Hi guys – in this video I’d just like to talk about the topic of making your opponent move when playing the ball. And the reason I want to talk about this is that usually when this kind of thing gets mentioned, it’s an incomplete explanation of what’s really going on, and I just want to try and give you a fuller picture in the time that we’ve got.
Now everybody throws that out there – “Make your opponent move when playing the ball”. And what we are usually saying is “OK – look, when you make your opponent move, it’s more difficult for him. People find it harder to move and play the ball.” So if I can stand here, if you put the ball just here I don’t really have to move my feet at all, I can stay nice and pretty still with my head, get a good focus and pivot. Same thing here, really I don’t have to move much, get good focus on the ball, and hit.
If you let me do that a lot, I’m going to be able to hit good quality shots. And that obviously makes sense – as players, the more often we can hit the ball without having to move much, the better our focus will be (our head’s not moving), the better our view of the ball will be, the easier it is to judge depth, direction, and the better our result will generally be because we’ll be better balanced. So that makes sense and people will tell you make your opponent move for that reason.
Now there are two provisos – one that gets mentioned a little, and one that hardly ever gets mentioned at all for this thing. Let’s just quickly touch on them as well.
The first thing is when someone tells you to make your opponent move, usually most players, especially at the lower levels, most players move better in one direction than the other for a particular stroke. A typical example is the player who plays a lot of forehand, likes to serve with the pendulum serve and then is very good at running around his backhand and playing from here. So he’s actually very good at running that way to play his forehand. But often if you actually put the ball wide to his forehand and play into his forehand instead of into his backhand side where he likes to run around – if you play to his forehand – a lot of players aren’t actually quite that good coming from the forehand side. They don’t always train it as much and in matches most opponent’s natural instinct is to return to the backhand to try and cramp up the player – it feels risky to return to return to their forehand where you feel like they are just going to wait there. But if you can get it nice and wide they have to move – a lot of players can’t move that well. So keep that in mind.
Same on the backhand side – a lot of players are very good on their backhand this way – but not so good at going that way. So it can vary from player to player, but when you are playing somebody, check it out. Try and find out if he moves better in one direction than the other – it’s good to know.
Now that’s the one that gets mentioned sometimes but not always. The one that hardly ever gets mentioned at all is that while it’s good to make your opponent move, you have to do it fast enough that he can’t get settled before playing his stroke, otherwise it tends to be kind of pointless – it doesn’t really work for you.
What I mean by that is say you’re playing me and I’m standing here, and you put the ball right into my playing elbow and I’ve got to go this way or that way. Now if you put that ball very quickly, I’ll probably have to play it as I’m still moving, so I’ll be moving out of the way and playing the shot at the same time. That’s difficult. But if you play that ball to the same spot slowly, I’ve got plenty of time to move, settle myself and then play the shot. So you have to remember that making your opponent move is a good thing – always a good thing. But if you move him, but so slowly that he actually has time to move and get settled again, it’s not going to be as good as if you can actually move him and make him play at the same time. So there’s that pressure – the pace pressure. It’s always going to be better to do it faster than slower. So put him under pressure – don’t let him move, set and hit. Make him actually hit on the run. You’re going to have to hit a little bit faster. That doesn’t get mentioned very much, it’s possibly just assumed that people know that, but in this case remember when you’re moving your opponent, make him move – moving is always good. That’s why people doing shooting or archery in the Olympics – they don’t do it on the run, they stand as still as possible , get a good look, and do their thing.
So that’s why as table tennis players we want to be still and steady, then play -if we can. Make them move, it makes them harder for them to judge distances, flight of the ball, intercepting the ball, but you’ve gotta do it fast enough that they don’t have time to get settled, get still and play the ball. If you can do that you’ll be much more effective.
The last thing – remember, players might move better in one direction than the other – might also move better in than out. So you can use depth as well as side to side. OK? Thanks very much.