How to you ensure you get the most out of each training session?
It’s all about preparation, setting the right goals beforehand (which can be technical as well as mental) and keeping them in mind when you train. When I was younger, I was the guy who practiced a lot and stayed in training more than others. Today I’m really trying to focus on quality and make the most of my time at the table. This process comes with time and experimentation. It takes failure and introspection to understand what you really need and then make sure you get the most out of each training session.
You have fabulous touch and feel, do you practice this a lot in training?
I think a lot of players today have a fabulous touch and feel. So it’s more about finding your thing, your difference, and developing it your way. But of course, it takes of training. You don’t get nothing without training.
Again, can you discuss how you developed such wonderful service variation?
Talking about finding your thing. When I was younger, I wasn’t very good in the rallies, I could run and catch crazy points but it wasn’t my weapon. In that sense, I tried to get better on the first balls and that meant developing a wide and effective service variant.Service is the “easiest” way to spend time at the table : you can do it alone, and it doesn’t require a big physical investment. Spending time working my service, not only helped me develop a wide range of variations but also helped me develop a strong personality and work culture.
Who is your favourite training partner and why?
I had a lot of incredible partners like Feng Tianwei last year, but I would say Antoine Hachard. Because he has been my best friend since we were young and I was always pissed off when he was better than me at training. So I had to work hard to control myself, it helped me grow faster.
Who has been the hardest trainer in any hall you have practiced in?
A lot of trainers counted for me : Michel Blondel, Han Hua, He Keyi… I don’t know if « hardest » is the right word to define them. I would say that the hardest trainer I got was myself.
Image from Benjamins Instagram
What are your 2 favourite drills?
Step Around Spin Spin.
Can you give 2 tips to any young aspiring Table Tennis players out there?
Reaching your goals, especially in table tennis, is not a sprint, it’s a marathon. Believe in yourself, no matter what difficulties you face, no matter what you hear from others. Team up with the right people. If you find them, don’t hesitate to invest.
What do you think of some the new World Table Tennis ideas?
I think it’s always good to think about a better future for our sport. I just hope that the system will evolve so that the new generation has a place to express themselves.