The Battle, Weapons and Alternatives

Rowden January 2015

Battles are won by having the right weapons, by using suitable tactics, but above all having the will, the desire and toughness to win. Heavy weapons usually prevail over light ones, the wrong tactics can turn victory into defeat, but without the will any sustained conflict is doomed to failure. What must also be understood is that new weapons and tactics are being developed year by year and time does not stand still. Our sport of table tennis is very similar to warfare.

Above all else each player must know how he/she performs best and how to be most effective, which are the best weapons and which is the best way to use them. In addition no individual can stagnate or be satisfied with current levels. Change is the essence of all existence and in sport we must move forward and keep bringing new aspects into our game. Equally we are all individuals and must find our own way to success; no two players perform in the same way. Finally we have to find the most suitable tactics to beat the opponent, what is effective against four players may fail miserably against the fifth. We must have alternatives and be aware of when and how to use these.
What many of us fail to understand is the need for differing alternatives to cope with differing situations. Not only do we need to develop the right weapons for us as individuals but we need as many alternatives as we can get, because this means we are more able to handle a bigger variety of strategies more easily. Also of course we need to be able to use different tactics against some players as we will always on occasion meet players who cope easily with our strongest shots. This is when we need the alternatives and to be able to think and act ‘outside the box’.
The aspect of minimizing one’s weaknesses is important: the expert opponent will very quickly take advantage of major areas of weakness and all top players are ‘complete’, in that they have no real holes in their game. However even more crucial is to focus primarily on developing one’s strengths: players only achieve their fullest potential by evolving in a way that their own natural strengths blossom and come to fruition. It is only by refining these individual specialties that you will reach the peak of performance because only in this way do you develop weapons which are both unusual and particular to you. Against such weapons there is no easy method of defence.
But in the final analysis as in any battle the mental aspect, the will is of paramount importance. Players must believe in themselves and their training; if they have good training and development and understand how they perform best, then nothing is impossible. In many contests there are in fact only very small margins between top players; technically and physically the differences will be minimal. The winner is in fact often determined not by these technical and physical factors but by attitudes, mental strength and self-belief!