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  1. Gozo is offline
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    #1

    Competition: How should I approach it?

    It has been three years since we have any competition going, no thanks to Covid. Prior to Covid I did not take TT really seriously. It is only after this Lockdown ease that I began to be a more competitive oriented player ( or at least this is what I hope to be in the future ).

    So, I am totally new to this competition thingy. I want to ask you guys some questions.

    1. NDH & my coach who saw my previous games said I was too passive in my game and I should play more aggressive / offensively even at the expense of my chance of winning. They say it is good for my long term / strategic development.

    2. My clubmates thinks otherwise, they told me not to be too aggressive and to take a safer less risky approach. Win first and strategic whatchamacallitmagicalthingy whatever comes later.

    What say you guys & girls? Is there a middle path that is win-win? Lets' hear some thoughts from this fair TT community.

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    Last edited by Gozo; 06-16-2022 at 08:09 AM.

  2. Lycanthrope is offline
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    #2
    This is just my own way: I personally always play aggressively. There is nothing to lose when I lose a game, so there is no point for me to play safely.

    I believe you understand it as well, so I guess your real question is that you are not sure when you should open up. Trust your coach, trust your hard training in the past several months.

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    Last edited by Lycanthrope; 06-16-2022 at 07:39 AM.

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    #3
    1. Make damn sure to have fun.
    2. Don’t think too much of if you win or not,
    Then there is less risk to hold you back.
    3. Winning can come later, there is always a next
    tournament.

    Cheers
    L-zr

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  4. cytivrat is offline
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    #4

    In short: if you trust your coach, do what he says

    Now long version: It depends. If you want to win now and don't care what will happen later, then do what ever gives you points: if this is one aggressive move, then do it. If it is something safe and passive - then go with it. But probably at your current level of play it should be enough to safely return several balls in different parts of the table to win a point and aggression is not really necessary. This way you will get higher position in your comptetition (most likely). But giving that you have some problems with pushes/cutting/underspin balls it also might be not that easy and maybe safer for you means something else.
    If you care about your progress more than your position in that particular competition, then you should have an image of how you want your play look like in, let's say, a year or two. And you should attempt to play according to that style, model of play, try using elements that you want to win points with in the future. If this is aggressive play style, then you should play aggerssively, if it is blocking, then concentrate on blocking, etc. (obviously, you will get better in things that you are actually doing, especially in competition games)
    It also depends on your psycology, for example, losing too much might make feel you frustrated and quit table tennis. Sometimes you might feel very tensed in a competition, and cannot perform any aggressive/technically demanding shot. Then I suppose it is better to play like 80% safely, 20% aggressively on first like 10 competitions (again all numbers are arbitrary, just to highlight general idea) to make you feel more relaxed in a competition. And then steadily changing that ratio to more aggressive gameplay (if it is the way you want to play in the future).

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  5. jammmail is offline
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    #5
    No one likes losing - especially in competitive competitions, thats why we play them for that feeling when we win.
    So I agree with NDH and your coach, playing passively may keep you in the rally, but you are only going to win by your opponent making mistakes.

    By being aggressive (but not reckless - there is a big difference) it puts you in control, and your opponent under pressure - hopefully making them make the mistakes. Im saying this as the same thing is said of me from my coach or teammates when I'm not playing well or at my best. My best results are always when i'm taking the lead in attacking. Plus winning that way, hitting clean shots feels much better! Even if you loose, least you know you have been positive and they were just better on the day. Being passive and loosing sucks really bad - also if I start in that mindset I find it hard to then switch to being the more aggressive, say against another opponent.
    I say go for it, play your shots, have fun and see how you go!

  6. Der_Echte is offline
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    #6
    Hi Gozo,

    You are asking a few distinct and separate questions, which are very important for every player.

    How show I prepare myself to perform on match day? What should be my strategy and tactics in general?

    The first question is answered over the course of several weeks before match day. The important tourney or match(s) are indeed important and it is important to peak on tourney day - that is important. You have a physical and mental component and do not neglect either. It truly takes weeks to lead up with your mind and also your physical cycle with rest work nutrition hydration mineralization happiness aggression vision desire expectations communication plans contingencies support venue conditions motivation etc just to name a few of the things you get in order.

    The short of it is there are many moving pieces that you should orchestrate into good order to support each facet of your variables. This can get real complicated and in the weeds, but it can also be real simple, make it so you get ur shyt together right on match day.

    HOW aggressive should you play. That is answered by where you are in your level, selected play style, and ability to assess risk and make quick, sound decisions. You can argue (like your friends and supporters) that playing safe, not taking excess risk is the way to go. In one sense, that is correct, it would be foolish to piss away points by taking excess risk often.

    I offer a different way to go about it that to me is more sensible. Go for the shots that are there and go for the ones you can setup. You would surely lose opportunity points by not attacking strongly on presentable high percentage chances and be ready to finish if 1st one doesn't get the job done. Sometimes it is good to selectively attack and fail. Sometimes an opponent is killing you with a serve or a shot, so you go for it anyway and likely miss, but it was close and you gave opponent something to think about or hesitate to use again, so it can be tactically valuable. TACTICAL INTELLIGENCE is a moving target and sometimes hard to define or articulate. CONFFIDENCE is hugely important - it is seeing yourself land it on the table. You KNOW you can make the shot and do it. You get that from your training and experience. SOMETIMES, you have to FAIL to get that experience, so it can also benefit you to be aggressive when otherwise, you might be lower percentage, but always have a plan and courage.

    All this training, matches, tourney, and feedback are important aspects in growing yourself and abilities/match performance. You will certainly NOT read what any of us say and perform 3 levels better, but you can figure some things out for yourself and over some time gain level if you leverage things.

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  7. NDH is offline
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    #7

    I'll add a bit more context to when I said you should be more aggressive.

    Firstly, I've never been too disappointed when I've lost a game on my own terms.

    Missing attacking balls, or generally being outplayed - I don't mind that as much.

    But losing a game when I'm passive, negative and seemingly lacking in confidence? You come away feeling like you could have won, if only you'd played your game....... That is very frustrating.

    So regardless of HOW attacking you are, I would strongly advise that you have a think about your strengths and weaknesses, and come up with a game plan/tactics that will play to those strengths, and avoid the weaknesses.

    If you execute that game plan, you'll feel great - Even if you lose.

    One of the great things about Juniors, is that they have no memory.

    They can miss 10 loops in a row, but they'll still go for the 11th, because that's how they've been taught, and they know they can play that shot.

    It's something that adults struggle with more, as the "sensible" part of their brain will tell them to slow down, play it safe and not go for too much.

    As an opponent, if I know the other player will ALWAYS go for their shots, it gives me much more to think about, and I lose the ability to play safe myself, as I know that if I push one slightly too long, or high, they'll attack it and put me on the back foot.

    You will have off days. Days where nothing goes on and everything feels wrong.

    But that's just how it goes, and you can look back on the videos and remember how far you've already come.

    Either way, have fun, enjoy the day and GOOD LUCK!

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  8. latej is offline
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    #8
    Strongly in camp 1 on this. No middle ground. Moreover, you should constantly remind yourself about it, so as to prevent "slippage" :-) As Lazer said, have fun. ((I should probably at least try to justify my position, but after those 2 its hard, spoilers.))

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    #9
    You are setting up a false choice here and you will play poorly if you trap yourself into thinking like this for no good reason. Let's start with a couple principles and see if we all agree on them.

    The goal in a competition is to win. It is not training time.
    How you win doesn't matter. Or as a coach told me once 'A point's a f. ing point, innit?'
    You need to be committed to your tactics. Indecision kills.

    And I'd be very interested to hear comments on this list of priorities for every shot one plays:
    Priority #1 on the table
    #2 with spin
    #3 to a good placement
    #4 speed (meaning play early)
    #5 power (meaning hit hard)

    And the actual match situation I believe we are talking about is when your opponent gives you a long backspin ball, could be a serve or a long push - is that right?

    Where this all seems to go sideways is the idea that "playing aggressively" means taking a huge risk of missing the table. If you don't know how to loop against push that's true. But I think you do know how, at least on your forehand. So this idea that playing aggressively means you will miss most of them, and lose the match, and your teammates will hate you for it, is not grounded in reality.

    If you have a safe, relaxed forehand open vs backspin you should use it whenever you are in a decent position to do so. Don't kill the ball! Don't try to win the point on that 3rd ball. Go for priorities 1 2 & 3. Hit the table, with some topspin, and place it awkwardly for your opponent. That is usually wide bh if he plays penhold, or elbow/middle if he is shakehand. He will block, then you are looping v block which is even easier than backspin. At no time should you try to kill the ball to end the point! If you place a few nice, safe, easy, spinny loops on the table the point will end soon, don't worry about that.

    What if the push is to your backhand, or it's a forehand but you are off balance, out of position, for any reason your chance of looping on the table is below 50%? Fine just push the ball back then. Landing on the table is priority #1. Get back in position so you can open up if he pushes back to you, or block if he opens.

    You are not a defender. Not training to play defense. Except if a chopper plays, at all levels the player who opens first wins the point a majority of the time. So given your style opening with topspin vs long pushes is your best chance to win. You are not actually more likely to win using long push tactics that are not your style and that you don't deliberately train. Anyone you can beat like that is weaker than you, and you could also beat them playing safe topspins.




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  10. Tony's Table Tennis is offline
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    #10
    Quote Originally Posted by Gozo
    It has been three years since we have any competition going, no thanks to Covid. Prior to Covid I did not take TT really seriously. It is only after this Lockdown ease that I began to be a more competitive oriented player ( or at least this is what I hope to be in the future ).

    So, I am totally new to this competition thingy. I want to ask you guys some questions.

    1. NDH & my coach who saw my previous games said I was too passive in my game and I should play more aggressive / offensively even at the expense of my chance of winning. They say it is good for my long term / strategic development.

    2. My clubmates thinks otherwise, they told me not to be too aggressive and to take a safer less risky approach. Win first and strategic whatchamacallitmagicalthingy whatever comes later.

    What say you guys & girls? Is there a middle path that is win-win? Lets' hear some thoughts from this fair TT community.

    I wanted to check your video yesterday - didn't have time few days ago when you posted. But missed it by a day or two.
    any ways, to answer your question.

    - playing aggressively or offensively has it pros and cons.
    Pro
    It is important to learn to attack - especially when the opportunity arises. So maybe that is what NDH or your coach is referring to.
    Table tennis is an instinct reaction sport. There is no time to think. You act with your first sense of where the ball will land, how high it will be, and how much spin it will have and so on.
    So to train to attack is very important.

    If you don't attack, you will be attacked. In the modern offensive game, normally the first to attack, will win the point. Especially in high pressure times.

    Cons.
    You attack faster more, the ball comes back faster. You might not be ready for that next/incoming ball and your follow on shot is not of the same quality. Unforced errors will start happening.

    - what your clubmate thinks.
    I know some older social players, who aims to keep the ball on, as long as possible.
    playing very conservative.
    In high level play - conservative will not work. Even a "block" shot needs to be an attacking block. Passive/slow block, will not win you points - only wanting for your opponent to give you the point.
    For lower level play, conservative will win you points. There is a saying, if you always put the ball back on - you will never loose.

    so I have answered both.
    For me, as a coach:
    If your level or your complete basic/fundamental learning is not enough or not there yet - stay away from competition.

    this is a Art, not yet ready - you could loose to someone who is "street smart" and have all the wrong (orthodox/non text book) shots.
    I rather you have a training partner, and can train match like drills. And only when you are more complete - to test the waters with other players.

    Of course for amateur levels, you may want to test what you have learned. Then you need to know, with competition play, your rallies are of no use.
    The quality of the first 3, 5 balls will majority of the time, tell you who will win.
    If you want to focus more on winning competition. Then learn the BH flick, master it, and that can be a good 2nd, 3rd, 4th or even 5th ball shot. And then from there, get your FH ready.
    Oh and reading incoming spin is crucial too.
    All of the above is way before your "attacking game" in your question - without the above, you can have a Ma Long half a fh, you might still loose

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  11. Gozo is offline
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    #11
    Quote Originally Posted by Tony's Table Tennis

    I wanted to check your video yesterday - didn't have time few days ago when you posted. But missed it by a day or two.
    any ways, to answer your question.

    - playing aggressively or offensively has it pros and cons.
    Pro
    It is important to learn to attack - especially when the opportunity arises. So maybe that is what NDH or your coach is referring to.
    Table tennis is an instinct reaction sport. There is no time to think. You act with your first sense of where the ball will land, how high it will be, and how much spin it will have and so on.
    So to train to attack is very important.

    If you don't attack, you will be attacked. In the modern offensive game, normally the first to attack, will win the point. Especially in high pressure times.

    Cons.
    You attack faster more, the ball comes back faster. You might not be ready for that next/incoming ball and your follow on shot is not of the same quality. Unforced errors will start happening.

    - what your clubmate thinks.
    I know some older social players, who aims to keep the ball on, as long as possible.
    playing very conservative.
    In high level play - conservative will not work. Even a "block" shot needs to be an attacking block. Passive/slow block, will not win you points - only wanting for your opponent to give you the point.
    For lower level play, conservative will win you points. There is a saying, if you always put the ball back on - you will never loose.

    so I have answered both.
    For me, as a coach:
    If your level or your complete basic/fundamental learning is not enough or not there yet - stay away from competition.

    this is a Art, not yet ready - you could loose to someone who is "street smart" and have all the wrong (orthodox/non text book) shots.
    I rather you have a training partner, and can train match like drills. And only when you are more complete - to test the waters with other players.

    Of course for amateur levels, you may want to test what you have learned. Then you need to know, with competition play, your rallies are of no use.
    The quality of the first 3, 5 balls will majority of the time, tell you who will win.
    If you want to focus more on winning competition. Then learn the BH flick, master it, and that can be a good 2nd, 3rd, 4th or even 5th ball shot. And then from there, get your FH ready.
    Oh and reading incoming spin is crucial too.
    All of the above is way before your "attacking game" in your question - without the above, you can have a Ma Long half a fh, you might still loose

    Thanks Tony,

    The part where I bolded is a very important statement for me. I can tell with first hand knowledge it is so true. Lately I have been using a lot of it in my practice matches. This is so gonna be my go to shot at the moment.

    BH open up, BH to BH rally and if it comes to my FH, then I'll take the shot.

    The above is gonna be my game plan for this weekend game.

    I will try to get consent from my opponent first this time to post the game on YT. Unfortunately not all players are so liberal. I am sorry you miss my previous video but I had to make it private at the request of player's privacy interest.

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  12. Wrighty67 is offline
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    #12
    I see so many players at my club who play so well, with freedom and in an offensive style when practicing but who turn into “push” monsters in matches…

    I promised myself I would play in the style I aspire to in my matches - attacking and with intent. In addition my coach allows for no more than 2 pushes in succession before an open up.

    This is easier in practice matches and has cost me in some league matches, but generally I find I win more if I attack earlier and it also drives my improvement in finding that open up when faced with a pushing opponent rather than pushing back.

    It takes commitment and focus to avoid the temptation to push and I don’t always succeed but it’s getting better.

    I love Tony’s advice re the BH flick - it’s so useful but I need to work much harder on it as most players I face now tend to serve long (so I do it at home on the robot)

    Good luck..

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    #13
    Some good advice going on in this thread. I agree to leaving it all out on the table and learning how to turn on and stay aggressive.

    If you lose, you gave it your all and you don’t leave any “what ifs” out there.

    Losing when playing a passive game is the worst and I always feel like you can’t learn much from it either.


    Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk

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  14. Tony's Table Tennis is offline
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    #14
    Quote Originally Posted by alas26
    Some good advice going on in this thread. I agree to leaving it all out on the table and learning how to turn on and stay aggressive.

    If you lose, you gave it your all and you don’t leave any “what ifs” out there.

    Losing when playing a passive game is the worst and I always feel like you can’t learn much from it either.


    Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk

    A wise Chinese national coach once said.
    You going to loose either way.
    play passive, you will loose
    play aggressive, you will loose
    but play aggressive, you might start adding pressure to your opponent and that pressure opening might just be enough for you to have a chance to win.

    Of course, we talking about pros vs pros, not amateur vs pro

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  15. Gozo is offline
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    #15
    Looks like the thread responders are overwhelmingly in the Go Offensive opinion.

    OK, I will take that into consideration and try to play a fantastic game this weekend. Note to self: Gozo, most importantly is to have loads of fun, enjoy the day, enjoy the social atmosphere, video tape my play, learn from it and grow as a competitive player.

    Thanks you all for your response.

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