Modern Techniques -- Tips

Rowden October 2017

Playing Systems and Tactics
Playing Systems
● A playing system can be active or passive, or a blend of both
● At the top level individual active systems are clearly dominant
● Offensive players can still be very different in their individual playing systems
● The current tendency towards more speed will continue
● The playing system of a player demonstrates both his/her understanding of the game and of the way in which he/she individually performs to best effect

Tactics
● Tactical understanding is often visible early in a player’s career
● In table tennis tactics are essential
● With the speed of today’s game and the small margins at top level tactical intuition becomes more important
● Tactical ability is determined by the technical ability and mental strength of the player
● It is vital that the player has enough alternatives to apply and execute the necessary tactics
Technique and Science
Technique
● The more efficient my stroke and footwork technique, the more physical energy I can save.
● The more techniques I can master, the better I am prepared to meet new and different challenges from the opposition
● Table tennis is developing from long movements away from the table, to short movements closer to the table
● Having the perfect technique doesn’t make you the best player. The technique must be effective and work for you
● Technique is even more important with the plastic ball
Science
● To improve technically, you must understand and acknowledge the problem, identify it and find a solution
● The most time-consuming aspect is the adaptation of the solution to you and your personal game. We are all individuals
● You need alternatives, probably at least three to deal with every situation you face in the game
● Not only do you need to look at techniques in serve/receive, strokes and movement, you need to examine distance
● Every top player reaches the higher levels not through technique but by his/her individuality
Serve and Receive
Serve
● The serve is a formidable weapon; use it in this way
● Have total focus with each serve action
● Think in this manner. Which serve gives me an advantage –
o against my current opponent?
o for my next stroke?
● If you miss a serve, breathe deeply and think:
o Don’t lose your nerve now
o What do I need to do differently?
● When it’s 15 – 15, serve as if it’s 3 – 3. Adopt this mindset
Receive
● Be totally ready and prepared for any serve
● If you don’t return 2 serves in a row, stop, think and change something
● Before assuming your receive position breathe deeply
● If you can’t receive short serves effectively and with differing alternatives you can’t play at any level
● Long, fast serves are dangerous!
Flick and Block
Flick
● If you flick well over the whole width of the table, you have a clear tactical advantage
● With the plastic ball the flick is more important than ever
● To flick at the right moment often means a direct point
● To use the BH flick over three quarters of the table width is a modern tactic which works
● Train to flick at differing speeds and different timing points, from early to very late
Block
● Blocking is an important part of the modern game with the plastic ball
● The block enables you to throw back the opponent’s speed, spin and power
● There are many different blocking actions; soft, forcing, sidespin, stop and chop-blocks.
● You should experiment to discover which types of block suit your game tactically
● Good blocking opens up many attacking opportunities
Push and Chop
Push
● The push is a vital stroke in table tennis, both in a receive situation and as a link shot in rallies
● It is vital to be able to use all variations of push: short, dead drop ball, long, fast early timed float push and heavy backspin from early to even late timing
● The push is underestimated in top table tennis
● It is most important to be able to push consistently
● If you don’t push well you must have a very good flick and be able to use this all over the table
Chop
● Many attacking players cannot assess backspin defence correctly
● Choppers prefer to meet the hard, fast loop
● The flat drive or slow spin will often create problems for defenders
● Slow roll shots or sidespin win points against even good choppers
● Beware defenders who topspin or hit, especially on both wings
Topspin
Forehand
● You won’t get far at top level without being able to play topspin
● You need fast legs for FH topspin, footwork is everything in preparing for this stroke
● At higher levels you need to be able to vary topspin from slow roll to heavy spin and also incorporate sidespin into the equation
● Modern players take the FH topspin ball in front of themselves
● Good FH topspin creates many openings to win points
Backhand
● Backhand topspin is a point winner
● BH topspin down the line or into the body creates openings
● Because of the use of wrist and forearm in the BH topspin and the ease of playing ‘round’ the ball, it is often very difficult to read the direction and spin of this stroke
● BH topspin is a potent weapon v long backspin serves/shots to this wing
● You also have the option on this wing of playing the ‘inside out’ and ‘hooked’ BH topspins
Smash and Drive
Smash
● If you don’t enjoy smashing, you don’t enjoy anything
● If you can smash well you will have a clear advantage
● If you can smash at early timing or kill the rising ball you will win points much more easily
● Should you ever miss a smash, this should be a complete surprise
● If you can smash with your backhand, this will immediately take your game to a different level
Drive
● The drive stroke is now more important with the plastic ball
● The drive is a crucial and staple element in women’s play
● The timing of the modern drive should be early, or on the rise but before ‘peak’
● The drive can also be used off-the table with power in the women’s game (even as a substitute for the spin ball)
● The backhand drive can be very effective as it’s much more difficult to read
Alternatives
Serve/Receive
● The ability to serve short and wide using side-spin
● The ability in short receive to drop short, push long and fast with float and backspin and flick hard and soft with early and late timing
● The ability to serve deep and fast with varied spins, float, side-spin with chop or topspin to both wings and to the crossover
● The ability to vary long receives, block (including chop and side-spin options) and drive, topspin or even chop
● The ability to constantly vary serves, no two the same and to use all the opponent’s half of the table
Rallies
● The ability to change placement and use the opponent’s half of the table to the full
● The ability the change speed, long and short, hard and soft
● The ability to change spin with both timing and varying power input
● The ability to play the angles and to play straight down the lines
● The ability to play slower balls
Mental Strength/Nerves and Concentration/Willpower
Mental Strength/Nerves
● Nerves before any match are normal
● Down 0 – 4? Nothing is decided, think, change something and focus harder
● 10 – 10 in the final set? This should be 5 – 5 in your head
● You miss the serve at 15 – 15, look ahead and focus
● 5 – 0 up and opponent gets back to 5 – 5! Change something and relish the contest. There’s an exciting end-game ahead!
Concentration/Willpower
● Thinking about past and future, what has happened or will happen is of little help and can demotivate
● Think only about the here and now and focus one point at a time
● Talk and think to yourself. Immediate mental analysis after a rally is of value
● Do not allow things you cannot control (luck, bad umpiring decisions, poor playing conditions etc) upset your concentration. Only focus on what you can control
● During a time of absolute concentration you perform ‘in the zone’, more like an observer rather than a player in action
Physical Elements
Endurance
● If you don’t train endurance, running, swimming, cycling, you don’t understand anything about modern table tennis
● General endurance is a prerequisite for high-level performance
● You must improve either general endurance or your efficiency of movement
● The future of table tennis is more speed. This demands improvement in physical aspects
● Shorter training sessions but more often and with more intensity are the way forward. This is also in keeping with the shorter more intense games in our sport
Power
● Training in strength aspects when young will avoid pain and setbacks when older
● Nothing works without strength and this is more important with the plastic ball
● Balance is crucial in the development of strength and the stability of the spine vital. There should be equal development of the non-playing side
● Powerful legs are the basis for any top athlete
● Non-specific strength development is not needed for the playing arm as this impacts negatively on touch and fine control
Speed
● Use resistance bands for quick twitch muscle development
● Multi-ball increases overall speed and reactions
● Work at relaxed, interconnecting stroke play. When one stroke flows into the next this saves energy and makes the whole event faster.
● In order to lead into the next shot the path and finishing position of the racket after the previous stroke is crucial
● Anticipate better, watch the opponent, not only the contact on the ball, but the preparation of the body and the movement prior to the shot
Flexibility (Agility)
● Be precise even in the service throw and learn to use the whole body in the action of service
● Serve training is a prime example of optimizing body movement and utilizing many variations with the same basic action
● Use of the free arm is more important than most players think
● Rotation is vital in shot production and maximizing power
● The legs are a crucial part in the overall agility program
Coordination
● You have to find the balance between automatic responses and controlled reactions. This balance will often determine whether you play well or poorly
● Too much conscious thinking reduces the flow of the game and the quality of the balls played
● Find time for consistency and tactical decisions
● Every irregular exercise improves anticipation and well- coordinated responses
● Always search after the optimal relationship between conscious and unconscious actions
Training
● If you don’t warm up you’ll almost always play below par
● Too much training is as bad as too little
● Much training = good performance? Not true
● Meaningful training is only possible with full concentration
● All training should be geared to your individual development. Not only is the quality of training vital but the direction. Is it leading you to where you want to go?

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