Winning tournaments isn’t merely about having fast footwork and a powerful loop. Winning is often determined by how poorly you can make your opponent play. In many other sports like swimming or running or weight lifting, you compete and your opponent competes. Your job in running is to perform well yourself. However, your job in table tennis is to hinder your opponent. I’m going to be very blunt here… If your opponent doesn’t miss, then you can’t score a single point! Think about that for a minute…
With that said, your primary concern in table tennis should be… How can I mess up my opponent?! There are literally thousands of ways to take him out of his comfort zone, but today I’m going to talk about 1 way – serving. How can you take him out of his comfort zone with your serve? Each opponent has a preferred way that he likes to return serves; he might prefer to backhand flip or forehand loop or backhand push or drop shot. Before serving, look at your opponent and ask yourself the question, “How does my opponent want to receive my serve?”
So how do you know how your opponent wants to receive the serve? Can you read his mind? No, but you can read his body language and you can remember how he previously received other serves. In order to read his body, look out of the corner of your eye…
- If he is too close to the table, then a deep, fast, heavy backspin serve to the body will likely force him to push back long.
- If he is too far from the table, then it will be difficult for him to drop shot on a short serve because the momentum from his forward movement will push the ball long.
- If he is waiting for a forehand loop by standing significantly too far to the backhand side, then the short and wide forehand is usually open.
- If he is preparing to do his backhand banana flip over the table, then a deep serve to the backhand will be difficult for him to return.
The possibilities are endless. If you develop the habit of glancing at your opponent and asking yourself the right questions, then you will be well on your way to making him play your game instead of letting him play his game.
Look at your opponent and win!