Slowing Down the Game to your advantage

by Sydney on August 10, 2011

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Over the past few years the sport of table tennis has increased in intensity. The sport is faster and more athletic than ever. World class players are looping and counter-looping balls at a frequency never seen before. Top coaches are instructing their young protégées to contact the ball as it rises instead of at the top of the bounce.

While the emphasis is on speed and power, the touch shot, finesse play, changing speeds and expert placement will never lose its place in our sport.

As uncomfortable as it is to play a fast moving player with an arsenal of power shots is still very possible to win. Here are some thoughts.

Changing Speeds: Attack players like patterns. Don’t feed into a power player’s strength by constantly hitting the ball at the same speed. Try instead to consistently change up the speed of your shots. If effective, your speed changing will result in your power-shot opponent having to concentrate more. The end result is you winning more points on unforced errors. If effective, you may even be able to slow down some of your power opponent’s shots so that you can hit in a few winners your-self.

Vary Spin: Varying your spin on your service, service return, push and even your loop is an extremely effective way of slowing down your power shot opponent. Speed and power players want you to play with few variants of spin on your shots. Why make it easier for them to hit power shots at you. Change the spin as often as you can. Even no spin (dead balls) can be effective when mixed in with spin returns or services.

Variable Ball Placement: Most power players believe they can attack and loop any ball you give them. Don’t make your power opponent look better than he or is by playing into their forehand or backhand zones. These zones are located in the middle of the table halves – equidistant from the middle line and table corner. Instead of playing into these zones to the table corners or opponent’s middle.

Strategy: You should come into each point you play with a plan on how you want to play the point. Don’t be a punching bag for your power opponent reacting to every shot he or she takes. For example, I often see when observing matches, too much wide out corner play and or play into opponent’s zones. Why not come into the point with a plan to throw one of your better shots into your power opponent’s middle? Where is your opponent’s middle? Answer – the middle of the table? No! The ideal middle spot is the open space that lies two to four inches to the forehand side your opponents elbow.

By playing to your opponent’s middle, you force your opponent to quickly decide between a backhand and forehand return. This tactic in itself can be very effective in forcing your opponent to make a weak or weaker than normal return. It also has an added benefit for you that it cut’s down the angle play of your opponent return shot back to you.

Change speed, place the ball and vary the spin! Good luck.

Sydney Christophe

Sydney Christophe

Sydney Christophe  is head coach of American Youth Table Tennis Organization.   Lifetime player, who represented his native country Guyana, in several world championship competitions.   Titles - Guyanese National Champion,  Caribbean Men’s Singles Champion.   International Table Tennis Federation Certified Coach.

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