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Style, Strategy, and Tactics

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Topic: Style, Strategy, and Tactics
Posted By: mjamja
Subject: Style, Strategy, and Tactics
Date Posted: 07/18/2019 at 5:49pm
After many hours analyzing my TT play and ways to improve it and hours coaching other players I have developed an idealogical framework for building a players game.  It consists of:

1. Selecting a style to play
2. Selecting primary and secondary strategies that work for that style
3. Identifying tactics to implement those strategies
4. Identifying the shots needed to implement those tactics
5. Practicing the identified shots and tactics

This is process can be applied to players just starting or players with experience. However it does have more value for experienced players since it helps them take full advantage of the skills they have already acquired.  It is also more helpful for players with limited training time because it helps them focus that training on things most likely to improve their play.

Of course the longer the time frame over which you continue to train the more options you have for developing more strategies to use or even developing a secondary style.

Some introductory definitions:

Style - The general way you play in matches.  For amature players this is mostly a personal choice influenced by physical limitations, what you enjoy, and how much your are willing to train to acquire the shots and tactics a particular style may require.  Reaching international team levels normally is limited to just a couple of styles. Style is best defined by examining 3 characteristics of how you choose to play.

1. Offense to defense scale
2. Playing distance scale
3. Preferred spin scale

Strategy - The way you plan to win the majority of the points you play.  The main strategies are:

1. Early Power
2. Late Power (opportunistic power)
3. Pattern
4. Time Pressure
5. Timing Disruption
6. Spin Variation
7. Attrition 

Some styles allow for easily combining several stratigies into a hybrid strategy.  For example a modern defender with Bh LP may be winning primarily by attrition, but he gets spin variation just by having different rubbers and gets timing disruption by sometimes looping with Fh instead of chopping.

Tactic - A series of shots each with specific spin type, speed level, and placement designed to combine in such a way as to cause a miss by an opponent.  The tactic may also include specific positioning footwork in order to get in the best position for the next shot in the sequence. 

In future posts I want to discuss each item in more detail with the purpose of helping players go through the process in order to improve their games.

Thanks to Larry Hodges (Table Tennis Tactics for Thinkers), Donn Olsen (Principled Approach to Table Tennis or PATT), and Alex Polyakov (Breaking 2000) for the wonderful information those books provided.

Mark



Replies:
Posted By: Tt Gold
Date Posted: 07/18/2019 at 7:38pm
You can’t really select a style of play. You can only figure out what your style of play is.


Posted By: Slowhand
Date Posted: 07/18/2019 at 11:17pm
Originally posted by Tt Gold Tt Gold wrote:

You can’t really select a style of play. You can only figure out what your style of play is.
As a practical matter you have to make choices that amount to selecting one or a few possible styles. What you do eventually figure out is your best version of a particular style.


Posted By: mjamja
Date Posted: 07/19/2019 at 2:16am
Ttgold,

Please read my next post in the series which deals with selecting a style of play.  The first step is identifying what style you currently play.

Mark


Posted By: blahness
Date Posted: 07/19/2019 at 2:28am
Sounds interesting, keep it coming!

-------------
-------
Tacky rubber lover :)

Stiga Clipper CR

FH: Hurricane 8
BH: Hurricane 3-50


Posted By: mjamja
Date Posted: 07/19/2019 at 3:37pm
Selecting a Style

Style is a name that characterizes the manner in which a player plays the game.  The 3 primary elements of style are

1. Offensive to defensive scale
2. Playing distance scale
3. Preferred spin scale

To choose a style,  first evaluate the way you currently play.  For each scale select the description that describes the majority of your shots. Give extra weight to the kinds of shots you play when you have a choice.  For example consider playing a LP blocker who specializes in blocking short.  Most of the time you have no choice of playing distance since you have to stay close to the table.  So this type match may not be useful in evaluating your preferred distance.  If however, you play an off the bounce punch blocker you have a choice of distances to play each of which has advantages and disadvantages.  So that type match is useful in your evaluation of preferred distance.  Another example would be matches with players with much higher playing levels.  If they choose to do so, they can often force you into very defensive play if their speed and spin is so much greater than you normally experience.  They can also trap you into playing much more offensively (overhitting) by fishing or retrieving since even your "attacking" shots are not fast enough give them problems.  On the other hand if you do something contrarian, like play just as aggressively against much higher quality balls from a better player or fail to attack weaker balls from lower level players it may be a good indicator of your natural style.  You also need to consider if your style is set more by your lack of training of one or more shots.  Choosing to push because you never learned to loop underspin is different from choosing to push since it is more comfortable than trying to loop it.  So the evaluation process is somewhat of an art rather than a science and does require some judgement.  It is best done primarily in the context of matches with players near your level and matches against more standard topspin style opponents where you have more options for how you play.

Once you identify your current  style you have 3 options:

1. Stay with the syle you are playing and train up on any requirements of that style you are currently missing.  See requirements listed in the discussion of each scale.
2. Decide that you lack some of the requirements for the style you are currently playing and adjust your style to one where you meet the requirements or where you think you can very quickly train up to the requirements
3. Pick a style you want to play and committ to training up to reach the requirements.

Mark


Posted By: mjamja
Date Posted: 07/19/2019 at 7:35pm
The Offensive/Defensive Scale

The Offensive/Defensive Scale descriptions are:

1. Attacking
2. Mixed Attacking and Controlling
3. Mixed Attacking and Defending
4. Controling
5. Mixed Defending and controling
6. Defending
7. All Around

The single word descriptions are used when both wings are played similarly.  The "mixed" descriptions are used when one wing is played significantly different from the other.  The "all around" description is used when neither wing has a dominate offensive/defensive orientation.

Consider how you play the majority of your shots not just how you finish the points.  Looking at how you serve can give some insight into where you belong.  Players who routinely serve long and or short topspin (thus inviting attacks) are more likely to be defensive or controlling players.  Conversely  players who serve short with few topspin varities are more likely to be attacking players.

Attacking shots are hit with the intention of winning the point.  They can be either flat or with topspin (pushes and chops are never considered attacking).  Attacking shots are hit with a speed that is in the 80%  to 100% range of the speed you can produce.  Except in the case of counter attacks they should  be faster than the incoming ball.  For counter attacks matching the incoming ball speed is still considered an attack.  Flat hits, power loops, punch blocks, and fast counters would be considered attacking shots.

Control shots are hit with the intention of limiting the opponents ability to attack (or at least not attack strongly).  Control topspin is hit with mid range speed (60-80% of your max speed).   Control underspin is hit fast and deep (80-100% of the maximum landable speed) or hit very short.  Against topspin control shots genenerally return the ball slower than the incoming ball.  Good depth and placement at wide angles or to playing elbow are traits of control shots. A well executed control shot results in the return being a control shot instead of an attack or a missed attack if opponent overhits.   Fast pushes, double bounce pushes, active blocks, medium speed counters, and spin loops (or slow loops) are control shots even though they can be point winning shots.

Defensive shots are intended primarily to land on the table.  They are played slower than than control shots and with safer placement.  Generally you would expect a defensive shot to be attacked strongly.  Often high amounts of spin or disguised spin  are included (particularly at higher levels) to somewhat reduce the strength of the attack.  You would not expect any one defensive shot to win a point but a long series of them can be point winners.  Soft high pushes, passive bocks, chops, lobs, and fishing are considered defensive. 

This scale rates your play on whether it is attacking, controling or defending.  Evaluate your play on how you respond to the majority of balls.  Killing an occasional high slow ball does not make you an attacker.   Similarly occasionally pushing back a long fast push or blocking a very fast opening loop does not make you a defender.

The primary requirements determining your success at any point along this scale are primarily pyschological.   Attacking players need to have low risk aversion ("no fear" types).  They can not hesitation in taking a full swing or in going for that extreme angle.  One of the most aggressive attackers I have ever seen is a middle age woman with around a 1400 rating.  I could not quite understand why she was trying to play the way she played.  I later found out that she had been a professional downhill mountain bike racer.  She never sees risk in a shot, only opportunity.  Defending players need to have patience.   They have to be able to wait out their opponent until they miss or give them the easiest of balls to attack.  They have to let the possible but difficult attacking opportunities go by since their attacking is most likely not anywhere near the same ability of their defense.  Controling players need perception, a balanced risk aversion, and judgement.  They need to see just how much risk they need to take to limit the opponents attack.  They need to be comfortable taking that risk.  And they need the judgement to recognize when they can take an attacking shot because the lower quality of the incoming ball means lower risk in attacking.  All around players need mental flexibility and creativity.  They have to be like improv actors in that they can switch roles quickly and like artists in that they makeup a new style on each point. Dogmatic and highly structured (rigid) individuals probably are not going to make good all arounders.

So if you are very risk averse and are trying to play an attacking style and have patience you might consider a more defensive style.  If you are a risk taker with little patience consider an attacking style.  If you are a former member of the Sat Night Live cast and have paintings hanging in the Museum of Modern art please consider playing as an all arounder.

If you want to play a style that goes against your natural tendencies then you need to do some specific training to change your tendency when playing table tennis.  If you do not seem to be playing a style that matches your psychological makeup try to determine if you lack sufficient training for a shot type needed for that style.  Its hard to be an attacker if the only Bh you have learned and trained is a block.  It hard to be a defender if all you have trained are loops, punch blocks, and flat hits.


Posted By: benfb
Date Posted: 07/19/2019 at 9:01pm
I feel a book coming on.  Larry Hodges, move over.Big smile


Posted By: Tt Gold
Date Posted: 07/19/2019 at 9:21pm
Great post. Style mostly Influenced by our character ( patient/no patience and no on) and body structure. Playing a style that is against your body structure won’t be successful. Our individual body structure are also the reason why there are so many different playing styles ( not talking about two winged looper/defenders and so on, rather differences in the two winged looping style)


Posted By: mjamja
Date Posted: 07/19/2019 at 11:54pm
The offensive/defensive scale is just one of 3 parts that determine style.  More to come on playing distance and spin preference parts of style.

Mark


Posted By: vanjr
Date Posted: 07/20/2019 at 10:33am
I have never seen Donn Olsen and Mjamja in the same room together...


Posted By: mjamja
Date Posted: 07/22/2019 at 4:33pm
The Playing Distance Scale

The second factor in identifying a player's style is their preferred playing distance.

The scale descriptions are
1. Close distance
2. Mid distance
3. Far distance

Often times these are described as distances from the table edge to a players feet or body.  Sometimes it is described as steps back from the table. I think a more meaningful way to describe it is in terms of where on the average balls trajectory you are making contact .  On this basis the scale would be

1. Close distance - Hitting ball on the rise
2. Mid distance - Hitting ball near top of bounce
3. Far distance - Hitting ball as it falls

In this descriptive system there is not a fixed numerical distance that determines style.  The trajectory of your opponents shots determine the distance where close becomes mid and where mid becomes far.  Of course not every one of your opponents shots has the same trajectory so you need to consider an average one.  Additionally serve, return, and third ball are often played close to the table even by lobbers and choppers who later move quite far back.  So in determining your preferred distance consider where you are for 4th, 5th, 6th, and 7th balls.  Disregard points where you are forced off the table because you popped up a push or block and know a smash is coming.  Also disregard points where you are held very close to the table by an LP or anti player who drop blocks often.  

If you are lobbing or fishing you just about have to be at far distance since the top of bounce of returns of those type balls are almost always above shoulder high.  If you are hitting lots of balls below your waist you are playing at far distance.  This is the case for most choppers.  If you often serve long and retreat for the 3rd ball you most likely are a mid or far distance player depending on how far you end up going back.

Selecting a playing distance is really selecting between 2 good news-bad news scenarios.  Playing close means having to move much smaller distances to cover angled shots, but it means you have less time to react to every shot.  Playing far means you have much longer to react to shots, but you have to move much greater distances to get to angled shots or to move in and out as different speed shots are played at you.

What requirements does each playing distance have?
1. Stamina or endurance - As you play farther  back the points tend to last longer and you have to cover more distance so fatigue becomes a factor.  If you tire easily far distance is probably not for you.
2. Quickness - The closer you are to the table the less time you have to react so quickness of feet and hands is more important.  Especially so if your opponent also plays close.  This can come from very good reaction time or from very good anticipation.  So if you play close and lots of balls just go by without you being able to touch them consider moving back.  Especially if they go by you because you turned to the opposite wing to where the ball was hit.
3. Power generation - When playing at mid distance you are still vulnerable to having balls hit past you (especially if opponent is playing close). Therefore you need the strength and kinetic chain coordination to hit balls hard enough and with enough spin to win points or at least limit your opponents attacks.  If you are not a natural power hitter then maybe you should consider being closer where angles and time pressure can win points or moving farther back where you are less vulnerable against the strong returns that come against your naturally slower shots.
4. Physical stature - This is an extension of items 1 and 2 above.  Shorter individuals seem to be able to play quicker than tall players.  In addtion tall players have longer arcs in their backswings and their "elbow" areas are larger.  These combine to generally make it easier for shorter players to play close to the table.  Conversely, tall players with longer stride lengths cover the larger distances needed at mid and far range easier than shorter players.  So physical build does have affects on the ease of playing at a given distance.
5.  Style limitations - Playing in a way that invites strong attacks such as lobbing or fishing requires enough distance that you have time to react to those shots.  Even for loopers you see the male players moving back later in rallies when the opponents chance to attack becomes equal to their own.  Conversely, if you have an attacking mindset and want to end points quickly it is very difficult to do that from far distance or even from the longer side of mid distance.

So when deciding where to play consider your stamina, quickness, physical stature, ability to generate power, and if a specialized technique you wish to use such as chopping will work at that distance.  Once you know where you are going to play most of the time, train your shots at that distance.

Mark


Posted By: mjamja
Date Posted: 07/24/2019 at 5:11pm
The Preferred Spin Scale
Most players tend to play the majority of their shots with one type of spin on each wing.  Sometimes that spin is the same on both wings and somtimes it is different.  The  possible combinations are:

1. Both wings topspin
2. One wing topspin one wing flat
3. One wing topspin one wing underspin
4. One wing topspin one wing reversing
5. Both wings flat
6. One wing flat one wing underspin
7. One wing flat one wing reversing
8. Both wings underspin
9. One wing underspin one wing reversing
10. Both wings reversing

Flat is most often hitting or blocking but could apply to lobbing or retrieving if little or no spin is used in the returns.

Reversing refers to the use of LP or Anti rubbers where the player can vary the amount of spin returned but the type spin returned is determined by the incoming spin being reversed or turned dead.

Requirements for selecting a preferred spin are less defined than for the other scales.  Since it is  not possible to be "attacking" with underspin (as defined in the Offensive/Defensive section) two wing attackers would not use underspin as a preferred spin.  Likewise, underspin on defensive shots is the most limiting of the spins so it can be a very good choice for defenders.  Reversing rubbers are normally quite a bit slower that inverted and allow for generating defensive underspin against topspin with a compact blocking motion rather than requiring the use of a larger chopping motion.  These 2 qualities enable and enhance defensive play close to the table for defensive oriented players with mobility or endurance issuses which limit their play at the mid and far distances.  But with the exception of attacking from both wings you can effectively mix any combination into most any style.

Mark



Posted By: Tassie52
Date Posted: 07/24/2019 at 7:59pm
Originally posted by mjamja mjamja wrote:

The Playing Distance Scale
Most players tend to play the majority of their shots with one type of spin on each wing.  Sometimes that spin is the same on both wings and somtimes it is different.

Shouldn't this be "The Preferred Spin Scale"?



Posted By: mjamja
Date Posted: 07/24/2019 at 8:31pm
Originally posted by Tassie52 Tassie52 wrote:

Originally posted by mjamja mjamja wrote:

The Playing Distance Scale
Most players tend to play the majority of their shots with one type of spin on each wing.  Sometimes that spin is the same on both wings and somtimes it is different.

Shouldn't this be "The Preferred Spin Scale"?


Thanks.  Cut and paste error. Corrected in post now.


Posted By: Tassie52
Date Posted: 07/24/2019 at 10:30pm
Okay, I'm 4.2.2.  Now what?



Posted By: benfb
Date Posted: 07/25/2019 at 12:52am
Originally posted by Tassie52 Tassie52 wrote:

Okay, I'm 4.2.2.  Now what?

I'm trying to figure out what that actually means on  those various scales.  Can you fill in the gaps?


Posted By: Tassie52
Date Posted: 07/25/2019 at 1:28am
Originally posted by benfb benfb wrote:

Originally posted by Tassie52 Tassie52 wrote:

Okay, I'm 4.2.2.  Now what?

I'm trying to figure out what that actually means on  those various scales.  Can you fill in the gaps?



The Offensive/Defensive Scale

1. Attacking
2. Mixed Attacking and Controlling
3. Mixed Attacking and Defending
4. Controlling
5. Mixed Defending and controling
6. Defending
7. All Around

The Playing Distance Scale

1. Close distance
2. Mid distance
3. Far distance

The Preferred Spin Scale

1. Both wings topspin
2. One wing topspin one wing flat
3. One wing topspin one wing underspin
4. One wing topspin one wing reversing
5. Both wings flat
6. One wing flat one wing underspin
7. One wing flat one wing reversing
8. Both wings underspin
9. One wing underspin one wing reversing
10. Both wings reversing

So my preference is to play a control game from mid-distance with backhand topspin and forehand SP flat.

Reasoning: I am tall, old and slow (always have been - too much slow twitch muscle fibre), which means I never power the ball past anyone.  My lack of speed means I get caught close to the table so need to back away a step or two.  I've never learnt to generate massive amounts of spin, even with inverted on my backhand, although I have a clear preference for backhand topspin and short pimples forehand.

Back to my original question: What would the Wise One, He Who Shadows, The Grey Goose Guru advise for my training and playing?


Posted By: mjamja
Date Posted: 07/25/2019 at 2:05am
Originally posted by Tassie52 Tassie52 wrote:

Okay, I'm 4.2.2.  Now what?

So first see if your psychological and physical traits match up to the requirements outlined for the description you identified for your game in the offensive/defensive scale and playing distance scale.  In your case, controlling and mid distance,  performance should be best with patient, mild risk averse players, capable of making in point judgements (not robotic), with good stamina ( controlling meaning longer rallies and mid distance having more ground to cover).  If you do not match up consider an emphasis on drills to get you to match up better or consider looking at switching to a new style that fits you better.

Look at the style description for your style and see if it has any particular weakness that you might be able to avoid with a simple change (one not requiring that much training) to a similar but slightly different style.  In your case perhaps a change from topspin flat to topspin topspin might give you less vulnerabilities.  Also see if a similar style gives you more strategic options.  Only you will know if this is a simple change or something you already gave up trying after many hours training.  Note: Style descriptions have not been written yet.  

Once you have decided on a style
1. Practice drills designed to match you to you style or to add shots needed for that style to your arsenal.
2. Select a primary strategy that is applicable to that style
Note: Strategy discussions coming soon
3. Select a couple of tactics for that strategy and drill them
4. When competent select other tactics, then a secondary strategy, and finally repeat with a secondary style which complements your primary one.


Posted By: mjamja
Date Posted: 07/25/2019 at 2:53am
Tassie wrote:
Reasoning: I am tall, old and slow (always have been - too much slow twitch muscle fibre), which means I never power the ball past anyone.  My lack of speed means I get caught close to the table so need to back away a step or two.  I've never learnt to generate massive amounts of spin, even with inverted on my backhand, although I have a clear preference for backhand topspin and short pimples forehand.

If by lack of speed you mean lack of quickness to react such that close to table play is difficult then you are in a difficult situation.  That plus being tall means mid to far is the right distance.  However your lack of power makes mid distance play more difficult and older players usually do not have the stamina for the long distance defense  that would fit in with your lack of power.  

So you have a couple of strategies to follow
1. Attrition - Which is more difficult at mid distance.  This sounds like what you are currently doing.
2. Late power - You need to concentrate on playing as close to the table while still mid distance and need to work hard on getting more power on at least one wing
3. Timing disruption - If you really can not develop finishing power at least get good at surprise increases in speed.  Maybe you even intentionally take some speed off your normal shots to make the difference in speed greater between top and normal speed.
4. Spin variation - You already have some built in variation from the different rubber and technique on the two wings.  Working on a higher spin Bh could enhance that difference.  Adding a Fh chop or chop block would be another way to increase the spin variation.

Timing disruption seems the easiest to learn.  Late power and spin variation seem like the strongest options but require learning some new technique.  

Please note this is not about reaching a certain level of play (I am sure Tassie would kick my butt).  It is about trying to find the simplest and quickest things to improve from your current level.

Mark





Posted By: Tassie52
Date Posted: 07/25/2019 at 8:41am
Originally posted by mjamja mjamja wrote:

In your case, controlling and mid distance,  performance should be best with patient, mild risk averse players, capable of making in point judgements (not robotic), with good stamina ( controlling meaning longer rallies and mid distance having more ground to cover).

Yup, this pretty much sums up my game.  I do, however, have other attributes: attention deficit disorder, poor eyesight, weak bladder, etc.

Originally posted by mjamja mjamja wrote:

So you have a couple of strategies to follow
1. Attrition - Which is more difficult at mid distance.  This sounds like what you are currently doing.
2. Late power - You need to concentrate on playing as close to the table while still mid distance and need to work hard on getting more power on at least one wing
3. Timing disruption - If you really can not develop finishing power at least get good at surprise increases in speed.  Maybe you even intentionally take some speed off your normal shots to make the difference in speed greater between top and normal speed.
4. Spin variation - You already have some built in variation from the different rubber and technique on the two wings.  Working on a higher spin Bh could enhance that difference.  Adding a Fh chop or chop block would be another way to increase the spin variation.

Timing disruption seems the easiest to learn.  Late power and spin variation seem like the strongest options but require learning some new technique.
Options 1 and 3 - Attrition and Timing disruption - remain my go to options.  Option 4 - Spin variation - is less likely to offer results.  I've never learnt the fine art of spinning the ball like a gyroscope on steroids; however, I can certainly work at improving my backhand spin, and the contrast with my forehand short pips does give me, as you so eloquently put it, "some built in variation".   I do also have a forehand chop and backhand lob in my arsenal, although I would want to play down my level of expertise.

Option 2 - Late power - is never, ever, ever going to happen.  Never.

Originally posted by mjamja mjamja wrote:

Please note this is not about reaching a certain level of play (I am sure Tassie would kick my butt).  It is about trying to find the simplest and quickest things to improve from your current level.
  Me beating mjamja?  LOL LOL LOL LOL LOL


Posted By: benfb
Date Posted: 07/26/2019 at 2:46am
Mjamja and I realized earlier tonight that his system is missing another category: how many feet you have on the floor at the moment you hit the ball.  Answers would be:

1) Both feet on the ground.
2) One foot on the ground and one around the height of your waste.
3) Both feet off the ground, but still below your knees.
4) Both feet off the ground and at least one above your head.
5) Back on the ground, feet in the air.
6) Hands on the ground (cartwheels)

Which do you fit?


Posted By: blahness
Date Posted: 07/26/2019 at 2:54am
Originally posted by benfb benfb wrote:

Mjamja and I realized earlier tonight that his system is missing another category: how many feet you have on the floor at the moment you hit the ball.  Answers would be:

1) Both feet on the ground.
2) One foot on the ground and one around the height of your waste.
3) Both feet off the ground, but still below your knees.
4) Both feet off the ground and at least one above your head.
5) Back on the ground, feet in the air.
6) Hands on the ground (cartwheels)

Which do you fit?

How do you simultaneously have hands on the ground and hitting the ball with your bat?


-------------
-------
Tacky rubber lover :)

Stiga Clipper CR

FH: Hurricane 8
BH: Hurricane 3-50


Posted By: mjamja
Date Posted: 07/26/2019 at 3:59am
Originally posted by blahness blahness wrote:

Originally posted by benfb benfb wrote:

Mjamja and I realized earlier tonight that his system is missing another category: how many feet you have on the floor at the moment you hit the ball.  Answers would be:

1) Both feet on the ground.
2) One foot on the ground and one around the height of your waste.
3) Both feet off the ground, but still below your knees.
4) Both feet off the ground and at least one above your head.
5) Back on the ground, feet in the air.
6) Hands on the ground (cartwheels)

Which do you fit?

How do you simultaneously have hands on the ground and hitting the ball with your bat?

If you ever watched benfb play you would realize that there are ways of swinging at a ball you never imagined.  Note that I said "swinging at" and not hitting if you get my drift.

Mark -Whose table tennis taxonomy template is not appreciated by all.




Posted By: blahness
Date Posted: 07/26/2019 at 4:22am
Ok let's try it out. 

I'm generally aggressive and close table with topspin on both wings. I am young, fit and reasonably quick. 

One of my issues is generally shot selection and being overly aggressive, making too many unforced errors as a result. I want to become more consistent while maintaining aggressive play. 

I usually do quite well against pip players and penholders and struggle against consistent players who play very spinny and soft...

I try to get advantages with my serves, but sometimes that doesn't happen with good receivers or if I have a bad serving day, that's usually when I struggle. 

What should I prioritise in my game?


-------------
-------
Tacky rubber lover :)

Stiga Clipper CR

FH: Hurricane 8
BH: Hurricane 3-50


Posted By: mjamja
Date Posted: 07/26/2019 at 4:02pm
Originally posted by blahness blahness wrote:

Ok let's try it out. 

I'm generally aggressive and close table with topspin on both wings. I am young, fit and reasonably quick. 

One of my issues is generally shot selection and being overly aggressive, making too many unforced errors as a result. I want to become more consistent while maintaining aggressive play. 

I usually do quite well against pip players and penholders and struggle against consistent players who play very spinny and soft...

I try to get advantages with my serves, but sometimes that doesn't happen with good receivers or if I have a bad serving day, that's usually when I struggle. 

What should I prioritise in my game?

You know people usually pay big bucks for that kind of detailed in depth analysis.  Of course they usually pay it to people who really know what they are talking about.  So in your case maybe you should get a freebie.

Mark - Who obviously does not know what he does not know and who is really dangerous because what he thinks he knows is wrong.


Posted By: mjamja
Date Posted: 07/26/2019 at 6:00pm
To blahness,

First you need to clarify some things.
1.  Are you attacking (trying to hit clear winners) from both wings are you more controlling on one wing ( which one is it) and attacking on the other.

2. If you are playing an attacking or attacking/controlling game you do better if you are low risk averse and not so patient in your normal life outside TT.  So do you match up psychologically with the type style you are playing.?

Assuming you are playing attacking from both wings and that you match up psychologically to that style consider.

 1. Early power (3rd, 4th, and 5th ball attacks) is your best strategy.   These are highly dependent on quality serve and serve return so that should be a focus.  For the quickest results focus on serves which normally give you back the spin you like to attack.  Personally I stink attacking topspin, but can open strongly against under so I practice and use mostly under, side under, and dead serves.  Of course in the long term you need to practice to be able to attack all kinds of returns and have multiple kinds of service spins.  You need to practice specific combinations of shots (tactics) for each of the above.  You need to do extended practice on one tactic at a time not 3 points for one tactic, 3 for another, 3 for another, etc.  Using the same serve repeatedly for the whole drill brings your practice partners return level up making the drill more effective.  Each tactic has specific footwork that enhances it effectiveness (position after setup shot, reposition move to setup finishing shot) that needs to be practiced.

2. Having trouble with consistent players is an indication that you are not executing your finishing shot well or not really playing an early power strategy.  If you play early power, then the point should not last long enough for opponent to display consistency.  You hit winner, you miss, or he hits winning block or counterattack is the way most points should go.  If it seems like miss is happening a lot focus tactic practice on consistency of the finish (possibly focus on reducing speed/spin until you find your consistent level).  If winning counterattack happens often focus tactic practice on generating higher quality ball.  As always, in the long term you want both higher consistency and a higher quality ball but fix the immediate problem first. 

3.  Have an "oops that is not what I wanted" plan in each point.  This could include
a) The 3 to 5 plan -  You planned to play a 3rd ball tactic.  But you know there is some really good return that keeps you from attacking (short push or very strong flip).  Have an alternate 5th ball plan against that shot before you serve.  For example plan a 3rd ball deep push to Bh and 5th ball kill of weak opening if opponent does a good short push.
b) When everything falls apart hit to the elbow.  Plan ahead that if you can not execute your plan, then just keep trying to hit to your opponents playing elbow. Do not try to "win" the point just get them to make a mistake.
c) Position, position, position - Return cross court so that you are in the best return angle position without having to move.  Very good to use when opponent breaks down your plan with an unexpected very good wide angle which gets you off balance.

When practicing a tactic, practice part of the time where you get 2 different returns, one of which requires the use of an "oops" plan.

4. Work on developing a secondary style and strategy  This takes longer time but in the long run is really vital.  If you are making most of your overhitting mistakes on your weaker wing then work on playing control from that side.  If you are missing on your stronger side because you try to overuse it, but do not have the footwork to do so going to control on weaker wing and using it more would also apply.  You could stay early power, but focus more on 5th ball tactics.  You could also switch to more of a late power strategy.  This would require practice specifically aimed at developing your patience and judgement of when to attack.  For example drill requiring you to play 4 control Bh's before attacking, or one where you are randomly hit a weaker ball which you must attack.  Practicing your "oops" plan is very similar to this.

If any of this makes good sense I would be really surprised. But you never know.

Mark








Posted By: Fulanodetal
Date Posted: 07/27/2019 at 4:43pm
Interesting post mjamja!

I'm mostly 1.2.1
Sometimes, depending on the opponent I'll switch to 2.2.1

I'm mostly vulnerable to my own weak service recieve. I've been working on this for a long time. Been working on my 3rd ball attack as well and getting more and more consistent. It has taken a lot of work though. My footwork is improving.

Thanks for this post!

FdT


Posted By: blahness
Date Posted: 07/27/2019 at 7:04pm
Originally posted by mjamja mjamja wrote:

To blahness,

First you need to clarify some things.
1.  Are you attacking (trying to hit clear winners) from both wings are you more controlling on one wing ( which one is it) and attacking on the other.

2. If you are playing an attacking or attacking/controlling game you do better if you are low risk averse and not so patient in your normal life outside TT.  So do you match up psychologically with the type style you are playing.?

Assuming you are playing attacking from both wings and that you match up psychologically to that style consider.

 1. Early power (3rd, 4th, and 5th ball attacks) is your best strategy.   These are highly dependent on quality serve and serve return so that should be a focus.  For the quickest results focus on serves which normally give you back the spin you like to attack.  Personally I stink attacking topspin, but can open strongly against under so I practice and use mostly under, side under, and dead serves.  Of course in the long term you need to practice to be able to attack all kinds of returns and have multiple kinds of service spins.  You need to practice specific combinations of shots (tactics) for each of the above.  You need to do extended practice on one tactic at a time not 3 points for one tactic, 3 for another, 3 for another, etc.  Using the same serve repeatedly for the whole drill brings your practice partners return level up making the drill more effective.  Each tactic has specific footwork that enhances it effectiveness (position after setup shot, reposition move to setup finishing shot) that needs to be practiced.

2. Having trouble with consistent players is an indication that you are not executing your finishing shot well or not really playing an early power strategy.  If you play early power, then the point should not last long enough for opponent to display consistency.  You hit winner, you miss, or he hits winning block or counterattack is the way most points should go.  If it seems like miss is happening a lot focus tactic practice on consistency of the finish (possibly focus on reducing speed/spin until you find your consistent level).  If winning counterattack happens often focus tactic practice on generating higher quality ball.  As always, in the long term you want both higher consistency and a higher quality ball but fix the immediate problem first. 

3.  Have an "oops that is not what I wanted" plan in each point.  This could include
a) The 3 to 5 plan -  You planned to play a 3rd ball tactic.  But you know there is some really good return that keeps you from attacking (short push or very strong flip).  Have an alternate 5th ball plan against that shot before you serve.  For example plan a 3rd ball deep push to Bh and 5th ball kill of weak opening if opponent does a good short push.
b) When everything falls apart hit to the elbow.  Plan ahead that if you can not execute your plan, then just keep trying to hit to your opponents playing elbow. Do not try to "win" the point just get them to make a mistake.
c) Position, position, position - Return cross court so that you are in the best return angle position without having to move.  Very good to use when opponent breaks down your plan with an unexpected very good wide angle which gets you off balance.

When practicing a tactic, practice part of the time where you get 2 different returns, one of which requires the use of an "oops" plan.

4. Work on developing a secondary style and strategy  This takes longer time but in the long run is really vital.  If you are making most of your overhitting mistakes on your weaker wing then work on playing control from that side.  If you are missing on your stronger side because you try to overuse it, but do not have the footwork to do so going to control on weaker wing and using it more would also apply.  You could stay early power, but focus more on 5th ball tactics.  You could also switch to more of a late power strategy.  This would require practice specifically aimed at developing your patience and judgement of when to attack.  For example drill requiring you to play 4 control Bh's before attacking, or one where you are randomly hit a weaker ball which you must attack.  Practicing your "oops" plan is very similar to this.

If any of this makes good sense I would be really surprised. But you never know.

Mark







Thanks mjamja... I usually try to hit a strong topspin to one end followed by a quick redirection to another end. If I am consistent enough the strategy is deadly against most players. I use that attacking strategy on both wings. I am very patient in my normal life but also not risk averse :)

1. Interesting point, on introspection my attacks against topspin are a lot stronger than my attacks against underspin and I am quite strong at topspin rallying. However, good players can still push very spinny against sidetopspin serves so that jams me up often enough. I should practice more opening loops against heavy underspin but in matches serve more topspin since it's my favoured game. Good idea on practicing while serving only one type of spin. 
2. The soft consistent players who play with a lot of spin (both very spinny pushes and very spinny topspin) make me commit a lot of unforced errors when attacking, there's still not a lot of rallying going on...
3. Good idea on the oops plan. I'm actually afraid of short pushes to my FH short corner which are high because I don't know how to attack them lol... 
For quality short pushes I'm not really afraid since I have good pushes myself, can definitely hold my own. 
4. Lol I never tried playing control from mid distance, maybe I should try it some day!

Mjamja don't sell yourself short, I think you've got a good thing going on!



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Tacky rubber lover :)

Stiga Clipper CR

FH: Hurricane 8
BH: Hurricane 3-50


Posted By: blahness
Date Posted: 07/29/2019 at 2:42am
I tried some of the tips including serving more topspin serves than underspin serves, and won more games than usual in club practice.... Interesting🤔

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Tacky rubber lover :)

Stiga Clipper CR

FH: Hurricane 8
BH: Hurricane 3-50


Posted By: mjamja
Date Posted: 07/31/2019 at 3:43pm
The Seven Strategies (part 1)

The seven primary strategies are
1. Early Power
2. Late Power
3. Pattern
4. Time Pressure
5. Timing Disruption
6. Spin Variation
7. Attrition

Strategies may be complimentary or synergistic.  

A complimentary strategy is one  which is used in some points instead of the primary strategy.  Its difference from the main primary strategy is such that there is a large suprise effect which makes it more effective than it would be as a primary strategy.  

Synergistic strategies are those that can be combined in a single point to become more effective than either alone.  Whether are not strategies can be used well together not only depends on the strategies themselves, but also upon which style is being played. 

Early Power:

This is the most common strategy especially at the higher levels.  3rd, 4th, and 5th ball kill tactics would fall under the Early Power strategy.  With the emergence of the Chiquita flip,  2nd ball kill can be added to that list.  Note that as players are becoming more used to facing the Chiquita, it becomes more of a setup shot.  But at lower levels it can often be a consistant winner.  At higher levels the "kill" shot is almost always done with the Fh thus requiring well executed footwork.  At lower levels a large swing wristy Bh is often used to produce enough power that it can be used as a kill in addition to the Fh.  This reduces the importance of really high level footwork in making the strategy work.

This strategy is best fot attacking and attacking/controlling styles that play close to the table and it requires a topspin orientation on both wings.  Interestingly, the 3rd and 4th ball kill tactics can be very useful as a complimentary strategy for far distance defensive players.  Often opponents of retreating defensive players lower the quality of their serve returns or 3rd balls to just get safely into the rally.  If the defensive player occassionally stays close and attacks early it can put a lot of pressure on the opponent's  serve return and 3rd balls and result in more unforced errors.

This strategy is highly dependent on getting to attack first.  As such having high quality (hard to attack) serves and serve returns which limit 3rd ball attacks is essential.  It is important to develop serves that fit in with how you plan to attack.  If you most often 3rd ball kill with your Fh, devevop serves that are difficult to return to your Bh such as reverse pendulums to opponents Fh.  Conversely, if your Fh kill is a little weaker and you do better using a Bh 3rd ball to set up an easier 5th ball kill then develop serves that are less likely to be returned to your Fh.  It also useful to match serves to the type spin you prefer attacking.  If you attack topspin better then serve more topspin and half-long serves that are likely to be returned with topsin.  Playing 5th ball tactics (instead of 3rd) also results in the kill shot being made against topspin more often.

There is not really any complimentary strategy to use with Early Power.  However, there are ways to mix your Early Power tactics such that you can get effects similar to using a Timing Disruption strategy.  Using an ocassional underspin 3rd ball to set up a 5th ball kill will often result in a missed or very weak loop from an opponent who is expecting topspin.  Likewise, occasionally using a slow high spin Fh third ball instead of your normal  loopkill often creates an error.  Although a little risky, you might somtimes use a soft 3rd ball block instead of your normal loop in order to get a weak return for your 5th ball (only against topspin serve returns of course).

Likewise there is not really a synergistic strategy.  But you can apply some of the concepts of the Pattern strategy to your placement choices.  Elbow/Fh and Wide Bh/Elbow  combinations can be very effective just as they are in Pattern play.  Short serve to Fh and open to Fh works very similar to the "double up" tactic in the Pattern strategy.

Playing against this strategy can be daunting as they are going to hit a lot of winners.  If you play a similar strategy then it is all about getting in the first attack.  So good serving and short returns are the major weapons.  If they are attacking/controlling another tactic is getting them in a position where they must hit several shots in a row with their controlling side (thus not able to get in their attack).  This often requires going wide to their attacking wing, forcing a control shot from that side, going as wide as possible to their contol wing, and finally hitting repeatedly to that wing since they can not force you with their control side.  

If you play defensively you can eliminate their early power by getting back far enough quickly so that the speed and spin diminish by the time the ball gets to you.  If you are more controlling, moving quickly to mid distance can negate some of their power and still allow you to play a late power strategy. 

The Early Power player does need  plans to deal with situations where opponents limit his use of early power.  

Against other Early Power players there are several options:
1. 3rd to 5th - If playing a 3rd ball tactic have a plan to respond to the most common limiting serve return in a way that becomes a 5th ball tactic.  For example plan to deal with good short pushes by pushing deep to weaker wing and then 5th ball killing any weak return.  Or plan to block a return flip back to the elbow and 5th ball kill the weak return.  For really good attackers your only option might be pushing back short again and then playing the 5th ball like you originally planned to play the 3rd ball.  There are many options that can be used, but most important is having a plan before you serve.

2. Pound the elbow - If the opponent is about to get in the first attack retreat slightly and play return to their elbow and retreat again to a distance where their power does not seem overwhelming but close enough that you can still play controlling shots to their elbow. If you get a weak return be ready to finish the point with a strong attack (Late Power strategy) or simply be steady and outlast your opponent (Attrition strategy).  Play the alternate strategy that suits you best and is worst for opponent.  If they rush and often miss trying to finish the point then you play attrition.  If they are better than you at the long rally then look for chances for late power attacks.  It is important to be aware how these situations are playing out so you can pick the right strategy.

3. Cross- court for position - Play all returns as wide cross-court as you feel is safe (based on strength of opponent's shots).  This puts you in the "least needed footwork" position so you can be ready for the next attack.  Stay close to the table if you are comfortable handing the opponent's power or retreat some if you need more time to get ready for shots.  If attacks are going past you without you being able to touch them (or just barely so) you need to move back.

When playing against a quickly retreating defensive player the Early Power player can create Early Power situations even later in the point by using:
1. Push is the new serve -  If you are playing an underspin defensive player you can use a push just like a serve to set up a 3rd ball type attack at any point in the rally.  Of course the push has to be good enough that it is not easily attaclable.   Before the point starts have a plan on where you want to push ( Fh, Bh, middle), and where you are going to attack.  The plan that works the best will depended on what your opponent does well and what he does poorly.  Some do not attack with their Bh so that is a good push target. Others with LP's attack underspin well on that side, but do not loop underspin well from the other so pushing there gives you a chance to attack.  If you are playing someone like Joo Se-Hyuk, just admire the winners he hits no matter what you try.
2. Placement before power - Far distance players use the extra distance to negate an opponent's power.  One way to use this against them is to reduce power and simultaneously increase the angle of you shots.  This results in the defensive player having to move both wide and in to play the shot.  This gives the Early Power player the chance to effectively use his power on the next shot to the opposite side of the table.  This is more effective against topspin defenders since it is easier to reduce power against topspin balls than against underspin but you do see some top players like Timo Boll using this tactic against choppers.  Developing an inside-out Fh smash or drive can make this tactic very effective against lobbers and fishers.

In summary, the attacking or attacking/control player should train extensively on the Early Power tactics.  A very high emphasis should be placed on serve and serve return development.  Less time should initially be spent on counter-looping training since this is only really used if the tactic failed.  Early Power players can develop and use some special tactics for use against far distance defenders that still allows them to use their power effectively.


Posted By: acpoulos
Date Posted: 08/01/2019 at 12:19pm
K.I.S.S. Principle

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Tony


Posted By: mjamja
Date Posted: 08/01/2019 at 1:37pm
Originally posted by acpoulos acpoulos wrote:

K.I.S.S. Principle

I assume you are saying that I am making things too complicated.  Actually I am trying to make things simpler during the point (especially reducing decisions).  For example focusing on 1 strategy that fits your style rather than trying to play all strategies.  Having something simple to do like just hit to the elbow if the point starts playing out differently than your planned tactic.

I am advocating doing something complicated when not actually playing points.  That is thinking critically about how you play ( or want to play) in ways that help you optimize your natural abilities and focus training on those few (less is simpler) things that give you the most benefit.  I am also advocating thinking critically about what is actually happening during the match (between games and between points) so that out of the thousands of ways you could choose to play you can focus on a few that are most likely to work (credit to Larry Hodges for this idea).  And the more you can analyze and decide before a match (based on knowledge of your style and strategies and those of your opponent) the less you have to do during the match.

So the idea is to employ complicated thinking so you can train and play simply and focused.

Maybe I am just bad at describing things simply. 

Mark - Who has the Stupid part of K.I.S.S. down pat.

 


Posted By: Slowhand
Date Posted: 08/01/2019 at 4:45pm
Great stuff! Looking forward to the next installment.


Posted By: mjamja
Date Posted: 08/11/2019 at 3:46pm
Late Power

Late Power is a strategy which uses controlling shots to remain in a rally until the opponent makes a slightly poorer quality shot which can be attacked strongly with the intention of ending the point with that attack.  It is not just waiting for a pop up ball to kill, but rather trying to counter attack when the quality of the opponent's return is low enough to insure a high probability (not certainty) of success.


It works best for close and mid distance players.  It is particulary good for players with one attacking wing and one controlling wing.  It requires good judgement to recognize attackable balls and the mental flexibility to switch from a controlling/defensive mindset to an attacking one.  It does require patience, but not nearly as much as a pure Attrition strategy.  Far distance players can use the strategy if they 
are very good at moving forward on weaker balls to a distance where they have finishing power.  They can also use it if the opponent's power is low enough that the "far distance" is still close enough that they can generate finishing power.  From far distance this strategy is actual more often a Timing Disruption strategy since hitting an outright winner is not likely.


Judgement as to when to attack and placement of the control shots in order to limit the strength of the attacks are the critical elements in this strategy.  If you are going to use it you need to do practice drills that are designed to improve your play in these areas.  Getting random weaker balls that you must attack is good practice Covering part of table with a towel to force you to hit to wide Bh is another one.  The player with one control wing and one attacking wing can use a very simple judgement scheme in which they attack any shot which comes to the attacking wing, but continue controlling on any shot to the elbow or control wing.  This does mean potentially passing up on some attacking opportunities but limits over aggression type errors.

For close distance players the controlling shots can be blocks, counters, or drives.  Generally close table looping is too risky to play as a controlling shot.  The mini-loop style Bh block is however very effective in this strategy from close distance.  Close distance blocking players can improve their chances by using a reversing rubber on the control wing since it slows play and helps limit strength of attack (underspin usually being attacked less strongly).  Mid distance players can use loops and chops in addition to blocks, counters, and drives.  Using chops is a little risky if your opponent has strong loops against underspin that get to you too quickly and too high when you are at mid distance.

The only complimentary strategy is Early Power.  Just as in the case of defensive players an opponent expecting slower returns or expecting the Late Power player to retreat to mid distance can be surprised by a 3rd, 4th, or 5th ball kill tactc.  In fact some players play an Early/Late Power strategy where they are always first looking to 3rd or 4th ball kill if a return comes to a particular spot from which they can attack strongly. But if the return is not to their "sweet spot" they just go into their Late Power tactics.

Synergistic strategies are generally not that useful for the mid distance Late Power player.  However, for the close distance blocker using Late Power there are several good options.  Timing Disruption by occassionally changing the speed of the block works well.  Spin Variation by using a chop block or side-spin block can often produce an attackable return.  There are some all around players who can mix Late Power and Spin Variation from mid distance by switching from driving/blocking to chopping.

Playing against this style can be very frustrating.  They are very good against Attrition strategies because they are patient, but are good at finishing a point when given the chance.  If you can combine Attrition with disguised Spin Variation (not easy) you can take advantage of their desire to attack by getting them to attack "easy" balls that are really not that easily attackable.  A Timing Disruption strategy usually fails because they are always prepared to attack the slower ball.  Early Power, especially 3rd ball kill tactics  can be very effective since it ends the point before they can get set up in a positition to control you effectively.  Often when playing a Late Power opponent you end up having to play a Late Power strategy yourself.  You have to return his controlling shots with control shots which keep him from attacking and wait for a slight mistake in one of his control shots which gives you a good opportunity to attack strongly.  Pattern strategy can also be good against a close distance Late Power player by making it more difficult for them to execute their controlling shots.  However, you must be sure that the pattern being played does not include a return into their automatic attack zone.  Pattern strategy against mid distance Late Power players is less effective because of the greater time they have to react and move. But something like Elbow/Bh/Elbow could be effective if they are not too good at moving into position to attack the shots to their elbow.

As a Late Power player you can pretty much play your strategy against any of the other strategies.  Against Attrittion and Spin Variation strategies you just have to be better at selecting the right ball to attack than they are at getting back your attacks.  Against Pattern and Time Pressure strategies you have to be able to repeatedly execute your control shots even in the face of guickly returned shots and the need for good Fh/Elbow/Bh transitions.  Playing mid distance Late Power reduces Pattern and Timing Pressure problems.  If you are playing close distance, using very compact controlling strokes will also limit the effectiveness of Pattern and Timing Pressure against your Late Power strategy.
Against Timing Disruption you need to effectively attack any slower balls.  But since this is you normal strategy anyway, it should not be that difficult.  Against Early Power strategies you have to make very good controlling shots with your serve, return, and 3rd ball.  Serves that are not easily flipped (such as heavy under/dead), short push returns, 3rd ball blocks of flip, and 3rd ball openings with precise placement ( to elbow or wide Bh) are critically necessary against an Early Power strategy in order to through the first 4 balls and into your Late Power strategy.  Against players using reversing rubber, it is often necessary to use a dead push as your controlling shot since they can attack strongly against normal pushes.

In summary, Late Power is a very versatile strategy which relies on patience and good judgement in selecting which returns to attack strongly and placement skills to execute control shots which limit the strength of your opponent's attacks.  



Posted By: stiltt
Date Posted: 08/11/2019 at 6:53pm
While executing a late power shot we should focus on dealing early with whatever comes back. The reason is late power is a side effect of not being able to apply early power so we should redeem ourselves in late power by following through and get back to the early bounce asap. It's a mindset, a framework, the essence of the game.

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Posted By: BRS
Date Posted: 08/11/2019 at 7:02pm
And this is supposed to make table tennis simpler?  

I don't think that word means what you think it means.


Posted By: mjamja
Date Posted: 08/11/2019 at 9:23pm
Originally posted by BRS BRS wrote:

And this is supposed to make table tennis simpler?  

I don't think that word means what you think it means.

If you believe that most every TT player can best optimize their performance by working on 3rd, 4th, and 5th ball attacking then the things I am discussing do make it more complex.  If you believe that lots of players will play better both initially and in the long run by persuing another style and other strategies then maybe I am presenting a complex method of analyzing the player and the possible ways they could play so they can choose a single style and a few related tactics that simplify how they both practice and play and at the same time give them maximum improvement.

Do you think the information I have presented so far is wrong, just not useful, or even hurtful to players game?

Mark - Who believes that TT,  especially below the national team levels, is a complex sport that can only be seriously discussed in a complex framework.


Posted By: BRS
Date Posted: 08/12/2019 at 11:34am
I don't think it is wrong or hurtful.  Useful for your stated purposes I'm not sure about.

I think most TT players can best optimize their performance by working on receiving, and next on serving.  

All these categories are dynamic based on the relative level of the players in a given match, and even dynamic from one point to another, and on each ball in a longer point.  If your opponent is better on serve and receive, the best you can hope for is controlling.  That you are an attacking player is irrelevant for the match.  And all the training on 3rd - 5th ball attacks can't be deployed.

But obviously after you have played for a while it is useful to have some idea of your gameplan.  I think if it in terms of an overall level, and rating specific skills as ++, +, /, -, or - -, relative to that overall level.  I stole this directly from Brian Pace, who I am sure stole it from his own coaches.  Once you have an honest mental picture of your game, you can decide whether to work on stedngthening a strength, or bringing up a weakness.  And it is pretty easy to track progress if you video your matches.

I won't go through everything, but here is a sample for me.

Serves +
Short receives /
Long receives on bh -
Pushes -
Bh block +
Fh block -
Footwork /
Bh attack /
Fh attack +

I'll stop there.  It should all net to /, since you are your level overall.  You can see I don't have any extreme strengths or weaknesses relative to my 1900 rating.  So I am working on improving my fh loop, with a goal of making it a + +, and receiving long serves to my bh, hoping for a / there.  

Obviously if I succeed at those I will no longer be rated 1900, so I will have to re-evaluate based on a higher overall level.  Some of my / will have changed to -.  Working on those to get back to / will probably be necessary to consolidate a higher level. 

Maybe my system is no simpler, but it applies regardless of the opponent's level or style.  Sone people are able to take advantsge of my weak spots and some aren't.  But my relative abilities are fairly constant, that's why I find this approach easier.

I may have presuned the style decision you are starting from was already made.  On that I agree with ttgold.  You play and let playing tell you what style suits you.  It shouldn't be an intellectual exercise.  You like defending or attacking, you feel comfortable near or far.  You can feel these things, thinking about them is not helpful. 


Posted By: BRS
Date Posted: 08/12/2019 at 11:40am
Making in game decision-making simpler, I think the ball tells you what to do every time.  Pre-conceived tactics and decisions are useful to practice, but in games just let the ball tell you what to do.


Posted By: mjamja
Date Posted: 08/12/2019 at 3:21pm
Originally posted by BRS BRS wrote:

Making in game decision-making simpler, I think the ball tells you what to do every time.  Pre-conceived tactics and decisions are useful to practice, but in games just let the ball tell you what to do.

That does not seem to work well for me.  Maybe that is why I am such a poor player and I am trying to compensate for not letting the ball tell me what to do by this kind of approach.

Mark




Posted By: stiltt
Date Posted: 08/12/2019 at 4:19pm
"in games, just let the ball tell you what to do

I like this, It means we need to rely on our reflexes and trust our training to control our body and do things on the fly, without thinking (o/c before serving though a player may think of what will the play be but that's it). It helps focusing on the ball and force anticipation, at least pushes the player to that edge where their body starts moving earlier, when enough clues about where the ball will come back are gathered, no later than that.

In terms of saying a lot in a few words, that sentence is at the level of the now famous Tongue " http://www.tomveatch.com/tt/bouncewiththeball.html" rel="nofollow - dance with the ball ". 

Thanks for the insight.


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Posted By: cole_ely
Date Posted: 08/12/2019 at 11:54pm
Originally posted by mjamja mjamja wrote:

Originally posted by BRS BRS wrote:

Making in game decision-making simpler, I think the ball tells you what to do every time.  Pre-conceived tactics and decisions are useful to practice, but in games just let the ball tell you what to do.

That does not seem to work well for me.  Maybe that is why I am such a poor player and I am trying to compensate for not letting the ball tell me what to do by this kind of approach.

Mark

Be the ball, Danny


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W1 St with Illumina 1.9r, defender1.7b

Please let me know if I can be of assistance.


Posted By: APW46
Date Posted: 08/13/2019 at 2:40am
There is nothing new here, 'early power' = playing the percentage game, 'late power' = hitting the table one more time than your opponent. 
If the first one fails, refer to the second one.
The key is that a player needs sound technique before moving up to the mental level of match play or consistency becomes self defeating.
The better, more solid a players technique in service, receive and open play, the more of his brain can be utilized in tracking his opponent, which results in him having time to play his strokes and vision the accurately place them. Then He/she can really learn how to win.
 The idea that the intricacies and complexities can be successfully applied on the table, by reading complex theories off it is debatable, that is not to say you can't understand it.


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The Older I get, The better I was.


Posted By: mjamja
Date Posted: 08/13/2019 at 3:07am
Originally posted by APW46 APW46 wrote:

There is nothing new here, 'early power' = playing the percentage game, 'late power' = hitting the table one more time than your opponent. 
If the first one fails, refer to the second one.
The key is that a player needs sound technique before moving up to the mental level of match play or consistency becomes self defeating.
The better, more solid a players technique in service, receive and open play, the more of his brain can be utilized in tracking his opponent, which results in him having time to play his strokes and vision the accurately place them. Then He/she can really learn how to win.
 The idea that the intricacies and complexities can be successfully applied on the table, by reading complex theories off it is debatable, that is not to say you can't understand it.

Could you explain what you mean by "early power = playing the percentage game".

Also I see "hitting the table one more time than your opponent" as Attrition strategy rather than Late Power.  Do you see a difference between the two?

Mark


Posted By: APW46
Date Posted: 08/13/2019 at 4:13am
Originally posted by mjamja mjamja wrote:

Originally posted by APW46 APW46 wrote:

There is nothing new here, 'early power' = playing the percentage game, 'late power' = hitting the table one more time than your opponent. 
If the first one fails, refer to the second one.
The key is that a player needs sound technique before moving up to the mental level of match play or consistency becomes self defeating.
The better, more solid a players technique in service, receive and open play, the more of his brain can be utilized in tracking his opponent, which results in him having time to play his strokes and vision the accurately place them. Then He/she can really learn how to win.
 The idea that the intricacies and complexities can be successfully applied on the table, by reading complex theories off it is debatable, that is not to say you can't understand it.

Could you explain what you mean by "early power = playing the percentage game".

Also I see "hitting the table one more time than your opponent" as Attrition strategy rather than Late Power.  Do you see a difference between the two?

Mark
Attacking carries more risk, especially if your opponent can either stop you or let you do it under their terms, or you lack technique to put the percentage in your favour.
'late power' is just being patient in a rally until utilizing a 'window' to play an aggressive stroke that carries less risk, but ideologically, you are 'hitting the table one more time than you opponent' because you are committing to less risk. to really understand that strategy well, you have to understand and accept that your opponent will be hitting winners past you, but also missing.


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The Older I get, The better I was.


Posted By: BRS
Date Posted: 08/13/2019 at 8:49am
Late power to me is almost irrelevant.  What is the definition of late - after the fifth ball?  Unless one player is a defender most matches I play or see have 10% or fewer of the points getting to a sixth ball.

I just counted rally length in a match from my local club tournament this weekend.  Ideal setup for longer rallies -- evenly matched players who train together for years and know the other's serves and tendencies.  One player is a blocker/counter-attacker.  Total points were 42 - 39 in four sets.  On 16 points the ball was touched six times or more.  That includes missed sixth balls.  If I only counted balls with six or more successful shots it would be single digits.  

So under ideal conditions at the ~1900 level late power is possible on fewer than 20% of the points.  

Unless you define late as anything after the third ball?


Posted By: benfb
Date Posted: 08/13/2019 at 1:26pm
Originally posted by BRS BRS wrote:

Making in game decision-making simpler, I think the ball tells you what to do every time.  Pre-conceived tactics and decisions are useful to practice, but in games just let the ball tell you what to do.
Unlike Stiltt, I don't like this.  For any given ball, there are many things you could do.  If you don't have a sense of what you do well and what you do weakly, then you're not going to make good decisions about what to do with a specific ball.  "Pre-conceived tactics" is critical to making good decisions.

Mark's approach is very analytical, and some intuitive players are going to be uncomfortable with that.  That's fine.  But the way I see it, the goal is to "know yourself".  The way I see it, most players have a broad sense of who they are at the table, but don't look very carefully at the details.  Mark's analysis is a way of pulling out those details.  The better you know yourself, the more you can play to your strengths and stay away from your weaknesses.

Also, to APW's remark that there is nothing new here.  That's pretty much true for every coaching remark every made on this forum.  The question is whether Mark has found a way to organize the information that is useful to some other players.  For example, I personally understood Mark's postings more than I understood APW's, even though I appreciate both.


Posted By: APW46
Date Posted: 08/14/2019 at 3:06am
Originally posted by benfb benfb wrote:

Originally posted by BRS BRS wrote:

Making in game decision-making simpler, I think the ball tells you what to do every time.  Pre-conceived tactics and decisions are useful to practice, but in games just let the ball tell you what to do.
Unlike Stiltt, I don't like this.  For any given ball, there are many things you could do.  If you don't have a sense of what you do well and what you do weakly, then you're not going to make good decisions about what to do with a specific ball.  "Pre-conceived tactics" is critical to making good decisions.

Mark's approach is very analytical, and some intuitive players are going to be uncomfortable with that.  That's fine.  But the way I see it, the goal is to "know yourself".  The way I see it, most players have a broad sense of who they are at the table, but don't look very carefully at the details.  Mark's analysis is a way of pulling out those details.  The better you know yourself, the more you can play to your strengths and stay away from your weaknesses.

Also, to APW's remark that there is nothing new here.  That's pretty much true for every coaching remark every made on this forum.  The question is whether Mark has found a way to organize the information that is useful to some other players.  For example, I personally understood Mark's postings more than I understood APW's, even though I appreciate both.
 Probably because my response was not the length of War and Peace Wink but there are many different ways to say the same thing.


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The Older I get, The better I was.


Posted By: Baal
Date Posted: 08/14/2019 at 5:47pm
All of this is great (or not so great) in theory.  On real tables, a lot of players will never improve because they only practice the stuff they are relatively good at.  If you can honestly identify stuff you suck at it is possible to come up with practice regimens that eventually reduce those liabilities.  Tactics you can't execute are self defeating and most people beat themselves.


Posted By: APW46
Date Posted: 08/15/2019 at 2:43am
Originally posted by Baal Baal wrote:

Tactics you can't execute are self defeating and most people beat themselves.

That is a great statement Clap


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The Older I get, The better I was.


Posted By: Tassie52
Date Posted: 08/15/2019 at 3:35am
Okay, so we may disagree over the usefulness or otherwise of mjamja's offerings, however I'm finding his thoughts absolutely fascinating.  Please don't discourage him!

As far as the assessment of different strategies, I think he's clearly on the money - at least at the level I play.  Regardless of APW46's quibbles, I see lots of difference between "late power" and "attrition" as executed by the players I'm surrounded with.  Equally, my approach of "timing disruption" is hugely different from those I play against who try to create "timing pressure", although I'm happy to admit sometimes those things (as I understand them) look similar.

I am really keen to hear Mark's thoughts on the whole range of strategies.  More please!



Posted By: YoAss
Date Posted: 08/15/2019 at 4:21am
My old coach got riled up about this, when I visited him and asked him to help me address a weakness.

He asked me, what is your game?  How does this fit in?  And then went on about focusing on deepening my strengths rather than dwell on my weaknesses.

He was very vehement, and I trust his TT wisdom so deeply there's no way I can question his judgement.  So I asked him, if I want to play to my strenghts, how do I prevent getting shut out by someone smartly exploiting my weaknesses?

And he told me: enhance your strengths.  Then I was enlightened.


Posted By: APW46
Date Posted: 08/15/2019 at 4:48am
Originally posted by Tassie52 Tassie52 wrote:

Okay, so we may disagree over the usefulness or otherwise of mjamja's offerings, however I'm finding his thoughts absolutely fascinating.  Please don't discourage him!

As far as the assessment of different strategies, I think he's clearly on the money - at least at the level I play.  Regardless of APW46's quibbles, I see lots of difference between "late power" and "attrition" as executed by the players I'm surrounded with.  

 I'm not trying to discourage anyone, I can't see what is wrong with scrutiny though, if He is confident of his theories, he can confidently fend scrutiny off, if he can't then we can make our own minds up from our own experience.


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The Older I get, The better I was.


Posted By: geardaddy
Date Posted: 08/15/2019 at 12:06pm
This discussion of styles and strategies is certainly interesting, but I think it is missing a critical piece.  You need to also describe the necessary strokes and technique required to execute the strategy.  It is not enough to just say "do this or that" to implement a strategy.  You need to describe the specific abilities that are necessary to successfully implement that strategy.


Posted By: mjamja
Date Posted: 08/15/2019 at 4:44pm
Originally posted by geardaddy geardaddy wrote:

This discussion of styles and strategies is certainly interesting, but I think it is missing a critical piece.  You need to also describe the necessary strokes and technique required to execute the strategy.  It is not enough to just say "do this or that" to implement a strategy.  You need to describe the specific abilities that are necessary to successfully implement that strategy.

In the system I am describing a strategy is not tied to a particular stroke or technique.  For instance an Attrition strategy can be played by a lobber, a chopper, a blocker, or a mid-distance 2 wing looper (among others).  What all those do have in common is the need to be patient and all fit well with high risk aversion personalities.  Likewise, Early Power strategy can be played by loopers or hitters.
When you select tactics, which are right for your personal style and strategy, you start to be able to identify specific strokes and techniques which you needed in order to implement those tactics.  There are still 20+ posts (each will take at least 1 week to write) I need to make to finish out a complete description of the approach I am describing.

In the description of each strategy I do try to point out key elements that are crucial to that strategy and mention some general training methods that help specific to that strategy.  

Please be patient with me as I try to organize and present this information.

Mark












Posted By: mjamja
Date Posted: 08/16/2019 at 3:39pm
Pattern Strategy

The Pattern strategy uses controlling and attacking shots played in a specific combination of spin and location designed to create errors by putting high demands on the opponent's footwork, stroke recovery, and transition skills.  It shares some characteristics of the Late Power strategy, but relies more on ball movement to create errors than waiting for an opportunity to hit a winner.  As such the controlling shots are more aggressive than in the Late Power strategy and will often include placements into the opponents attacking zones.  This is one of the more common strategies in high level women's play.

The Pattern strategy works best for close distance players since moving away from the table reduces the angle of attacks and gives your opponent more time for stroke recovery and Fh/Bh transitions.  It can work from mid distance for aggressive 2 wing loopers who can be consistent with enough power to put some pressure on the opponent's footwork and transitions.  

Placement is the critical feature of the Pattern strategy.  The Pattern player needs the ability to hit precisely to many different locations against a variety of incoming shot types.  The ability to disguise where the shot is going to be hit is very useful for pattern players.  Many pattern players use a Bh punch block stroke whose direction is very difficult to recognize until the ball is hit.  The Pattern player needs to practice multiple placements against both topspin and underspin and needs to practice specific patterns they expect to use.

Pattern players can use any type of shots except chops and lobs.  Aggressive long pushes are very important because they allow the Pattern player to both move his opponent slightly out of position early and start his pattern early in the point.  Mid distance Pattern players usually do not use blocks because they are too slow to create footwork and transition problems.  Pattern play from mid distance with blocks usually develops into Late Power play with Pattern play as a synergistic strategy.

There is not a complementary strategy for the Pattern strategy.  However, just as in the case of Late Power, some players play a hybrid Early Power/Pattern Strategy.   They look for very specific reurns that they can 3rd or 4th ball kill, but if those do not come they go right into their pattern.  The serves and returns used may not be the typical Early Power serves since they must function both as setting up an attack as well as setting up the pattern.

There are synergistic strategies for use with Pattern play.  Time Pressure combines well with Pattern's ball movement to put high demands on the opponent's footwork and transitions.  Timing Disruption, particularly the use of a slow short block, can be an effective addition to the Pattern game.  Pattern play blockers can add Spin Variation to the overall strategy to get even more errors from opponents.

The Early Power strategy is the best natual strategy against Pattern play since it tends to end the point before the pattern can develop enough to cause problems.  However, since it is played close to the table, the Early Power, player is more vulnerable to the footwork and transition pressure than a strategy played from mid to far distance.  Pattern versus Pattern is often seen in the women's game.  It is often combined with Time Pressure.  In that case it simply comes down to who picks the better patterns to play and who can execute those chosen patterns.  Late Power from close distance is vulnerable since it allows the pattern to be developed against relatively light pressure.  Late Power from mid distance can be very effective since the playing distance reduces time pressure on footwork and transitions.  The Pattern player can make the mid distance player use a lot of energy covering the return angles they can generate.  But control loops from mid distance are usually more dificult for the close distance Pattern player to deal with so the Pattern player is often forced to use less aggressive angles or move slightly back which reduces his angles and effective pressure on transitions.  Both Late Power and Attrition played from mid distance with heavy topsin can be effective against the Pattern Player.  Time Pressure can break down the Pattern players ability to execute their patterns.  Pattern players who use larger loop strokes are more vulnerable than those using compact shots such as blocks and counters.  Timing Disruption srategies which slow down play can reduce the effectiveness of Pattern play.  However, slower, shorter balls do allow some Pattern players to execute extreme angles so this kind of Timing Disruption's effectiveness is highly dependent on the skill set of the particular Pattern player.  Any strategy played from far distance negates a lot of the Pattern strategies effects.  However, since the Pattern player is good at placement,  any far distance player will need extra stamina to repeatedly cover the angled shots the Pattern player is good at generating.

As a Pattern player, placement is the key against any strategy.  One key feature is the ability to play very wide angles.  This requires using a slight reduction in speed in order to get the ball to land in the shorter distance available on very wide angles.  Practice on mixing shots to the short wide angle with shots deep to the corner and elbow is essential.  Against Early Power players hitting the elbow early is very important.  Against any strategy played from distance, the Pattern player needs to both move the opponent wide side to side and sometimes make them move in and to the side at the same time.

In summary, Pattern play is an effective strategy for close distance players and is especially good against other close distance players.  It does not work nearly as well against mid to far distance players and is vulnerable against heavy topsin played from mid distance by a control looper.



Posted By: APW46
Date Posted: 08/18/2019 at 2:05am
in my world, this is called counter hitting.

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The Older I get, The better I was.


Posted By: mjamja
Date Posted: 08/18/2019 at 3:25am
Originally posted by APW46 APW46 wrote:

in my world, this is called counter hitting.

If the stroke being used to make the shots is a block or a loop, do you still refer to it as counter hitting?

I have always used the term counter hitting to describe a particular type of stroke although I do think of punch blocks as the same as counter hitting.  I guess there is s an implied close distance play in the term counter hitter.  In my framework a counter hitter could be playing any one of several strategies including Attrition, Pattern, Time Pressure, or even Early Power (at lower levels where a counter hit can be strong enough for a finishing shot)..  The idea being that a person can try to win in more than one way using a given type of stroke and that there might need to be different tactics used against them based on the combination of strokes they use, their style elements, and strategy they are using.

Mark



Posted By: Fulanodetal
Date Posted: 08/18/2019 at 1:42pm
I'm loving this thread!

Mjamja, while you already mentioned that the womens game falls into the pattern strategy in general, for example, I think it might be helpful if you could actually name a few specific players that use whatever strategy you are describing. Or even include a YouTube link to illustrate what you're talking about.

FdT


Posted By: mjamja
Date Posted: 08/18/2019 at 4:31pm
Look at Liu Shiwen's matches against Ding Ning and Ching Meng at 2019 WTTC.  There are many points where one or both players hit 3 or more consecutive balls to different locations and often completely different sides of the table.  Another thing to look for is the players choice of using the Bh for playing balls to the elbow.  So instead of choosing a power option with the Fh they play placement and positioning by using the Bh.  It should be noted that several times Ching Meng switched to classic 3rd or 5th ball kill tactics (Early Power) using early step around footwork to get her Fh into play.  Liu Shiwen also did 3rd ball kills, but to me they looked more like opportunistic kills of poor serve returns than planned early step around type tactics.  

Of course at this level the players are so versatile that they use multiple strategies during matches unlike most average players who tend to be one trick ponies.

Mark


Posted By: smackman
Date Posted: 08/18/2019 at 6:29pm

Style, Strategy, and Tactics

Much depends on 
personality
start age
Type of coaching
no coaching
Country of origin
closeness to a club
Gear available at start age
type of rubber
environment (small space)
opposition style
ability to learn in a game
able to learn from mistakes and work on problems
amount of practice and reason for practice
remembered knowledge from last match
level of player and competition
$$$ on Dignics or 729 rubber





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Ulmo Duality,tibhar Aurus Prime Dr N Pistal Black
NZ table tennis selector, third in the World (plate Doubles)I'm Listed on the ITTF website,


Posted By: mjamja
Date Posted: 08/20/2019 at 6:22pm
Time Pressure

Time Pressure is a very specialized strategy which involves contacting the ball almost right off the bounce such that the ball is returned to the opponent before he is ready to hit again.  The shots used have characteristics of both controlling and attacking shots.  The ball speed is more in the control range, but the commitment to play every shot from the more difficult off the bounce location with the intention of winning with that shot is more attacking in nature.  Overall, using Time Pressure requires more of an attacking (rather than controlling) mindset.  Contacting balls over the table rather than letting them come off the end of the table is a hallmark of the Time Pressure strategy.

Because the shots are played off the bounce,  Time Pressure is a close distance only strategy.  It is also not very effective unless the opponent is also playing close distance.  Blocking is the primary stroke used although very close to table counterhitting can be used.  In both cases borrowing power from the opponent's shot is important since off the bounce strokes are inherently more compact and do not generate as much power on their own.

The key to using the Time Pressure strategy is the ability to play the ball right off the bounce and even contact it over the table if the ball is a little short.  Besides the obvious reduced time to react, Time Pressure play has two other effects.  There is a kind of Timing Disruption effect since normally balls are allowed to come off the table before being hit.  Opponents are often not even preparing for the balls return at the time it is hit.  Taking the ball over the table also negates the effects of widely angled balls since they never get the chance to continue going wide outside the table.  Thus it is generally better to attack the Time Pressure player deep to the corner or middle than short and wide.  When played as a synergistic strategy to Pattern play, there are fewer balls played over the table than in a pure Time Pressure strategy.  In the mixed strategy the Time Pressure comes from playing the ball very close to the end of the table rather than the more normally expected one step back position.

Because the Time Pressure player needs to borrow power, they generally do not attack first.  Using Early Power and attacking on 3rd or 4th ball can be an effective complimentary strategy to Time Pressure especially if the opponent tries to deal with the reduced time by taking some power off their serve return or their 3rd ball.

Pattern and Time Pressure are natural synergistic strategies.  If Time Pressure is the more dominant then there are more shots played over the table and the ball movement pattern tends to be repeated shots to one location followed by a surprise location change.  If Pattern is more dominant there is more shot to shot ball movement and the ball is more often played near the end of the table.  Time Pressure strategy can turn into an Attrition plus Time Pressure strategy if both players are good at dealing with each others shots.

The Early Power player using 4th and 5th ball kills after topspin shots is vulnerable to Time Pressure since the topspin setup shot (2nd or 3rd ball) can be returned very quickly.  Using an underspin 2nd ball or 3rd ball as the setup can negate lots of the time pressure on your attacking shot.  And using 2nd or 3rd ball kills gets your attack in before  Time Pressure can be applied.  The Pattern player is probably the most vulnerable to Time Pressure.  In addition to having less time in which to execute precise placements, the over the table blocks negate the effects of their wide placements (their primary finishing shot).  The compact strokes ( mostly blocks) of the Time Pressure player are also less vulnerable to the transition pressure of the Pattern strategy.  To win the Pattern player has to find a pattern that the particular Time Pressure player finds difficult to deal with.  Since the Time Pressure player is not attacking with power, sometimes a non standard pattern going into the Fh power zone will work.  Attrition or Late Power from mid or far distance force the Time Pressure player to play a different strategy.  A close distance Late Power strategy based on pushing and then pick hitting can be effective if the Time Pressure player can not open strongly.  Of course if the Time Pressure player is using topspin serves, this would only work when the Late Power player was serving unless he is able to use a chop serve return.

The ability to play returns right off the bounce ( even playing shorter balls over the table) is the key factor in making the Time Pressure strategy work.  To do so you need compact strokes and good in/out footwork to get in over the table on short balls and still get back for deep attacks.  As such the Time Pressure player needs to practice against strong deep attacks and needs to use drills with different length returns to practice this in/out play.  When playing players who can effectively retreat to mid and far distance, the Time Pressure player needs another strategy.  Since they normally would have good blocks, they can develop a close distance Late Power strategy using deep blocks to control their opponent, short blocks to bring them in closer, and a punch block or fast counterhit as a finisher once they are in closer behind a weak return.  

Time Pressure is a specialized, close distance strategy, used against other close distance players, particularly Early Power and Pattern Players.  The Time Pressure player needs to develop an alternative strategy for dealing with mid and far distance players since Time Pressure is not very effectice against those players.  Close distance Late Power based on control blocking is the closest fit to what they do in the Time Pressure strategy.

Mark


Posted By: APW46
Date Posted: 08/21/2019 at 4:45am
'Time pressure' works in every strategy, the player who has more time than his opponent in every aspect of the game is putting pressure on his opponent to play strokes, think, and apply a strategy or tactic of his own. The player with superior time of his own is normally the better player. Trying to squeeze your opponent for time, if you actually do not have the ability means that you lose because you are largely predetermining what you are doing. Peripheral vision and reading your opponent is the key.

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The Older I get, The better I was.


Posted By: mjamja
Date Posted: 08/21/2019 at 1:56pm
Originally posted by APW46 APW46 wrote:

'Time pressure' works in every strategy, the player who has more time than his opponent in every aspect of the game is putting pressure on his opponent to play strokes, think, and apply a strategy or tactic of his own. The player with superior time of his own is normally the better player. Trying to squeeze your opponent for time, if you actually do not have the ability means that you lose because you are largely predetermining what you are doing. Peripheral vision and reading your opponent is the key.

I would disagree in the case of lobbers, fishers, choppers, and modern defenders.  To me it seems these players are willing to voluntarily give their opponents more time in order to get more time themselves.

Maybe "Time Pressure" was a poor name choice.  I have repeatedly run into a class of player who contacts the ball very early off the bounce and makes me feel like I just do not have time to execute my normal shots even though the ball speed seems slow compared to loopers that do not make me feel pressured for time.  I was looking for a strategy name to identify what this group of players does that seems to be distinctly different from other players.

Mark


Posted By: APW46
Date Posted: 08/22/2019 at 2:07am
Originally posted by mjamja mjamja wrote:

Originally posted by APW46 APW46 wrote:

'Time pressure' works in every strategy, the player who has more time than his opponent in every aspect of the game is putting pressure on his opponent to play strokes, think, and apply a strategy or tactic of his own. The player with superior time of his own is normally the better player. Trying to squeeze your opponent for time, if you actually do not have the ability means that you lose because you are largely predetermining what you are doing. Peripheral vision and reading your opponent is the key.

I would disagree in the case of lobbers, fishers, choppers, and modern defenders.  To me it seems these players are willing to voluntarily give their opponents more time in order to get more time themselves.

Maybe "Time Pressure" was a poor name choice.  I have repeatedly run into a class of player who contacts the ball very early off the bounce and makes me feel like I just do not have time to execute my normal shots even though the ball speed seems slow compared to loopers that do not make me feel pressured for time.  I was looking for a strategy name to identify what this group of players does that seems to be distinctly different from other players.

Mark
I understand what you are categorizing. I tend to see time from a players point of view as something they possess, and that does include lobbers, fishers and defenders. For example, a player who is way off the table and spots a drop shot before his opponent has executed it, has more time, than another player in the same position who does not. the best way to buy time in TT is to teach yourself to look straight at your opponents bat  as soon as you have played your stroke, then pick the ball up from his bat incoming. 


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The Older I get, The better I was.


Posted By: Fulanodetal
Date Posted: 08/22/2019 at 2:02pm
"I understand what you are categorizing. I tend to see time from a players point of view as something they possess, and that does include lobbers, fishers and defenders. For example, a player who is way off the table and spots a drop shot before his opponent has executed it, has more time, than another player in the same position who does not. the best way to buy time in TT is to teach yourself to look straight at your opponents bat  as soon as you have played your stroke, then pick the ball up from his bat incoming."

I don't think you fully understand mjamja's point. It is not about just Time or having time as you put it. It is about putting "Time Pressure" on your opponent. That's why defenders strategy is about outlasting the opponent (attrition) not about applying time pressure.

FdT


Posted By: Baal
Date Posted: 08/22/2019 at 3:35pm
Originally posted by Fulanodetal Fulanodetal wrote:

"I understand what you are categorizing. I tend to see time from a players point of view as something they possess, and that does include lobbers, fishers and defenders. For example, a player who is way off the table and spots a drop shot before his opponent has executed it, has more time, than another player in the same position who does not. the best way to buy time in TT is to teach yourself to look straight at your opponents bat  as soon as you have played your stroke, then pick the ball up from his bat incoming."

I don't think you fully understand mjamja's point. It is not about just Time or having time as you put it. It is about putting "Time Pressure" on your opponent. That's why defenders strategy is about outlasting the opponent (attrition) not about applying time pressure.

FdT


One follows from the other though.


Posted By: blahness
Date Posted: 08/22/2019 at 8:20pm
Originally posted by Fulanodetal Fulanodetal wrote:

"I understand what you are categorizing. I tend to see time from a players point of view as something they possess, and that does include lobbers, fishers and defenders. For example, a player who is way off the table and spots a drop shot before his opponent has executed it, has more time, than another player in the same position who does not. the best way to buy time in TT is to teach yourself to look straight at your opponents bat  as soon as you have played your stroke, then pick the ball up from his bat incoming."

I don't think you fully understand mjamja's point. It is not about just Time or having time as you put it. It is about putting "Time Pressure" on your opponent. That's why defenders strategy is about outlasting the opponent (attrition) not about applying time pressure.

FdT

No surprises that real life coaches hate anyone providing good advice online :) 


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Tacky rubber lover :)

Stiga Clipper CR

FH: Hurricane 8
BH: Hurricane 3-50


Posted By: APW46
Date Posted: 08/23/2019 at 2:12am
Originally posted by blahness blahness wrote:

Originally posted by Fulanodetal Fulanodetal wrote:

"I understand what you are categorizing. I tend to see time from a players point of view as something they possess, and that does include lobbers, fishers and defenders. For example, a player who is way off the table and spots a drop shot before his opponent has executed it, has more time, than another player in the same position who does not. the best way to buy time in TT is to teach yourself to look straight at your opponents bat  as soon as you have played your stroke, then pick the ball up from his bat incoming."

I don't think you fully understand mjamja's point. It is not about just Time or having time as you put it. It is about putting "Time Pressure" on your opponent. That's why defenders strategy is about outlasting the opponent (attrition) not about applying time pressure.

FdT

No surprises that real life coaches hate anyone providing good advice online :) 
 I fully understand mjamja's point, his point is glaringly obvious, and what he is doing is categorizing aspects of the game into neat little boxes, very eloquently I must add.

 A player who's style falls into the 'time pressure' as he puts it category, also has less time himself and unless he understands how to 'buy time' is very limited potentially. 

Categorizing defenders as 'attrition' is also far too neat, the reality is that the best defenders hit at every opportunity to stop players getting into a pattern and if they are not hitting, they are not getting the opportunity. Attrition for defenders in its pure form went out in the 1950's.


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The Older I get, The better I was.


Posted By: Tassie52
Date Posted: 08/23/2019 at 8:33am
Thanks, Mark, for continuing to expand your series.  Personally, I'm finding your observations and explanations both interesting and useful.

I've just spent the last thirteen weeks playing in a team where our number 2 is the archetypical "Time pressure" player.  He's an accomplished sports-person quite new to table tennis, so is relying on keen hand-eye coordination and sharp reflexes.  In the space of less than twelve months, he's graduated to beating players with years more experience and table tennis education.  He consistently takes the ball off the bounce, primarily using a backhand block played with a side swiping motion.  On the forehand he does something similar.  He rarely attempts to win using "early power" or "late power" techniques.  By constantly pressuring his opponents he forces them out of position and into mistakes.

In our division, there are a couple of other "time pressure" players, mainly relying on a strong forehand block.  Both are quite successful number 1s for their teams, winning because they stop their opponents (meaning me) from developing winning patterns and strategies.  Everything you've argued - both pros and cons of this strategy - is spot on.


Posted By: benfb
Date Posted: 08/25/2019 at 10:18pm
Originally posted by APW46 APW46 wrote:

Categorizing defenders as 'attrition' is also far too neat, the reality is that the best defenders hit at every opportunity to stop players getting into a pattern and if they are not hitting, they are not getting the opportunity. Attrition for defenders in its pure form went out in the 1950's.
Perhaps you were overstating yourself to make a stronger point, but I would call this very wrong.

Classic choppers are almost purely attrition players.  They are waiting for a mistake. The mistake can either be a true failure (such as not landing on the table) or a weak shot which is punished.  However, even with "punishment", the game for class chopper is still about attrition.

Clearly, the debut of Joo Se Hyuk and his "modern defender" style changed that paradigm, by choosing a mix of attrition and attack, but there are still fairly few attackers that really have mastered modern defender the way he did.  Most of the male choppers I see now are more aggressive than the choppers of the 1990s (not the 1950s!), but I would still say that attrition is an important part of their game.  And this becomes even more so if you're looking at amateurs rather than professionals.

I suppose "defenders" could also refer to pushblockers, but that is also very much a style of attrition.



Posted By: APW46
Date Posted: 08/26/2019 at 2:49am
I think there is different interperetations of attrition and how it relates to TT, which is why I'm not keen on the terminology. I'm a two wing topspin looper, and I've always used 'attrition' as a tactic against defenders and pushblockers by essentially reading spin reducing risk. Changing terminology changes  nothing in reality. 

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The Older I get, The better I was.


Posted By: maar
Date Posted: 09/20/2019 at 6:16pm
Thank you mjamja, it is a great thread! I find the concepts very well explained and informative. Obviously this way of thinking about TT is not for everyone but for analytical person like me is a long-awaited gift! 


Posted By: mjamja
Date Posted: 09/20/2019 at 6:19pm
Sorry.  Have been slow to finish up the Strategies.  I almost have Timing Disruption finished.  It was longer than others since there are 2 forms that are total different..



Posted By: mjamja
Date Posted: 09/20/2019 at 8:19pm
Timing Disruption

Timing Disruption is a strategy which changes the ball speed or point of contact such that there is a significant difference in the time between your contact and opponent's contact on successive balls.  This difference in timing can result in errors by your opponent.

Timing Disruption can be classified into 2 general types:
1. Normally slow with surprise fast
2. Normally fast with surprise slow

The "surprise fast" version is most often used by mid and far distance players.  The "surprise slow" is used most often by close distance players.  Since the two versions are so different they will be discussed separately.

"Surprise Fast" Timing Disruption:

This version of Timing Disruption is mostly used as a synergistic strategy with Attrition.
The keys for the mid and far distance Timing Disruption player are judgement and "in-out" footwork after hitting the fast shot. 

The mid and far distance Timing Disruption player has to make two critical judgements.  The first is when to use the "fast" shot and the second is whether to follow up the fast shot with an attack or to simply reset the point with a controlling shot.  A critical element to the second judgement is "in-out" footwork.  At those distances the fast shot is not usually a winner.  Instead it usually produces a weaker return from a block.  The Timing Disruption player can not attack the short, weak return if they do not move in well. They are also vulnerable to a strong attack if they move in, use a controlling shot, and do not move out well.  Since there is some safety in retreating to distance, the mid/far distance Timing Disruption player can choose to play more of an Attrition oriented strategy.  In that case they only attack after the "fast" shot when they get a very weak ball and are in perfect position to attack.

Both the judgement and footwork elements need to be practiced in drills.  Drilling the footwork is pretty obvious.  Drilling the judgement is harder.  Every time you miss a "fast" shot or a follow up attack stop and think for a second about whether or not that was really the time to take the shot.  Also (often with feedback from partner) try to recognize when you passed up an easy opportunity for a "fast" shot or a follow up attack.  Train both the body and mind in the drills.

The counter weapon to this kind of Timing Disruption is awareness.  If you just go on auto pilotexpecting a slow return you will be in trouble.  As soon as you hit the ball, focus on your opponent and look for signs in their backswings that they are going to go for the "fast" ball.  It is also important to make sure you do not stay too close to the table after hitting a short ball.  This is especially problematic against choppers.  Against LP players the ability to block the "fast" shot to the LP side can reduce the number of follow up attacks since most are less effective attacking blocks with their LP side.

As noted earlier, Timing Disruption by a mid/far distance player is usually a synergistic strategy used with a primary Attrition strategy.  The frequency of its use is largely dependent on how aggressively the opponent attacks the "slow" shots and how well they deal with the "fast" balls.  There is no complimentary strategy for Timing Disruption.

"Surprise Slow" Timing Disruption:

This version of Timing Diruption is normally played from close to the table.  Unlike the mid/far versions it is played more as an independent strategy and works very similar to the Late Power strategy.  It is normally played with blocking and counter hitting strokes.  Some LP/Anti players can play it with looping strokes on Fh and blocks on the Bh.

The key elements of close distance Timing Disruption  are excellent controlling shots which limit the opponents attacks so that you can stay in the point long enough to use Timing Disruption and short, low touch blocks which are difficult to attack.  Since the play is close to the table, the Timing Disruption player is vulnerable to Early Power attacks.  A good fast push return is very useful against the Early Power player since it starts the "fast" pace early and at the same time limits the strength of the attack.  Likewise a fast off the bounce block return of topspin serves serves the same purpose.  Being able to keep the controlling shots to the elbow or at wide angles is critical since it is so difficult to deal with full power shots from close to the table.  The "slow" disruption shot needs to be short (double bounce or just long) and low in order to keep it from being killed.  Sometimes an opponent misses an easy shot just because of the pace change, but you can not count on that to win an entire match.  

An overlooked need for the close distance Timing Disruption player is an aggressive follow up shot after the "slow" disruption shot.  If there is no fear of attack, the opponent knows he can simply play a weak "reset" push or flip against the disruption shot and be ready to launch a strong attack on the next ball.  The close distance Timing Disruption player is likely not a strong looper, but if they flat hit well they can use that to punish those weak reset pushes or flips.  They can even attack with fast deep pushes.  Once the opponent feels pressured to make a strong shot against the "slow" ball they will make a lot more mistakes.

The key to playing against the close distance Timing Disruption player is self control.  Many of their "slow" shots look to be easily attackable.  However, they tend to give you these "slow" balls when they have you slightly off balance and thus you have difficulty setting up for the kill.  If you move to kill one of these slow balls and feel off balance use your self control to forego the kill and hit a point resetting control shot instead.  Hit the least difficult shot you can execute without having the next shot killed past you.  Deep heavy spin pushes to the weaker attacking wing, dead pushes to the LP wing, and flips to the elbow can be effective.  Make the Timing Disruption player prove he can hit winners off of simple control shots before you resort to being very aggressive against the "slow" ball.

Pattern and Time Pressure can be effective synergistic strategies to use with Timing Disruption.  Pattern play can aid in getting the opponent off balance before the disruption shot thus making it even harder to deal with.  Time Pressure play can win points even before using the "slow" disruption shot and it enhances the difference between the "fast" and "slow" balls.

Early Power play can be an effective complimentary strategy since the opponent is not expecting the Timing Disruption player to attack first.  Watch for any pattern of weaker returns or 3rd balls which would allow you to comitt to a 3rd or 4th ball attack on a few points.   A 3rd ball attack behind a surprise fast, long serve can also be used occasionally.  Even if not successful, such attacks put pressure on your opponent to try more difficult returns and 3rd ball openings.

Timing Disruption can be used from mid/far distance (usually in combination with a primary Attrition strategy) or from close distance where it is used similarly to Late Power (but more Late Lack of Power in this case).  At mid/far distance, judgement of what shot to take when is crucial.  At close distance shot execution of both the faster control shots and the "slow" disruption shot is critical.

Mark




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