The 80/40 Rule – Setting Goals for This Season

80/40 rule table tennis

You’ve heard of the 80/20 rule, right? Well, today we’re talking about the 80/40 rule and how it will help you to set goals for your table tennis performance, this season.

The 80/40 rule is something I literally just made up, but I think it’s a good target to aim for and should help you to select which table tennis leagues to play in during 2018/19.

Most of you will know that I’m currently coaching a guy called Harrie. He’s been playing table tennis seriously for about 18 months and is about to start his second season of local league. But which leagues should he enter? And which divisions in those leagues are right for him?

Choosing the right league for you

The temptation we all face is to enter as high a division as we can. For some of us, that’ll mean scraping into a team in the top division. For others, it’ll mean going into the second from bottom division instead of the bottom one. I think there are two reasons for this.

The first has noble motives. We want to improve this season. We want to test our skills against better players. We want to learn from them, even if it means losing more than we’d like. We figure playing in a tougher division will be most beneficial to our long-term improvement as a player.

The second isn’t quite so noble. In local league table tennis, you’re judged primarily by which division you play in. If you’re in the top division, you’re a relative “big dog” in the league. If you’re in the bottom division, not so much. Our ego wants to tell people we’re in the most impressive division possible, even if we’re losing all our games!

But is it a good idea to enter as high a division as we can? My answer is both yes and no.

No, if you are only playing in one table tennis league this season.

But yes, if you are able to play in two or more leagues. Here’s where the 80/40 rule comes in!

The 80/40 Rule

Personally, I think it’s a good idea to enter two table tennis leagues, if you can, rather than one. This could be two different local leagues, or one local league and one national league. And you want those leagues to be quite different in the level of competition.

Here’s my theory…

You should play in one tough league, where your goal is to finish the season with a win percentage of 40%, and one easier league, where you’re aiming for an 80% average.

That’s the 80/40 rule of table tennis.

It’s important to challenge yourself against strong opponents. That’s what the 40% league is for. But you also want to learn how to win matches and cultivate the habit of winning regularly. That’s why you’re in the 80% league.

If you’re playing in a league where you’re only winning 10-20% of your matches, then the standard is clearly too high for your current level. Perhaps drop down to the league below and aim to get 80%.

If you’re close to a 100% average, you’re too good for that league. Move up a division and aim to get 40% there.

Harrie’s 2017/18 Results (& 2018/19 Goals)

Harrie played in two official local leagues last season – Maidstone and Medway. He finished with 36% in Division 3 (of 4) in Maidstone, and 53% in the bottom division of the Medway league. That’s a combined total of 44%.

He was also playing in the Tunbridge Wells Churches league, where he ended up with much closer to 80%. So not a bad mixture of competition for him.

This season, Harrie is staying in Division 3 of the Maidstone league. His goal is to finish on an 80% average. I believe this is do-able, as he is playing a lot of table tennis, but it won’t be easy. To go from 36% to 80% in one year is very impressive!

In the Medway league, Harrie is moving up to the middle of three divisions. This will be much tougher competition. I’ve set him the goal of achieving a 30-40% average by the end of the season.

He’ll also be playing a few games in the Tunbridge Wells Churches league, where he should be winning most of his matches.

What are your goals this season?

Have you set yourself goals regarding your player average for this season? If not, have a think about what’s realistic for you. It’s a good thing to do as it gives you something to aim for as the year progresses.

And it’s also worth mentioning that these type of goals are outcome goals – goals that are nice to set but are ultimately outside of your control. You should also set yourself process and performance goals for the season.

A good process goal might be to clock up 40 hours of one-to-one table tennis coaching over the season where you work regularly with a coach on improving your game.

A helpful performance goal could be to practice your backhand open-up until you are able to get 90% of them on the table during a “serve, push, (third ball) backhand open-up” drill.

Good luck!