Is my strength also my biggest weakness?

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Well that's my struggle. I don't feel I have a specific area where I am losing points. I'm pretty balanced right now. So right now, the only thing I can identify for myself is that I tend to play a little slow, for example attacking the 5th ball instead of the 3rd ball.
Fair enough, but I’d be videoing myself playing better players and analysing matches I lose - there will be patterns. Am I making unforced errors or being attacked and passed. Are their pushes better and more aggressive, am I struggling with quality of receive etc.
 
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You haven’t told us where you are losing points - so when you lose to a better player, where are you exposed and why are you losing?
Well that's my struggle. I don't feel I have a specific area where I am losing points. I'm pretty balanced right now. So right now, the only thing I can identify for myself is that I tend to play a little slow, for example attacking the 5th ball instead of the 3rd ball.
I was also thinking along these lines... Do you play in a team in some competition? Ideally where your season percentage is bellow 50%... If you play against better players, every weakness is self evident...

Without it, it is harder to see but not impossible. I agree with the points about serve... And then constant movement (kind of contradiction ;-), feel good only if you've moved after every single ball... I think we often don't move enough in the vertical direction (from table, to table) to make space and time for the next point...
 
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Usually it gets quite simple the better you are and the better the basics of tt are executed by yourself.
Just learn to do them better. Harder, faster, more efficient, become faster in moving, pivoting, turning... And so on.

For example from myself: currently i am at a point in which my bh focussed game struggles to win me games. People are getting used to spin, placements and speed. Therefore i changed tactics, developed new, more fh oriented approaches and started to hit harder. Learn to block harder shots more frequently myself and even counterattack weaker ones on a more regular basis.

Tt is so damn multifacetted that you can always work on everything. Being more consistent with everything should help become better overall, everytime. Besides you can develop harder shots, reevaluate your techniques, learn new shots you wouldnt normaly do like chopblocks... There are simply too many things everyone can develop.

If you dont see a particular field in which you struggle you are either ignoring those or lack the ability to selfreflect. No offense but if that is the case you should get a teammate or coach to help you reflect on your gameplay.
 
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Another issue I have in regards to first 3 shots, is that I am very cautious of hitting the racket on the table. I see most people around me with chipped up rubbers, and all my rubbers are pristine. If I feel the ball is half-long or close to the table at all, I usually go for a push instead of a loop. I just really am afraid of hitting my racket.

I think this mentality also really impacts my first 3 shots. I always wait for more margin of safety before I go for the attack.
 
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Another issue I have in regards to first 3 shots, is that I am very cautious of hitting the racket on the table. I see most people around me with chipped up rubbers, and all my rubbers are pristine. If I feel the ball is half-long or close to the table at all, I usually go for a push instead of a loop. I just really am afraid of hitting my racket.

I think this mentality also really impacts my first 3 shots. I always wait for more margin of safety before I go for the attack.
Just the YT video for you...
 
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Last week I had a really good practice session. I was hitting all my shots, hitting counter loops, hitting shots from difficult angles and positions, and I felt I played at a high level for myself (like a 1900-2000 level). I was thinking about what to work on in 2024, where do I need to improve, how do I get better from here? I actually feel like I don't have a specific shot that I feel weak in. I feel good in my block on both sides. I feel good in my underspin loop from both sides. I feel good in my topspin loop. I feel like my receive has somewhat stabilized now, and isn't a glaring weakness at the moment. My serve isn't amazing, but I usually win a couple free points on serve each game.

So I felt a bit stuck. What is the key shot that I need to work on to improve to the next step?

Then I had the thought, maybe my biggest strength is also my biggest weakness? I would describe my style as a very patient counter-punching style. I use my bh like a boxer's jab to block my opponent's loop and probe for weakness. Then I look to finish the point with a powerful fh loop-kill. I feel much more comfortable looping the 5th ball on my serve than I do looping the 3rd ball. I make a lot more mistakes when I attempt to loop the 3rd ball. Like my feet aren't quite set yet, my timing isn't quite there, and it just doesn't work well for me. I have found that my patient style has worked really well for me up to now. Whenever I play fast attackers, I feel like they are playing into my style. By waiting for a better opportunity ball, I am able to limit my unforced errors and it allows me to play a very efficient style that doesn't rely on big movements and fast footwork.

However, to get to the next level, do I need to re-think my style? Do I need attack more on the first 3 shots? I feel like if I attempted to do this, I would drastically increase my error rate. Should I keep going with my current style? Or should I attempt to be more pro-active on the first 3 shots to get over the hurdle before I can get better?
Shots are just means to implement a given strategy. Having said that - Strategy can differ based on your opponent.
I think it is easy to understand that you don't need all the shots to win a game and most of the time there are alternatives to a given shot based on your level and physiological condition.
For my game, I feel that it is easier to put my game in a framework and work within that framework. Again speaking for myself, I try to observe what I am doing and what my opponent is doing and how is he scoring the point. That gives me better insights from tactical perspective rather than worrying on a shot. The more I play, the more I understand that the lesser the number of moving parts (metaphorically) the easier it is to implement a method since timing becomes much easier. So anticipation, looking at opponent's racket and being prepared for the next move becomes important. In thought process, you just want to have that slight edge against your opponent where you can decipher the next move before it is played.
Also, between I weaker topspin and a quality push, I will go with the push since it makes me play a percentage game.
 
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It is interesting that you have gotten lots of feedback, some good, without people seeing recent play.

Footage that would be relevant for this purpose would be footage of you playing a few players who you struggle against and who expose some of your weaknesses. Players who you lose to and it is not quite so close. Like, maybe you get 5-6 points but not 8-9 most of the time.

And without seeing the footage noted above, if opening on the 3rd ball is uncomfortable for you and you are better at opening on the 5th ball, then maybe, working on 3rd ball attack drills in training would be useful and deciding when to implement them in match play.

Of course it is always good to work on serves. And in a match there is a certain element to serving that requires creativity rather than going on habitual patterns, but I would say training 3rd ball attack, and second ball attack (attacking opponent's serve) would be things to work on in training so that, when the need for them comes up in match play, they will get utilized when appropriate.

A certain amount of what happens when you play a higher level player who can hold you under 5-6 consistently in games, and can win 3-0 when he wants, is that you are dealing with higher levels of spin and you need to get used to adjusting to and handling higher levels of spin. Also, with those higher level players, you may never get to a 5th ball attack because they may be ending the points sooner than that on a consistent basis.

So, some of what you may need is to be playing guys who are higher level than you, who can hold you under 5-6 in most games whether they are attacking players or LP players. You only get better at dealing with those higher levels by playing against them enough to start adjusting to what they are doing that is hard for you to handle.
 
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@TensorBackhand
i'm about a similar level than you and for a long time i didn't make significant or huge improvements, despite taking coaching lessons.

I try to have a balanced game as well, attacking from both sides, i'm too old to take to rely only on FH as I used to when I was in my 20s.

I think i'm finally seeing some more results recently. Which is the consequence of many little - or not so little - things.
- improving takes time. You cannot build Rome in a day. When i took a new coach, just before Covid, what really changed is when instead of having the weekly 2h lesson at my usual sports center, which is crowded, i started going to the TT school where it was possible to work with a bucket of many balls, instead of 2-3, So in the same amount of time, i play 3x more balls = train 3x more.
- on top of that i soon started to do multiball. For nearly 2months, my coach wanted me to correct my basic shots. basically a reset of my basic technique. I was doing many things wrong, like sometimes a strange movement with my arm twisting strangely and the swing going up instead of forward etc...
if the basics aren't right then its difficult to improve beyond a certain level.
- after doing that, started to do basic footwork drills again and again. it develops the technique but also the muscles and stamina. then i get more muscle strength so gradually i can get lower on my feet, and move more quickly etc..

- all this would seem quite boring as i spent months doing very little game play during the coaching lessons. sometimes none at all, typically more like 15mns to 30mns on average per 2h session. but I I think I'm finally seeing the dividends now as it was a necessary step for the next part of the training program.
Whereas with the coach now, its more like 30mns only footwork or basics and the rest is gameplay / serve-receive etc..

- its been only 1 year (and a half ?) that i decided to work more seriously on my serve. spending 1h regularly just serving. and more recently some strong guys joined the team, and I have the opportunity to get their advice and play more quality balls, which means i must adapt and im getting used to it. very important also for receiving better.

---
the more i train, the more i improve but even the more i can see my flaws and where im not good enough and should improve in priority. its endless. so you shouldn't think that there is nothing you can improve. you can improve anything. I think you have to choose what you really want to improve.

as for me, because of my lack of quality in both serve and receive, i was perhaps like you and only good in rallies but struggling on receive and 3rd ball. 3rd ball depends a lot on being able to have a good serve. if you serve is shit then the opponent can make difficult returns and has more options. so it makes attacking much more difficult.
then receive, its important to play with stronger players who have good serves.
the goal is at least to have 2 good set of serves: one for each lateral spin (for example pendulum + BH or pendulum + hook) which you can do with the same swing long short back / top / knuckle.. and then have at least 2 options against each type of serve.

basically in match you cannot improvise a new serve or new receive. you have to practice it a lot to be become strong in the first few shots of the point.

so i decided to work a lot more on serve/receive/ 3rd ball recently.

---
as UpsideDownCarl says the better is that you post some videos.
 
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@TensorBackhand
i'm about a similar level than you and for a long time i didn't make significant or huge improvements, despite taking coaching lessons.

I try to have a balanced game as well, attacking from both sides, i'm too old to take to rely only on FH as I used to when I was in my 20s.

I think i'm finally seeing some more results recently. Which is the consequence of many little - or not so little - things.
- improving takes time. You cannot build Rome in a day. When i took a new coach, just before Covid, what really changed is when instead of having the weekly 2h lesson at my usual sports center, which is crowded, i started going to the TT school where it was possible to work with a bucket of many balls, instead of 2-3, So in the same amount of time, i play 3x more balls = train 3x more.
- on top of that i soon started to do multiball. For nearly 2months, my coach wanted me to correct my basic shots. basically a reset of my basic technique. I was doing many things wrong, like sometimes a strange movement with my arm twisting strangely and the swing going up instead of forward etc...
if the basics aren't right then its difficult to improve beyond a certain level.
- after doing that, started to do basic footwork drills again and again. it develops the technique but also the muscles and stamina. then i get more muscle strength so gradually i can get lower on my feet, and move more quickly etc..

- all this would seem quite boring as i spent months doing very little game play during the coaching lessons. sometimes none at all, typically more like 15mns to 30mns on average per 2h session. but I I think I'm finally seeing the dividends now as it was a necessary step for the next part of the training program.
Whereas with the coach now, its more like 30mns only footwork or basics and the rest is gameplay / serve-receive etc..

- its been only 1 year (and a half ?) that i decided to work more seriously on my serve. spending 1h regularly just serving. and more recently some strong guys joined the team, and I have the opportunity to get their advice and play more quality balls, which means i must adapt and im getting used to it. very important also for receiving better.

---
the more i train, the more i improve but even the more i can see my flaws and where im not good enough and should improve in priority. its endless. so you shouldn't think that there is nothing you can improve. you can improve anything. I think you have to choose what you really want to improve.

as for me, because of my lack of quality in both serve and receive, i was perhaps like you and only good in rallies but struggling on receive and 3rd ball. 3rd ball depends a lot on being able to have a good serve. if you serve is shit then the opponent can make difficult returns and has more options. so it makes attacking much more difficult.
then receive, its important to play with stronger players who have good serves.
the goal is at least to have 2 good set of serves: one for each lateral spin (for example pendulum + BH or pendulum + hook) which you can do with the same swing long short back / top / knuckle.. and then have at least 2 options against each type of serve.

basically in match you cannot improvise a new serve or new receive. you have to practice it a lot to be become strong in the first few shots of the point.

so i decided to work a lot more on serve/receive/ 3rd ball recently.

---
as UpsideDownCarl says the better is that you post some videos.
I agree with what you said, there's always something to improve. You can see it as having no weaknesses, or you can see it as weaknesses everywhere, just a matter of perspective.

Now, he's posted plenty of videos in the past, and it seems to me that he does have a pretty balanced game. I think perhaps the thing to do is to just pick one basic technique and work on it. Once that becomes better, then everything else will seem like a weakness.
 
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I agree with what you said, there's always something to improve. You can see it as having no weaknesses, or you can see it as weaknesses everywhere, just a matter of perspective.

Now, he's posted plenty of videos in the past, and it seems to me that he does have a pretty balanced game. I think perhaps the thing to do is to just pick one basic technique and work on it. Once that becomes better, then everything else will seem like a weakness.
True, I was based in his old videos to recommend serves is the way to improve. You want third ball attack, that's from your serves.
 
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A few clips from my play today. I had 1 amazing rally where I was defending really well, and won the point with a big counter loop from far back, but my camera switched off and I missed it. Too bad. I tried to pick a few rallies to show my main ways to win points: 3rd balls, counter attacks, and blocks













 
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I'm pretty much the same level as you (1900-2000) and to be honest my biggest strength is BH. I never left a chance to BH exchange/counter or to open up with BH. And that strength becomes like how can I say, too much dominant that other strength of mine can not catch. Open up/flick BH and then guess what the game become topspin-topspin so it elevate the situation really fast that my footwork or my subpar FH can't not follow-up. There was a time that I played with a guy 400 rating higher than me and I led him nearly 2-0, I just flicked up and play BH-BH game (he couldn't catch my BH game speed/spin). But than he just realized I can flick or open up anything on my BH, so he kind of just let me open up and ready to counter. He started to spam BH serve to my FH, which is my weakness, I had to put a weak return back (sometimes I moved there to flick, which was technically out of position) and he controlled the situation. My FH is kinda trash compared to the people of my level (not consistent enough (can only block, open up not strong, make a lot unforced errors in countering) so that I just can roam all the table to BH and let FH do the finish shot only). He start to shoot the a lot to my FH wide and basically I just lost reverse again 3-1 from leading 9-4 at game 2.
So right now I try to push and control the gameplay more, I only flick or open-up BH if I predict I can follow up the next ball or the situation. I found out that I'm suitable with a slow game pace where I should be the one who accelerate it first in decisive moment so I start to play more slow and safe tho. I try to use my FH in 3rd ball more consistently so in some first few set they will understand wrong about my strength :DD. I learned some trick in FH to kill the point and use it too.
 
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A few clips from my play today. I had 1 amazing rally where I was defending really well, and won the point with a big counter loop from far back, but my camera switched off and I missed it. Too bad. I tried to pick a few rallies to show my main ways to win points: 3rd balls, counter attacks, and blocks













Things that you should look for:
• Straight legs
• You have good backhand block and drive, but if want to loop consistently, you have to do a full swing motion. Cause when you try to lift the ball your swing stops at half point and goes to the net.
• I would add more spin yo your serves.
• When you do your forehand tops, you bring your arm too much to your back. When you are not ready, you lose your points. Either make your swing more compact or add shoulder movement.
• Also about forehand. Sometimes your swing your arm in the straight line. Just swing a bit higher.
• And just a tip. When the ball is just above the net, you should destroy the ball with smash or tops. At higher level, if you dont give quality shots to your opponent, then opponent will give you them to you😉. I recommend you to play more with much stronger players.
 
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