Anticipation and Proper Footwork in Table Tennis - Carl Hardin

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Anticipation and proper footwork is the key to being in a balanced position to stroke the ping pong ball in table tennis.

The best table tennis players are not able to defend the entire ping pong table; therefore you must anticipate which of the three possible areas your opponent has selected to return your ball: your forehand, backhand, or your center court. The following information will enable you to be in position to defend 1/3 of the table instead of trying to defend the entire table.

Key #1 Primary position-start moving to a position opposite where your ball lands in your opponent’s court before/or as your ball lands.

Key #2 The Secondary positions- adjust your secondary position based on what you see. Watch the direction of your opponent’s stroke to the ball and their blade angle.

At the completion of your stroke start moving to your primary position before your ball lands in your opponent’s court.  Your primary position is opposite the position your ball landed in your opponent’s court. Then your final move is to your secondary position to return the ball from a balanced position to stroke the ball to your selected target. The secondary position is determined by your opponent’s stroke direction to the ball and their blade angle.

Watching your opponent’s blade direction of travel to the ball will indicate which part of the table – forehand, backhand or center court – their ball will land in, and the angle of his blade will determine the applied spin or hit. Now with this information start moving to your anticipated secondary area before your opponent contacts the ball. In order to maintain balance and control, you must make the final adjustment with your feet.

Remember: Improve your anticipation for better footwork in table tennis (MSH) Move, Stop and Hit.

Carl Hardin – USATT Certifiied Coach

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Tips for Playing Against Choppers in Table Tennis

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For many, defensive table tennis players can often be frustrating to play against. Although there is no foolproof way to play against the defensive style, here are a few useful tips and strategies that I always keep in mind when matched up against a chopper or defensive player:

- Aim at the elbow: Aiming your shots into your opponent’s elbow is always a smart thing to do, however it could prove itself even more effective when done properly against defensive players because of their large strokes.

- Be patient and find the winning strategy (even if it means winning ugly): Patience is incredibly important when playing against someone whose goal it is to make you miss. Frustration often causes table tennis players to rush and try avoiding long rallies, which usually leads to poor decisions and mistakes. Try to play high percentage shots on the table and select which balls can be strongly attacked and which balls should just be played carefully back on the table.

- Variation, Variation, Variation!: This perhaps is the key to playing against choppers. By playing without any variation at all (i.e, looping everything with the same speed, spin, and placement on the table), you’re directly playing into your opponent’s game. Against choppers especially, varying the placement, speed, and spin of the ball is vital. Keep in mind that placement includes the depth on the table (how close the ball is to the net and end line) as well as width (whether the ball is on the forehand or backhand side). Many players forget about varying the depth of their shots and only focus on the width, which only benefits a defensive player’s game.

- Getting them out of their comfort zone: Though this should be your ultimate goal when playing against any type of player, it is especially important when playing against a defensive player in table tennis.

By implementing the above tips into your game, you’ll be well on your way to becoming a defensive player’s worst nightmare.

Good luck and have fun!

Michael Landers

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