July 18, 2022

=>NOTE – Next blog will be on Monday, Aug. 1. See segment below on "Upcoming Schedule."

Tip of the Week
Contact Point on Racket When Serving.

Strategic Versus Tactical Thinking
[I was going to write about this – and then I realized I could just copy and paste from my book, Table Tennis Tactics for Thinkers. Here are all my books – buy a few so I can afford supper!]

What’s the difference? Strategic thinking is how you develop your game. Tactical thinking is how you use what you already have to win. Strategic thinking is long-term planning while tactical thinking is short-term, usually confined to a specific match. (These are the general definitions, and they are what I will use in this book though they are not universal.)

For example, a strategic thinker with a good loop might think about what types of serves will set up his loop, and develop those serves in practice sessions. A tactical thinker might think about what serves he should use to set up his loop in a match against a given opponent. Strategic thinking takes place during the developmental stage of your game—which never ends as long as you are still practicing. Tactical thinking takes place while preparing for and playing a specific match.

Suppose you have a weak forehand attack against backspin. When an opponent pushes heavy to your forehand, you have to tactically choose whether to use your weak forehand attack (perhaps using good ball placement to make up for the weakness of the attack), or whether to just push it back. Tactically, these may be your only options. Strategically, you should note this weakness in your game and go practice your forehand attack against backspin so next time you aren’t so limited tactically.

It is the strategic thinking that leads to developing the tools needed for tactical play. But it works both ways—it is tactical thinking that makes you aware of what parts of your game need development, which leads to strategic thinking. Call it the Circle Of Strategy & Tactics, or COST.

Many years ago there were two juniors at my club. Both started out together, and by age twelve were getting pretty good. One mostly won by pushing and blocking, a winning tactic, while the other mostly attacked, using tactics to allow himself to do so. When they played in tournaments, the pusher/blocker won over and over. Then one tournament match the pusher/blocker tried to win by attacking, and lost. After the match his father yelled at him, and over the next year his father made him play tactically, both in practice and tournaments, relying on his pushing and blocking to win. The other junior continued to attack, even though he kept losing to the pusher/blocker. Then, predictably, about a year later the attacker began winning, and soon his level was much higher. This was a classic case of strategic thinking (the attacker) versus tactical thinking (the pusher/blocker). You need both.

There are also countless cases of strategic thinkers who never learn to play tactically, and so never win at the level they should win. You need to learn both strategic and tactical thinking. It’s a balance. From a mental and tactical standpoint, you should develop the mindset that you should win, and expect to win, against players at your level, and even those above. Playing matches strategically too often (and thereby not thinking tactically) may affect this winning mindset. So find a balance.

As you read these pages, think about how each topic relates to your own game—which is both tactical and strategic thinking.

My Upcoming Schedule
I'm going to be hyper-busy the rest of the summer, including a lot of travel. There will be a Tip of the Week every Monday – I've written them in advance – but no blog on July 25, and then, after doing one on Aug. 1, no more until Aug. 29. During that time I'll be traveling in Texas and Mexico – see schedule below. This Friday I'll be in a nine-day science fiction writing workshop. Do not even DREAM of asking me to do anything during that time – the workshop is all day, every day, and most nights. Here's my upcoming schedule. (Yes, my world is split between table tennis and science fiction.)

  • July 22-30 - Attending "The Never-Ending Odyssey" Science Fiction Writing Workshop, as I do every year. This is for graduates of the Odyssey Science Fiction Writing Workshop, a six-week workshop I attended in 2006. This will be my 13th TNEO, including the last ten in a row. (In the link above, you can see me in the picture, back row, third from left.) It used to be in person, in Saint Anselm, NH, but it is now online on Zoom. (Here's my Science Fiction Writing Page and Bibliography.)
  • Aug. 5-7 - Playing and doing coverage of the World Hardbat Championships in Houston.
  • Aug. 8-11 – Touring Houston (NASA Johnson Space Center and Space Center Flight) and San Antonio (Alamo, River Walk).
  • Aug. 13-27 – Guided tour of Mexico. The tour focuses on historical sites, including Aztec, Zapotec, Maya and Spanish cultures, with sightseeing in Mexico City, Puebla, Oaxaca, San Cristobal de las Casas, Palenque, Merida, Chichen Itza, Playa del Carmen. (Link above gives detailed listing of trip. Feel free to join me!) It'll be my second time in Mexico - the last one was circa 1990 when I coached the US junior team in a tournament there.
  • Sept. 1-4 - Tentatively coaching at the Global Championships in Orlando, then a day or two at Disneyworld. (No plans made yet, however.) 

Two Upcoming Major Events You Should Attend

Maccabiah Games – Table Tennis
They are taking place in Israel right now. Here are some links.

Butterfly Training Tips

New from PingSunday/EmRatThich
He's been Busy! (See comment on first item under "VIDEO.")



New from Samson Dubina

New from Ti Long

New from Taco Backhand

New from Drupe Pong

Lower Body Circuit; Coordination and Agility
Here's the video (64 sec) from the Performance Biomechanics Academy Table Tennis.

Ask the Coach
Here are the latest questions from PingSkills.

Table Tennis Central
They have 20 new videos this past week.

New from Steve Hopkins


U.S. Table Tennis Tour Kicks off to Honor Legacy of Ping Pong Diplomacy
Here's the video (2:30). "The first leg of a special table tennis exhibition honoring the renowned "Ping Pong Diplomacy" between China and the U.S. kicked off in Houston, Texas over the weekend, marking the start of a five-city tour which aims to carry on the legacy of the historic diplomatic turning point between the two nations."


WTT Star Contender European 2022 [Felix LEBRUN VS MA Long]
Here's the video (12:42) between the French rising penhold star (world #80) and perhaps the GOAT from China.

Truls Moregard vs Wang Chuqin | MS | WTT Star Contender European Summer Series 2022 (Finals)
Here's the video (11:13) of the match between the world #5 from Sweden and #14 from China.

Funny Table Tennis Shirts

Happy Birthday Ping Pong Cards
Here they are!

Six Seconds of Real TABLE Tennis
Here's the video! (That's Nadal on near side, I think Djokovic on far side.)

When The Boys Take Ping Pong Too Seriously
Here's the video (35 sec)! (It's from 2020, but I don't think I'd seen this one.)

Political Table Tennis Cartoons
Here are two! (Greece, Turkey, and Refugees; Climate Change)

Send us your own coaching news!