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In practice table tennis matches, you probably play against opponents that you feel comfortable playing against. You understand your opponent’s basic strengths, weaknesses, serves, and common patterns. Often, in a table tennis tournament, you will compete against a variety of styles. From the first few points, it is critical that you quickly make a game plan then continue to readjust your game plan as the match progresses.
In an average tournament match, you will have between 3-10 seconds per point to form this plan.
Quickly think to yourself…
Does my opponent win the majority of his points by attacking?
Does my opponent win the majority of his points by keeping the ball in play and waiting for me to miss?
Once you have answered these two questions, it then becomes very easy to form a detailed plan as the match continues.
If he wins most of his points with a strong attack, it is critical for you to attack first, keep him from attacking, and if he does attack, return at least 1-2 balls to extend the point. Most of your serves and returns should probably be short and low. Throughout this match you should be focused on how to attack first.
If he wins most of his points from your errors, then focus on being consistent and choosing the right ball to attack. Don’t fall into playing his game; but don’t go to the other extreme of missing the first one from being overly aggressive on every ball. Be patient and be selective… in table tennis.