August 28, 2023 - Nine Battles

How many years have you played before noticing that “Table Tennis” is just an anagram of “Nine Battles”? And it's applicable to our sport. Here's my list of the nine biggest opponents you battle with in a match. Your assignment is to think about each and figure out how best to deal with them.  

  1. Preparation. This means getting a good warmup as well as going into the match with a relaxed frame of mind. Here's how to get A Good Warm-up.
  2. Equipment. Make sure you are using proper equipment for your level and style. (Here's Use Equipment that Matches the Way You Want to Play and Suggested Equipment for Beginning and Intermediate players.)
  3. Pressure. The more you play, the more you get used to it. But you will also greatly help yourself if you learn a bit about Sports Psychology.
  4. Tactics. You learn tactical thinking by a combination of thinking and experience. (Yeah, there's also Table Tennis Tactics for Thinkers!)
  5. Strategic. Play to win (tactical thinking) or for the future (strategic thinking)? But you need both. (And yes, Table Tennis Tactics for Thinkers also covers Strategic Thinking.)
  6. Serves. Do you have serves that dominate, either by forcing mistakes or returns you can attack effectively? There are endless articles on this, but perhaps Ten-Point Plan to Serving Success helps.
  7. Receives. Do you have receives that control the opponent, while making few mistakes and stopping him from making strong attacks? Here's Three Types of Receive Skills and Good Receive Is What Works.
  8. Opponent. He's a real person with strengths and weaknesses, who can change his own tactics to adjust to yours. Do your shots match up to his? (Perhaps with a little tactical thinking - see above - so you can match your best shots against his not-best shots?) You might want to learn to See Things from Opponent's Point of View.
  9. Yourself. This is the biggest battle of all, and often includes all of the above. The key thing is to believe in yourself. See 1% Hesitation = 100% Miss.