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Style, Strategy, and Tactics

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mjamja View Drop Down
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    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
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Tt Gold Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post 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.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Slowhand Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post 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.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote mjamja Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post 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
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote blahness Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07/19/2019 at 2:28am
Sounds interesting, keep it coming!
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Tacky rubber lover :)

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FH: Hurricane 8
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote mjamja Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post 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
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote mjamja Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post 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.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote benfb Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07/19/2019 at 9:01pm
I feel a book coming on.  Larry Hodges, move over.Big smile
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Tt Gold Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post 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)
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote mjamja Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post 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
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote vanjr Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07/20/2019 at 10:33am
I have never seen Donn Olsen and Mjamja in the same room together...
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote mjamja Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post 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
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote mjamja Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post 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



Edited by mjamja - 07/24/2019 at 8:30pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Tassie52 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post 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"?

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote mjamja Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post 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.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Tassie52 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07/24/2019 at 10:30pm
Okay, I'm 4.2.2.  Now what?

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote benfb Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post 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?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Tassie52 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post 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?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote mjamja Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post 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.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote mjamja Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post 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





Edited by mjamja - 07/25/2019 at 2:55am
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Tassie52 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post 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
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote benfb Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post 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?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote blahness Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post 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?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote mjamja Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post 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.




Edited by mjamja - 07/26/2019 at 4:03am
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote blahness Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post 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?


Edited by blahness - 07/26/2019 at 4:29am
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote mjamja Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post 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.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote mjamja Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post 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








Edited by mjamja - 07/26/2019 at 6:01pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Fulanodetal Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post 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!

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote blahness Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post 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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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote blahness Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post 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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