Looking for the Champion 3

Rowden December 2020

Most players, like most humans, are habitual and predictable.

They develop a style, grow into it and once it becomes ingrained, find it difficult if not impossible, to make changes.

So we get players who just push for ever, or who wait for you to open first, then counter forcefully. We get players who attack with spin, then kill the next ball; we get players who just love to play fast and try to hit every ball; we get players too who block everything and try to act like a stone wall. As the great champion, J.O. Waldner emphasises in his book, to reach the top, you have to be able to cope with all the differing styles of play.

But as we have indicated, style of any kind becomes a habit, it promotes rigidity and not flexibility. What we basically require is a ‘No Style’. We need to look to a style of constant change, where the opponent can only ever say one thing, ‘You can never make a plan against him/her, because you never know what he/she will do next’.

So just what are the practicalities of the ‘No Style’? The prime basic is this – ‘Do not give the opponent the sort of return he/she wants’. Let’s give a few examples;
• Opponent gives superfast serve, expecting long, fast ball back; you stop-block or sidespin block returning short or to the angle. Or you drop back, chop, float or slow roll.
• Opponent pushes long expecting hard drive or fast spin ball back so they can counter; you slow roll with little pace or play a sidespin loop.
• Opponent loops slow and high with much spin, expecting a high ball to the middle of the table to kill; you stop-block returning four bounces to the other side of the table or even a wide angled ball to the BH.

In each of these cases you deny your opponent the opportunity of ‘the expected return’. He or she is faced with an atypical, totally different and unusual situation for which he or she does not normally train. Your opponent has not only to understand and adapt, but to do this quickly. In other words you place them by your actions in a pressure situation, take them out of their normal comfort zone and make life difficult for them.

They are no longer able to react as they have been programmed and as we all know, once you upset the automated reaction system no player is as effective as normal. You sow doubt in the minds of opponents and minimise any advantage they have.