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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Table Tennis Tips – Short and to the Point

Jena Newgarden
I have written hundreds of table tennis articles and blogs throughout my career as a professional table tennis player and coach.   I realize that sometimes it can seem overwhelming to try to figure out which articles to read and which tips that you should be applying to your game.  For this reason, I have written this summary article which will summarize many of the table tennis tips I discuss in my articles in just one sentence – short and to the point.

When developing a good loop, focus on spin rather than speed.

When developing a good push, contact the ping-pong ball early and keep the ball low with spin.

When developing a good block, try to bend your knees, lean forward, get your feet in position, and relax your grip on your table tennis racket.

When developing a good smash, focus on getting your feet in position first then take your backswing to the appropriate height depending on the ball placement, ball depth, ball height, and spin.

When developing a good serve, focus on serving low with spin while using the serves that best setup your game, training them in a table tennis tournament environment, varying the quality of spin, and using them in practice matches as well.

When developing a good serve return, focus on having the proper ready-position, reading the spin from your opponent’s table tennis racket, moving to the ball, reading the bounce, then adjusting and readjusting just before contact.

When developing a good table tennis strategy, focus on your opponent’s strengths, weaknesses, serve, and serve return.

When developing a good perspective on winning and losing in table tennis, read the book 7 Days in Utopia.

When developing a good level of confidence, remember that: trust is a must or your game is a bust.

When developing a good deception, focus on varying the spin, speed, placement, and type of shot while still staying within your means to maintain at least 70% consistency.

When developing a good base of physical training, focus on lower body and core strength and speed – focus on speed and flexibility, not bulky muscle.

When developing a good table tennis tournament plan, be sure to set goals – when you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there.

When developing good rallies in table tennis, focus on anticipating the incoming ball based on the placement of your hit, the type of your hit, the spin of your hit, watching your opponent’s racket, while watching the incoming ball.

When developing a good tournament game, try to play at least one table tennis tournament per month to test your skills and test your ability to perform well under pressure.

When developing a good strategy against loopers, try to attack first and force them to block or lob.

When developing a good strategy against blockers, be patience and work the point until you are ready to hit a winner.

When developing a good strategy against choppers, try to attack the middle often and move them in-and-out instead of side to side.

When developing a good strategy against lobbers, try to see which balls are hitting near the net (smash down) and which balls are hitting near your endline (smash forward).

When developing a good strategy against lefties, try to expose the wide forehand with explosive loops then curve wide the backhand when they are away from the ping-pong table.

When developing a good strategy against long pips, try to push deep to the pips in order to get an easy no-spin ball to loop.

When developing a good strategy against female table tennis players, try to loop with plenty of spin deep on the table, which will be difficult for them to smash or block.

When developing a good power shot, focus on using your core muscles while relaxing your arm as much as possible – at contact, focus on the acceleration.

When developing a good mental game, try to focus on the performance and strategy rather than the benefits of winning or the consequences of losing.

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Changing Your Mindset in Table Tennis – Samson Dubina

Jena Newgarden
A topic seldom addressed in table tennis, but very important, is about changing your mindset in regards to your opponent’s strengths.

Many table tennis players fear their opponent’s strengths so much that it messes up all aspects of their game.  Instead of fearing the strength, try to use the strength against them.

Here are some examples:

  1. Your opponent’s serve is very short and very low.  Generally, you are able to loop the serve and start the point out with attacking.  However, this opponent’s serve cannot be looped.  Instead of getting frustrated, you should be able to push his short serve short and wait to loop the following ball.
  2. Your opponent’s push is extremely heavy and you can’t power-loop the first ball.  Instead of getting frustrated, you should use your legs, open your angle, and brush the ball for a slightly slower and spinnier loop.  After he blocks your opening loop, you can follow-up with a stronger loop.
  3. Your opponent’s flip is very fast.  Instead of getting frustrated with the speed, you should shorten your swing, make contact with the ball, and return it quickly to a good location.  He probably won’t be ready for you to return it and the quick return will probably force him to block.  After he blocks, then you can take over with a speed shot.
  4. Your opponent’s loop is extremely powerful.  Instead of getting frustrated with his “weapon”, you should focus on returning only one loop.  By getting low, keeping your table tennis racket high and in front of you, and controlling the block, you should be able to manage to return one loop.  Once your opponent realizes that you can return it, he might slow it down and go for better placement or he might attempt to speed it up and become more inconsistent.

Try your best to play your strengths against your opponent’s weaknesses in table tennis.  However, when they do use their strengths, don’t fear them – just return them with control!

Samson Dubina

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