=>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
- 2022 Classic Hardbat World Championships – this is my article on it, with relevant links.
- $100,000 JOOLA Global Championships, Sept. 1-4 in Orlando, Florida. I will likely be coaching at this event . . . then going to Disneyworld afterwards!
Maccabiah Games – Table Tennis
They are taking place in Israel right now. Here are some links.
- Home page, with results, listings of participants, etc.
- Opening Ceremonies
- Maccabiah Open Table Tennis Set Sights On Gold, featuring Tahl Leibovitz.
- Tahl Leibovitz Named Banner Bearer for Team USA at the World Maccabiah Games by Steve Hopkins
Butterfly Training Tips
- Backhand Loop Against Random Plays with Wang Hui (60 sec).
- Footwork And Consistency Training with Rachel Wang (61 sec).
- Backhand Loop Crosscourt & Down-The-Line with Simeon Martin (63 sec).
New from PingSunday/EmRatThich
He's been Busy! (See comment on first item under "VIDEO.")
- What is WTT Star Contenders
- Is Table Tennis a Dangerous Sport?
- Surprised Upsets at WTT European Summer Series
- Why Did Fan Zhendong Refuse to Play in the WTT European Summer Series?
- Ma Long at WTT Star Challenge Budapest
- So satisfying to hear the sound of Ma Long's techniques (4:03) – This one was inspired by my July 4, 2022 Tip, Consistent Contact Leads to Consistency. EmRatThich wrote, "Special thanks to Coach Larry Hodges for the coaching advices."
- Ma Long, Cheng Meng are busy at WTT Summer Series (7:23)
- Ma Long nearly cried in WTT Star Contender (1:55)
- Respect? He is the hexagonal warrior (4:59)
- Chen Meng shows her injury with Dimitrij Ovtcharov (1:57)
- Will Truls Moregard defeat all top Chinese players? (3:59)
- How to watch the WTT Star Contender LIVE? (1:45)
- Sun Yingsha - Wang Yidi - practice service before the final (6:14)
- Match statistics - Ma Long vs Wang Chuqin - WTT Star Contender European Summer Series 2022
- Hexagonal warrior (Ads for car) (2:21) – with table tennis
- Congratulation to Wang Chuqin + Wang Manyu (3:53)
- Chen Meng withdraws from WTT Star Contender European Summer Series due to injury (16:35)
- Ma Long/ Wang Chuqin - Le Brun brothers (2:57)
- Why Fan Zhendong refused to play in the WTT European Summer Series? (2:35)
- Ma Long training at 2022 WTT Star Challenge Budapest (7:33)
- Xu Xin's left hand is bigger than the average person's (5:38)
- 99% of beginners in table tennis make this mistake (5:38)
New from Samson Dubina
New from Ti Long
- Ti Long guides and corrects 3 Forehand techniques for Australians | (part 1) (21:07)
- Ti Long guides and corrects 3 Backhand techniques for Australians | (Part 2) (16:15)
- How to make Forehand Drive with Short Pips (7:36)
- Ti Long fixes Backhand Drive & Topspin technical errors for students from Israel (20:55)
- Ti Long fixes Forehand Block technique against Forehand Loop increasing spin (15:31)
- Ti Long corrects technical errors for students from Israel (16:14)
New from Taco Backhand
- THE 🐐 DESTROYS UNTRAINED TABLE TENNIS LEGEND ALEKSANDAR KARAKASEVIC (KING KARA) (1:34)
- THE TIME JENS LUNDQVIST WANTED HIS REVENGE AGAINST HARIMOTO (1:35)
- CHUANG CHIH-YUAN PLAYS WONDERFUL TABLE TENNIS (2:46)
- LIN GAOYUAN PLAYS FANTASTIC TABLE TENNIS! (2:32)
- XU XIN IN EXCELLENT FORM DESTROYS ZHAO ZIHAO 4-0 (1:35)
- HUGO CALDERANO’S TOUGH DEFEAT AGAINST RUWEN FILUS (3:02)
New from Drupe Pong
- Omar Assar Passive Blocks against Harimoto Tomokazu (60 sec)
- Ma Long clever push against Felix Lebrun! (1:41)
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
- WAB Club Feature: My Table Tennis Club Markham
- Euro Summer Series: Chuqin Surprise Winner
- Euro Summer Series: Moregard to Face Chuqin in Final
- Mo Zhang and Paul Qi Headline and Canadian Championships
- Euro Summer Series: Moregard Tops World No.3 to Reach Final
- Quarterfinal Action in Budapest Live This Afternoon
- Tahl Leibovitz Named Banner Bearer for Team USA at the World Maccabiah Games
- Road to Paris2024 Olympic Table Tennis Qualification System Unveiled
- Rachel Sung Scores 3rd Gold Medal in Dominant Fashion Alongside Dan Liu
- Tran Brothers Take Home Gold with Strong Men's Doubles Finish by Joshua Dyke
- Amy Wang and Rachel Sung Win Women’s Doubles Final in Game 5 by Joshua Dyke
- Ping Pong Diplomacy Event Visits Bay Area
- Nikhil Kumar Captures First U.S. Nationals Men’s Singles Title by Joshua Dyke
- Lily Zhang Secures National Championship Number 6 in Women's Singles by Joshua Dyke
- Nikhil Kumar Wins First National Men’s Title by Barbara Wei
- Lily Zhang Claims Sixth US National Title by by Barbara Wei
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."
- ITTF Thailand Para Open 2022
- Tong Chi Ming makes presence felt, feeling amazing
- First-Ever WTT Champions Begins in Budapest
- Globe Trotting Scotsman in Search of World Championships Place
- Aiming to repeat success of four years early, return to Thailand
- ITTF President Visits European Youth Championships, Meets with Sport Minister
- Stefano Bosi and Bruce Burton Appointed ITTF Senior Advisors
- ITTF Competition Managers Course Latest Initiative to Strengthen Durban 2023 Legacy
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!