USA Table Tennis

Nov 30 Tip of the Day - Power Player Control Shots

By Larry Hodges | Nov. 30, 2013, 9 a.m. (ET)

Hunor Szocs

Hunor Szocs (ROM) at the 2013 Swedish Open


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Larry Hodges

Power Player Control Shots

There’s nothing an experienced and tactical player likes better than facing a player with big shots but little else. On the other hand, there’s little more scary than an opponent with big shots and ball control to set the big shots up and withstand opponent’s attacks.

If you are one of those players with big shots, and feel you dominate many matches and still lose perhaps it’s time to stop thinking about these big shots, and develop the "little" shots.

For a power player, here are a few of these "little" shots that you might want to develop:

  • Short serves. You can’t get your shots into play if your opponent is looping your serve.
  • Develop backspin/no-spin serves. A no-spin serve is just as effective often more effective than a spin serve, if the opponent isn’t sure it is no-spin. Mixing up backspin serves and no-spin serves (with other serves thrown in for surprise and variation) is a great way to set up your big shots. Both tend to get pushed back deep, and the no-spin serves tend to be popped up slightly with less backspin.
  • Return short serves short, especially against backspin serves. A short backspin serve is relatively easy to return short; if you push it long, your opponent can attack, taking away your big shots. (This is a tricky shot to control, and it takes a long time to develop, but it pays off eventually.)
  • Develop a quick, fast push. It’ll catch opponents off guard, and set up your big shots.
  • Learn to block back an opponent’s opening slow-to-medium speed loop. The single most effective way of beating power players is to loop first with a steady loop, forcing them into many mistakes. If the power player makes one good block against the opening loop, he’ll often get a shot he can go after on the next shot. You can also counterloop these opening loops, but if you try to force the counterloop too often and too predictably, an experienced opponent will force you into all sorts of mistakes. Example: If an experienced player sees his power-looping opponent take a step back to counterloop, he knows a short, spinny loop will give him great difficulty. This same short, spinny loop would be easy to jab-block (or loop off the bounce) if the opponent hadn’t predictably stepped back.
  • Have complete confidence in your big shots. If you are playing good tactics to set them up, don’t hesitate to use them. But know when to play a set-up shot instead, and then don’t hesitate to follow the set-up shot with a big shot.
  • Fight to the end. There’s nothing more nerve-racking than trying to hold a lead against an opponent with big shots who keeps his head and plays smart. That’s a recipe for choking.

Webmaster Note: Larry has an outstanding daily blog worth visiting regularly and bookmarking.

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