Table Tennis Tip ― Devastate the “Top Dog”

Newgy Robo-Pong

Everyone wants to pull off the biggest upset of the tournament – that is everyone’s aspiration when entering a table tennis tournament.  In this article, I’m going to outline some of the major tactics that can turn your dream into a reality.

Forget About It

Forget about winning, just play your best.  You have about 4-7 seconds between points during the table tennis match.  Instead of spending those 4-7 seconds on calculating your new rating with the big rating adjustment you will get, focus your attention on your performance.  Are you moving well?  Are you spinning the ball? Are you adjusting?  Are you making good decisions?

Expect a Fight

You need to expect this table tennis match to be a huge battle.  Hoping that your opponent will be injured or hoping that his racket fails the thickness test won’t put you in the best mindset for an upset.  Of course, things do happen – elite table tennis players get cramps, get injured, get into arguments and have equipment problems – these external factors could seriously help you with a win – but you shouldn’t be hoping for these traumatic events to happen to your opponent.

Take Some Risk

If you play normal and your high-level opponent plays normal, then you will likely lose.  Especially in the beginning of the table tennis match, you must take measured risks to put pressure on your opponent and steal the first table tennis game.

Don’t Be Risky

Ok, I thought that I was supposed to be risky?  I’m going to re-emphasize the point I just said……       …..MEASURED RISK!  MEASURED RISK!  About 90% of elite table tennis players don’t need to perform against the low guy because the low guy goes for too much risk.  Please don’t try to smash every serve, please don’t try to smash every loop.  Don’t be TOO risky!

Continue to Adjust

For sure, the elite table tennis player is smart.  If he starts losing, you might make some adjustments.  As the table tennis match progresses, continue to think of tactics between points and make the necessary adjustments.  Just because a particular tactic won the first table tennis game 11-2, doesn’t mean that it will continue to work.

Remember It

After the upset, you can go back to the table tennis club the following week.  Instead of just remembering the look on your opponent’s face, you should remember the tactics that you used, remember the mindset that you had, remember the aggressiveness or consistency that you played.  My game is structured around my upsets.  When I had my biggest upsets, I was able to mentally list the factors that contributed to the upset and continue to restructure my game around those aspects.  You can do it too – just remember, write it down and train accordingly!

By Samson Dubina, Professional Table Tennis Athlete and Coach

Read more →

Table Tennis Tip - Devastate the Offensive Chopper

Newgy Robo-Pong

There are many different types of choppers in table tennis; however, I’m going to lump all the choppers together into two categories ― offensive choppers and defensive choppers.  Today, I’ll be talking about the offensive chopper ― he likes to move back from the ping pong table, chopping with pips on his backhand, while fishing and counter looping with his forehand.  Even though he is away from the table, he is looking for the opportunity to move in and smash with his backhand or loop with his forehand.  He wins about half of his points with consistency and half with his power shots.  If you are having a difficult time picturing this style, I recommend that you watch some YouTube videos of Hou Yingchao or Chen Weixing.  Watch how they win points with offense and defense and watch how they are looking for every opportunity to step in and rip a winner.

Tactics:

Rubber - Before starting the table tennis match, make sure that you inspect your opponent’s rubber – especially the backhand side to see if he is using short pips or long pips and to see if it has sponge and to see if it has friction or not.  Also, during the course of the match, watch your opponent carefully to see which side of the table tennis racket he is using.  Choppers are very good at twiddling so that they can use inverted or pips on the backhand.

Consistency - At the start of the table tennis match, try to evaluate your own consistency as well as your opponent’s consistency.  If you are more consistent, then focus on playing steady and allow the chopper to panic while going for wild shots.  If your opponent is more consistent, then you will need to find ways to finish the point early or give enough variations to lower his consistency.

Opportunity - Choppers prefer to push, chop, and loop deep.  It is vitally important that you be able to move in-and-out against a chopper.  If he mistakenly chops a ball short, you should see the opportunity and move in for a stronger loop.  If he fishes or counter loops, you will likely need to move back slightly to continue looping, if he chops again, you will need to move forehand to continue looping.  This is one of the main differences of playing a chopper vs playing an offensive looper.  Typically when playing topspin, you prefer to stay about the same distance from the table.  When playing a chopper, you often need to move in-and-out, out-and-in, in-and-out, out-and-in based on which shot he plays and the depth, height, and spin quality of the shot.

Transition Point - When attacking, the main location to loop the ball is spinny to the middle transition point.  Sometime it will take about 8-10 loops to win a point spinning over and over again to the backhand.  Sometimes you may not want to risk going to the wide forehand because you are afraid of the counter loop, so often the middle will be your preferred location.  When you loop spinny and deep to the middle and your opponent decides to backhand chop, he will then be slightly out-of-position for the next ball.  The next ball you should loop slightly further to the forehand (about 3-4” further to the forehand) or possibly target the wide angle backhand.  Regardless of what you choose next, you are forcing him to move into an awkward position in the middle.  When you loop spinning and deep to the middle and your opponent decides to forehand counter loop, this will again be an awkward ball for him because he is contacting the spinniest back location on the ball.  Most counter looping choppers prefer to reach to the forehand and contact the side of the ball for a lateral sidespin counter loop; this makes is much easier to counter loop because they will only be feeling about 50% of the spin when contacting the side of the ball.  For this reason, most of your loops should be spinny to the transition point.

Short Forehand - It is difficult and sometimes unnecessary to continually loop over and over again.  Sometime you need to push short to bring the chopper in.  If you push short and low to the forehand, the chopper will have an awkward time smashing the low ball.  Once you bring him forward, then try to attack the middle or wide backhand.

Deep Backhand - If you loop deep and he chops deep, it will be difficult for you to push short.  If you choose to push and can’t go short, then usually pushing deep to the backhand is preferred.  Even if the chopper knows how to backhand loop, it is very difficult to move in from 12’ back and backhand loop.  The only time that I would recommend pushing deep to the forehand is when the chopper is looking to pivot from the backhand side and play a strong forehand loop from the backhand.

Plan B - Typically, the offensive chopper can adjust his style playing more aggressively with his forehand counter loop, more passively with fishing and chopping, or even go to blocking from near the table.  As the table tennis match progresses, you also need to be willing to evaluate and re-evaluate the situation.  Just because you won the first game 11-1, doesn’t necessarily mean that that particular tactic will work the entire match.  Take your time between points, re-evaluate, and play smart to beat the offensive chopper.

Check out this video:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jdzBiIty6BI

By Samson Dubina, Professional Table Tennis Athlete and Coach

Read more →

Table Tennis Tip - Devastate the Defensive Chopper

Newgy Robo-Pong

In table tennis, there are two general types of players.  There are players who win most of their points by hitting strong shots; against these opponents, you need to stop their big guns.  Then, there are players who keep the ball on the table and win most of their points from YOUR errors.  Against these opponents, you need to eliminate mistakes, be selective, be consistent, and look for the right opportunity to dominate with your game.  The defensive chopper falls into the second category.  The defensive chopper might occasionally attack against a very easy ball, but he is looking to win about 9-10 points per game from your errors.  So what if you just pushed and pushed and pushed, would that be a good plan?  Well considering the fact that he specializes in pushing and chopping, you probably won’t outlast him.  So what should be your plan?  The plan is the keep the game simple, eliminate errors, and go for strong smashes and loops AT THE RIGHT TIME.  You can relax knowing that your opponent won’t hurt you.  You have plenty of time to work the point and play tactically.

Equipment - Before you begin the table tennis match, check his table tennis racket to see what type of rubber he is using.  Often times, choppers have inverted on the forehand and pips on the backhand, so be sure to check if he is using long or short pips.  Long pips will give you more of your own spin back when you are looping and short pips will give more variation.

Serve - When serving against the chopper, I would recommend serving deep no spin serves with good placement variation.  Especially deep serves to the middle tend to be difficult to return with quality.  Also, try serving short topspin to the forehand.  If the chops pushes it, it often comes back high.  If the chopper flips it, then you can immediately begin with a quick attack before he has time to get into position.

Receive - Get the ping pong ball on the table.  This player doesn’t attack.  There is no reason to try to rip the heavy backspin serve sharp to his wide backhand.  Just make a simple loop or push with plenty of arc and begin the rally.  REMEMBER, he is counting on YOUR errors in order to win.

Rallies - Again, be consistent in the table tennis rallies mixing up pushes and loops.  Hopefully, within the first 1-5 balls, he will chop high enough for you to hit a power shot.  If he is good at keeping it low, then also consider pushing and looping higher. 

Placement - Playing to the middle of the ping pong table and using the angles are often good.  If the chops and pushes are coming deep to you, then attacking the middle is usually better.  If you get a short one, then go for a sharp angle push followed by a sharp angle attack the other direction.

Mindset - You mindset needs to be shifted slightly.  I know that you have programmed yourself to loop all the long balls and to loop low and deep with decent power.  However, if you begin losing then you must change your mindset.  Slow down about 5000 rpms, calm down, take some deep breaths, and remind yourself to work the point longer.

Fatigue - During the long table tennis matches, fatigue might become an issue.  Remember that you as the offensive table tennis player will likely tire out before the chopper.  With this in mind, try to take at least 8-10 seconds between points.  Even if you are winning initially, try to resist the temptation to play the next point fast.  Think of the table tennis match as a marathon, not a sprint.

Practice - As with all the various types of opponents in table tennis, making proper adjustments is important.  With a few minutes of pushing and controlled looping practice before the beginning of the table tennis match, you can physically and mentally be prepared to control the match against the chopper, work the point, and go for it at the right time!

By Samson Dubina, Professional Table Tennis Athlete and Coach

Read more →