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  1. IB66 is offline
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    #1

    Match Tactics, how to analyse before, during and after a match

    This is a topic that doesn’t crop up enough!!!
    Proof of this is that there is no drop down option when you create a thread, so that’s why I had to choose a ‘general discussion on table tennis’

    Whether you play socially, local league,regional tournaments or at higher level, you really would like to win a few more games or matches!!
    Even when games are ‘just for fun’ with a friend or playing partner, it’s nice to win a few!!

    I would like to start off with how an individual can assess their tactics pre match, in match and post match WITHOUT the assistance of coaches and fellow team mates. Mano a Mano!!!

    We can talk about ‘external’ influences on tactics later.

    If you play socially against the same person or persons then you ‘know’ how your opponent’s play. Similar for local leagues, there are usually the same faces that are ‘ever present stalwarts’. Once you start to play Regional and National tournaments them the circumstances change, in that you are less likely to have knowledge or personal experience of how an opponent may play. ( But once at this level you are more likely to have a coach etc to assist )

    So how do you guys and gals go about choosing your tactics?

    How do you find and target your opponent’s weaknesses.

    How to best ‘realise’ what you are doing wrong or right, this isn’t as simple as you may think!! You may end a point with a FH drive but which shots or sequence of play create the opening?

    How do you defeat ‘better’ players? or your nemesis, that player who’s ‘just’ too good or ‘style’ doesn’t suit yours and always seems to result in them winning!!

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    #2
    Well, no posts on this thread!!

    no surprise I suppose, people seem much more interested in equipment and other topics!!

    perhaps it’s not something people really think is necessary, then you should take a look at some of Brian’s vids (Panda Pong) where he described how he changes tactics during his matches.

    If you are playing a 5 set/game match, against an opponent you have not played before, how do you approach the 1st set?
    Is the 1st set a ‘must win’ situation? No, there’s still the possibility of another 4 sets, yeah to take the 1st game is good but not essential.
    The 1st game can be seen as a learning experience, a chance to probe and see what your opponent is good at, how they like to play and more importantly what they don’t like or struggle with.
    How many times have you ‘breezed’ through the first game only to loose the match 1 - 3 ?? Opponent sussed you out!!

    When serving during the 1st game, you can try different serve variations and placement to see how the opponent deals with them, possibly noting a serve type they failed to return, and putting this in your locker for later on in the match.
    It may be that they can return a short backspin serve to their BH easily, but on the FH it’s the opposite, they struggle and make errors.
    Once (if!!!) a weak return of serve has been identified, how and when is this serve best utilised??
    Do you just use this serve straight away all the time?? Maybe only use it at a strategic part of a game?? Mix this serve in throughout a game but never serve it twice in succession??

    These are the sort of questions you should be aware of, and remember that you should EXPECT your opponent to return your serves, not put them in the net or off the table, this is purely a nice bonus!!

    It’s also highly likely that your opponent will get accustomed to your serves as the match progresses, so being able to vary the amount of spin is also very desirable. If your FH pendulum serve has the same amount of top or back spin on it every time you serve that variation (back or top spin) then it’s easier for you opponent to adjust to it.
    assess how well your opponent is reading your serve.

    Your serve can also be considered as a ‘set-up’ serve, for your 3rd ball attack or how you want or would like the point to proceed.

    We have to ask the question - what is a good serve?? And ‘tactically’ what is a good serve?

    For many a good set-up serve is a serve that has a predictable return. Ideally the ball is going to be returned 9 times out of 10 to a certain ‘area’ on the table and with a type of stroke that suits your 3rd ball play or attack.

    If you are looking to play as many FH top spins or attacking FH loops as you can after your serve, there’s not a lot of point in serving from the RH side of the table (for a right handed player)!!
    If you struggle playing a top spin open up v back spin, then serve a top or top and side spin ball, with today’s attacking game the return is unlikely to be chopped back at you!!l Generally a top spin serve will either be blocked, or returned with top spin. There’s a good amount of predictability.

    Certain serve types can or are considered FH orientated or BH orientated.

    The FH pendulum serve when served from the left side of the table (for a RH player) is a FH orientated serve.
    This is because the serve should have some LH side spin on it, this will ‘drag’ the ball back towards the servers BH side, this then allows (sometimes) the server to step around and play a FH top spin or loop, the servers side of the table is now ‘open’ to their right this means that there is more chance that they will be playing a 2nd / 3rd FH loop.
    of course this ‘open’ FH side can be exploited by your opponent by ‘switching’ the play!!
    if you do decide to ‘step around’ then be ready!!
    If you don’t step around, the right hand side of the table is still more ‘open’ thus allowing better chance of playing FH top spins / loops.
    When watching the Pro’s, this type of serve is very popular and a ‘standard’ serve they have.

    A BH serve ( for a RH player) is usually considered to be BH orientated. Generally a ‘righties’ BH serve will have some RH side spin on it, which will drag the ball to the RH side of their end of the table.
    Usually when serving a BH serve, the players starting position is usually more towards the centre or even centre right of their end of the table. This opens up the left side of the table encouraging more BH shots to be played.

    So the type of serve and starting position for the serve can say a lot about you and your opponent, do they prefer FH or BH

    One thing that has become more noticeable when watching the Pro’s is that there seems to be a lot more BH rallies being played in the initial early phase of rallies. Rather than just all out step around (pivot) FH loop attacks, any one have any thoughts on this?

    I’ve covered some ground today, but only scratching the surface and dealt with some of serve tactics you can use.

    hopefully some of you will make some comments and add to this thread.🤔

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  3. Dipak1974 is offline
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    #3
    Quote Originally Posted by IB66
    Well, no posts on this thread!!

    no surprise I suppose, people seem much more interested in equipment and other topics!!

    perhaps it’s not something people really think is necessary, then you should take a look at some of Brian’s vids (Panda Pong) where he described how he changes tactics during his matches.

    If you are playing a 5 set/game match, against an opponent you have not played before, how do you approach the 1st set?
    Is the 1st set a ‘must win’ situation? No, there’s still the possibility of another 4 sets, yeah to take the 1st game is good but not essential.
    The 1st game can be seen as a learning experience, a chance to probe and see what your opponent is good at, how they like to play and more importantly what they don’t like or struggle with.
    How many times have you ‘breezed’ through the first game only to loose the match 1 - 3 ?? Opponent sussed you out!!

    When serving during the 1st game, you can try different serve variations and placement to see how the opponent deals with them, possibly noting a serve type they failed to return, and putting this in your locker for later on in the match.
    It may be that they can return a short backspin serve to their BH easily, but on the FH it’s the opposite, they struggle and make errors.
    Once (if!!!) a weak return of serve has been identified, how and when is this serve best utilised??
    Do you just use this serve straight away all the time?? Maybe only use it at a strategic part of a game?? Mix this serve in throughout a game but never serve it twice in succession??

    These are the sort of questions you should be aware of, and remember that you should EXPECT your opponent to return your serves, not put them in the net or off the table, this is purely a nice bonus!!

    It’s also highly likely that your opponent will get accustomed to your serves as the match progresses, so being able to vary the amount of spin is also very desirable. If your FH pendulum serve has the same amount of top or back spin on it every time you serve that variation (back or top spin) then it’s easier for you opponent to adjust to it.
    assess how well your opponent is reading your serve.

    Your serve can also be considered as a ‘set-up’ serve, for your 3rd ball attack or how you want or would like the point to proceed.

    We have to ask the question - what is a good serve?? And ‘tactically’ what is a good serve?

    For many a good set-up serve is a serve that has a predictable return. Ideally the ball is going to be returned 9 times out of 10 to a certain ‘area’ on the table and with a type of stroke that suits your 3rd ball play or attack.

    If you are looking to play as many FH top spins or attacking FH loops as you can after your serve, there’s not a lot of point in serving from the RH side of the table (for a right handed player)!!
    If you struggle playing a top spin open up v back spin, then serve a top or top and side spin ball, with today’s attacking game the return is unlikely to be chopped back at you!!l Generally a top spin serve will either be blocked, or returned with top spin. There’s a good amount of predictability.

    Certain serve types can or are considered FH orientated or BH orientated.

    The FH pendulum serve when served from the left side of the table (for a RH player) is a FH orientated serve.
    This is because the serve should have some LH side spin on it, this will ‘drag’ the ball back towards the servers BH side, this then allows (sometimes) the server to step around and play a FH top spin or loop, the servers side of the table is now ‘open’ to their right this means that there is more chance that they will be playing a 2nd / 3rd FH loop.
    of course this ‘open’ FH side can be exploited by your opponent by ‘switching’ the play!!
    if you do decide to ‘step around’ then be ready!!
    If you don’t step around, the right hand side of the table is still more ‘open’ thus allowing better chance of playing FH top spins / loops.
    When watching the Pro’s, this type of serve is very popular and a ‘standard’ serve they have.

    A BH serve ( for a RH player) is usually considered to be BH orientated. Generally a ‘righties’ BH serve will have some RH side spin on it, which will drag the ball to the RH side of their end of the table.
    Usually when serving a BH serve, the players starting position is usually more towards the centre or even centre right of their end of the table. This opens up the left side of the table encouraging more BH shots to be played.

    So the type of serve and starting position for the serve can say a lot about you and your opponent, do they prefer FH or BH

    One thing that has become more noticeable when watching the Pro’s is that there seems to be a lot more BH rallies being played in the initial early phase of rallies. Rather than just all out step around (pivot) FH loop attacks, any one have any thoughts on this?

    I’ve covered some ground today, but only scratching the surface and dealt with some of serve tactics you can use.

    hopefully some of you will make some comments and add to this thread.🤔

    I agree people jump into equipment comments whereas I agree topic of training or advice on match play can be much more helpful than “which rubber should I use”.

    I have played a couple of comps recently and at my club played a new guy on Friday night. First game isn’t always a must win but it can help with confidence specially with rhythm. It usually takes me a game to get my confidence and power game going, it’s very easy to play safe in first game. My game I would say is serve and attack 3rd ball and also trying to figure out what serves they don’t handle too well and what their strengths are. Warm up knock before match starts isn’t always a accurate indicator of the persons game play. In a comp I played a guy twice now and knocking up Bh to Bh he was very good and powerful and first time I played him I thought ok keep away from Bh. But in game he just wasn’t as attacking with it. A guy I played on Friday struggled with my serves in the first match but come second match I played he dealt with them better. Games were a lot closer. During that match I realised he doesn’t attack first with his Bh he’s happy to block. Fh he would open up given a chance but he never had the serve and 3rd ball attack. He had very good blocks and that’s where he was at best. One thing he didn’t like was very fast long serve to Bh corner it caught him out. And couple of times I did the same serve consecutively to catch him out. Most people don’t serve same twice and most receivers don’t expect same serve twice either so sometimes it works. I sometimes get caught up with serving short too much and if I serve long it’s to their Bh. Not everyone is comfortable receiving long serves to middle or fh and I sometimes think that serving long to fh gives them first attack, yes it does but it doesn’t mean they will put it away and win point.

    I think having a coach really helps both for motivation and tactics. In a practice match u can make a mistake and carry on and still play that shot, in a proper comp or match u can miss one of your tactical moves and then stop doing it. A coach will tell u that u missed that because u went for speed not spin or u are being countered because your placements are obvious. In a practice match u can think and notice these errors and rectify but in a comp your head can go all over the place that you can’t see the obvious.

    Hope more people give input into this discussion with their experiences.

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    #4
    Hi Dipak,

    great post !! Nice someone has taken the time to reply!!

    Shot quality plays a major part of the implementation of your tactics. That’s where a coach or team mate can help and advise, they are in a position to take an objective view of the match as it progresses and advise which aspects of your play needs tweaking.

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    #5
    I actually don’t care much. I rather train than playing a match. When I do It’s much more satisfying if my shots are good then if I win or not.

    Cheers
    L-zr

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    #6

    Totally agree. It’s so easy to spot mistakes from the outside than while your playing. Hence having a good team mate in local league or a good coach at comps really helps. Knowing your own strengths and sticking to plan A and then having a plan B is handy.

    In a comp 2 wks ago I had a great start winning 4 out of my first 5 matches and in great form. Had a shocker in match 6, came out guns blazing trying to win 3rd ball attack and rushing. My plan B should have been to slow down a bit focus on more spin than speed. Instead I slowed completely down and almost stopped attacking first. That was a prime example of plan A not working but not understanding what I was doing wrong. I must have played at 60% level of the previous matches and the games I lost were like 13-11 and 11-9 etc.. which shows if I had played anywhere near previous matches or had just overcome what I was doing wrong it still would have been a comfortable win.
    I couldn’t understand how my form had dipped so drastically out of the blue but it wasn’t my form it was how I changed way I was playing, ie rushing, attacking too hard etc…

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  7. Der_Echte is offline
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    #7
    An also very under-discussed piece of tactical intelligence is How To Find The Middle of a player.

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    #8

    What about the rythm of the player? As in at what game "speed" is your opponent accustomed too?

    In pro games it's more natural to go for topspin on topspin rallies, mimicking the opponent so to say, but what about our normal club players? Do they benefit from a topspin to topspin play, why not slow it down, change the balance of the other player and the speed of the play?

    Some types of shots I like to play is to, instead on going on the before mentioned top to top rally, just to slow it down, play a shorter ball.

    A lot of untaped tactical knowledge we would appreciate in this forum, as Der said for the Middle of the player.

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    #9
    Another important area to look for during a match, is HOW TO DISRUPT.

    Ivek touching upon the concept.

    Many ways to disrupt. Here are a few to look for as you play a match to see if one can find weakness in opponent to use them...

    *Unexpected softer shots (now opponent is positioned too far back and is going to be way ahead of ball - bad combo for opponent)

    * Spin variation - those dummy loops are killer stuff. Adam Bobrow wins many points from confusing the amount and direction of spin on snakes while giving what looks like an easy ball

    * Unexpected placement - showing cross court, then letting ball come deeper into zone and going down the line

    * Unexpected faster shot with grip pressure on a slow looking short swing

    * Unexpected ball arrival time - confusing opponent on how ball will bounce (which affects arival time and point in effective impact zone), which combines speed, spin, and gri variation

    * Notice opponent feet position (like ifhitting foot is forward (in BH dominant stance) and hit ball to opposite side (like hitting to FH and wide FH if opponent's feet are set too much BH oriented - player will turn into pretzel going for that ball)

    * Notice if opponent is UPRIGHT and hit quickly wide to one wing... players cannot move quickly to side if upright and/or feet close together

    * Notice which balls and situations where player is wrong oriented or out of crouch and use them for moar points

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    #10
    Quote Originally Posted by Der_Echte
    An also very under-discussed piece of tactical intelligence is How To Find The Middle of a player.
    ‘Finding the middle’ or ‘Crossover point’ is a very good tactic to employ.

    Pleas correct me if I’m not 100% correct or there’s more to add.

    A player’s ‘middle’ or ‘crossover point is usually associated more with shake hand players rather than traditional pen hold grip. Although it’s still there but not as vulnerable.
    From what I know, the ‘middle’ or ‘crossover point is a fairly tight point, around the line of the players racket hand elbow (When in ready position). A strategically placed shot forces the player to choose or make a decision between either playing a FH or BH stroke.
    This means you have to make up your mind and move, in order to execute a good stroke.
    So the target is both static and moving. By this I mean the target line is the players racket hand elbow, but the player is likely to be moving!!

    What are the criteria for a good stroke aimed at a players crossover point?

    Accuracy.
    Anticipation of the players position.
    Speed of the ball.
    picking the right ball (relevant to many strokes).

    If accuracy is poor then opponent has less distance to adjust, in fact may not need to adjust at all !!
    if Anticipation is poor then it’s likely the accuracy is going to be poor.
    if the speed of the ball is too slow, then the opponent has time to react and move.
    picking the right ball is therefore important, then you are going to be better placed to play a faster accurate shot.

    playing to the middle / crossover point isn’t limited to open play, you can serve at it as well. In fact what better opportunity is there? You are in complete control of the serve, opponent is pretty stationary. So a fast we’ll aimed serve can cause real issues!!!


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    #11
    Quote Originally Posted by Der_Echte
    An also very under-discussed piece of tactical intelligence is How To Find The Middle of a player.
    My coach once asked me y do I attack the wings only. Since then I started finding middle far more and found more success.

    another good tactic is the early switch down the line with Bh. Seen it so much at international level and amazing enough I have seen players catch ma long out with a early. Ma long stays very much in Bh corner and countless times in matches I have seen his opponent catch him out with a Bh down the line.

    As mentioned by yourself in another post variation in spin an speed during a rally makes a big difference, sometimes it’s easy to get caught up with same tempo same spin strength.

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    #12
    Quote Originally Posted by Dipak1974
    My coach once asked me y do I attack the wings only. Since then I started finding middle far more and found more success.

    another good tactic is the early switch down the line with Bh. Seen it so much at international level and amazing enough I have seen players catch ma long out with a early. Ma long stays very much in Bh corner and countless times in matches I have seen his opponent catch him out with a Bh down the line.

    As mentioned by yourself in another post variation in spin an speed during a rally makes a big difference, sometimes it’s easy to get caught up with same tempo same spin strength.

    A lot of the choices we have to make or would like to make, are to some extent dependent on being able to ‘choose the right ball’ have a degree of patience, rather than just go in guns blazing!!
    TT isn’t a race, my coaches say it’s more like a fast paced chess match, Each player is probing, trying to create an opening that allows a finishing stroke, if you get an early ‘right ball’ then yeah try and take it out and win the point quickly.

    One tactic used back in the mid 70’s by the likes of Joyner and Co was to try and drag the pen hold players out to the far FH side, this was assisted by side spin loaded FH loops, the main concept was that a pen hold players BH side was a ‘weaker link’ and could be exploited more if you could get them out wide and force them to play more BH strokes.
    Sure you had to play to their strong FH side initially, some risk and reward is involved!! But you have to remember that if a side spin loaded loop moves your opponent 2ft (600mm) more to the right than a ‘standard’ loop, that’s a long way in Table Tennis!!
    So sometimes you may have to play a shot to your opponent’s strength to help expose a weak point they have elsewhere.


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    #13
    The points Der talked about in #9 are revealing.
    Especially feet position, balance, slight change in body orientation etc, I think that some players just pick up these nuances much easier, they are able to take in that little bit of extra info without really thinking about it!!
    These are definitely things that can be learnt, it’s knowing what to look for, once you start to recognise these nuggets of info and understand what can be done, then you are in a position to capitalise on them.
    when playing some practice games, you can ‘consciously’ say to yourself, right I’m going to see if I can really try to watch my opponent’s footwork, obviously you have to concentrate on the ball, but the info is usually already there in the ‘background’

    The changing of direction of play is a great tactic, and being able to use some fake motion really can surprise opponents.

    You can watch carefully when the shot is played, usually, but not always ( if they are real sneaky!!) a player will have a method or type of motion body or action to perform the change of direction.

    For the BH block down the line. (For a RH player)
    Player A may perform this by only changing the bat orientation, the wrist opens slightly and the bat face aims down the line.
    Player B may keep the bat orientation the same as if playing cross table, but change torso orientation, twisting at the hips so chest points down the line.
    Player C may step back slightly with their left foot, therefore changing the whole orientation of their body to face down the line.
    I’m not saying any of the above are the ‘correct’ way of playing the shot, just ways it can be achieved.

    If you are really sneaky, you can ‘telegraph’ your intent.
    Player A opens the wrist early, showing intent to play down the line, then snaps the wrist forward last second and plays cross table!!

    what this shows, is that you need to be able to watch your opponent very closely, and try and learn how to use the ‘signals’ you send out to fool or deceive your opponent!!

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    #14
    Depending on which sort of level you play at, there are differing ways to decide what tactics to use, adapt tactics during a match and analyse after the match.

    Players at Pro level will have a a lot of assistance, coaches, fellow players, videos of both themselves and opponents on so on,
    Players below Pro level, those playing in regional tournaments and trying to rise up the ranks will have a similar set, the difference may be that their coach may or may not have the same level of experience as a National Pro coach. Videos to watch of likely opponents are possibly less likely to be readily available.
    For intermediate and improving players, then the set decreases slightly, your coach is unlikely to attend club level league games, your team mates can still help out though!! Videos of opponents are likely to be very sparse indeed!!

    If there are any HIGH level players, Pro or just below, reading this it would be great to get an insight into how you approach tournaments and matches.
    I think that with the larger tournaments teams such as China have an absolutely vast pool of players and playing styles to dip into, for example they can bring in a defensive chopper to train against if the draw shows a possible meeting with a player of that style later on.

    For the likes of us intermediate players, what can we do to help us!! To a certain extent it really depends on what you want out of the game, how seriously you take playing TT.

    The ONE piece of advice for those wanting to improve and win more matches is to VIDEO ALL YOUR MATCHES.
    Then at least you can re-watch the match. You can show the footage to your coach and get their view on what was good, what was bad etc. Eventually you will build up a library of footage.
    During a ‘normal’ league season, you have home and away matches, so if the other teams play the same players ( ideally!! Though unlikely) you’ll have 2 videos of each player to refer to.
    You will be able to see how you are progressing in terms of YOUR technique, movement, consistency, touch etc. With your coach you can then target areas that need improvement etc
    Also use your team mates to give advice, they can see what is happening better than you to a certain extent, draw on their experience and knowledge of the other players.
    For example,
    pre-match -
    Bob advises Joe - ‘when you play Del, serve long backspin to his forehand, he hates it !!
    ‘when you play Jim, try and keep it tight and short, he likes to step back so he has time’
    during -
    ‘Joe, you are winning more points when the rallies are over 5 strokes, no need to try and kill off the point 3rd or 5th ball when you are serving.’
    ’ Jack is making more errors when you play a slow spinny topspin, but he blocks the faster ones well’
    Actually one of your ‘tactics’ should be to talk with teammates!!!
    after -
    watch your video footage!!!! Get feed back from teammates etc



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  15. jammmail is offline
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    #15
    This is a really interesting thread IB66 – thanks for starting it.

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    #16
    Quote Originally Posted by IB66
    Depending on which sort of level you play at, there are differing ways to decide what tactics to use, adapt tactics during a match and analyse after the match.

    Players at Pro level will have a a lot of assistance, coaches, fellow players, videos of both themselves and opponents on so on,
    Players below Pro level, those playing in regional tournaments and trying to rise up the ranks will have a similar set, the difference may be that their coach may or may not have the same level of experience as a National Pro coach. Videos to watch of likely opponents are possibly less likely to be readily available.
    For intermediate and improving players, then the set decreases slightly, your coach is unlikely to attend club level league games, your team mates can still help out though!! Videos of opponents are likely to be very sparse indeed!!

    If there are any HIGH level players, Pro or just below, reading this it would be great to get an insight into how you approach tournaments and matches.
    I think that with the larger tournaments teams such as China have an absolutely vast pool of players and playing styles to dip into, for example they can bring in a defensive chopper to train against if the draw shows a possible meeting with a player of that style later on.

    For the likes of us intermediate players, what can we do to help us!! To a certain extent it really depends on what you want out of the game, how seriously you take playing TT.

    The ONE piece of advice for those wanting to improve and win more matches is to VIDEO ALL YOUR MATCHES.
    Then at least you can re-watch the match. You can show the footage to your coach and get their view on what was good, what was bad etc. Eventually you will build up a library of footage.
    During a ‘normal’ league season, you have home and away matches, so if the other teams play the same players ( ideally!! Though unlikely) you’ll have 2 videos of each player to refer to.
    You will be able to see how you are progressing in terms of YOUR technique, movement, consistency, touch etc. With your coach you can then target areas that need improvement etc
    Also use your team mates to give advice, they can see what is happening better than you to a certain extent, draw on their experience and knowledge of the other players.
    For example,
    pre-match -
    Bob advises Joe - ‘when you play Del, serve long backspin to his forehand, he hates it !!
    ‘when you play Jim, try and keep it tight and short, he likes to step back so he has time’
    during -
    ‘Joe, you are winning more points when the rallies are over 5 strokes, no need to try and kill off the point 3rd or 5th ball when you are serving.’
    ’ Jack is making more errors when you play a slow spinny topspin, but he blocks the faster ones well’
    Actually one of your ‘tactics’ should be to talk with teammates!!!
    after -
    watch your video footage!!!! Get feed back from teammates etc
    I totally agree. In local league your team mates effectively become your coaches. Nothing worse than team mates that give no feedback when u are struggling but ask when they are struggling. I have played in such team.

    Also it helps that u play in a team where you train with your tram mates so you know each other’s strengths and weaknesses so then they can give the right advice on match night. it helps to have team mates that no only can give advice on your game but also spot the opponents game and give advice. A tough match can become so much easier just with the right input from a team mate.

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    #17
    TACTICS THAT ARE USEFUL FOR PLAYING CERTAIN TYPES OF PLAYER OR RACKET SET-UPS

    I’ll list a few ‘basic’ playing styles, the equipment set up can also effect the tactics or strategy employed to a certain extent.
    if would be great if you all try and participate by posting some tactics that you have found useful verses certain playing styles.

    ‘Traditional chopper’, defensive, rarely attacks, BH and FH short pips or inverted defensive rubber or combo of both.

    ’Blocker / Flat hitter’ close to the table, fast short stroke with control. Inverted or SP rubber, may twiddle.

    ‘LP player’, FH inverted fast spinny rubber, BH LP, can chop, but usually blocks / pushes on BH. Can attack with FH

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    #18
    Quote Originally Posted by IB66
    TACTICS THAT ARE USEFUL FOR PLAYING CERTAIN TYPES OF PLAYER OR RACKET SET-UPS

    I’ll list a few ‘basic’ playing styles, the equipment set up can also effect the tactics or strategy employed to a certain extent.
    if would be great if you all try and participate by posting some tactics that you have found useful verses certain playing styles.

    ‘Traditional chopper’, defensive, rarely attacks, BH and FH short pips or inverted defensive rubber or combo of both.

    ’Blocker / Flat hitter’ close to the table, fast short stroke with control. Inverted or SP rubber, may twiddle.

    ‘LP player’, FH inverted fast spinny rubber, BH LP, can chop, but usually blocks / pushes on BH. Can attack with FH

    Well no responses, so I’ll put down some of my thoughts, which you may consider correct or wrong!! Input would be appreciated!!

    ’Traditional chopper’

    These players are usually very consistent and their basic tactics are to win points by causing their opponent’s to make errors, not unforced errors, as they are trying to force the error in their own way!!
    Because this type of player is not the ‘norm’ these days, it can be difficult to adjust your play to suit.

    The 1st thing that comes to mind is ‘Patience’ this needs to be one of your tactics and mind set. It’s likely rallies may be longer than usual so don’t expect to end rallies quickly, don’t get frustrated!!

    FH and BH topspin v Back spin.
    You must be confident in you ability to consistently play your FH & BH top spin / loop against chops.
    usually we concentrate on open-ups from serve receive or 3rd ball etc, then you are in to a ‘regular’ topspin biased rally, this won’t be the case against a chopper.
    If you struggle in this, then you can push the ball back and try and pick a ball to attack with your loops.
    Also one thing to consider is that you will probably have more chance of forcing an error from a chopper with your FH loop. I remember watching Ma Long training against probably the best defensive Chinese chopper. He obviously is extremely consistent on both wings v back spin. But he didn’t / couldn’t finish a point using his BH loop!! 3 or 4 FH loops and an error resulted from his chopping opponent!!

    Moving your opponent,

    A choppers comfort zone, will be a distance away from the table that gives them time and will be based on how far your loop carries away from the table. If you are going to play loops 90% of the time you will need to move them left/right but probably in / out is more disruptive for them.
    if you are not confident to play loops all the time, then pushing will move them in, you can play a shorter game and try and pick a ball to attack.
    For both cases attacking their ‘middle’ or crossover point after you have dragged them into the table is a great tactic, they will not be in their comfort zone, a sort of ‘no mans land’ as far as they are concerned, by this I mean they know you are going to attack with a loop and will try and retreat back to their comfort zone, but there won’t be enough time for this!!
    When away from the table, placing your loops at the opponent’s body is also effective as they will have to move to achieve the best position to play a quality chop.
    Perhaps in order??
    1) attack towards body when they are away from the table.
    2) move them in and out / attack middle/crossover
    3) move them left / right when the ‘right’ ball arrives

    Vary spin and speed, bounce placement

    If you can vary the spin on your loops, this just makes it harder for them to get ‘into a groove’
    Same with speed variation it disrupts rhythm, also less spin/speed can pull them in towards the table.
    Where the ball bounces on their side of the table can also be varied. You can play a similar paced ball closer to the end of the table and the next closer to the net, say 600mm (2ft) past the net, so again you are moving them in / out slightly disrupting the rhythm again.

    Reading spin and ‘shape’ of incoming ball.

    Choppers will generally have 3 maybe 4 variations ( with/without side spin)
    1) heavy backspin
    2 ) medium backspin
    3) float or no/low spin
    4) fast attacking punch chop (rarely seen) this shot is pretty difficult and not the norm!!

    the only way to gain experience reading a choppers spin is to practice against chopping!! There are differences in trajectory but they can be very similar. Watching the ball is vital!!
    The ‘fast attacking punch chop’ has an almost direct straight line, is usually played at a higher position of the incoming ball after bounce. The reason I’ve included this shot is because back when I first started playing, a SP player I knew played this shot, it literally came at you like an arrow, a fast surprise shot.

    So thats some of my thoughts, I’m also trying to get other more experienced players insights as well, so please post some thoughts.

    More later on ‘Blocker/Flat hitter’

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    #19
    Blocker / Flat hitter.

    For this I am going to base my comments on the type of player that stands in very close to the table!! Almost as if they are trying to impose themselves on you, sort of menacing!!! This is more relevant to local league players, generally you won’t find a Pro or advanced , high intermediate players doing this!!

    When a player is standing very close to their end of the table they are trying to take as much time as they can from you, they more than likely like to play a pretty fast paced game. It’s also likely that they will position themselves pretty centrally, maybe a little to their BH side of the centre line.
    They like to use your pace and spin when blocking topspin balls and will try and move you from side to side and attack your middle / crossover point. They will try to drive you back, When you are further away from the table it can be more difficult to keep the ball close to the net, the additional bounce then let’s them bring their FH & BH flat hard hit drives into play especially if your shots are not deep.
    Because they usually play from a central position it can be hard for them to push you out wider, as soon as you retreat back you have to cover more ground. You have some more time to react but because they have a little more time they can switch play to great effect. Even if they don’t block hard and fast they can still control the point by moving you around.

    So what can you do?

    Quality of your shots need to be good, deep to the end of the table, tight to the net deep pushes, deep top spins and loops. Because they are close to the table deeper balls or higher deep slow loaded top spins ( may bounce higher, but the apex of the bounce is going to be behind them!! ) so they have to take the ball early as it’s rising. This will reduce the area of table they have available to hit on your side, therefore they will need to be more accurate. By this I mean, the height they contact the ball will be lower, closer to the net height, imagine a straight line from the contact point to just above the net continuing to where it hits the table, and a second line from the contact point to your end of the table.This gives them less area they can hit on your side of the table. This is smaller because they are not using much in the way of topspin.
    Topspin shots can afford to clear the net more and the topspin drags the ball back down onto the table. Another advantage of playing topspin strokes is that after the bounce they kick forward bouncing lower, So against flat hitters it’s a good tactic, bounce height is both their friend and foe!!
    vary speed and spin, but keep the balls deep..t
    if you can force them back, you have started to negate their style of play, if they have moved back so they can play the ball at a higher height, you can then play some shorter lower top spins so THEY are behind the apex of the bounce with the ball descending towards them.

    When you are pushed out wide, this opens up your angles, so you will be able to play some wider angled shots, these don’t have to be as deep, just wide enough to make the opponent move and be out of their hitting zones, FH hitting zone is slightly larger than the BH hitting zone.

    I watched an old video of a closed league tournament recently. A young lad, maybe 12/13 yrs old was playing a seasoned veteran blocker / Flat hitter, this guy was a very good player, the youngster had a good attacking topspin game. An up and coming player.
    1st set, the vet sprinted into a 8 - 2 lead, he was all over the youngster, fast blocking to either side and putting away balls with hard fast hits, it was one way traffic with the young lad looking like he was going to be brushed aside with ease!!
    However the lad kept fighting, played some better quality deeper loops and had a run of 5 points, getting him back in the set. He lost the set setting but his confidence had risen.
    This set the tone for the rest of the match, all the sets were really tight. Setting in 3 out of the 4 remaining sets. It was a case of who could get in with a quality shot first, if the youngster’s loops were a little to short or not wide enough the vet was all over him, but the vet made slightly more errors, his type of play didn’t have as much scope for errors he had to be more accurate more of the time. Also a deep fast backspin serve brought a few additional serve receive errors from the vet.
    The youngster won 3 - 2, 11-8 in the last set.
    Considering that this pair were pretty evenly matched with differing skills, I felt that the Vet was a little more rigid and could have changed his serve tactics slightly but didn’t The youngster kept to his style of play as well, but improved his quality of shots and tried a few different serve variations which resulted in him using the long fast back spin serve in the last set to win a couple of crucial points, he only cottoned on to this serve at the end of the 4th set, until then his serve had also been fairly predictable.
    longer rallies were usually won by the youngster, his top spin play was ‘safer’ in that he had a larger margin for error than the Vets flatter hits.
    This ‘safeness’ and serve variation won him the match, as well as his excellent mental attitude!!!

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    #20
    LP player,

    I haven’t played against any higher level LP players, those players have a lot more variation of the type of strokes they can play. So these thoughts are based on my experience play against LP players at a lower level.

    One of the better LP players I have encountered said the reason that he changed to LP on his BH was that he couldn’t deal with other players serves. He couldn’t read them well and decided to remove ( to a certain extent) that weakness in his game.
    LP players can be very one sided (especially at a lower level) they start to favour their BH a lot!! Moving across to try and get the LP into play even when incoming balls are towards their FH side.
    They tend to win points in a few ways-
    1) Consistently returning balls.
    2) Attacking loose balls that pop up with their FH
    3) Causing unforced errors due to the effect of the LP’s (opponents perception)

    For me the main thing to start with is that you understand how LP’s work. Generally people think they change the spin on the ball, this isn’t the case, all that changes is the direction the ball is travelling in.
    an incoming topspin is spinning towards them, it hits their LP’s and rebounds back, the ball is still spinning in the same way but is now moving towards you with Backspin from your point of view. If you let this ball bounce, it would stop and then start to return to the net with topspin on it. All that has changed is the direction of travel !!
    A LP player cannot really impart much spin on a ball with their LP’s they are totally reliant on your spin to get the best effect.
    when they receive a topspin ball, a block, push or chop returns the ball with what we see as backspin on it.
    when they receive a Backspin ball, a block, push or chop returns the ball with some topspin on it.
    The more spin you put on the ball the more spin you will receive back at you!!

    Tactic wise you have to get your head around the way LP’s play. You have to try and ignore how your brain has been ‘conditioned’ to respond to certain visual info.
    You serve heavy backspin ball, they push back with LP, you see a push, your brain is ‘conditioned’ to push back, or play a topspin opener v backspin, result - your push pops up or goes long, as does the topspin v backspin opener. This is because the incoming ball has topspin on it!! The visual stimulus says backspin stroke, reality is topspin !!!
    Once you understand what is happening you can then get you tactics in place.

    No spin tight to net long serve. LP can struggle to control this type of serve, a return can float long or be netted.
    Light / Medium spin long backspin serve. Going to be returned with topspin so you can play a more attacking topspin stroke.
    During play alternate between topspin and push / chop (backspin) If you want to play attacking loops consecutively then your topspin and loops v backspin have to be very consistent, similar to playing against a chopper. The heavier your topspin the heavier the backspin your going to have to deal with!!
    So play a topspin, returning ball has backspin, push this, next returning ball will have some topspin, play a topspin / loop attack, push the next returned ball and so on.
    This alternation of shots can also move them in and out.
    Attack their middle/crossover.
    You are going to pop up some balls, usually when pushing, so try and keep pushes to their BH side. If they haven’t learnt to attack with the LP on BH side then they will either run around to play FH attack, if you can return this then they will have opened up their FH side, you can switch play down their FH. If they use their BH it will be to get the ball back in play rather than finish the point off.
    They really don’t like to be pushed wide on their BH side, it takes away their ‘secure’ feeling.
    Try and serve wide to their inverted rubber FH, you can use more spin as long as you are confident they will have to play with the FH, they will start to shuffle across towards their FH side in anticipation and trying so hard to get their LP’s on the ball, switch fast long no spin serve down their backhand wing, keep them guessing!!!

    Patience and concentration is needed, pick your attacks wisely!! Vary spin, learn a good no spin serve.

    LP’s are frustrating to play against, they seem to get more nets and edges!! The ball can skid through a lot, the better the LP player the harder it is to play against them!! But really this is the same for any style of better player!!

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