Don’t be Blind to the Importance of Vision in Table Tennis

Written by on July 6, 2018

Don’t be Blind to the Importance of Vision in Table Tennis
See, Respond, React.

Steve Brunskill
Steve Brunskill, is one of England’s best and most respected coaches. Stevie has spotted one element of table tennis often untrained.

Sports eye training

I am personally a stickler for marginal gains and often research into elements where it may give my players the edge over others. I must admit visual training is one that slipped through my net. Luckily for me, Steve caught it and has produced a course and package for all to benefit from.

How important are your eyes?

I was coaching one of my players a few years back and one parent sat next to me. The parent watching my player, said a few words that unleashed the ‘Marvel’ superhero mindset, I’ve always had. They said, “your player is like a fly, his reflexes are amazing and he seems to have more time than anyone else” From that moment on I started to study increased reaction time.
This included:
– Using a reaction ball
– Non-visual cues with on coming table tennis ball/balls
-Strengthening and conditioning muscle speed and reflex
The results were great but I always felt there was something more…

Visual Fascination 

I’ve been blessed with perfect vision and its something I’ve acknowledged but at the same time neglected. My eyes were one of my childhood superpowers, seeing further than anyone. I’m blessed with good vision but due to my gift I took it for granted, not training the eyes to even greater abilities.

I’m an observer and often look at my surroundings for gains inside my coaching structure. Seeing how peoples eyes flicker from side to side when looking at moving objects I find/found it fascinating.
Due to my fascination I wanted to know how fast can something travel and at what speed do our eyes lose track of the moving object. I watched and read about some extraordinary people who are able to seemingly do inhuman capabilities through vision. For example, hit a baseball oncoming at them over 100 miles an hour through a machine at less than 15 meters, in distance. A man who can catch an arrow being shot at him. To this day I’m unsure as to how they did or are doing it, but its clear to me that the eyes have the secret ingredient I’ve been searching for.

Vladimir Samsonov

As a young player, I didn’t enjoy watching Vladimir until I saw him in front of my eyes live. I remember being in awe of his canning ability to block and retrieve balls coming at him at super speeds. The players on the other side were faster more explosive and dynamic compared to Vladamir! So how was Samsonov able to make most world class players look amateur?

The Answer

Does Stevie Brunskill have the answer?  Samsonov (I believed used his eyes to assess your body language which gave him clues as to where you were/are going). Despite your level, age or ability you can benefit from visual eye training. Below is Steve’s story into how he stumbled onto his new mastermind and you have the opportunity to develop your game or players using his vision training programme.

Written by Steve Brunskill
Table Tennis Vision Training 

This programme is an eye-opening project that seeks to not only improve the skills and competencies of table tennis players but ultimately seeks to offer a modern and fresh outlook upon the importance of vision training and how it is perhaps neglected within the sporting culture and training of table tennis. Current traditional coaching techniques appear to consequentially ignore the unlimited possibilities that the implementation of visual training as a fundamental practice could bring to not only table tennis but sport in general. I believe that this new but exciting project for table tennis is an opportunity that should not be missed.

How it all began

My fascination and obsession with vision training originated upon the fortunate meeting of Mark Holmes, one of Briton’s top shotgun shooters, who had called into Swerve table tennis club to speak to me after reading an article I had written in regards to fitness. He was interested in receiving  1-to-1 coaching in table tennis as he had been researching vision training and had been training his eyes for the past year. He believed this training was the reason he had progressed from just an average shooter to become the English Open Champion in a record time of two and half years.

Mark also completed this feat with the best-recorded score in the past forty years. I asked, “why table tennis?” He said his research had brought him to table tennis as the eyes needed to track a very fast object in a split second. He believed that playing table tennis would give him an edge over his shooting competitors. Mark achieved this success in less than three years from picking up a shotgun for the first time and he endorses his vision training regime as an essential factor that contributed heavily to his remarkably quick success.

How Important is your Sports Vision?

Sportsmen and women in all sports are often unaware of how much their performance depends upon their sight.
This is none more so than in table tennis.
Table tennis players have to be able to distinguish objects from a distance and from a variety of backgrounds, judge distance, height, bounce, flight, spin and speed.

So I thought I would look to reverse the process and therefore ask Mark what training he did to help his vision and shooting. My reasoning being that if table tennis training can help Mark shoot, then, in theory, the training a shooter undergoes should help a table tennis player.

After conducting research into visual training I discovered that there are vast amounts of research for other sports such as Archery, Shooting, Baseball etc.. but very little in the way of table tennis, yet a table tennis player needs to have incredible visual ability to be able to pick an opponent’s positioning, posture, movement and even expression as well as watch the contact of the ball, watch the balls rotation, speed, flight and bounce and still have time to make a split second decision to choose a correct response move and implement the correct stroke/technique. My research found that studies have shown table tennis players naturally develop very high visual skills over years of training without realising. Other studies showed that people with well-developed visual skills progress fast when taking up sports similar to table tennis (food for thought with ways to train beginners). 

Knowledge without practice is useless!

Knowledge is of no value unless you put it into practice and therefore this is a huge opportunity for the sport of table tennis to not only modernise itself with its sporting competitors but to adapt and overtake them.
Table tennis players train for hours working on techniques, movement and drill patterns looking to add that extra point, all of which are totally reliant on their vision but how many players ever think about training or strengthening their vision? The eye is made up of several muscles and just like any other muscle it will strengthen and it will fatigue depending on the demands placed on our site.

Specific table tennis visual training 

This got me thinking about using specific eye training methods with skilled and unskilled table tennis players. Using specific visual training methods may give players that extra edge as it did with Mark the shooter whom I had spoken to. Over the past two years, I have invested time studying, reading books, attending lectures and seminars, and I have researched a variety of sports and their use of visual training. I have chosen the methods I believe fit best to table tennis players. The more I have studied and learned about vision training the more excited I am at the prospect of the effect vision training can have on players and how easy this training can be implemented into regular table tennis sessions.

Tested

I have designed a visual training programme which starts with a basic introduction to vision training exercises that progress into dynamic vision training exercises which are specific to table tennis.
I have been trialling this training method with a small group of players at Swerve over the past year. The player’s feedback has been encouragingly very positive which has only added fuel to the fire in terms of my belief that this project has an overwhelming possibility to change the trajectory of fundamental training within table tennis as this possibility offers boundless opportunities.

Would you like to get the edge over your competition?

This programme is offered to clubs, coaches and players.
I am offering to run a 1-day course to clubs, coaches and players, where I will explain and demonstrate each exercise, its benefits and how it relates to table tennis.
I will also show how easily the exercises can be delivered and how the equipment needed can easily and cheaply be purchased or obtained and how the exercises can be advanced and adapted.

The Visual Training Course

The course will demonstrate how the method of training can be implemented by the coach. The Programme can be implemented as a one-off specific training session or as part of a regular training session. It can also be used by a player as part of the player’s pre-match preparation. The exercises learned on the course can be used singularly or collectively and can be done in a few minutes as a warm up or used as a full training session. The programme can benefit complete beginners to elite level players.

“You can’t HIT what you can’t SEE”

A quick video to demonstrate this Click HERE

The first Vision Training course is being held at Swerve on 21st July 2018 for further info contact
Steve Brunskill (Head coach at Swerve table tennis centre) Email= garret163@aol.com

Written by Eli Baraty and Steve Brunskill

eBaTT (Eli Baraty Academy of Table Tennis)                          
Coach Me Table Tennis 
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