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USA Table Tennis

Tip of the Day - In a Lopsided Match, What Should the Higher-Rated Player Do?

By Larry Hodges | Nov. 29, 2013, 9 a.m. (ET)

Xu Xin

Xu Xin (CHN) at the 2013 Swedish Open


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Larry Hodges

In a Lopsided Match, What Should the Higher-Rated Player Do?

At both club and tournament matches, when two players of very different levels play, there is often a period of awkwardness. This is not about competitive matches with serious rallies; this is about matches where the outcome is not in question. Usually the lower-rated player has paid good money to get into a higher event for the experience.

Should the stronger player play his best, and perhaps win 11-3 or even 11-0? Should he use his best serves, which the weaker opponent may not be able to return? Should he rip winner after winner? Or should he ease up some, use simpler serves, and mostly just keep the ball in play?

If you’re the weaker player, why not just tell the stronger opponent what you "expect"?

If you’re the stronger player, your best bet is to find something the weaker player does that you can practice against. Perhaps go to a simple backspin serve, and practice your loop. Or perhaps work on your footwork, playing all forehand. Or … just ask your opponent if he wants to see your best game, best serves, etc. If he wants to see your best … give it to him!

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