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Knowing, Predicting, and Anticipating

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mjamja View Drop Down
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    Posted: 08/10/2019 at 3:58pm
For the purpose of this discission a couple of definitions.

Knowing - Having certainty that something is true as long as the laws of physics and mathematics are still true.

Predicting - Recognizing that there is a high probability that something is true based on observational data compiled by multiple people viewing a wide range of subjects.  Often a prediction will include terms such as "likely" or "usually".  For example "if xyz, then usually abc"  However, it is often repeated with an implied "usually" and mistakenly interpreted as knowlege rather than prediction.

Anticipating - Specialized predicting based on recent observations of one opponent.  There is body position reading and tendency reading.  Tendency reading is more accurate than general predicting since the observation data is recent and applies to a specific individual.  As the amount of observed data increases, and observed frequency of occurrence approaches 100%, it starts to become closer to knowing.  For example if you observe a player doing something 3 out of 4 observations then using that data is more of a prediction.  If you observe something 20 times in 20 observations then using it is anticipating (and likely approaching knowing).  If the person reading body position is very good at it and the person being read is not disguising his intent,  this kind of anticipation approaches the accuracy of knowing.

So what kinds of things can we know in TT.
1. Where you are going to try and hit the ball - Even before the point starts you can decide where you am going to try to hit the balls.  It can be a very simple plan such as "hit everything to the Bh" or "hit everything cross court".  It can use some option such as "hit to the Bh until opponent pivots and then go to their Fh".   The good part of deciding early is that you just play the ball without having to think about where to hit.  This gives you more time to react to opponent's shot and helps you focus on the ball.  The bad part is that because of the shot your opponent hit, where you decided to hit is no longer the optimal shot.  For lower rated players, I find the benefits outweigh the problems.  Better players overcome some of the problems by having instinctive options.  That is, even though they planned a given location they instinctively recognize when to select a different location because they have played out the scenario so many times before and recognize what is happening.  They recognize and change location without even thinking about it. In effect they have very complicated location plans with lots of options even though they are not consciously going through all those options before the point starts.

Note that you can know where you are going to "try" to hit but do not know where you "will" hit.  So you have to be prepared for any kind of return, even though you planned on getting a certain type of return by hitting to a certain location.  For example you try to hit the elbow and plan on killing the weak return.  Instead you hit to the Fh side of the elbow and they step around and kill.  If you committ too early to your kill you can not block theirs. Of course as you skill gets better the "try" and "will" locations start becoming the same more often

2. Center of angle of returns - When you hit to a location you can estimate the angles of his widest reasonable shots to each side.  You want to position your playing elbow near the center of the return angles so it is easy to get to balls hit on either of the extremes.  So if you hit to a different side of the table or hit extremely wide on the same side, you should move early (as part of your recovery) to a new more centered postion.

Note: You do not know where you opponent is going to hit.  You still have to be prepared for the ball to be returned anywhere within the angles of return.  If anticipation gives you additional information you might move slightly to one side of the center of angle (tendency of opponent) or make a 2nd adjustment move (reading the body position).

3. What kind of spin are you going to hit - This applies mostly to serve return and generally requires having selected options for different types of serves or shots.  For example you could decide before the serve to loop any long serves, push any short underspin or dead serves, and flip any topspin serves. Or you could change up and flip any short serve. If your opponent hates underspin you could even decide to push or chop back all serves.  You could decide to block the opening and then counter attack the next shot or decide to only block or to counterattack immediately.  Very experienced players can give themselves options based on the quality of the incoming shot.  This works if the options are selected instinctively.  But for most players, by the time you read the ball quality and decide whether you can switch to shot xyz it is already too late to execute the shot.

4. Mountain man has the best shadow strokes done under a giant redwood or in front of a live volcano.

What are some of the things we can predict and anticipate:
1. What kind of spin will the opponent hit - By watching opponents racket angle and backswing you should be able to anticipate the spin of their shot with a high degree of accuracy.  Just remember there are players who specialize in disgusing the type and amount of spin they are hitting.  If not playing a chopper, you can predict that your topspin shots will be returned with top.  With  better players you can predict that long underspin serves will be looped.  With lower rated players you can predict short underspin will be pushed.
.  
2. Where will your opponent return the ball - Anticipating based on that players well known tendencies and reading their body position before they hit can be very accurate.  Predicting based on where you hit can be useful.  Most wide balls are returned cross court.  Most high quality balls (speed, spin, placement) are returned cross court.  High quality wide balls are almost always returned cross court.  Sidespin balls are likely to be returned in the direction the sidespin jumps off the racket.

3. Mjamja will be right with his TT advice 50% of the time.

Anticipating based on strong tendencies or very good body position reading is obviously useful.  But if you can not really rely on predictions why even bother with them.  Predictions are very important in selecting tactics and in allocating practice time.  For example if you have a great Bh opening you would predict getting to use it more if you serve Fh pendulum side under ti opponent's Bh.  So plan your tactics and practice with an emphsis on that serve.  Likewise if are a counter hitter or blocker who wants to hit against topspin, then you would predict getting more topspin back from topspin serves and from half long serves of various spins.  If you have a very good Bh down the line, prediction suggests using tactics based on hitting wide to Bh and following with your Bh down the line.  If your Bh is weak working tactics with more balls hit to opponent's Fh should get more balls to your Fh and less to your Bh.

In summary, take early action based on what you can know.  Take additional actions based on what you can anticipate but be aware opponent can change tendencies or disguise body position during match and you may need adapt.  Do not use predictions as the basis for actions during a point.  Use predictions to select your best tactics and allocate you practice time to emphaize the shots in those tactics.

Mark - Predicting getting flamed for the nonsense in this post.  Anticipating a snarky remark from Vanjr
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BRS View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote BRS Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08/10/2019 at 7:30pm
What a good post.

So on the strengths and weaknesses, allocating practice time, the gameplan sort of stuff -- what is your mountain man game plan?  
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote APW46 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08/12/2019 at 6:59am
Originally posted by mjamja mjamja wrote:

    Better players overcome some of the problems by having instinctive options.  That is, even though they planned a given location they instinctively recognize when to select a different location because they have played out the scenario so many times before and recognize what is happening.  They recognize and change location without even thinking about it. In effect they have very complicated location plans with lots of options even though they are not consciously going through all those options before the point starts.

 it is not instinct, its general awareness and use of peripheral vision.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Baal Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08/12/2019 at 12:18pm
Let me second the peripheral vision part of APW's answer.  Good players aren't using The Force.  They are reacting to stuff they see, and of course they also have a lot of experience that makes reactions to these cues really fast. 

Different players have different tendencies.  For example one guy may have an uncanny ability to loop forehands down the line for example, even if they seem off balance, but good players can always see the cues in body position that more or less predict when that's going to happen.

You can actually train yourself to use peripheral vision in between shots -- by being aware that it is a thing you can 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 1:08pm
Instinctive may have been the wrong word.  I was referring to the ability to see what was happening, some of it with regular vision and the more last second changes based on peripheral vision, and taking action without a conscious analysis going on.  For better players it seems to be "see-react".  For lower rated players it seems to be "see-think about it-oops to late".  In my case I find myself doing both of these.  I am working on getting better at "see-react".  

What you see with your peripheral vision is knowledge.  If you see your opponent out of position and use that to change where you hit the next shot you do so knowing.  That is certainly a good thing to be able to do.  My point was that for many low level players they do better just hitting it where they planned than trying to change.  Over time and with practice than will play better by reacting to what they see with changes to their plan.

Mark


Edited by mjamja - 08/12/2019 at 1:32pm
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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 1:28pm
I wonder if always following a plan will hinder players from developing the skills needed to play freely?
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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 2:02pm
Originally posted by BRS BRS wrote:

I wonder if always following a plan will hinder players from developing the skills needed to play freely?

I think it would hinder them if the plans stayed to simple and fixed.  As their strokes and abilities to adjust become more automatic the plans should be come more complicated with options based on what they see.

For example consider a plan progression.
1. Hit to elbow, hit to Bh,  hit to Fh
2. Hit to elbow, hit Bh to Bh or Fh to wide Fh, hit to opposite corner.
3. Hit to elbow
    If opponent hits to your Fh, hit to wide Fh else
    If opponent hits with Fh hit to Fh, hit to Bh, hit to Fh
    If opponent hits with Bh hit to Bh, hit to Fh, hit to Bh

4. Hit to elbow
     If opponent hits with Fh and stays in Bh corner
     then hit to Fh, ...
   
      If opponent hits with Fh and recovers to mid table,
      then hit to Bh, ...

Some players will never get good enough to even do #1 right most of the time. Imagine trying to get them to play #4 in matches.

Mark
    
    
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Baal Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08/12/2019 at 7:45pm
Plans go out the window the first time you get hit in the face.  Mike Tyson.

It's true in TT too. 


Edited by Baal - 08/14/2019 at 5:50pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote purpletiesto Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08/12/2019 at 8:47pm
Originally posted by mjamja mjamja wrote:

Knowing - Having certainty that something is true as long as the laws of physics and mathematics are still true.

The only thing that is certain is that certainty is probabilistic and not certain at all. The mathematics and physics both prove this.


Edited by purpletiesto - 08/12/2019 at 8:48pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Slowhand Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08/12/2019 at 9:25pm
Originally posted by purpletiesto purpletiesto wrote:

Originally posted by mjamja mjamja wrote:

Knowing - Having certainty that something is true as long as the laws of physics and mathematics are still true.

The only thing that is certain is that certainty is probabilistic and not certain at all. The mathematics and physics both prove this.
Then how can you be certain of that?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote ZhouZhekai Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08/12/2019 at 11:24pm
I think i agree. Aside from serving/3rd ball attack plan, and practiced combinations, everything else happens intuitively, including reacting to the opponents shot/weakness. Thinking about it during the rally has never worked for me atleast. 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote blahness Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08/16/2019 at 12:43am
Originally posted by ZhouZhekai ZhouZhekai wrote:

I think i agree. Aside from serving/3rd ball attack plan, and practiced combinations, everything else happens intuitively, including reacting to the opponents shot/weakness. Thinking about it during the rally has never worked for me atleast. 

I think Mark is indeed talking about the serving/receiving/3rd ball attack plan.....
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Charlie Brown Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08/16/2019 at 10:59pm
Muscle memory including the muscle between your ears helps, that's why drills are necessary 🤪
*sigh*
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote mjamja Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08/17/2019 at 12:00am
Originally posted by ZhouZhekai ZhouZhekai wrote:

I think i agree. Aside from serving/3rd ball attack plan, and practiced combinations, everything else happens intuitively, including reacting to the opponents shot/weakness. Thinking about it during the rally has never worked for me atleast. 

If you have not decided before the point starts where you are going to hit your shots, then you must be thinking about it during the rally.  If you are highly experienced that thought process (deciding where to hit) may happen very quickly almost on a subconscious level and not interfere with executing the stroke and let you play to the optimal location.  If you are not experienced, then trying to decide after the rally starts can interfere with your ability to execute the shot.  Many less experienced players will win more points just hitting to pre-determined locations than trying to figure out optimal locations during the rally.  As they gain more experience pre-determined options can get them hitting to the optimal location more often without deciding during the point.  As they get even more experienced they can use more options in a rally.  Eventually they reach the point where they know and have played all the possible options and can just play the point without any predetermined locations due to their ability to read and react so quickly to "what the ball is telling them".
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Baal Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08/17/2019 at 3:21pm
Originally posted by Charlie Brown Charlie Brown wrote:

Muscle memory including the muscle between your ears helps, that's why drills are necessary 🤪

This.
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