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Style, Strategy, and Tactics

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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.


Edited by mjamja - 08/01/2019 at 3:02am
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote acpoulos Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08/01/2019 at 12:19pm
K.I.S.S. Principle
Tony
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote mjamja Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post 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.

 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Slowhand Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08/01/2019 at 4:45pm
Great stuff! Looking forward to the next installment.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote mjamja Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post 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.  

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote stiltt Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post 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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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote BRS Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post 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.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote mjamja Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post 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.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote BRS Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post 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. 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote BRS Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post 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.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote mjamja Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post 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


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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote stiltt Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post 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 "dance with the ball". 

Thanks for the insight.


Edited by stiltt - 08/12/2019 at 4:20pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote cole_ely Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post 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
W1 St with Illumina 1.9r, defender1.7b

Please let me know if I can be of assistance.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote APW46 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post 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.


Edited by APW46 - 08/13/2019 at 2:45am
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote mjamja Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post 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
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote APW46 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post 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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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote BRS Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post 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?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote benfb Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post 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.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote APW46 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post 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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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Baal Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post 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.

Edited by Baal - 08/14/2019 at 5:48pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote APW46 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post 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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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Tassie52 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post 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!

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


Edited by YoAss - 08/15/2019 at 4:22am
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote APW46 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post 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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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote geardaddy Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post 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.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote mjamja Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post 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










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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote mjamja Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post 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.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote APW46 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08/18/2019 at 2:05am
in my world, this is called counter hitting.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote mjamja Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post 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

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


Edited by Fulanodetal - 08/18/2019 at 1:42pm
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