By Larry Hodges, USATT Hall of Famer and National Coach
At the beginning/intermediate levels, most matches are won by whoever is more consistent. Great strengths haven’t yet developed, and so while players do have strengths, the matches are mostly won by whoever makes the least mistakes.
As you advance, this changes. At the intermediate/advanced level, matches are mostly won by whoever gets his strength into play. The looper wins if he gets his loop into play. The hitter wins if he gets his hitting into play. Even the steady player – and steadiness can be a strength at all levels – wins if he’s able to get into rallies where his steadiness prevails. And so on.
It’s not enough to just develop an overpowering strength. You also have to have ways of getting it into play. It’s not enough to have a good loop or a strong hitting game if your serves or return of serve allows your opponent to attack and turn you into a blocker. It’s not enough to be steady if your serve or return of serve allow your opponent to play his strengths, thereby overpowering your steadiness.
So develop an overpowering strength (or strengths), and develop serve & receive techniques to get it into play. At its most basic level, table tennis is all about getting your strengths into play and stopping your opponent from using his.