The Surprise Move in Table Tennis

Jena Newgarden
Most offensive table tennis players try to serve short and receive short.  If you are an offensive player, I would recommend that you use this strategy… most of the time.

If you serve long and push long, then your opponent will have plenty of swinging room and likely loop first, forcing you into a defensive position.  A short, low serve is much more difficult to attack because the table is in the pathway of the loop.  However, after you have used this strategy for several points, a smart or observant opponent will probably catch on and begin pushing back short.  Once he has proven that he also has the ability to push back short, your plan will be stopped because in return it will be difficult for you to use your strong loop.  For this reason, I would recommend an occasional long push or long serve to the backhand.  When pushing long or short, I recommend pushing quick, off-the-bounce for several reasons.

#1 – By pushing off-the-bounce, you will be able to disguise both short and long pushes with the same backswing.

#2 – By pushing off-the-bounce, you will be able to keep your push much lower.

#3 – By pushing off-the-bounce, you will be able to take the reaction time away from your opponent for an even faster surprise.

If you mistakenly let the push rise to the top-of-the-bounce or even drop, then your opponent will likely be able to predict a long push and your push will often be much slower.  As a surprise, it is critical that you quickly move your body forward by stepping forward with your right foot, lean over the table, stop your body momentum, and lightly brush the ball just after it contacts your side of the table.

So why should you push long to the backhand instead of long to the forehand or middle? Table tennis players have a much larger hitting zone on the forehand and middle.  Even if you surprise your opponent to the forehand, it will be quite easy for him to recover, even if the push is slightly higher, lower, deeper, shorter, faster, or slower.  There are many positions that he can contact the ball and still safely make a forehand loop.  With the backhand loop, the body is in the way.  A quick surprise push will be so sudden to your opponent that he will not have time to move back nor will he have time to rotate his body to the side.  With a small hitting zone, your opponent will likely be forced to push back, which will set up your strong looping game.

Now let’s reverse roles…  So what if your opponent uses the long push to your backhand?  What should you do?  That’s exactly what I’m going to demonstrate for you in this 2 minute video clip:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wN1RZx-DWDs

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The Attacking Mindset in Table Tennis

Jena Newgarden
If you are an offensive table tennis player, there are two aspects of the game that you need to master.

The first aspect is – Creating the opportunity to attack first.  I hear many table tennis club players telling themselves throughout the night, “Just use your attack!”  Well that sounds nice, but how are you going to create the opportunity.  There are several ways.

  1. Try to loop long serves
  2. Try to loop half-long serves
  3. Try to serve short and push short so that your opponent can’t easily loop first
  4. Try to loop most of the long pushes
  5. Try to loop most of the flips

After you make the opening attack, try to continue attacking by following up with another ball and another ball.  Against a good table tennis player, it will likely take 3-4 strong attacks to win the point.

The second aspect is – Being consistent in your attack.  Even if you can create the opportunity to attack, that doesn’t mean that you will win; that merely means that you have the ability to attack.  Your target should be to make 80-90% of your attacks on with both your backhand and your forehand.  If you are making 100% of your opening attacks on and still losing, then you possibly need to give more spin variation, speed variation, and placement variation.  If you are inconsistent on your attacks, then consider adjusting your technique in the following ways.

  1. Try to move into position better
  2. Try to read the amount of spin that your opponent is giving you
  3. Try to adjust the height of your backswing based on the spin and based on the height of the ball
  4. Try to adjust the length of your swing based on the speed of the ball
  5. Try to adjust your racket angle based on the spin on the ball
  6. Try to focus on spin as your primary weapon and use speed as your secondary weapon

You should significantly see your attacking game improve if you focus on these key areas. Good luck!

Samson Dubina

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