Samson DubinaIn table tennis, try your best to build an early lead in points, try your best to win the first game, try your best to win the match 3-0. 

One of my students recently lost to a player who had an amazing forehand and a terrible backhand.  This opponent’s forehand was at least 1900-level and his backhand was around 800-1000 level.  After losing, I asked my student why he played so many balls to the forehand.  He responded by saying, “Well, I didn’t want my opponent to know that I knew his weak point.”  What a terrible way to lose a match. 

If your opponent has an obvious weak point, play to the weak point.  The most devastating thing for your opponent is for him to feel trapped, for him to feel vulnerable that you have found his weak point and continue to win points against it. 

If the opponent in the above situation is smart, he will probably try to step around and play his forehand from the backhand side.  At this point, you might need to also expose the wide forehand, then go back to the backhand.  If your opponent doesn’t cover for his weak point, keep playing to it.  Don’t let him off the hook!

An early lead is also important because it puts more pressure on your opponent.  As you continue to win points, you should feel more relaxed while still being able to think clearly and strategizing.  Also, a “lucky-shot” such as a mis-hit or a net or an edge isn’t as devastating at 10-4.  If the score is 7-7 and he scores a couple lucky shots, you might be in trouble.  If you build that early lead in points or that early lead in games, it won’t hurt you as much.

Take your time between points, keep strategizing, use your timeout early, use your strong weapons, pick on your opponent’s weak points, and do everything possible to get that early lead!