USA Table Tennis

Tip of the Day - Hit Twice to the Same Spot

By Larry Hodges | Sept. 08, 2013, 9 a.m. (ET)
Larry Hodges

Hit Twice to the Same Spot

In table tennis, it’s good to keep moving the ball around to make an opponent move. However, sometimes you want to go to the same place twice. Here are a few good examples.

You’ve just blocked the ball to the opponent’s wide forehand. The opponent had to go out of position, but made a somewhat aggressive topspin return from his wide forehand. After the shot, he began to move back to cover his wide backhand. Most players try to take advantage of the opponent being out of position by going back to the backhand. This will often work, but it’s often better to go right back to the forehand. The opponent is moving in the wrong direction, and will have trouble covering this shot a second time in a row. Even if he does, he probably won’t have time to get to the shot and put much power on the shot.

Now suppose you’re playing a chopper. You’ve made a good attacking shot, but the chopper chopped it back. You did a drop shot, the chopper ran in and pushed it back, and then quickly stopped back for your next attack. Do you attack again? Only if the opponent is too close to the table, or if his push was weak. If the opponent is stepping back to prepare for your attack, why not do a second drop shot, and catch him going the wrong way? Most likely you won’t get an ace, but you’ll not only get a relatively weak return from a lunging opponent, but your opponent will probably now be jammed at the table, unable to get into position to chop your next ball. Easy point!

Finally, you’ve smacked a strong shot right an the opponent’s playing elbow – usually a player’s weakest spot. The opponent manages to make a return, but not a particularly strong one. You get ready to attack his weak return. Why not go right back to his middle? If you go to the corners, you might give the opponent and easy forehand or backhand counter. By going to the middle, you can catch him again. Since his previous shot was weak, he’s unlikely to be looking to counter-attack from the middle since he’ll more likely be in a defensive position.

Why not sit down and list for yourself what your best options are in various situations you come up with? Against some opponents, what works once will work every time. (In other words, your opponent is not a thinker.) Against other opponents, you have to mix things up. This means knowing when to change directions – and when to go right back to the same spot.

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