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Tip of the Week - The Lead Problem

Challenge an Opponent’s Strength

By Larry Hodges

Sometimes it’s a good tactic to go after an opponent’s strength. After all, his game is probably based on getting that shot into play, and so you are probably going to have to face it – so rather than have the opponent choose when he’ll use it, why don’t you pick the times he’ll use it?

For example, suppose your opponent has a very nice forehand smash or loop. He’s going to use the shot; there’s no stopping that. You could play into his backhand, but then he could step around to use the forehand. So why not simply attack his forehand side yourself, and force him to use his strength off a difficult ball? And then, with him pushed over to his forehand side, you can block back to his backhand, where he has to play his weaker shot while out of position – a double whammy.

Or suppose your opponent is a very good blocker. You keep getting stuck in rallies where he’s quick-blocking the ball around the table, rushing you and forcing you into mistakes. Since he’s going to block anyway, why not throw a slow, deep, spinny loop at him? That’s the most difficult ball for a blocker to quick-block – he has no speed to play off, it’s deep so he can’t really rush you, and the spin makes it tricky to block. And so rather than getting quick-blocked all over the table, you’ll get a weaker block that you can really attack.

So if your opponent is going to use his strength, why not use it against him?

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