Friday, July 11, 2008

Tip #1: Got patience?

Welcome to my first table tennis tip. Yay, hurray, woohoo, honk! I will be making this a regular thing, so if you have any questions please please please ask, either by e-mailing pongwithme [at] or by simply leaving a comment, if that's easier for you.

Okay, so in table tennis, you gotta be patient. That's not to say that you don't have to make sure your legs are quick enough to get to the ball, nor does it mean you shouldn't be aggressive when the opportunity arises. However, you can't rush a point. In other words, you can't be too obsessed with finishing off the point with a killer loop before you've taken the time to set yourself up for a put-away shot.

If there's one thing that I've learned is super important in table tennis, it would be this: never fear playing out the point.

You have to be patient and strategically set yourself up for an opportunity to end the point. If you play to set yourself up for a good shot, you'll find that you will actually start winning many of your points before you even get to put away the point. Sort of anti-climactic, but it's true! You won't have to waste your energy ripping away at unnecessary shots but instead can conserve energy for times when you really need it (say, deuce in the 5th or match point).

So how should I work on that aspect of my game, you say? Well, young padawan, you must be one with the force. I'm just kidding. I would suggest that when you're playing practice matches (heck, even when you're playing a tournament match), mentally visualize how you will set yourself up for an opportunity to put the ball away.

When serving, don't think about trying to win the point with an ace serve. Instead, think about what serve will allow you to set yourself up for a good shot to put away. That strategy is based on what spin you put on your serve, where you place the ball, and where you want your opponent to receive the ball. Based on your opponent's tendencies and on the spin of your ball, try to think about the possible areas where your opponent might return the ball. As the server, you have a certain degree of control, which you can use to your advantage. You don't want to deal with your opponent's nasty underspin chop? Serve a fast, deep topspin serve so that your opponent is forced into a topspin rally. Don't want your opponent to keep ripping your serve? Serve so that your second bounce is closer to the net, so that the ball bounces lower and closer to the net so that your opponent won't even have the opportunity to attack the ball. All this is in your control.

If you're the receiver, think about what your opponent is not expecting. Think about which angles, which depth will throw your opponent off the most. When your opponent is thrown off, you will have a better chance of scoring a winner.

For inspiration, here's Timo and his crazy rally with a chopper. Now this is patience, young padawan. Enjoy!

P.S.! Go to your nearby 7-11 today to get a free Slurpee (while supplies last). Yum yum :)


wakka? said...

I see. Unfortunately, it's hard for me to play out points since I either get dominated by really fast shots or very strong spin. Otherwise, hi, Atha!

Tsoi Dug said...

Congratulations on the name of your blog, Pong Along! Why, you don't mind associating the sport with the term "ping pong"!

Hey, why don't you tag your posts with "ping pong" instead of only "table tennis"?

I am so against this attempt to disassociate the sport from the term "ping pong". First, the snottiness against the term "ping pong", as being a supposed denigration of the sport that conjures up play in basements, betrays an arrogant and self-harming elitism - since when has a sport turned its nose up at those who self-teach themselves the sport, even though it be in basements? Second, the Chinese are the leading power in the sport and the Chinese term for the sport is "ping pong"! Is it not kind of American xenophobia to rail against the term?

I am sure that your using "pong" brings your blog popularity, because we the lowly masses insist on enjoying the sport in garages and basements, and insist on calling it "ping pong".

Atha said...

Hi wakka?,

Thanks for your comment. I would advise that you simply practice more against better players. If you're looking for a place to find better players, I'd suggest checking out my post about how to find a table tennis club near you. There, I post a link to, where you can find registered clubs in your area.

I will, however, try my best to help you improve with an upcoming post. Stay tuned!


Atha said...

Hi tsoi dug,

Thank you for your comment. I have actually responded to it in a post. Please see it for my response.