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Advantages of close to the table

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    Posted: 01/10/2020 at 9:08pm
One of the biggest advantages of a close to the table style of play is that you can put a lot of pressure on your opponent with placement and blocks. 

As you can see in this video, the common factor is staying very close to the table while pressuring his opponents to back away. 

A very effective style.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote obesechopper Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01/10/2020 at 9:31pm
One thing I notice about most highlight videos -- the person doing the 'cool' stuff is usually losing on the scoreboards LOL

As for the close to the table style, works well. Angles, easier to change pace, dropshots, and timing shifts. Certainly for amateur level it's doable against virtually any player.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote stiltt Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01/11/2020 at 12:25am
The advantage of staying close to the table is to control the rally. Close to the table is the goal, we get as close as we can stay in the rally and step back if we can't.




Edited by stiltt - 01/11/2020 at 1:36pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote qpskfec Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01/11/2020 at 12:56am
1-2 min highlight videos are not that interesting. Most of the opponents in the video are older, slower people.

If I wanted to study close to the table play of current players, I would watch CNT women like LSW and SYS. Next would be Mima Ito. An all time great would be Zhang Yining.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (2) Thanks(2)   Quote obesechopper Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01/11/2020 at 1:25am
Originally posted by qpskfec qpskfec wrote:

1-2 min highlight videos are not that interesting. Most of the opponents in the video are older, slower people.

If I wanted to study close to the table play of current players, I would watch CNT women like LSW and SYS. Next would be Mima Ito. An all time great would be Zhang Yining.

Because you've got more in common with someone who's been trained many hours per day (by top level coaches) since the age of 5? LOLLOL

Ever since I've started focusing on learning from amateur players at the ranks I hope to reach, my game has improved much more rather than trying to be ma long!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote blahness Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01/11/2020 at 3:41am
Everyone wants to stay close to the table, except they can't because they're late to an incoming ball which takes them by surprise or is of too high quality, then they take the ball late which opens up other areas of the table to be exploited by the opponent. 


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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote wturber Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01/11/2020 at 1:30pm
Originally posted by blahness blahness wrote:

Everyone wants to stay close to the table, except they can't because they're late to an incoming ball which takes them by surprise or is of too high quality, then they take the ball late which opens up other areas of the table to be exploited by the opponent. 


Yes.  I'm working on backing up a bit more since I tend to stay too close.  The fundamental problem with playing close is reaction time.  There are simply human limits to how fast you can react and relying on anticipation is a risky gamble.  This is why you typically see high level players increasing their distance from the table as the point progresses and one player or the other gains an advantage.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote vik2000 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01/11/2020 at 4:10pm
Instead of thinking about close to the table advantage, most people need to learn to back up a bit more as generally people just stay close out of laziness. 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote serr Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01/11/2020 at 4:52pm
I feel like in a rally the topspinner usually has an advatange over the blocker. Especially if the attacker hits with controlled 80% of power. Then the blocker has a hard time to move him out of position and will eventually make an error due to spin variation. Just my observation on the amateur level.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Simas Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01/11/2020 at 6:03pm
you cant get any closer then that https://www.instagram.com/p/B4Z2losnYKx/ LOL
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote pingpungpeng Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01/11/2020 at 6:22pm
waldner played like this.
he was a blocker/counter attacker.

ma long also has a lot of this style.

problem is if the attacker is consistent enough he can be the winner.




Edited by pingpungpeng - 01/11/2020 at 6:49pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote mjamja Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01/11/2020 at 6:39pm
Originally posted by serr serr wrote:

I feel like in a rally the topspinner usually has an advatange over the blocker. Especially if the attacker hits with controlled 80% of power. Then the blocker has a hard time to move him out of position and will eventually make an error due to spin variation. Just my observation on the amateur level.

I think a lot depends on the footwork (especially the crossover step) of the looper.  If you look at the video he won a lot of points with a  ball to the elbow followed by a block to the Fh.  Either the looper failed to get to the Fh (poor recovery from stepping around their elbow) or was so wide after hitting the Fh (no crossover step footwork)  that he could finish the point with an easy block.

A looper with a really good crossover step can really punish a blocker who tries to go down the line with the block.  Without the crossover the looper is a sitting duck for the down the line block.  At the 1800 to 1900 level I make my living this way until I met up with 12 yr old with a crossover and then I am toast.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote vanjr Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01/12/2020 at 5:48pm
Originally posted by wturber wturber wrote:

Originally posted by blahness blahness wrote:

Everyone wants to stay close to the table, except they can't because they're late to an incoming ball which takes them by surprise or is of too high quality, then they take the ball late which opens up other areas of the table to be exploited by the opponent. 


Yes.  I'm working on backing up a bit more since I tend to stay too close.  The fundamental problem with playing close is reaction time.  There are simply human limits to how fast you can react and relying on anticipation is a risky gamble.  This is why you typically see high level players increasing their distance from the table as the point progresses and one player or the other gains an advantage.

 Unless a hard batter is a chopper I do not see how they can do anything BUT stay close.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote blahness Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01/12/2020 at 6:00pm
Originally posted by mjamja mjamja wrote:

Originally posted by serr serr wrote:

I feel like in a rally the topspinner usually has an advatange over the blocker. Especially if the attacker hits with controlled 80% of power. Then the blocker has a hard time to move him out of position and will eventually make an error due to spin variation. Just my observation on the amateur level.

I think a lot depends on the footwork (especially the crossover step) of the looper.  If you look at the video he won a lot of points with a  ball to the elbow followed by a block to the Fh.  Either the looper failed to get to the Fh (poor recovery from stepping around their elbow) or was so wide after hitting the Fh (no crossover step footwork)  that he could finish the point with an easy block.

A looper with a really good crossover step can really punish a blocker who tries to go down the line with the block.  Without the crossover the looper is a sitting duck for the down the line block.  At the 1800 to 1900 level I make my living this way until I met up with 12 yr old with a crossover and then I am toast.

Mark 

Good reminder to work on the crossover step LOL
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote doraemon Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01/12/2020 at 6:08pm
Ever since I picked up TT early in my teen, I was always told to stay close to the table.  Only backing down when you are pressured and can't hold your position close to the table anymore.

The reason is simple.  When you are close to the table, the area that you have to cover is smaller compared to when you stand several feets back from the table.  Thus makes you more effective, especially if you are slow on your foot (like me, LOL).


Edited by doraemon - 01/12/2020 at 6:08pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Baal Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01/12/2020 at 8:24pm
Also if you are tall, then close to the table is not as close as for a shorter player.  You need enough space for a full stroke.  At a point I had it in my head that closer would be better and a coach pointed out that it was really weakening my opening shots.

And reaction time limits were already mentioned.  

This is one of those things where videoing yourself can help a lot.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote mickd Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01/12/2020 at 8:42pm
Faster timing puts lots of pressure on the opponent. Less area to cover and easier to reach wide balls.

I wish I moved well enough to play an aggressive game close to the table. All my students are taught to stay close and they're nearly always better than the student who backs off.

Also for kids, they lack the power needed to play away from the table.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote wturber Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01/12/2020 at 10:04pm
Originally posted by vanjr vanjr wrote:


 Unless a hard batter is a chopper I do not see how they can do anything BUT stay close.

It is just a matter of degree.  Even shifting less than a foot can make a real difference.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote wturber Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01/12/2020 at 11:20pm
Originally posted by Baal Baal wrote:

And reaction time limits were already mentioned.  


A while back I spent a lot of time single-framing table tennis rallies and estimating time between contacts. What I found is that high level players did a really good job of managing the time interval between contacts.  They were very good at keeping it at around 0.5 seconds or more.  When I looked at my own play, I often stayed close enough that I had well less than this 0.5 seconds.  

It is no surprise that this is very close to the general threshold to read and react to sports activities.  For instance the time it takes for a baseball fastball to go from the pitchers hand to crossing home plate is a bit less than 0.5 seconds. Of course you can react faster.  I've recorded myself reacting in less than 0.3 seconds.   But the chance for error goes way up.

https://www.npr.org/2016/09/03/492516937/how-a-baseball-batters-brain-reacts-to-a-fast-pitch

One of the reasons I started working on chopping was that I realized that I needed an option for when  players gained the upper hand and were able to open up strongly. Close table blocking with hardbat has its limits. Though you can manage to stay closer if you can get your opponent to move back further or if he volunteers to do so.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Baal Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01/14/2020 at 8:23am
It's actually really interesting and quite insightful that you measured that.  We now know that 500 ms is the optimum.  So the question becomes how to make sure you always have that much time.  Distance from table is definitely one of those things.

Eric Owens used to emphasize a lot in his coaching the use of peripheral vision to keep an eye on opponents between shots to see early where their ball is going, often before they even make contact.  It puts less pressure on reaction time (which now you have actually measured).  It seems like a really advanced technique but once you work on it for awhile it is surprising how quickly one can improve this.  

He was also the person who told me that if I moved about 8 inches further back my third balls would be a lot stronger.  So there is an optimum distance but it depends on quite a few factors, obviously including what you play with and your overall tactical approach, how long your arms are, etc..


Edited by Baal - 01/14/2020 at 8:25am
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote wturber Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01/14/2020 at 11:01pm
Originally posted by Baal Baal wrote:

It's actually really interesting and quite insightful that you measured that.  We now know that 500 ms is the optimum.  So the question becomes how to make sure you always have that much time.  Distance from table is definitely one of those things.

I think most high level players figure it out from trial and error and just playing a gazillion points.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Clarence247 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01/14/2020 at 11:27pm
My thoughts on the subject, based on what my first professional coach showed me (VERY strong Chinese player from Guangzhou). I had other European coaches telling me different things but I was never convinced.

1) Optimal distance to aim for is an arm's length away from the table so that:
a) when you power loop, rotating from the hip your right leg moves and has just enough space to come right at the table , at which point u return to the original position and quick attack on the return ball if there is one.
b) if you do an opening loop (spinny and slower, more upward motion vs heavy backspin) you maintain the distance and wait until you get the power loop to move a bit forward
c) any short returns are easy to step in and flick, or touch very short in return.

2) If you keep closer, you can control the ball direction and push the player who backed off wider and wider until he will have to assume the defensive - even if he is counter-looping. You can change direction of the ball at any moment, it is easier to place and the opponent has to scramble from side to side.

3) you are able to use much more variation, a short touch, a flat counter (a la Harimoto), a punch block, as well as loops.

4) If you are using hard chinese rubber, from this position your stroke can (and should) be shorter than from a further distance, which gives you enough time to execute it well and keep the opponent under pressure.

5) Blades which are too flexi, and rubbers which are too soft, do not suit this game and therefore not suitable for this strategy. 

6) keeping closer improves footwork, and training this way day by day gives you very powerful legs.

7) Although keeping close is desirable , it is not always possible and backing away in a loop rally is possible and forced at some point, one must not be too stubborn on the strategy but if you are at mid distance it is better to attempt to get closer rather than back off further. 


 



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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote acpoulos Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01/16/2020 at 10:57am
Yes, stay close, take control of the table, and inflict a fatal case of "backupitis" on your opponent. My coach, former world #4, would often stop me in the middle of a rally, and say "Tony, look where you are!" and point out how I subconsciously had retreated further behind the table to be more comfortable...
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote cole_ely Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01/16/2020 at 1:36pm
Seems like there was a player named Apichart Sears who wanted to play back so bad he would serve from a distance.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Baal Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01/16/2020 at 3:33pm
Originally posted by Clarence247 Clarence247 wrote:

My thoughts on the subject, based on what my first professional coach showed me (VERY strong Chinese player from Guangzhou). I had other European coaches telling me different things but I was never convinced.

1) Optimal distance to aim for is an arm's length away from the table so that:
a) when you power loop, rotating from the hip your right leg moves and has just enough space to come right at the table , at which point u return to the original position and quick attack on the return ball if there is one.
b) if you do an opening loop (spinny and slower, more upward motion vs heavy backspin) you maintain the distance and wait until you get the power loop to move a bit forward
c) any short returns are easy to step in and flick, or touch very short in return.

2) If you keep closer, you can control the ball direction and push the player who backed off wider and wider until he will have to assume the defensive - even if he is counter-looping. You can change direction of the ball at any moment, it is easier to place and the opponent has to scramble from side to side.

3) you are able to use much more variation, a short touch, a flat counter (a la Harimoto), a punch block, as well as loops.

4) If you are using hard chinese rubber, from this position your stroke can (and should) be shorter than from a further distance, which gives you enough time to execute it well and keep the opponent under pressure.

5) Blades which are too flexi, and rubbers which are too soft, do not suit this game and therefore not suitable for this strategy. 

6) keeping closer improves footwork, and training this way day by day gives you very powerful legs.

7) Although keeping close is desirable , it is not always possible and backing away in a loop rally is possible and forced at some point, one must not be too stubborn on the strategy but if you are at mid distance it is better to attempt to get closer rather than back off further. 


 


This all seems right to me.  I'm quite surprised any European coach would have told you something different, at least for the really key points.  Point 5 of course might depend on what rubber is being used and European players are almost never going to be using a tacky Chinese rubber (point 4), but the main issue in Point 4 would be just as true with, say, Tenergy.

It's a pretty good summary all in all.  Of course some other things, like reaction time, have already been mentioned.

Actually I've had a lot of experience with Chinese coaches, European coaches and American coaches who have been high level players.  The difference is not really so much in the truth or falseness of things they tell you. I have heard a lot of the same things from all three types.  Chinese coaches I've worked with tend to spend a lot more time trying to correct technique (although I had one European coach who really hammered on that -- to the point that I don't think I ever saw him get past that with any student). 

European and American coaches will often have the advantages of being able to express themselves better in English, and quite a few have been better at helping older flawed players get the most of what they already have.  This relates to the two previous points though -- importance given to developing an "ideal" technique and ability to communicate in English.  Also one other thing, a couple of the good Americans who helped me were not particularly young themselves anymore, in contrast to pretty much all of the Chinese coaches I worked with in the US.  There are actually a few really good older Chinese coaches in the US who speak good English, but not where I live.  I would have liked to have taken some lessons from them.   

I did spend an afternoon with an older coach in China though, but sadly he spoke not a single word of English and the translator I had with me was not very helpful  (he seemed more interested in giving me his own opinion and wasn't particularly interested in translating what the coach said, which was problematic since the translator didn't actually PLAY table tennis).  It was a bummer, I think I could have picked up a lot of interesting stuff from Mr. Li. 

With that said, the similarities have always outweighed the differences.


Edited by Baal - 01/16/2020 at 3:52pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Clarence247 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01/16/2020 at 5:40pm
Originally posted by Baal Baal wrote:


With that said, the similarities have always outweighed the differences.

Totally agree, overall, it is similar, but there are few differences I'd like to point out.

1) From my experience European coaches and even elite players tend to prefer a 1.5 (one and a half) arm's length approach. 

2) they tend to take the ball that tiny little fraction of a second later than the Chinese (not all, but overall) - typically just as the ball begins to fall vs top of the bounce. The ball would also have travelled slightly more in their direction making their placement (1.5 arm's length) more suitable.

3) There is also a physiological element (more europeans have longer legs even if they are same height as an Asian). Therefore, when moving in on a flight, if your leg is longer, you need that extra space.

4) Their 3rd ball is generally an opener, an advantageous start to a rally, but keeping safety in mind, the softer rubber encourages this, and for "starting the point", the extra 0.5 arm's length gives more time and can favour control. It also allows the European to decide if to stay in the same position on the 5th ball, or to take a tiny step forward to increase power and speed, if he is on the attack with reasonable chances of finishing the point. If he anticipates a rally, he will maintain the distance so as to get more time for counter-looping. 

On the other hand , the Chinese 3rd ball is an attempt to finish the point, and the point continues if it is returned - there is more emphasis on aiming to win the point than on safety. There is also an emphasis on being very close to the table for the 5th ball, to control the direction and push the opponent wide. Here being 0.5 arm's length close allows you to pressure the opponent faster, quicker and more directly. The harder tacky rubber suits this very well.

Ultimately, it is a similar but distinct strategical set...obviously there are a lot of grey areas and both Europeans and Chinese interchange between strategies, but the former is favoured by Europeans whilst the latter is favoured by Chinese.

5) although both Europeans and CHinese both ABSOLUTELY understand and emphasise the importance of footwork - the Chinese take it to an extreme, and are generally better in this area than the EUropeans - Especially PEN HOLDERS (Like Ma lin was) are even better at footwork because they should cover almost the whole table with their forehand. AS a result, even when both chinese and Europeans make an attempt to stay close to the table, normally the chinese are more successful at it due to better footwork, and maybe (not always) more suited equipment, as well as a more direct mentality to the point. 

So all in all, I agree with BAAL, similarities definitely outweigh the differences, of course all pro's want to win and if staying close proves more successful, all will want to do it and train hard to achieve it. Yet I can identify the differences above, and they do have some effect. 

Most of all, I also felt this effect and mentality in their coaching. My coach luckily was not young, he was already past his prime as a player although he was still winning all his matches in the Portughese league. His English was not very good, and on some points their were some communication issues, but he would show me very carefully and reinforce every of my positive efforts while absolutely refusing to accept anything I did which did not meet his standards. I really learnt a lot from him, even though I could not really casual talk with him as his English was more or less limited to table tennis and essentials. 

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote blahness Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01/19/2020 at 6:43pm
Originally posted by Clarence247 Clarence247 wrote:

My thoughts on the subject, based on what my first professional coach showed me (VERY strong Chinese player from Guangzhou). I had other European coaches telling me different things but I was never convinced.

1) Optimal distance to aim for is an arm's length away from the table so that:
a) when you power loop, rotating from the hip your right leg moves and has just enough space to come right at the table , at which point u return to the original position and quick attack on the return ball if there is one.
b) if you do an opening loop (spinny and slower, more upward motion vs heavy backspin) you maintain the distance and wait until you get the power loop to move a bit forward
c) any short returns are easy to step in and flick, or touch very short in return.

2) If you keep closer, you can control the ball direction and push the player who backed off wider and wider until he will have to assume the defensive - even if he is counter-looping. You can change direction of the ball at any moment, it is easier to place and the opponent has to scramble from side to side.

3) you are able to use much more variation, a short touch, a flat counter (a la Harimoto), a punch block, as well as loops.

4) If you are using hard chinese rubber, from this position your stroke can (and should) be shorter than from a further distance, which gives you enough time to execute it well and keep the opponent under pressure.

5) Blades which are too flexi, and rubbers which are too soft, do not suit this game and therefore not suitable for this strategy. 

6) keeping closer improves footwork, and training this way day by day gives you very powerful legs.

7) Although keeping close is desirable , it is not always possible and backing away in a loop rally is possible and forced at some point, one must not be too stubborn on the strategy but if you are at mid distance it is better to attempt to get closer rather than back off further. 


Very interesting perspective! Thanks for sharing.
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