How to play against Flat Fast Attack player

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Today I played a 2000 level fast attack player, let's call him Jerry. His strokes are very fast and flat, think something like Adriana Diaz or Mima Ito. He stands very close to the table and just smashes or punches everything. Supposedly I think Jerry loses to Timmy (the two wing heavy looper), but I get completely obliterated by Jerry. 0-3, 0-3, 1-3, 2-3, 1-3.

I can never get into a neutral topspin rally against him, because his attack is so fast, so early, and very wide. He never loops the ball, but punches and smashes every ball very early to the 2 corners. Usually I like to setup my shot for the big FH loop, or build the point with my BH block/punch, but I never see a chance to do that against Jerry. As soon as I do a opening loop, he smashes it right away and I am on the defensive. Basically he just hits every shot 0.5 second faster than me. If I do a banana flick, he smashes it. He smashes my serve receive. He smashes my opening loop. His pace and rhythm is just different from all other guys I play.

The one area that I am not at a disadvantage is when we get into heavy underspin push pattern. Because his shot is so flat, he doesn't loop underspin as well as me. So he often can throw away points trying to loop my underspin. But if he does an opening loop, as soon as I block his loop, he goes into his fierce flat attack mode. In the later games we played, I started to do slightly better against him by copying his style. When he looped against me, I would punch his loop hard to take away his window of attack. I have to punch his loop a lot faster than I am used to doing against other players.

How can I play better against his style?
 
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Besides the method you mentioned (heavy push + counter attack), try to keep your loop to land deep and see if you can slow him down or push him away from the table. Cross over may be a good target; try to force him to pivot. Or extremely wide, possibly with some sidespin so he can't find the best timing to hit flat.

Oh and say goodbye to safe, high topspin loop. Not gonna work against a good flat hitter unless you are really good at retrieving/lobbing.

throw in some less spinny loops and see if he can adjust his flat hitting. Sometimes flat hitters are more comfortable with balls with strong topspin than float.
 
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Today I played a 2000 level fast attack player, let's call him Jerry. His strokes are very fast and flat, think something like Adriana Diaz or Mima Ito. He stands very close to the table and just smashes or punches everything. Supposedly I think Jerry loses to Timmy (the two wing heavy looper), but I get completely obliterated by Jerry. 0-3, 0-3, 1-3, 2-3, 1-3.

I can never get into a neutral topspin rally against him, because his attack is so fast, so early, and very wide. He never loops the ball, but punches and smashes every ball very early to the 2 corners. Usually I like to setup my shot for the big FH loop, or build the point with my BH block/punch, but I never see a chance to do that against Jerry. As soon as I do a opening loop, he smashes it right away and I am on the defensive. Basically he just hits every shot 0.5 second faster than me. If I do a banana flick, he smashes it. He smashes my serve receive. He smashes my opening loop. His pace and rhythm is just different from all other guys I play.

The one area that I am not at a disadvantage is when we get into heavy underspin push pattern. Because his shot is so flat, he doesn't loop underspin as well as me. So he often can throw away points trying to loop my underspin. But if he does an opening loop, as soon as I block his loop, he goes into his fierce flat attack mode. In the later games we played, I started to do slightly better against him by copying his style. When he looped against me, I would punch his loop hard to take away his window of attack. I have to punch his loop a lot faster than I am used to doing against other players.

How can I play better against his style?
Most hitters struggle af against heavy af topspin, but do very well against half hearted medium pace topspins. When you loop just load up the spin like crazy and I guarantee that he won't be able to punch it consistently.

also like what you said heavy pushes with lots of variation will make them miss a lot because they don't have the spin to make it consistent. Don't do half hearted shots basically, be it pushes or loops. If you have the capability, you should also counterloop his weak opening loops with max spin to regain the initiative. Otherwise, punching it to uncomfortable placements works too.
 
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It is nice to apply heavy topspin but if the fast attack opponent is playing HIS game, you will not get the chance to loop unless you get back from the table and then the fast attack opponent will start hitting the balls at either side of the table. I know. This is they prevalent style where I play.

You need to keep the ball low. This denies the fast attack player a fast line of sight shot to your side of the table. Now the fast attack player must hit the ball up over the net and he can't hit the ball too fast or it will go off the table.

As a general rule, I try to hit the ball within 4 inches ( 100 mm ) the edge. I aim for the sides, corners and the opponents' "pocket".

Keep the ball low. Keep the opponent moving.
 
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To be honest I am struggling against this type of player i am struggling too.
There is a veteran penholder in his 60s with short pips who almost always beat me in training matches but incredibly I beat him 3 out of 3 in competitions. (Twice 3-0 and once 3-1)

This guy is very good at what he does which is hitting hard a ball which is not too fast, a little bit high and not very spinny ESPECIALLY when he got the ball where he expects it to be…!!

So the plan is very simple : it’s too avoid giving him these balls ! He is strong in his pivot so pushing wide to his FH and not only to his BH is essential.

Dominating in serve/receive will change totally the outcome of the match. In the matches I won I received very well. These guys like to serve no spin or a little top spin short or half long to my FH. If I can’t read the spin I have to assume he’s doing it more often than backspin because it suits his style. He doesn’t want me too to open with a strong spin loop where he can miss his 3rd smash attack. Nor does he like too much backspin in a fast agressive push.

I try against him to vary serves all the time. Placement and spin. If he knows and used to what’s coming he’s very dangerous

In the rallies it’s good to play a bit slower with spin and wait for the opportunity to attack harder . It actually helps if the bounce is high and spinny and keeping the ball long is important.

My friend always trash this guy because he’s receiving well and puts too much spin for this guy. Sometimes he’s on fire and will land his flat shots but he can’t do it consistently the whole match against good quality balls.

Lastly fight ! This guy is very good but they are taking a lot of risk. If you can manage to stay close to them till money time then they can collapse. Or it’s even better when ahead !
 
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It is nice to apply heavy topspin but if the fast attack opponent is playing HIS game, you will not get the chance to loop unless you get back from the table and then the fast attack opponent will start hitting the balls at either side of the table. I know. This is they prevalent style where I play.

You need to keep the ball low. This denies the fast attack player a fast line of sight shot to your side of the table. Now the fast attack player must hit the ball up over the net and he can't hit the ball too fast or it will go off the table.

As a general rule, I try to hit the ball within 4 inches ( 100 mm ) the edge. I aim for the sides, corners and the opponents' "pocket".

Keep the ball low. Keep the opponent moving.
It depends on who gets to introduce their weapons first, and how you can prevent the opponent from introducing their weapons.

For eg, if you can serve very heavy spin fast long serves with huge spin variation to all corners, I bet they can't "flathit" the ball with any kind of good success rates. If they push the ball back, that is your chance to attack with a huge amount of spin. This is always my go to, no point serving short (except for keeping them guessing) when they haven't proven that they are able to punish these fast long serves hard.

On the receive if you can use some techniques (sideswipes and heavy pushes, or even better - heavy spin loop) to produce huge spin directly off their weak spin serves, they will be handcuffed from the get go.

If you push weak spin off their no spin short or long serves, obviously you're gonna get blasted on the next ball. Or if they do a weak opening loop or a flick and you do nothing with your block, or if you do a weak spin opening loop. This are all examples where you allow the hitter to introduce their weapons, and then you'll be in a bad position.
 
Buy the book "table tennis tactics for thinkers" by Larry Hodges. Playing styles and how to play against them are explained in detail there.

From what I remember by heart:

1) Stay low and deep, flat hitters need net clearance to do their thing.

2) Vary your placement, flat hitters need good balance and position to consistently put the ball on the table.

3) Experiment! Flat hitters have only this one style, but maybe you have more options to adapt your style. So sacrifice the first set to try out what works, be it push game, heavy spin, slow/fast topspins, spin variations, and all the other stuff mentioned above and more

4) Invest in strategic development. Use your training sessions to get better against a certain playing style, talk to flat hitters in your club, ask them to play against you, ask them what works or doesn't, ...

GLHF!
 
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