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PostPosted: 07 Mar 2018, 02:08 
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Ninja of the Holy Chtchet
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dunc wrote:
So... I noticed tonight that one of the worst aspects of my game, especially in practice matches, is that it can get really "messy". Very random points with some chopping, some attacking, and regularly not having any ****ing clue what I'm actually doing... :)

I understand that I need to have a strategy in my head - and I usually do in real matches. However, I wanted to talk about the strategies you guys use to get into defensive rallies - and strategies you use to keep on the defensive. Sometimes I'll chop one or two then try to play a mad attacking stroke for no real reason, probably because I'm not focused. Sometimes I play serves which just don't suit a defensive game at all, e.g. serves which get pop-ups or serves which opponents can touch short. Occasionally I play long, fast topspin serves to catch opponents out and they often backfire because my opponent will just fast-block/punch the ball down the line past me.

What strategies do you use?

I'm thinking along the lines of things like "long backspin serve", "twiddle to keep the backspin on when pushing", "push/chop to the middle white line", etc. Anything you can think of to a) stop your opponent from blasting the ball past you and b) keep you in a defensive mindset.

I have all the same issues. I posted elsewhere that playing as a double inverted modern defender, many of my old strategies no longer apply in the same way. But some do. Below is my 1630 level strategy against everyone 1500 to 1800.

Strategy always surrounds maximizing their weakness and your strenghts. For me, I have a bad forehand loop but a great FH chop. I also have a good BH smash and loop.

Therefore, I always test the backhand first with long underspin. Then I test the forehand with long underspin. If they can loop either very well, I avoid going long on that side period. If they have trouble, then I will continue going long on that side varying my spin and then mixing in short balls and half long balls.

If their forehand is weak, I like to do a backhand serve with under or side under to the forehand to encourage a loop to my forehand because my best stroke is a forehand chop. I also try to keep them half-long, but I need work on that. If they are a good half long ball, I either get a slow arcing loop, or a high attackable ball. This works on most people my level, aside from my practice partner (he's too familiar).

Then I start going short, and attack the short push to their BH with my BH (Inverted) because on offense, my best stroke is my backhand everything.

If their BH is weak, and long underspin is difficult for them I'll exploit that as much as possible. I like to do heavy underspin from my BH corner to their BH corner to encourage a loop to the BH. If Pips, I am less concerned with too much spin, so I might go long. But I will mix in short under, no spin, and half long. I want them to go to my BH pips. With inverted, I'll attack many of those, and I'm more encouraged to give them difficult balls to loop so I can chop it.

With BH Pips, I'll keep chopping to their backhand until I get a high push. I'll also try to move them out to their BH and then chop to their forehand. Many people can loop from the same position several times but struggle to do so when incorporating footwork.

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PostPosted: 07 Mar 2018, 02:12 
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Der_Echte wrote:

There is a 2000 (east coast rating :D..) guy who serves exclusively long varying the spin from light medium topspin to dead... and length from a foot long off table second bounce (if there was table past endline) or right on endline with first bounce. His serves are surprisingly difficult to attack with high percentage. You simply do not properly judge the kick or lack or the spin and pay the price for mindlessly attcking all of them. Once the player realizes that and backs off attacking, you give the player what he wants - a rally where he can hit hard with only little topspin. He will win out most of those rallies or do at least 50/50. His rally play is much like a classic defender's play in that he gets back ball after ball, but he is playing high speed low spin and moves like lightning - you rarely hit one by him... and if you try that you will be off time/out of zone/misread spin whatever and miss most of those... He WANTS you to do that... which is very similar to a defensive player's game enticing unforced errors and opportunity attacking.

This player forces you to play at his speed and spin. That is the essence of imposing one's will one opponent if possible.

Daniel?

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PostPosted: 07 Mar 2018, 20:26 
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Ndragon wrote:
If you serve long just think about what you're giving and always be ready to turn to FH and attack if the return is weak. You can even punch with the pips if the return is a bit high and not long on the table.

This is an interesting point!

I often get "stuck" making this decision, and this is where some of my OP problem lies. I'd say the majority of my serves get pushed back, and they're quite often long enough to loop.

I tend to attack these, because that's my natural instinct. If I can loop a ball, I should probably be looping it. However, this obviously means I'm not defending. I therefore end up 3rd ball attacking quite regularly, which often leads to erratic points - some I'll win/lose outright off the loop, some I'll get into a loop-to-loop or loop-to-block rally, some will be blocked into my pimples whilst I'm close to the table and some will be popped up on my pimple side. That adds a lot of variables to the point, stuff that I'm reacting to and sometimes "making shots up" for rather than the controlled defensive rally that we're talking about in this thread.

For a more consistent approach... should I not continue the pushing? Try and get some heavy backspin on the ball to force an error or encourage my opponent to play a loop which I can then chop?

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PostPosted: 07 Mar 2018, 22:38 
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dunc wrote:
Ndragon wrote:
If you serve long just think about what you're giving and always be ready to turn to FH and attack if the return is weak. You can even punch with the pips if the return is a bit high and not long on the table.

This is an interesting point!

I often get "stuck" making this decision, and this is where some of my OP problem lies. I'd say the majority of my serves get pushed back, and they're quite often long enough to loop.

I tend to attack these, because that's my natural instinct. If I can loop a ball, I should probably be looping it. However, this obviously means I'm not defending. I therefore end up 3rd ball attacking quite regularly, which often leads to erratic points - some I'll win/lose outright off the loop, some I'll get into a loop-to-loop or loop-to-block rally, some will be blocked into my pimples whilst I'm close to the table and some will be popped up on my pimple side. That adds a lot of variables to the point, stuff that I'm reacting to and sometimes "making shots up" for rather than the controlled defensive rally that we're talking about in this thread.

For a more consistent approach... should I not continue the pushing? Try and get some heavy backspin on the ball to force an error or encourage my opponent to play a loop which I can then chop?


To be honest I think its entirely down to you. I don't chop on my FH and usually looking to get an active stroke in and if the opportunity arises early to loop I will not hesitate. But perhaps it doesn't need to be as complicated as it is right now, if someone pushes long, you don't have to 3rd ball kill unless its a high chance of success. Instead you can spin the ball adding a variant to the game which gives more for the opponent to think about. If you're looping to their block then great it means you hold the advantage and can keep the pressure up. If it comes to your BH then chop away, the BH can stay simple but if you're attacking try to stay in attacking by moving to get your FH.
You could also opt in to use your pips to bump and side swipe if they push long, just make sure you do it wide or into their elbow.

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PostPosted: 08 Mar 2018, 06:38 
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As a defender, you should be happy to push against push "till the cows come home" as they say. I myself seldom loop, unless I recognise that my push will likely get put back past me. This is after having tried varying placement (angle & depth), and spin.

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PostPosted: 08 Mar 2018, 18:15 
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dunc wrote:
Ndragon wrote:
If you serve long just think about what you're giving and always be ready to turn to FH and attack if the return is weak. You can even punch with the pips if the return is a bit high and not long on the table.

This is an interesting point!

I often get "stuck" making this decision, and this is where some of my OP problem lies. I'd say the majority of my serves get pushed back, and they're quite often long enough to loop.

I tend to attack these, because that's my natural instinct. If I can loop a ball, I should probably be looping it. However, this obviously means I'm not defending. I therefore end up 3rd ball attacking quite regularly, which often leads to erratic points - some I'll win/lose outright off the loop, some I'll get into a loop-to-loop or loop-to-block rally, some will be blocked into my pimples whilst I'm close to the table and some will be popped up on my pimple side. That adds a lot of variables to the point, stuff that I'm reacting to and sometimes "making shots up" for rather than the controlled defensive rally that we're talking about in this thread.

For a more consistent approach... should I not continue the pushing? Try and get some heavy backspin on the ball to force an error or encourage my opponent to play a loop which I can then chop?

I'm struggling with the same problems and have been giving it many thoughts lately. I think, the following situations must be treated differently:
- Beating weaker opponents, overpowering them at will or destroying them by consistency alone, should not count that much. But it confirms, that my existing shots are working.
- Losing against much stronger opponents must not be overrated. If someone is able to blast every shot past me, or if I can not return a single service, congratulations. But it does not affect my strategy or tactics. My tools at hand were simply not sufficient and I should work at them, i.e. improving strokes such as receiving.
- The real test comes when facing opponents of equal or moderately higher level. Here you have to use what you got. And you have to use it efficiently. To know what to work with, you have to know yourself and judge your abilities correctly. Does anyone of you know what your best shots are? With this I don't mean the hardest topspin or spinniest chop. Do you know, which of your shots lead to situations, where you can win a point? Are you sure - that is, can you prove it?

Well, let's have a look at my play. At my level, I got a decent fh topspin. When doing drills, at practice matches and leage encounters, against opponents of same level usually I do well. Therefore I like using it, going for the aggressive approach, even if I call myself a defender. Much the same as dunc describes. I got a few videos doing training matches against opponents of same level, under no pressure, most of them won. As a statistics nut, I evaluated them. I was in for a surprise:

Offensive situations:
  • I score 20% of my points as service winners or 3rd ball attacks.
  • The stroke I use most is fh topspin, 30% in total, including services and receives. It is quite consistent, I get it in about 80%. On average I need 3 topspins to win a point. I score a little less then 50% of the points when I am attacking. Half of those points are 3rd ball attacks after a weak return or a counter-attack after chopping.
  • bh pimples attack (mostly flip when receiving and smash on pop-ups) is quite consistent (60% in) and almost always a winner. I do it very rarely though, once or twice a set.

Defensive situations:
  • I have no record of an unforced error when chopping fh!
  • bh chop does not occur as much as I would like, only about 20% of all shots. But when I do it, I score the majority of points - usually by counter-attacking later in the rally, rarely by forcing an error.
  • fh push is safe (>90% consistency) and 10% of them are outright winners, either by placement or unforced errors of my opponents. It usually does not get blasted by me, in some cases I see a flip. Those are not relevant statistically though as they occur very seldom.
  • bh push is not so consistent (80% in). I get about 20% outright winners because of the pimples effect leading to unforced errors of my opponents.
  • I have to block quite often near the table (in about 20% of all rallies). While fh block with inverted is consistent (80% in), it often leave me at an awkward place (I fell into the habit of stepping around and blocking fh in the bh corner). If my opponent reloops it, I am too close to the table to chop, mostly giving my opponent an unforced error. Total efficiency when blocking: < 20% scored points.

Unused/seldom used shots:
  • I avoid fh defense. I mostly feel pressed to counterloop. But if I fish or chop, consistency is good.
  • I do not block with pimples. Usually the point is gone if someone catches me at the bh side while I stay near the table.
  • I never twiddle to chop with pimples at fh.
  • I seldom twiddle and loop bh with inverted. In drills I am quite consistent with this shot, but in a match I tend to overpace and miss and therefore I avoid it.
  • I seldom twiddle and push with inverted. Despite the fact that I can do it well enough, I prefer pushing with pimples.

Summary:
  • A ratio of 80% of my fh topspins getting in but needing 3 topspins to score a point leaves me at only 50% probability to actually score while attacking. And this probability drops quickly when facing stronger opponents!
  • I am relying heavily on my service that has above average quality. But this means nothing facing better players.
  • I seldom miss receive, but placement is an issue.
  • The probability to win a point is significantly better when defending, especially against better opponents.
  • I developed the bad habit to block fh inverted from my backhand corner.
  • I got a bunch of shots where I even don't know wether they are effective in match situations.

So my perceived strengths are in fact more of a weakness. While I am able to attack, against better opponents the advantage of attacking vanishes. They are able to receive my services well and are not surprised or hard pressed by my attacks. Attacking leaves me in an awkward place unless it is a outright winner, which occurs decreasingly often against those. In blocking situations I am particularly bad off and should avoid them at all costs. These occur most often when attacking at the table.
Same with my weaknesses: I feel as I was weak at chop defense, especially when chopping fh. The statistics tell me I am wrong. My pushing and defending game yields more points than my offensive game with considerably better consistency. Almost never I am caught in the wrong position when playing defensively.

Conclusion:
1. I should play more by using my brain
2. I should avoid inital attacks, especially fh loop-attacks near the table
3. I should avoid staying near the table
4. I should use all strokes at my disposition
5. I should work on my receiving game with focus on placement

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PostPosted: 08 Mar 2018, 18:25 
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That's a fascinating analysis, and something I might do myself. Slightly OT, do you have the video of your analysed game uploaded anywhere?

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PostPosted: 08 Mar 2018, 19:41 
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0x556c69 wrote:
I'm struggling with the same problems and have been giving it many thoughts lately. I think, the following situations must be treated differently:
- Beating weaker opponents, overpowering them at will or destroying them by consistency alone, should not count that much. But it confirms, that my existing shots are working.
- Losing against much stronger opponents must not be overrated. If someone is able to blast every shot past me, or if I can not return a single service, congratulations. But it does not affect my strategy or tactics. My tools at hand were simply not sufficient and I should work at them, i.e. improving strokes such as receiving.
- The real test comes when facing opponents of equal or moderately higher level. Here you have to use what you got. And you have to use it efficiently. To know what to work with, you have to know yourself and judge your abilities correctly. Does anyone of you know what your best shots are? With this I don't mean the hardest topspin or spinniest chop. Do you know, which of your shots lead to situations, where you can win a point? Are you sure - that is, can you prove it?

Well, let's have a look at my play. At my level, I got a decent fh topspin. When doing drills, at practice matches and leage encounters, against opponents of same level usually I do well. Therefore I like using it, going for the aggressive approach, even if I call myself a defender. Much the same as dunc describes. I got a few videos doing training matches against opponents of same level, under no pressure, most of them won. As a statistics nut, I evaluated them. I was in for a surprise:

Offensive situations:
  • I score 20% of my points as service winners or 3rd ball attacks.
  • The stroke I use most is fh topspin, 30% in total, including services and receives. It is quite consistent, I get it in about 80%. On average I need 3 topspins to win a point. I score a little less then 50% of the points when I am attacking. Half of those points are 3rd ball attacks after a weak return or a counter-attack after chopping.
  • bh pimples attack (mostly flip when receiving and smash on pop-ups) is quite consistent (60% in) and almost always a winner. I do it very rarely though, once or twice a set.

Defensive situations:
  • I have no record of an unforced error when chopping fh!
  • bh chop does not occur as much as I would like, only about 20% of all shots. But when I do it, I score the majority of points - usually by counter-attacking later in the rally, rarely by forcing an error.
  • fh push is safe (>90% consistency) and 10% of them are outright winners, either by placement or unforced errors of my opponents. It usually does not get blasted by me, in some cases I see a flip. Those are not relevant statistically though as they occur very seldom.
  • bh push is not so consistent (80% in). I get about 20% outright winners because of the pimples effect leading to unforced errors of my opponents.
  • I have to block quite often near the table (in about 20% of all rallies). While fh block with inverted is consistent (80% in), it often leave me at an awkward place (I fell into the habit of stepping around and blocking fh in the bh corner). If my opponent reloops it, I am too close to the table to chop, mostly giving my opponent an unforced error. Total efficiency when blocking: < 20% scored points.

Unused/seldom used shots:
  • I avoid fh defense. I mostly feel pressed to counterloop. But if I fish or chop, consistency is good.
  • I do not block with pimples. Usually the point is gone if someone catches me at the bh side while I stay near the table.
  • I never twiddle to chop with pimples at fh.
  • I seldom twiddle and loop bh with inverted. In drills I am quite consistent with this shot, but in a match I tend to overpace and miss and therefore I avoid it.
  • I seldom twiddle and push with inverted. Despite the fact that I can do it well enough, I prefer pushing with pimples.

Summary:
  • A ratio of 80% of my fh topspins getting in but needing 3 topspins to score a point leaves me at only 50% probability to actually score while attacking. And this probability drops quickly when facing stronger opponents!
  • I am relying heavily on my service that has above average quality. But this means nothing facing better players.
  • I seldom miss receive, but placement is an issue.
  • The probability to win a point is significantly better when defending, especially against better opponents.
  • I developed the bad habit to block fh inverted from my backhand corner.
  • I got a bunch of shots where I even don't know wether they are effective in match situations.

So my perceived strengths are in fact more of a weakness. While I am able to attack, against better opponents the advantage of attacking vanishes. They are able to receive my services well and are not surprised or hard pressed by my attacks. Attacking leaves me in an awkward place unless it is a outright winner, which occurs decreasingly often against those. In blocking situations I am particularly bad off and should avoid them at all costs. These occur most often when attacking at the table.
Same with my weaknesses: I feel as I was weak at chop defense, especially when chopping fh. The statistics tell me I am wrong. My pushing and defending game yields more points than my offensive game with considerably better consistency. Almost never I am caught in the wrong position when playing defensively.

Conclusion:
1. I should play more by using my brain
2. I should avoid inital attacks, especially fh loop-attacks near the table
3. I should avoid staying near the table
4. I should use all strokes at my disposition
5. I should work on my receiving game with focus on placement


Well this is quite an impressive analysis of your own game. I need to take some vids of me playing matches and do the same as this is brilliant. Thanks for sharing :up:
We often surprise ourselves through analysis by how much we actually don't know about our own game. It's easy to spot and fix errors in practice but when you start playing matches it changes considerably.

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PostPosted: 08 Mar 2018, 20:53 
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Ndragon wrote:
It's easy to spot and fix errors in practice but when you start playing matches it changes considerably.

Exactly. Two thoughts about it:
1. When doing drills, you can concentrace on one parameter only - or at least a very few (i.e. where to stand, how to swing, when to hit the ball, how to do the follow through, how to use your body, ...). And you get much more feedback when practising either by your partner, your coach or simply be watching the results of your stroke.
2. In free play you have to deal with much more input (spin, placement, opponent, strengths, weaknesses, circumstances, etc.) and you tend to play by "feeling". Aside the score usually there is no feedback. We all tend to forget the first strokes of a rally and focus on the last one (winner, unforced error or setup for your opponents point). I think this is, what lets us intermediate players focus upon attack:
You smacked the ball right? Great, thats the way to do it, once again.
You missed? Sure, lacking technique. Got to work on my topspin!

When you don't record your games and work through them, you don't have much of a chance to see what lets you score a point or loose it. How often do you discuss an average rally with your opponent (or your coach)? Me never.

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PostPosted: 27 Mar 2018, 23:04 
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Retriever wrote:
This is where you will often use the first game of a match as a sacrificial game. You may lose it but have hopefully gained valuable information on your opponent's strengths and weaknesses

On the contrary: I try to win the first set in particular! Having won the first set, I have a ratio of 75% to win the whole match.

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PostPosted: 28 Mar 2018, 06:33 
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Retriever wrote:
Quote:
This is where you will often use the first game of a match as a sacrificial game. You may lose it but have hopefully gained valuable information on your opponent's strengths and weaknesses


0x556c69 wrote:
Quote:
On the contrary: I try to win the first set in particular! Having won the first set, I have a ratio of 75% to win the whole match.


If you have the statistics that you say you have, then what works for you works for you.

I find that using a default of say directing looser shots to the opponent's back hand will result in not being slammed mostly, however there are some who will slam that on their back hand. This is but one example of finding an opponent's strengths and weaknesses. Finding out a few more will take more points possibly being lost.

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PostPosted: 28 Mar 2018, 11:44 
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Japsican wrote:
Der_Echte wrote:

There is a 2000 (east coast rating :D..) guy who serves exclusively long varying the spin from light medium topspin to dead... and length from a foot long off table second bounce (if there was table past endline) or right on endline with first bounce. His serves are surprisingly difficult to attack with high percentage. You simply do not properly judge the kick or lack or the spin and pay the price for mindlessly attcking all of them. Once the player realizes that and backs off attacking, you give the player what he wants - a rally where he can hit hard with only little topspin. He will win out most of those rallies or do at least 50/50. His rally play is much like a classic defender's play in that he gets back ball after ball, but he is playing high speed low spin and moves like lightning - you rarely hit one by him... and if you try that you will be off time/out of zone/misread spin whatever and miss most of those... He WANTS you to do that... which is very similar to a defensive player's game enticing unforced errors and opportunity attacking.

This player forces you to play at his speed and spin. That is the essence of imposing one's will one opponent if possible.

Daniel?


I am talking about a real fit 55yr old Russian (Nikoli) dude I often play locally in Sacramento club or at the Russian Church on TT night. His play style is like a retriever on serious steroids. He simply gets to the ball, no matter where and BANGS it, very little spin, but real hard on FH. On a vid, it would look like his serve is baby easy to kill, but you gotta be there yourself. Once you miss too many of the serves, you realize you have to make HIM kill you instead of you killing yourself missing... but if you do not read the ball and return it right (don't leave it a cm higher than net), he will kill you with the first hit.

His play style and tactics are very similar to a defender in how he wins points. Sure, he wants to do it with a crushing FH or wear you down in a rally, but this guy entices errors and foolish over-aggressiveness, even if you are aware of what he is doing and do not want to fall into that trap.

He doesn't have much of a FH or BH topspin, but he can still roll the ball (and it is surprisingly difficult to time the attack against his roll) and stay in a point if you give a halflong underspin.

I have found a few things about his game he doesn't handle and pound him relentlessly on those... but if you cannot return his serve with quality, cannot make a real heavy opener, or do not know how to disguise your own serves well, you will not hang with this guy. You can try to raly it ut with him, but he is simply more consistent and higher quality bang bang flat ball rally player than most of us.

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PostPosted: 29 Mar 2018, 00:01 
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dunc wrote:
If your serve is spinny enough, how are players blasting it past you?


I'm guessing his serves are too high bouncing then.

Everybody wants the spiniest backspin serve around. And some have it. But in my experience, it doesn't matter how spiny it is if you have a loose serve get away from you and it bounces too high. A good looper will smoke that.

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