Youtuber Using POV Videos To Teach Table Tennis

What if I claimed you could improve your table tennis skills without even picking up a ping pong paddle? Insane right? It can’t be done! I hear you scream, but throughout the world, sports stars do this every day. It’s called visualization. Before every freekick, living soccer legend Cristiano Ronaldo imagines striking the ball into the opponent’s goal, and invariably that’s where it ends up. Up to 90% of Olympians use the visualization method, including Michael Phelps, inarguably the greatest swimmer of all time who pictures the race in his mind before he even sets a single toe in the swimming pool. Phelps has a record 23 gold medals to his name.

I know what you’re thinking. That’s fine for top athletes who’ve practiced thousands of hours to reach the pinnacle of their sport, but what if I’m a complete novice? In that case, you should try modeling! 

Now before you rush out and buy a pair of high heels, and hire a photographer I don’t mean that sort of modeling. Modeling is a technique that states if you follow the steps of a master, you become a master. Do you want to be a world-class actor? Then watch and study Akshay Kumar. A brilliant businessman? Then simply emulate Donald Trump. On second thoughts, maybe scratch that last one.

The same goes for sports. The problem is you’ll likely never face an over from Rishabh Pant, or have to return a Roger Federer lightning bolt serve. Most people simply won’t get the chance to meet a professional athlete, never mind be close enough to study them. This is where the Point-Of-View (POV) shot comes in. A POV is a camera angle from someone else’s perspective. It’s been used in Hollywood as far back as the 1940s, but the crossover to sport only came in 2002 with the invention of the GoPro; a small 35mm camera strapped to your head. It was used stylistically, and almost exclusively for extreme sports like surfing, skydiving, and snowboarding.

Fast-forward two decades and many YouTube channels have found a more practical usage. One of these is Table Tennis with Champions (TTWC) which only celebrated its first anniversary in October 2022 and is already approaching 2.3 million views. Primarily an entertainment channel TTWC’s structure encourages self-teaching.

So how does it work? The host wears the GoPro and competes against their opponent, which has included some of the best table tennis players India has produced like Sarthak Seth, Abhishek Yadav, and Vivek Bhargava. Typically, it starts with a racket check, followed by a warm-up before going into the match action.

Table Tennis is intuitive. It relies on split-second decisions. A keen, perceptive student can, while watching these videos, work out player positioning and movement, as well as the type of shot played. They can estimate the player’s distance from the table, and the height at which the shot is being played. They can also detect the angle at which the ball is being hit, and the wrist action used to hit that particular shot. Competitive matches between world-class players further demonstrate how top-ranking professionals react during critical moments, such as how they receive a tricky service, set up third-ball attacks, and recover from losing positions. 

For the novice, table tennis is a steep learning curve that has the potential to be significantly flattened by studying these table tennis professionals. Remember, by mimicking the best, you become the best! You can find the TTWC boys on YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook. And if you’re lucky you may even see them on tour, down at your local table tennis club playing against table tennis champions. You just never know.

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