Prime Thinking Points in Modern Table Tennis

Rowden 2011

• Value speed, spin and accurate/effective change; aim to use your strengths and take the initiative within the framework of all-round control
• Attack constantly and keep the opponent guessing. Any attack should be constant and varied and should keep the opponent under pressure in one way or another. Change in different forms will also keep the opponent off balance

• Improvisation is required all the time. Attack using power/spin or change if you can, if you can’t take the offensive initiative, then you must control until you can.
• In receiving serve, keep control, return the ball in different ways, try to go on the offensive
• In rallies, attack first, put more speed, spin or power into the stroke before the opponent and change direction, length or angle first
• In defence, keep applying pressure, maintain control, but look for the opportunity to change the form of the rally and to counterattack
• Good serves give you more opportunity to attack
• Good serves and movement help you to build up your attack system and your own unique style
• If you move faster you are better placed to attack strongly
• In today’s game all-round skills are vital. Top opponents will quickly take advantage of any weak areas
• In Europe we don’t play athletically enough and don’t play body-accented strokes
• We are not precise enough in serve/receive and short play and are restricted as a result in what we can do after
• Sequential play is vital – to connect the 3rd and 5th shots for example and make combinations. Don’t get in the habit of playing weak or safe shots before your attack
• The mentally strong will win the initiative battles
• Your first attack stroke should have quality
• Try to do something different first, to make the opponent play your game. The highest levels are reached when we dominate in the initiative of change
• Be unpredictable at all times
• Speed is always the most important factor in any style. Speed includes quickness in all areas, bat, body and mind, change and tactics, footwork, reactions and adaptability
• The combination of speed, spin and placement is the way our game is going to develop
• Coaches are required to take the lead in researching playing style, this provides clues for future development and the pursuit of excellence
• Winning the battle of placement enables you to use your tactics to the full
• Speed, power, spin, trajectory and placement are the prime strengths. Top players are good in at least 3 of these areas
• To progress to higher levels players must be innovative and creative. Too many players are conservative and fail to take the necessary risks to achieve greatness
• If you can play quality shots you will get weaker returns and have more chances to dominate
• Be aware of all the timing possibilities – early and late ascending, peak and early and late descending. Timing will affect stance and movement patterns
• Be aware of the various forms of power.
1. Full power (90% is often enough)
2. Medium power (60 to 70%)
3. Using the opponent’s power (40 to 50% of your own to gain 70 to 80% effect). This is a safe way to be aggressive
4. Absorbing power.
• Use the centre of gravity (even in serving, pushing and blocking)
• Lead with the wrist before hitting the ball
• Focus on a point on the table when hitting the ball
• Use the opponent’s power first in your stroke production
• Play through the ball when playing the shot
• For good counter-attacking take up position a little deeper
• If you are weak in power, have a closer and squarer position. This also applies to players who use the opponent’s power well
• Players who have quick footwork and want to play FH’s from the BH corner can assume a position on the BH half of the table. Bear in mind however that retreating when moving to the FH can result in weakness or in a gradual change of style
• The slower all-round player should be more central in position
• Each player has a distance from the table in which he/she operates most effectively. The player must try to stay in this area 70 to 85% of playing time. However he/she should also train in the closer and the more distant positions to be effective when forced out of the comfort zone.