slowly declining. The traditional sources and forms of information i.e. newspapers, magazines, books etc… That were a staple of society just a few short years ago are getting less and less fashionable, and are being quickly replaced by all kinds of easily accessible, virtual media. The players and athletes you are coaching now, are being submerged in vast stream of video content on a daily, if not hourly, basis and are becoming digital beings.

coachcamPhoto via TableTennisEngland Winning Edge

Because of this new 21st century shift, your players may really appreciate it if you show them something you’re trying to get across to them via video format. There have been many occasions where I have been coaching and have had a lot of trouble convincing players that they are performing a certain action that they cannot feel themselves doing. For instance their elbow is too high when flicking short balls and no matter what I say, they still believe that their elbow is almost scraping the table. This is where a quick recording of them performing the stroke can prove to them, their lack of proprioception.

I actually don’t use any fancy coaching apps that often, I do however find myself, more and more regularly, simply using the record button on my phone and playing back footage instantly. It is a very simple and effective way to provide quality feedback to players that 15 years ago would have required a big camcorder and a VHS player. We have the technology now so why not make the most use of it.

If you want to get even more technological there are many innovative coaching apps out there that can be really useful such as the “Coacheseye” app where you can slow mo and add diagrams on top of the footage. You can even send players footage directly to one of their devices using wetransfer.com and ping it away (pun intended).

Using video analysis to record your player’s matches is also a great way for players to see themselves in game situations, as well as providing you with extra material to watch back after the match has finished so you can figure out what they need to improve on. For instance perhaps if you’re trying to explain how they need to take their time more and not rush points, they will be able to see this very clearly through watching their game back.

In a recent podcast I recorded with Jorgen Persson over at TableTennisDaily he said he uses video analysis to monitor his player’s body language. Something I found very interesting, not just looking and correcting technique but showing your players key moments where their body language was good or perhaps, more often, not so good.

You can even use video analysis of matches to analyse tactics against certain players so that if they play that player again they will have a better understanding of what worked and what didn’t. When I visited the Swedish Open last year I interviewed the Japanese national team’s video analysis coach. He told me he records every single match that the national team player’s play then he reports back to the other coaches on what areas were going well and what could be better.

For example when Jun Mizutani lost to Liang Jinkun last year at the Swedish Open, the analysis he recorded showed that when Mizutani flicked first he lost the point on 90% of all rallies. This just goes to show the great amounts detail that elite level coaches go into to provide quality feedback and now, with easily accessible modern technology, you can too.

Quintic Software Analysis

During my studies at South Wales University we had access to a great software called Quintic which allows you to breakdown your video footage frame by frame (up to 200fps) to the highest detail. There are a lot of mobile apps now which have similar features. Here’s an example of my Forehand Topspin in 2011:

I inserted the footage into Quintic (see image below) and broke my forehand topspin down into 6 key points: ready position, preparation (backswing), start of swing, contact point, follow through, ready position.

With Quintic you can add diagrams and arrows to your technique to compare it against others. You can even go into super great detail and find out the exact time your backswing is to contact point. For example in my shot below it took me 0.112 seconds from the back swing to contact point. When I compared this with Timo Boll I found he had a greater time length to contact point which was 0.267 seconds. These findings showed Timo had greater backswing than my forehand which allows the European Champion to have more time to increase acceleration and arm speed to contact point. Here is a screen capture from my Quintic analysis below:

Dan’s forehand in the Quintic Software:

tech

Timo’s forehand in the Quintic Software:

timo

So if you haven’t before, the next practise session or match night you have with your coaching group give it a go, get your phone out and start recording. You may be surprised with how effective and useful video analysis can be.

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