My son and I took up table tennis last year and started taking lessons in July. One thing I found interesting was the body structure required in order to strike the ball with consistency, and actually it was highly reminiscent of tai chi. The upper body needs to keep structural integrity whilst most of the movement is generated by using the waist and groin.

It occurred to me that table tennis could probably borrow a training approach used by tai chi players and other internal martial artists, that of holding standing postures (known as zhan zhuang). This form of training is regarded as a major key to making progress, though needless to say it is not very popular. I wondered if standing postures had ever been used to train tennis players, the closest thing I've ever heard of being the training done at the Spartak Tennis Club in Moscow, where the young students practice shots without hitting a ball for the first three months.

We use key structures to master chess, with certain typical positions (characterized by their pawn structures) being regarded as the most important. Many moons ago the chair pointed out to me that this had similarities to the countist's approach to markets, that certain typical situations could be identified and that when they arose they were favorable.

Anyway, my question is this: Do other spheres also have sets of key structures to work on and do these represent a cornerstone to mastery? And if they are not widely recognized in a particular pursuit, can they represent a way of gaining an edge?

Karl Rove comments: 

Certainly in guitar playing this is the case, but it would be boring to explain to non-players. But it is similar to your positioning concept in table tennis, with completely different configurations of course.

(No groin action unless you are imitating Elvis, which is generally uncool.)


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