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Tag: Tactics

Coaching Tip: Do Something Different

These days it seems like everyone’s trying to be like everyone else. That’s a pretty successful way of getting good, if you copy the top players. But many are missing the benefits of doing something different. Give your opponent a different look, at least on some shots, and guess what? He might begin to struggle. This doesn’t mean changing your whole game to some unorthodox mess; it means developing certain “pet shots” that are different than the norm. They give you more variation on certain shots than if you only have “orthodox” shots.

Coaching Tip: Should you Choose Serve, Receive, or Side at the Start of a Match?

The time when a player is most likely to miss easy shots is at the very start of the match. That’s when a player may not yet be fully warmed up or used to his opponent’s shots yet. So it’s often best to let the other guy serve first, let him mess up on his serve & attack at the start, and then get your chance to serve, when you are more into the match.

Coaching Tip: Real Tactics Versus Parroting Tactics

“Real Tactics” are the tactics that a player should use in a given match to maximize his chances of winning. “Parroting Tactics” are the tactics that many players use because it’s what everyone seems to be doing, and so they figure (consciously or subconsciously) it’s what they should be doing as well. When two players of equal ability play, and one uses “Real Tactics” and the other uses “Parroting Tactics,” guess who usually wins?

Coaching Tip: Pushing Change of Direction

Far too often players make two mistakes when pushing. First, they push to the backhand over and Over and OVER. Second, early in their stroke they aim their racket where they are pushing, usually to the backhand, in an apparent attempt to make it absolutely clear that once again that is where they are pushing. This is a great collaboration with your opponent, but not a good way to win.

Coaching Tip: What to Do at the End of a Close Game

You know the problem: you’re playing well, you’re battling with stronger players, and every game is close – but you can’t quite win. Far too often you lose those close ones and have nothing to show for your great play but another “what if…” – and hopefully, just maybe, a little more experience so you’ll do better next time. So how does one close out a match?

Coaching Tip: Tools and Tactics for the Physically Challenged

Table Tennis is an Olympic Sport, and at the highest levels, is played by some of the best athletes on the planet. Even at levels below world class it is dominated by great physical athletes who can race about the court ripping shot after shot. But we’re not all great physical athletes, and we’re not about to give up against an opponent just because he can race around the court ripping shot after shot, and we can’t, are we? So how can one compete with an opponent who is faster, stronger, and more athletic? Or against a kid who might not be bigger and stronger, but who can seemingly rally at ten times your pace?

Coaching Tip: Playing the Big Backhand Player

How does one play an opponent with a big backhand? There are several versions of this type of player. Some have big backhand smashes and seem to be able to smash anything from that side. Others don’t hit quite so hard but keep coming at you with it. Others have big backhand loops. In each case you are faced with an opponent whose backhand is stronger than yours, and is a constant threat to win the point. You have several options, and you can (and should) use more than one of them.

Coaching Tip: Covering and Recovering From the Middle

Most coaches stress that you should place most shots to one of three spots: the wide backhand, the wide forehand, and the middle. The middle is roughly the opponent’s playing elbow, the transition point between forehand and backhand. While most players can cover the wide corners reasonably well (unless drawn out of position first), the middle is often far more difficult to cover, even if in position. It also draws the player out of position, often leaving one of the corners open. While it often takes two shots to the corners to be effective (the first shot is mostly to get the player out of position), shots to the middle are effective on the first shot, and often leave the player open to all three spots on the next shot.

Put the Ball on the Table!

Samson Dubina

Once a player has mastered all four aspects, he might feel that he should be in good position for every shot. This is merely wishful thinking! The world’s best players have perfected all four of these footwork elements, yet they are still often caught off-balance. However, when they aren’t in perfect position, they are able to adjust their technique to fit the shot.

Lily Zhang on Mental Toughness

Lily Zhang US Nat 2012 A

Lily Zhang won the 2013 US Women’s Singles Championship after traveling from India, where she recorded a personal best finish in the quarters, at the World Junior Championships. Here she talks about the elements of the mental game and how important those elements are to achieving and sustaining a high performance level.

Choosing the Right Equipment to Match Your Table Tennis Playing Style

Yahao US Nat 2012

Yahao Zhang, 2012, U-21 US National Champion tells how how important matching the right table tennis equipment to the style of game you want to play. In order to play your best game, you’ll need to know how your equipment will affect the ball. In this article Yahao will focus on the thickness and hardness of sponge and the way it affects your shot quality.

How Children Benefit from Playing Table Tennis

Fiona-Samson TT Pictures 068

Kids love table tennis. Even starting as young as five years old, kids love the excitement. Unfortunately, many parents don’t see the real benefits table tennis has to offer. I hear many coaches trying to convince parents to have their kids take lessons because the kids can travel or get a college scholarship. These things sound good, but what table tennis does best is develop character. Here’s how.

The Physical Aspects of Your Table Tennis Game: Endurance; Speed; And Strength

To me being in great physical shape is a very important component to a successful table tennis game. There are many aspects to the physical game but today I am only going to cover the ones I believe are the most important for table tennis: Endurance; Speed; and Strength. My name is Seth Pech and I’m currently living in Rissen, Germany. I play at a club in Moorage and will soon play the 3rd spot in our club’s Hamburg 5th league team.

Coaching Tip: Complex or Simple Tactics?

Far too often players don’t think tactically, believing the game is too complex for them to play and think at the same time. And it’s true that you shouldn’t be doing any conscious thinking during a point. But between points a smart player does think tactically. The key is to keep it simple.

“Tactics isn’t about finding complex strategies to defeat an opponent. Tactics is about sifting through all the zillions of possible tactics and finding a few simple ones that work, and developing reflexive tactics to cover other situations.” (That’s the opening of my upcoming book, “Table Tennis Tactics for Thinkers.”) What does this mean?


Jim Butler, past national champion believes that, “Making your deep serves in to a weapon can be accomplished by every player. A strong service game is a powerful tool for success in Table Tennis. There are a lot of different ways to become a good server. I developed my serves using a deep serve motion. I practiced 4 deep serves with different spins, and used that same motion for my short service game also. The goal I wanted to accomplish by doing this was to make everyone think I may be serving deep on every serve, while pulling up at the very end of the motion for all of my short serves. I copied the deep service motion of Peter Karlsson, and I practiced serves at least an hour or more a day for about 6 months.”

Coaching Tip: Why Table Tennis Really Is Chess at Light Speed

We often say table tennis is chess at light speed. It has all the tactics of chess except you don’t have time to think things over – there’s no time clock, just a ball coming at you, often at dizzying speeds. But table tennis is more like chess in other ways as well.

Most chess openings involve pushing pawns as players maneuver to control the center of the board and attack with their stronger pieces. Most table tennis rallies start with pushing as players maneuver to control the table and attack with their stronger shots.

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