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Learning To Anticipate

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    Posted: 01/31/2019 at 12:56pm
In another thread it was suggested that part of my footwork problems might actulally be due to a lack of anticipation.  In that thread there were some comments about anticipation that raised questions so I thought I would start this thread.  So some of those questions are

1. How can you practice to improve anticipation?  Are there some specfic drills to work on just for anticipation?  Should you be working on anticipating anytime you do any kind of a random drill.?

2.  When people talk about anticipating do they mean any or all of the following things.
a) Moving to the center of return angles based on where you hit the ball.
b) Moving slightly to one side of the center of return angles based on the type of spin, speed, or location of your return.
c) Moving extremely to one side of the center of return angles to use one wing (usually Fh) while leaving parts of table uncovered based on type of speed, spin, location of your shot.
d) Moving as in (b), but doing so based on some general principle visual clues from your opponent.
e) Moving as in (b), but doing so based on a player specific visual clue you identified for that opponnent.
f) Moving as in (c) for the reasons in (d) or (e)
g)  Taking a backswing before the ball is hit (with or without movement) for any of the above reasons.
Note: Are there other kinds of anticipatory actions one can take and in what situations?

3.  Should you anticipate the location and/or type of return for a specific serve on general principle (not based on a particular player's tendencies).   If yes, then what actions do you take based on your anticipation.

I am confused on this one since when working to improve my third ball I have been told to do this.  Yet when working on improving my return, I have been told to not return any specific serve the same way or to same location eac time.  If as the receiver there is an option, how can the server anticipate the return just based on what he serves.  Note: If receiver shows some particular pattern previously or during match I do understand you can anticipate on that.

4.  What are some of the general principle anticipation cues you can look for in opponnents you are not familiar with?

Mark - Eagerly anticipating your answers and comments.





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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (2) Thanks(2)   Quote Fulanodetal Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01/31/2019 at 1:58pm
  





One of the main principles to be used is the "Scattering Angle" from which you can try to cover the possible trajectories your opponent is likely to hit the ball. At this point you are playing the odds. But by placing yourself at the half point of the scattering angle you cover most of the possible trajectories. In the example diagrams provided, you would be at he bottom of the image, your opponent at he top.

FdT


Edited by Fulanodetal - 01/31/2019 at 2:00pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote BRS Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01/31/2019 at 2:27pm
This has two parts.  One is if you are controlling the play.  If you make your opponent move far to the side, you are going to get a ball back diagonally, because that is almost his only option.  But a lot of times I do thst and still wait at the middle of the table to see where my opponent hits the ball.  So, don't do that.  Move to where the ball has to go, or is very likely to go  i think this is wht someone posted thst anticipation only helos if you are the stronger player.

The second part is to read the opponent's body and get an early start moving to the vall . This is possible without controlling the point.  Some opponents are very good at faking obe way and changing at the last second.  But since this is about under-2000 only, you can safely ignore thst provlem, imo.

Drills for this kind of anticipation would be anything where you get one ball to a known place, and then a second ball to either one of two places.  Someone could block for you once to the middle, and incr to either side, repeat.  Or feed you a short serve, and then push short or long.  Anything like that, semi-random, works your anticipation.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote qpskfec Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01/31/2019 at 3:48pm
There was a Wei Wang coaching article in the usatt print magazine years ago that she had posted at the club about serving.

She detailed that serving is about reducing the receivers options so you can force the return to a side or position on the table.

If you serve heavy side spin and you see that the receiver is about to play a FH/BH, then you will have a good idea of where the return is going.

For example, if you watch FZD serve reverse pendulum side/under serve far to the receivers right side and the RH receiver plays FH, then it is almost certain the return will go to FZDs right side of the table. It's very hard for the receiver to bend their wrist to return to their right and very obvious when they try to do this.

So FZD can tell before the ball is struck where the return will go. The receiver will try to prevent this by a tactic like doing chiquita BH, but this is not always possible.

I like to use the opposite. I serve pendulum serve with side spin to the receivers BH. If I see the receiver returning BH, it's highly likely to come to my left side of the table. If I am good at mixing under with side/top spin, then I can anticipate high balls to attack.


Edited by qpskfec - 01/31/2019 at 3:50pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Slowhand Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01/31/2019 at 4:51pm
Originally posted by mjamja mjamja wrote:

In another thread it was suggested that part of my footwork problems might actulally be due to a lack of anticipation.  In that thread there were some comments about anticipation that raised questions so I thought I would start this thread.  So some of those questions are

1. How can you practice to improve anticipation?  Are there some specfic drills to work on just for anticipation?  Should you be working on anticipating anytime you do any kind of a random drill.?

Yes, random drills are great for anticipation. I especially like choreographed points with a few shots before the random element, like serve, push, loop and then random block or counter. This forces you to maintain your balance in action which is one of the keys to reacting quickly to the random element. Lots of times players get their weight on one foot or the other too soon and create easy openings even if they're standing in the right place.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote blahness Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01/31/2019 at 4:58pm
Originally posted by mjamja mjamja wrote:

In another thread it was suggested that part of my footwork problems might actulally be due to a lack of anticipation.  In that thread there were some comments about anticipation that raised questions so I thought I would start this thread.  So some of those questions are

1. How can you practice to improve anticipation?  Are there some specfic drills to work on just for anticipation?  Should you be working on anticipating anytime you do any kind of a random drill.?

2.  When people talk about anticipating do they mean any or all of the following things.
a) Moving to the center of return angles based on where you hit the ball.
b) Moving slightly to one side of the center of return angles based on the type of spin, speed, or location of your return.
c) Moving extremely to one side of the center of return angles to use one wing (usually Fh) while leaving parts of table uncovered based on type of speed, spin, location of your shot.
d) Moving as in (b), but doing so based on some general principle visual clues from your opponent.
e) Moving as in (b), but doing so based on a player specific visual clue you identified for that opponnent.
f) Moving as in (c) for the reasons in (d) or (e)
g)  Taking a backswing before the ball is hit (with or without movement) for any of the above reasons.
Note: Are there other kinds of anticipatory actions one can take and in what situations?

3.  Should you anticipate the location and/or type of return for a specific serve on general principle (not based on a particular player's tendencies).   If yes, then what actions do you take based on your anticipation.

I am confused on this one since when working to improve my third ball I have been told to do this.  Yet when working on improving my return, I have been told to not return any specific serve the same way or to same location eac time.  If as the receiver there is an option, how can the server anticipate the return just based on what he serves.  Note: If receiver shows some particular pattern previously or during match I do understand you can anticipate on that.

4.  What are some of the general principle anticipation cues you can look for in opponnents you are not familiar with?

Mark - Eagerly anticipating your answers and comments.






For me, for e.g. its dependent on what the opposing player likes to do and their body language, you can sort of guess where they're gonna go maybe 80% of the time. But there's some common patterns to force placements. For e.g. a heavy BH pendulum sidespin to the FH short corner is most likely gonna be returned back to your FH due to the awkward blade angle and lack of margin for error to go down the line. If you jam the opponent's middle with a quality long serve it's highly unlikely that they're gonna go down the line. Also for E.g if you hit a quality BH it's also very hard to return it down the line, so you can prepare the return shot and go down the line for your next shot. Down the line shots are always more risky and error prone due to the shorter distance, so you can pretty much not prepare for it that much compared to the diagonal line.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Tt Gold Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01/31/2019 at 5:32pm
I didn't mean anticipation in general. Even just knowing where your serve will be played back is enough.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote mjamja Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01/31/2019 at 6:13pm
Maybe my serves are just really bad.  No one I play who is over 1400 seems to have any problem hitting any of my serves anywhere they want and I never know. where.  If I try and move early based on thinking they are going one way with the return they almost always end up going the other and I lunge and miss or hit back a popup they easily kill.

I will try paying more attention to which serves are returned where.  Maybe I am just missing the patterns.  The thing about paying attention to whether they return with Fh or Bh is interesting.  Maybe I was lumping both together so I did not notice one or both were being returned to a certain position.

Mark
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote mjamja Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01/31/2019 at 6:25pm
So if I anticipate a ball being returned to a certain place what do I do about it.   Do I just move slightly to the anticipate direction,  do I move to position that leaves say 1/4 of table uncovered, or do I make extreme move to cover that position with my Fh.  Do I mke some tactical decesion like where I am going with next shot or what type shot earlier than I might have done without anticipating..  Do I committ to using one  wing only by taking a backswing early on the side I anticipate?

What do I do with information I have anticipated?

Mark

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote mickd Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01/31/2019 at 6:52pm
I'm just going to babble some random thoughts. Hopefully they'll help, but if not, just ignore ;)

This is probably very different for better players, but for me, the majority of the time by far I'm just returning to my neutral position after any serve I do. From there I can take a step towards the forehand side for a forehand drive, or basically just stay in the same position for my backhand drive.

The anticipation comes from watching what they do so that I can predict where and what ball will come quicker.

My coach has been really drilling me about getting back into a neutral position after hitting a ball, and watching the opponent to make a decision, not moving based on where you think the ball will go. I mispredict too many balls if I rely on patterns.

That said, there are certain serves I do during a game (usually not at the very start) where I go with the intention of say, pivoting and attacking with my forehand. These are usually no spin serves disguised as underspin serves. Serves that my opponents will pop if they push. And even then I usually return to my ready position first, and then pivot as I see them pushing. It just helps to have that game plan as you generally move faster with a strategy in mind (assuming it plays out the way you imagined).

If you're really good at heavy side spin serves, too, it's easy to predict which side the ball will come back. But personally, my serves don't have THAT much spin. (yet!) Though unless you're planning to pivot, you generally return back to your neutral position for those, too. A forehand is only one step away, and you're in a good position for your backhand already.

So yeah, I think watching the opponent over watching the ball (this is subjective, so sorry!) is the way to go for better anticipation.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote qpskfec Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01/31/2019 at 7:43pm
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lbvMJw7Mfzg

Watch FZD set up his attack with reverse pendulum serves at 3-3 and 4-6 in game 1.

His serve contact is well inside the table and he takes a step towards the middle after serving. As soon as he sees the receiver approach using FH with an open face, he knows that it is almost certain the return will allow him to play FH attack.

If you watch the rest of the video, you notice that even when the receiver tries to use chiquita BH to open up the table, his success rate playing to the deep BH is very low. So FZD reduced the receivers options and won a high % of points.

"what do I do if I know with high probability where the next ball is coming?" FZD has an obvious answer - attack the ball.

You have to figure out what works best for you.


Edited by qpskfec - 01/31/2019 at 7:44pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote vanjr Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01/31/2019 at 8:41pm
You asked about drills to help you anticipate-drills are designed for stroke technique and footwork. And yes I know there are random drills, but a drill, by definition almost prevents anticipation. Imo game play (both your own and watching your opponents) is where you can best learn to anticipate.
It is not going to happen for most of us with just playing the game. Most players have tendencies. If you observe you can pick these out. The opportunities of game play waiting on an aspect of your games are endless.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Tassie52 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01/31/2019 at 9:50pm
Mark, I suspect you're overthinking this.  (Something I do all the time.)  Anticipation, as I understand it, is built upon years of accumulated knowledge.  The great players spend zero time saying to themselves, "I'm serving there.  That means he's most likely to return here.  I need to move this way to play this shot."  And all in the nanosecond we're given.  Instead it all happens on remote control, not in conscious thought.

My recommendation - to you and me both - is to focus as closely as possible on what our opponent is doing.  As we watch the player moving, preparing, hitting, we automatically know what to do based entirely on the thousands upon thousands of times we've seen it before.  I think - and I'm sure lots of people will want to disagree - anticipation is purely our unconscious response to what we've seen before.

I'm prepared to bet that your best ever game was played without a whole lot of thinking.  It was probably played "in the zone", in that state of flow where no conscious thought was necessary, and your anticipation was as close to perfect as it's ever been.  Am I right?

Once conscious thought processes take over, we're shackled to our ability to respond in real time.  Have you ever read "The inner game of tennis" by W. Timothy Gallwey?  I cannot recommend this book highly enough!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (3) Thanks(3)   Quote bes Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02/01/2019 at 10:38am
Hi Mark,

You've got some pretty good input already, but I wanted to put in my $0.02 worth.

I think anticipation is an absolutely critical skill, but one of the trickiest to learn.  Some of my students learn it - or start getting better at it - pretty easily, but some really struggle.  

I don't think it was brought up directly, so I thought I'd discuss the three types of anticipation that were taught in ITTF Coaching course (not sure if it was Level II or III).  I think that these three principals - mixed with experience, focus and dedicated practice can help.

I'll list them in order of relative strength - and this is from memory, so won't be word-for-word.

1) Neutral - in other words no clue about what is coming, so player must do the best they can to be ready for anything.
2) Partial Anticipation - Player had a pretty good idea where the return will come, but still has "reasonable doubt".  
3) Full Anticipation - Player is certain enough of the return direction to fully commit.  Think fast cross-court backhand, then stepping around immediately to attack with forehand.

Recognizing the three above conditions is a good first step.  In general, you, or specifically the quality of your shot, dictates whether you should be using 1, 2, or 3 above.

Example: 
Opponent gives you a fairly simple ball to your backhand.  You decide to reply with a strong spinny backhand loop to his wide backhand.  
1) If you goof up and instead hit a "not-so-impressive" loop to his backhand power zone, you are in the first (Neutral) anticipation zone.  He is not threatened much and has many of return options.  You have given up the initiative, and are now trying to do the best you can to deal with whatever he does - knowing it can be almost anything.  You aren't necessarily helpless, but you are definitely not "in charge".

2) You hit one pretty good, but not quite as fast or wide as you intended.  It is a good shot and you are pretty sure he'll be forced to return it cross-court, but you know there is a decent chance he can block or drive it down the line.  Since you know he isn't 100% handcuffed, you move towards your backhand corner and "think" forehand attack if possible - while still keeping yourself in a position to cover a down the line shot.  Since your opponent should (if your shot was decent quality and your opponent isn't way stronger) bring the ball back cross court most of the time, you should be in a stronger position to attack, and will at least maintain the initiative most of the time.  

3) You execute a SWEET backhand loop - fast, spinny, and wide.  The moment the ball leaves your blade you know your opponent will be hard pressed to do anything besides return the ball back cross court.  You disregard any down the line return from your opponent and move powerfully to and around your backhand corner and start pivoting (stepping around) in preparation of ripping his return with your forehand.  You will look silly if they do go down the line, but will AT LEAST take control of the point on anything cross-court.

So your questions about anticipation should start with an evaluation of your shot selection and quality.  (This is complicated by the "opponent strength" variable. An awesome 1800 shot won't come back often vs 1600 players, but a 2400 player will probably just yawn and rip a winner.)  

Trying to maximize the number of times you are in either "Partial" or, better yet, "Full" anticipation mode is a great idea/goal.  This puts most of the pressure on your opponent and minimizes the number of reflexive, or worse yet, defensive shots you hit.

Unfortunately, most of us make enough weak or poorly place shots to spend significant time in the "Neutral" anticipation zone.  While not ideal, there are things you can do to improve your odds.  Many of them were covered above (a good number by you!).

A) Court positioning.  This depends on 1)where your opponent will contact the ball, 2) your strengths and weakness (prefer FH or BH, move better to FH or BH, move worse in one direction), and 3) your opponent's tendencies/favorite shots (tough with players you don't know!). If your opponent is fairly powerful or you hit a "fairly attack-able" ball, take a step or hop back to give yourself some time.
B) Balance and ready position.  If you truly don't know where the ball will be going, get your weight centered between your feet and forward (not on your heels!).  Keep your blade up a bit and your elbow out front - with your hips and shoulders pretty square to your opponent's contact point. 
C) Super-focus on your opponent's body position and stoke.  Most players make adjustments to foot position, hip angle, and often shoulder turn depending on whether they are hitting cross-court or down the line.  Picking up on these "tells" can get you a good early read on what they are planning.  The contact timing will also vary depending on where they are hitting.  It is subtle, but almost all players contact the ball a bit earlier when going cross-court and later when going down the line.  This is something that some players are really good at reading, and others struggle (my hand is raised).  The next bit of data is their blade angle and stroke direction.  Most good players have subtle adjustment in their backswing finish depending on their intended shot.  When going crosscourt (assuming FH), many times their blade will be wider or "outside" the ball just before they pull the trigger and swing through the ball.  When going down the line, their blade will often be slightly "inside" the ball.  Players that are good at taking their forehand down the line are tough.  They usually have a good strong shoulder turn in general.  When they go down the line, they usually start their swing with an earlier forward shoulder rotation.  The very last thing to watch is their blade angle, but it should (hopefully) be a verification that your previous "read" was accurate.  Actual blade angle adjustments are fairly rare.  Some folks do it  quite a bit, but even they mostly only do it on slower and medium-ish shots.  Almost nobody rips the ball with the blade far out of line (with their forearm) 

As mentioned by someone else above, some players are really good at deception - but there aren't lot of those below 2000.  Also, many players who ARE good at deception have a strong tendency to over-use it.  If they have fooled you a couple times, start expecting them to keep trying it.

I think improvement in your play from a Neutral anticipation position is something that can be learned and practiced.  It can be done with a coach using multi-ball, with a coach doing blocking or countering drills, by drilling with partners, or by really focusing while playing matches.  I think coaching and drilling are the best methods.  It is important to be able to do these drills with various players.  Learning what Van, for instance, likes to do on a certain ball when he is in a certain position is helpful when playing him, but may or may not help you devise a general, all-around plan.  If you can drill with a variety of partners - ideally at least close to your rating (a bit better is even better!) - you can start to learn to see some "general tendencies" and "common tells" that can then be applied with some confidence to unknown players.

On a completely different note, learning to react better to random shots will also help you learn things that will help you when you are opening against a "Neutral" opponent.

bes
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Egghead Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02/01/2019 at 10:55am
Originally posted by vanjr vanjr wrote:

You asked about drills to help you anticipate-drills are designed for stroke technique and footwork. And yes I know there are random drills, but a drill, by definition almost prevents anticipation. Imo game play (both your own and watching your opponents) is where you can best learn to anticipate.
It is not going to happen for most of us with just playing the game. Most players have tendencies. If you observe you can pick these out. The opportunities of game play waiting on an aspect of your games are endless.
did know what kind of drills you were doing; most drills will help your anticipation in a game play, just your coach did not bother to explain to you LOL
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote danseemiller Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02/01/2019 at 11:08am
In some ways it is simple- when you have the advantage it is essential that you anticipate the next ball.
Example -when serving, or after a strong attack or block or your opponent is out of position.
Stay neutral when you- receive serve or your return of a shot is weak.
Generally you should cover the cross court area and give away down the line.Anticipation is also about constantly playing the percentages.
Experience is also a major factor.
Hope this helps.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote mjamja Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02/01/2019 at 12:54pm
Bes has solved my whole anticipation confusion.  

Since I never hit a shot that puts my opponent under pressure, I am always in the "neutral - not sure where the return will come" mode.  No wonder I never understood how you guys could anticipate and move and hit those big shots.  It takes hitting a really good shot yourself first.  I am going to go out and work on my anticipation by taking the time to learn how to return balls with enough quality that my opponent does not have 4 equally easy choices of how to hit a winner back.

I am so enrolling in a  online "sleight of hand magic" course.  Pretty soon I expect to be so deceptive that I will destroy any player who dares to try to use anticipation against me.

Seriously, thanks for all the good info.  Several points in there that have me thinking of anticipation in a new (and hopefully more productive) way.

Mark - Anticipating taking his game to a whole new level.  Just not sure whether that new level is up or down.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Fulanodetal Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02/01/2019 at 1:25pm

In this dvd there is a whole section dedicated to 'anticipation'. Brian explains the process of anticipation in detail. He calls this "High Level Anticipation".

I did find it helpful, however, its a lot of info, and in the moment of truth you simply don't have the time to remember the whole process. It is meant to be learned, internalize it, then you apply it by instinct during a game. It takes a lot of practice and experience.

A lot of what bes wrote is included in the lesson.

FdT
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote qpskfec Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02/01/2019 at 2:10pm
When you are playing singles and serving to force a return to a side of the table, think about how doubles is played.

Pro doubles serves are almost always short and tight to the net. If the ball is remotely high or long, it gets attacked.

The receiver does not have to anticipate, the table is cut in half and the serve is 100% coming to the right side, so the receiver gets a big advantage.

Apply this thought to singles serving in the FZD example. FZD sidespin serves forces the receiver to return to his right side 80%+, so FZD can camp on his forehand.

HZW often will serve topspin serves off the receivers right side of the table that drop below table height before the RH player can get to it. HZW knows where the return is coming. He's used that serve thousands of times, so it is no surprise when he blocks the return back deep to the BH corner.

In your 2000 thread, you talk about reaching that rating in a particular physical style. You want to have a certain level of strokes/footwork. You did not discuss the mental part of the game. How you learn and adapt is just as important, so you also need 2000 level thinking.

Wei Wang says she can get just about anyone up to 2000 if they are willing to put in the time. Good fundamental strokes is part of it. Making tactics fit your game and making in game adjustments are huge factors.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Tt Gold Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02/01/2019 at 6:48pm
Originally posted by Tassie52 Tassie52 wrote:

Mark, I suspect you're overthinking this.  (Something I do all the time.)  Anticipation, as I understand it, is built upon years of accumulated knowledge.  The great players spend zero time saying to themselves, "I'm serving there.  That means he's most likely to return here.  I need to move this way to play this shot."  And all in the nanosecond we're given.  Instead it all happens on remote control, not in conscious thought.

My recommendation - to you and me both - is to focus as closely as possible on what our opponent is doing.  As we watch the player moving, preparing, hitting, we automatically know what to do based entirely on the thousands upon thousands of times we've seen it before.  I think - and I'm sure lots of people will want to disagree - anticipation is purely our unconscious response to what we've seen before.

I'm prepared to bet that your best ever game was played without a whole lot of thinking.  It was probably played "in the zone", in that state of flow where no conscious thought was necessary, and your anticipation was as close to perfect as it's ever been.  Am I right?

Once conscious thought processes take over, we're shackled to our ability to respond in real time.  Have you ever read "The inner game of tennis" by W. Timothy Gallwey?  I cannot recommend this book highly enough!
they actually do spend time on that. But not while the point is going on. But before serving they think about what serve they'll do and where the ball will likely be played back. and also how they are going to handle that ball. 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote larrytt Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02/01/2019 at 7:53pm
Here's one of my Tips on Anticipation: "When to React."
-Larry

When to React
By Larry Hodges

Have you ever studied your opponent to see exactly when in his strokes he commits to a specific placement? There really are two important points in the swing.

The first is when the opponent has committed to the placement, but you don't know where yet. Normally you would not react to this, but sometimes, against a predictable opponent (which means most players), you can anticipate. For example, if you serve a deep breaking serve to an opponent's backhand, most likely he'll return it to your backhand. So you might anticipate this, and at the instant when the opponent has committed his direction - but hasn't actually telegraphed the direction - you might anticipate his return by stepping over to attack with your forehand. Don't overdo this, but it's a definite tactical advantage if you can do this sometimes.

The second important point in the swing is when the opponent has telegraphed where his placement will be. You should learn to observe this so you can move the instant you can see the direction. Many players don't move until the opponent has hit the ball, but for the large majority of players, you can see where they are going by the time they start their forward swing. At the higher levels, many players learn to hide their direction longer and to even fake one way and go another, so against players like that learn when they have really committed.

The shoulders are often the giveaway for where a player is going on the forehand. Many players line their shoulders up early to hit crosscourt or down the line, and it's like they have a big sign across their shoulders saying where the shot is going. When you first learn the forehand, this is fine, but as you advance, learn a little subtlety and deception. For example, from the forehand side, rotate the shoulders way back as if you are going down the line, then at the last second whip about and go crosscourt. Or set up to go crosscourt, and at the last second rotate the shoulders back more so you can go down the line. Or simply cock your wrist back at the last second and go inside-out down the line. These are easier shown then explained - have a top player or coach show you how to do these shots.



Edited by larrytt - 02/01/2019 at 7:55pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote mickd Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02/02/2019 at 6:50am
Originally posted by bes bes wrote:

...
Recognizing the three above conditions is a good first step.  In general, you, or specifically the quality of your shot, dictates whether you should be using 1, 2, or 3 above.
...

I didn't want to quote the whole post because it was long. However, I just wanted to say thank you. This was an excellent post and something that will definitely help me a lot going forward.

Great GREAT post Tongue
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Tt Gold Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02/02/2019 at 6:52am
@mark 
I don't know what serves you do, but if you want to dictate the placement of the return, you'll have to serve with sidespin.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote heavyspin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02/04/2019 at 8:46am
I think I sometimes use prediction to move to a spot early. As an example in a recent match, before my opponent served he showed he was preparing for backhand contact. The previous time in this match he lined up to serve that way, it was fast cross-court sidespin/backspin deep to my backhand corner. I moved all the way over just after he tossed the ball (I predicted correctly), and looped a clean forehand winner down the line. 

I think prediction is an educated guess well before opponent's contact and without reading body language while anticipation reads body language.
We need to build a ball to keep the illegal servers from entering our tournaments.
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