How do I play this opponent

Table Tennis Match Strategy

Last updated 2 weeks ago

Richard Xu

Richard Xu Asked 2 weeks ago

Hello Alois,

Recently, I have played an opponent with a playing style that really gets on my nerves.

Usually, he would stay in the pushing rally and waits for me to attack, and he stands there and blocks to the other side when I pivot. Should I keep playing aggressive with my forehand, or play a bit more safe with him?

What I want to know:

Which serves to use

What I do in the rally

How I finish the ball off 

Alois Rosario

Alois Rosario Answered 2 weeks ago

Hi Richard,

Dealing with a defensive, block-oriented opponent can be tricky, but you can certainly out manoeuver them with the right strategy.

Consider using short and low serves to limit his attacking options. A short sidespin serve to his backhand can be particularly effective as it may force a weaker return that you can capitalize on. - Mixing in some deceptive long serves with topspin or heavy backspin can catch your opponent off-guard and open up opportunities for you to attack.

Patience is key in this scenario. Don’t rush to finish the point with power; instead, look for the right opportunity to attack. Keep your shots varied in terms of placement and spin to keep him guessing. - Incorporate drops shots and short pushes to bring him close to the table, then quickly switch to deep, fast shots to push him back. This will make it harder for him to maintain a strong defense. - When you do attack, make sure you’re in a good position and choose your spots wisely. Instead of always aiming for outright winners, focus on making your attacks difficult for him to block effectively.

Look for opportunities where he gives a higher or slower block. Those are your chances to execute a strong, well-placed loop or smash.  Consider using your pivot forehand sparingly as a surprise element rather than a regular approach, especially if he anticipates and blocks it well.  Work on placing your finishing shots into corners, into their crossover point near their elbow or wide angles where he is less likely to retrieve the ball. Remember, adapting during the match based on his responses and weaknesses will be crucial. It’s not just about power but also placement and strategy.

Also for our Premium Members we have a tutorial on Playing a Blocker that will also help.

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Thoughts on this question

Rick August

Rick August Posted 2 weeks ago

If the player is mostly a blocker and does not attack that well, you may want to use a lot of topspin serves.  This will get you right into a topspin rally and avoid a pushing rally.  You may still need to be patient if he is a good blocker but at least you will not be stuck in a pushing rally.

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