Changing your strategy during table tennis matches

Changing your strategy during table tennis matches

One really important topic in table tennis is the ability to change your game plan or strategy in the midst of a table tennis match. It is very important to know what your opponent is planning or trying to do in a match.

You have to remember that your opponent is also trying to outsmart and counter your actions, similar to what you are doing.

So being experience enough to read your opponent is really important so that you can constantly change your tactics based on what they are trying to do to you.

One has to remember that there is a counter for every shot. But first you need to be at a certain level of stroke consistency and control to be able to execute game changing strategies.

Many table tennis players fear their opponent’s strengths so much that they only either focus on the weaknesses or completely give up when hitting to the opponent’s strength. 

Instead of being afraid of their strengths, try to use their strengths against them.

Here are some examples:

1) Your opponent’s serve is very short and very low.  You should be able to loop the serve and start the point out with attacking.  However, this opponent’s serve cannot be looped. 

Instead of getting frustrated, you should be able to push his short serve short and wait to loop the following ball. Always try to be patient and constantly think of ways to out play your opponent.

2) Your opponent’s push is very heavy and you can’t power loop the first ball.  Instead of getting angry and impatient, you should use your legs, open your bat angle, and brush the ball for a slightly slower and loop with more spin. 

After he blocks your opening loop, you can follow-up with a stronger loop. Again this takes some patience, do not rush into setting up the point.

3) Your opponent’s flip is extremely fast.  Instead of getting mad with the speed, you should shorten your swing, make contact with the ball, and return it quickly to an optimal location on the table. 

He probably will not expect you to return it and will not be ready to return it and will most likely have to block the shot back. After he blocks, then you can take over with a faster shot.

4) Your opponent’s loop is really powerful.  Instead of getting pissed off with his loop, you should remain focus and try to return a single loop at a time. 

By bending your legs and staying low, keeping your table tennis bat high and in front of you, and using a controlled block, you should be able to return one loop or a few. 

Once your opponent realizes that you can return it, he might slow it down and go for better placement or he might attempt to speed it up and make more unforced errors.


Do not be afraid of your opponent’s strategy, constantly practice your own game plan as well as counters to different kinds of opponents. Of course there is no way you will be able to counter every single strategy.

However being consistent with your shots and being able to control the spin and placement will give you a much bigger advantage when dealing with all table tennis play styles.

Recommended books

Table tennis tactics for thinkers

Learn table tennis tactics from USATT Certified National Coach and Hall of Famer Larry Hodges. Includes tactics against different styles, grips, and surfaces as well as tactical and strategic thinking. The book opens with this: “Tactics isn’t about finding complex strategies to defeat an opponent. Tactics is about sifting through all the zillions of possible tactics and finding a few simple ones that work.” The book then explores the tactical and strategic development needed to have the specific tactical tools needed in any given match – your “tactical toolbox.”

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