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PostPosted: 29 Sep 2007, 07:10 
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My post about the movement of players on a previous thread has inspired me to open up to you a few game play gems. This thread will grow as I submit more snippets, as and when I have the time and patience to type them up.

The first thing I want to talk about is targeting an opponents weaker wing. There is a common TT misnomer that players might have 'a weak backhand' and, as such, one is often coached to 'pin that player down on his backhand'.

Most players who have a weaker backhand, however, spend a lot of time trying to eradicate this weakness by doing backhand orientated drills. As such, they groove a very good drill backhand, but a poor match backhand - by trying to create a shot in practice different to the one they are forced to play in a game situation.

Where does this leave us?

What we have now is a player who has a 'passable' backhand, should you choose to target this wing in either backhand to backhand or forehand to backhand exchanges - that is to say, his backhand is under no pressure, as standing still and hitting backhands in this context is exactly the modus operandi in which he has developed the shot.

How to counter this?

In every player, however, there is a time when that shot can be put under pressure. That time is when that shot is played as part of a pattern or sequence unusual to the player.

Often, a forehand orientated player will practice his backhand in training because he feels it is a weakness. (or she...) However, in a game situation they will hold their feet in a different position, to be more forehand dominant (generally, squarer) because they want to get in with their most dominating shot.

What this means is that these players can be caught if you go first wide into their forehand and then into their backhand. At the very extremities of this, these players end up having to chop on their backhand, because their feet are totally the wrong way round, and they have often overbalanced trying to play unnecessary winners on their forehand.

Often this switch ball you play can be at half-pace, as this can still be an outright winner, but also means if they managed to grovel the ball back, an error in stroke production is more likely. Often, in fact, half-pace makes recovery more difficult than full pace, as the scrambling player has to make a full recovery and play a full shot, rather than stick his bat out and use your pace.

The reverse of this can also be true for backhand dominant players. In general, a lot of players are weak going forehand to backhand, but not all.

The second item on my agenda this evening will be a lot briefer. :wink:

It is a common strategy to go 'down the middle' against players. Firstly, this is a commonly mistakenly used phrase. What you are really looking for is the 'crossover point' (or jamming point, I've seen used). The is different for every player, and moves as they move.

However, assuming you have played the ball into crossover point, and the player in question has opted to try to step out and play a forehand. What is your next move?

A lot of players would, on getting the weak cross-over ball, opt to play into the backhand, as that switches the dynamic (in terms of direction) of play.

However, when you think about it, this is not where the most space is. Nor is it actually changing the dynamic. If a player has stepped to his backhand to make a forehand from his cross-over point, the most logical ball to give them him next is actually wider to his forehand.

In order to get the forehand in from the middle, he has had to move from his forehand to his backhand, which means that the majority of angle relative to that player will be on the forehand wing, and also, his feet will then be going against the direction in which you have played the ball. I.e. his body weight will have had to shift to the backhand side to play a forehand from the middle - switching then to his forehand means that he has to shift his directional movement.

Try them and see.

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PostPosted: 29 Sep 2007, 09:10 
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They are VERY good tips TTsam, thank a lot :thumright: !

These sort of gems you normally only get from coaches who really understand the game and strategies, not just the basic strokes!

Are these things you've learned from coaches, or have you worked them out yourself over time?

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PostPosted: 29 Sep 2007, 11:22 
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totally agree with everything..

however..

the guy who steps over at the "elbow" block, i'd block them again at the elbow, then the wide forehand.. cuz those same guys who cross over at the elbow once, i find have no trouble taking two steps and killing that wide forehand into my wide forehand with a side spin that kicks the ball even further away from me...


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PostPosted: 29 Sep 2007, 11:48 
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Very useful tactics, Sam. I look forward to seeing more.

(Wow, I just made a 2 sentence post, increadable, I can do that)

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PostPosted: 02 Oct 2007, 06:10 
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Alex - A bit of both. Nearly all TT knowledge is 2nd hand, and I do like to absorb it like a sponge in water. However, I always look to expand on ideas given to me, and the important thing is working out how to add them to your game.

I have a pretty good backhand hit, unfortunately it's only good against topspin. What I did was study over good players with good backhand hits (at around my level or just above, and then Waldner [for enjoyment]). What I learned was that if I am smart with my flicking and loop placement, I can work my backhand hit into a situation where I am hitting against a fairly weak loop.

A lot of people would consider this high risk, but it's all relative to a player and his given strengths and weaknesses.

There comes a time when you have to stop looking for 3rd ball winners all the time and learn to build rallies. When you do this you learn what you're capable of, and then how to put it into your own game.

Likewise - service. Having good spinny serves is good up until a certain level. Then, people start flicking them (because excessively spinny serves are so obvious in flight that they get read by better players). When you get here is when you really learn how to serve. I've played so much tight tt over the summer that now when I contact the ball I know how much I have chopped it (if I meant to chop it) and how well floated it is. As such, I can anticipate returns much easier not based on 'what I thought I did' but based on 'what I know I have done'.

You can't really say you have good serves until you have mastered what you are going to get in terms of returns and how you as a player can combat them.

I've left a few gems kicking round the forum tonight. I'll collate them and expand on them tomorrow. I'm tired right now - have been up 18 hours and my legs ache. :P

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PostPosted: 02 Oct 2007, 09:29 
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Yes that makes a lot of sense ttsam...

The bit about building ralleys really rings true! If you don't play enough players at high level, you often expect to be able to hit a 3rd ball attack... then when you play a good player, you need to re-think and change strategy totally...

I agree with serves as well... at the lower grades the amount of spin will win you points... the more the better... but at the higher level only the deception will win you points... so true...

Working out a strategy so that you DO get the right balls returned that you want is always the hard bit... and most likely depends on your opponent as well...

It's really good you've this together for us... often these things don't sink in until someone puts it into the right words for us... :thumleft:

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PostPosted: 02 Oct 2007, 16:18 
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Quote:
If you don't play enough players at high level, you often expect to be able to hit a 3rd ball attack... then when you play a good player, you need to re-think and change strategy totally...


Definitely. After my last year at Uni, everyone I was playing I would serve and either win the point outright or have an easy 3rd ball to put away. Then, I started knocking with Wiggy... Whoops.. Everytime I got in off of my serves I saw so keen to loop with real venom that I didn't think about placement or depth and ended up looping at a fixed point and straight to where he was.

Playing the man and not the table is a real big step in tt.

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PostPosted: 02 Oct 2007, 16:31 
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nothing wrong with looping AT people, as long as it's hard enough to leave a mark :P

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PostPosted: 02 Oct 2007, 16:35 
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If you're going under their elbow then you have every chance, but the real good players are reading your direction before you've hit the ball and all you end up doing is shafting yourself.

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