By Samson Dubina
In matches, should you use specific patterns or should you just hit anywhere? Well, you always want to keep your opponent off-balance while realizing that there are specific shots and locations that commonly cause errors from your opponent. Today, I’m going to outline six basic patterns.
(Note: There are actually hundreds of these patterns. I’m just listing six as a starting point)
After serving short backspin to the middle or forehand, if your opponent uses a short push, then he often will have difficulty covering a sharp-angled push off the backhand side of the table.
Because the backhand has a small hitting zone. In order to land a good backhand loop, he needs to move back and sideways while being able to time this loop with your sharp push. This is a difficult shot for your opponent.
After serving short topspin, prepare to loop your opponent’s flip quickly against the middle transition point.
Because when your opponent steps forward, his middle is even more exposed than normal. If you loop early, then he will likely not have enough time to return to the ready position after flipping.
After looping wide to your opponent’s forehand, play the next ball to the wide backhand.
Because most players have good backhands from near the table. The backhand technique from further back is much more difficult involving some waist rotation and more efficient use of the wrist, elbow, and shoulder. Many players when off the table are forced to fish the ball back.
After attacking deep to the middle transition point, see if your opponent uses forehand or backhand. If he uses forehand, then play the next ball to the wide forehand. If he uses backhand, then play the next ball to the wide backhand.
Because many players are not balanced from the middle. After leaning or moving to the middle, they have a hard time quickly transitioning back to cover the wide angle.
After pushing your opponent’s serve short to the middle of the table, observe if he is going to flip with his backhand or forehand.
Because from the middle, 99% of all forehand flips go cross-court and 90% of all backhand flips go crosscourt. If you are able to loop the flip with early-timing, you have a huge advantage in the point.
When dealing with a very spinny serve, chop high to the backhand.
Usually returning high isn’t a good tactic. However, there are sometimes when you just need to get the serve on. Especially after a series of simple errors, sometimes it is good to allow your opponent to make a few errors! You would be surprised how many players will miss a high ball to the backhand. What does that do? It sets them up for disappointment. Sometimes after missing a high ball, they will miss the next 2-3 points out of frustration!
The list goes on and on and on… It really does! There are hundreds of patterns similar to those that cause issues for many players. Once you can understand these sequences, you will be better off implementing them and defending against them when your opponent implements them.
So why am I write these in an article instead of showing you in a video?
Pause and think about it for a moment…
Because I want you to be able to picture these sequences in your head. You are in the next tournament and the score is 2-2 in games. Your coach describes a particular tactic. You don’t have time to watch a 4 min youtube video. You need to be able to picture the situation in your head and immediately implement it. Your imagination is your most powerful tool. Instead of just watching tons on videos this week, spend some time closing your eyes and imagining the above scenarios. Then spend some time creating your own scenarios – scenarios that have worked well for you that you need to continue and scenarios that have worked against you that you need to defend against.
Your imagination is your most powerful tool!
- Read more great coaching and playing articles by Samson