Game Management -- Seminar

Rowden April 2019

‘The ability to adapt and to be effective, whatever the style of the opponent’.
There are 3 main areas to consider:

Mind – Players can react in 3 ways to stress:
● Making excuses and giving up (players find it’s less painful to give in and get off the court, rather than being humiliated). Remember however – ‘It’s not the one who loses who fails, but the one who lies down and gives up’. Try to continue to play for points and to fight and think to try different things. Watch the opponent’s face for signs of weakness.
● Getting angry either with conditions/circumstances or themselves. Anger causes tension and leads to worse shots and restricts logical thinking. There’s no point in getting irritated over aspects beyond your control, you have to accept these and get on with the game. The one thing you can control is you, try to stay calm and direct your focus not internally, but on your opponent.
● Becoming afraid and this often happens when you are ahead in matches and the opponent starts to come back. This is when it’s easy to stop playing or to start playing safe so as not to lose. What you should be doing is thinking – ‘What have I been doing so far to get ahead and why don’t I just continue doing this!’ Interestingly enough this is really the last stage before becoming a winner and you just have to stay calm and get over this last hurdle.
The secret to success is being calm and relaxed, this is the state in which you think clearly and can plan the tactics against the opponent and judge when and what changes are needed in strategy.
All opponents are different and you have to be able to cope and adapt. There are 2 main aspects to consider:
● There are many differing styles out there and many different rubber combinations to deal with, so how do we go about dealing with this? Because much of our own play is automated it’s vital (as Waldner states in his book) to train against all styles, defenders, blockers, loopers, drive and pimple players, and left-handers.
● As our sport is so fast and much of the play over the table is below normal human reaction time, we all learn to play on autopilot. The one aspect which upsets autopilot is when we come up against something new or different which we don’t fully understand; it’s then that the automatic systems break down and we have to start thinking consciously which is of course much slower. It is therefore most useful to develop new things, serves, receives, strategies which upset the opponent’s rhythm.
The final area to consider in depth is that of alternatives. What answers can we find to cope with the problems already stated? We should of course aim to be less predictable so that opponents have more difficulty coming to terms with the way we play! We can do this in a number of ways.
● Train with varied placement, in:
o Width
o Length
o Tempo
● Use slow balls and sidespin
● Serves – Use many long serves with speed. Against the long serve return with control
● Short serves – Here you need to serve with quality. When returning use all 3 receives, short drop, flick and long push fast and early with or without spin
● Use more long pushes over the table
Plastic Ball
● Stay square to opponent (especially when close to table)
● Use shorter strokes and keep racket up, above table level
● Play strokes forward, go to the ball
● Ball slows over the table, the start of the stroke is more important
● More attention to placement and to in and out movement
● Use more slower/softer balls with spin or float
● More long serves in last 10 cms of the table and with speed
● More long pushes over the table
● Short serves and receives require more quality. On receive flick and drop short from as early a timing point as possible. With the long push use early timing with speed and vary spin
● All expect a faster game so tempo variations are important
● Develop BH strength overall and in case of women use BH from the middle of table in fast play
● Maintain good physical fitness to cope with longer rallies
● Good overall technique with no major weaknesses needed to reach top levels. This applies to all areas, serve/receive, short play, drive, smash and spin production and on both wings

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