November 29, 2011

Tactics versus Strategy

I've blogged in the past about the difference between tactical and strategic thinking. Tactical thinking is what you do to win now; strategic thinking is what you do to prepare yourself to win later. I had an experience a while back where I was coaching a junior against another junior who was about the same level. The other junior was a better counterlooper, while the one I was coaching had a better block. It went into the fifth game. Between games I said, "Do you want to counterloop with this guy?" (I was thinking he should block more, since they were getting into a lot of counterlooping points.) The junior I was coaching said, "I can beat him counterlooping."

My first thought was that if you block, you'll win, but if you counterloop you'll lose. I opened my mouth, then closed it, and then realized this was one of those strategic moments. So we worked out a tactical plan whereby he'd not just counterloop, but he'd serve and receive to get into those rallies. Because he was looking to counterloop every chance, he was ready for the shot, and so was able to pull out the fifth game, counterlooping down an opponent who normally would have won most of those rallies. It was a huge confidence booster for him, and he improved dramatically as his game became more looping, less blocking. Tactically, blocking might have been the right thing to do, but strategically, he needed to be able to counterloop against this type of player if he wanted to reach the higher levels, and so counterlooping was the strategic choice.

How to be more aggressive with third-ball attack

Way too many players serve and push, thereby giving up their serve advantage against a passive receive. If you want to improve, you should learn to serve and loop against these passive long pushes. There are always exceptions, but the vast majority of top players - and most intermediate players as well - reach that level by almost always attacking when an opponent makes such a passive return. You should too. You have many options - forehand or backhand loop; loop hard, medium, or soft & spinny; and wide to the corners or at the opponent's elbow (middle).  Here's a video from Coach Tao Li from Table Tennis University (4:55) that helps teach how to do this.

Europe versus Chinese table tennis

Here's a recent article, Professionalism in Europe, that explains why Europe is lagging behind China in table tennis. Here's an article I wrote a while back (along with Cheng Yinghua) called The Secrets of Chinese Table Tennis and What the Rest of the World Needs to Do to Catch Up.

Teams writeup

Here's a short article on the JOOLA North America Teams in the Baltimore Sun.

Mike Cavanaugh interview

Here's an interview with USATT Executive Director Mike Cavanaugh in the Sports Business Daily.


You may remember I warned about eating turkey for lunch or dinner if you have to play afterwards, because the Tryptophan may make you sleepy? (I blogged about this on September 8, and reprinted it on November 24.) Well, Red and Rover did a cartoon on this!


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