Table Tennis Tactics For Thinkers
By Larry Hodges
Book Review by Samson Dubina
Table Tennis Tactics for Thinkers is one of the best table tennis books that I have ever read. I feel that players of all levels can benefit from the details of serve tactics, receive tactics, rallying tactics, doubles tactics, and tactics against various grips, rubbers, and styles.
Beginner Level… Most coaches teach their beginner students basic strokes for the first 6-12 months. After a year of playing, then the coaches will begin to teach game tactics. I love the way that Larry details how recreational players can also develop solid game tactics by learning how to place the ball, learning how to be consistent, and learning how to read the opponent. In addition to the game tactics, there is also plenty of valuable information outlined about strokes as well!
Intermediate Level… Probably about 80% of the book is geared toward the intermediate level tournament player (1400-2200 rated). Once an intermediate player has been training for several years, the strokes have already been established and now the intermediate player must focus on game tactics. This book is essential for that player! Larry takes a full chapter to detail each possible tournament opponent – loopers, blockers, counter-drivers, hitters, choppers, fishers, lobbers, and funny-rubber players and explains each of the common tactics against each opponent specifically. This information for the tournament player is a must-have! I personally think that every tournament player should keep of copy of this book in their bag for quick reference before each tournament match, especially when playing slightly unusual styles like lefties, choppers, lobbers, etc.
Advanced Level… For many advanced players, they probably understand some of the concepts laid out in the book. However, every advanced player would really benefit from reading it because it was more than just the facts of how to play, but it’s the thoughts that run through your mind. For example, in the first chapter, Larry talked about what to think, when to think, and how to think. Check out this paragraph…
“How can you play tactics during the point if you aren’t thinking during the point? The answer is if you spend enough time thinking about tactics, it will get absorbed by your subconscious, and tactics will become mostly reflexive. If you decide you need to loop a deep serve, you don’t wait until you see a deep serve, and tell yourself, “Ah, a deep serve. I should loop it.” Instead, remind yourself regularly of what you need to do, the subconscious will get the message, and you’ll do it automatically. It becomes ingrained. What does this mean? It means that a major part of tactics is developing reflexive tactics to cover basic situations. Thinking too much is not a problem. It’s thinking at the wrong time, such as an inability to turn off the thinking and clear the mind as the point begins, that is the problem. If frozen by indecision, then that’s a lack of thinking. Make a tactical decision and be decisive.”
It would take years of private lessons for you to hear all the content contained in this book. For less than $20, you too can boost your game by thinking better, training better, and playing better game tactics in your next tournament! To read more about this book and other books by Larry Hodges, go to www.tabletenniscoaching.com
By Larry Hodges