Rote vs. Random DrillsA rote drill is a drill where you do the same repetitive movement over and over. An example of this is forehand to forehand, or a side-to-side footwork drill.
A random drill is a drill where there is some uncertainty about what the next shot in the drill is going to be. An example of this is a serve and attack drill, where your partner pushes your serve to any part of the table. Another would be your partner putting balls to all parts of your forehand court, and you returning them all with your forehand.
So which type of drills should you do? At the beginning, you should do more rote drills. It’s the best way to really hone those shots. But as you improve, you should gradually work more and more random drills into your practice. If you don’t, you’ll end up becoming more or less a robotic player – one who is good against simple, predictable shots, but falls apart as soon as the opponent begins to change speeds, spins or placements.
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