Imagine playing a tournament match. It’s you versus your opponent in this gladiatorial combat, with both players alone out there, on their own. Except . . . that’s not what happen when your opponent has a coach. It’s no longer you versus your opponent, it’s two against one, and you are the one. How can you best handle this? Here are some tips. (Note that at the time I’m writing this, USATT had just rejected, at least for the moment, the ITTF’s new coaching rule, whereby coaching is allowed at any time between points. If played under ITTF rules, where an opponent can receive coaching between points, some of the tactics change, especially #5 below.)
In the first game, I mostly served backspin and looped his pushes. On his serve, I mostly forced rallies, often backhand-to-backhand, and out-steadied him. I won the game, but it was relatively close – the opponent was rated lower than me, but was competitive. I knew his coach would tell him to quick-push my serves to wide corners to stop my forehand attack, and to attack my middle in rallies. So in the second game I switched to serving mostly short side-top and no-spin serves (all disguised as backspin) that he proceeded to quick-push ten feet off the table. In rallies I went on the forehand attack and feasted on his balls to my middle. He got very frustrated and I won the second easily. In the third I went back to my first-game tactics and won all the points at the start. The coach called a timeout, but when they returned I switched to my second-game tactics, and went up 10-0. (I played a lobbing point there and sort of gave him a point, and then won 11-1.) After the match the poor kid threw a tantrum, blaming his coach for the loss.
So next time you play a match against someone with a coach, take advantage of the situation!