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Larry Hodges

Coaching Tip Of The Week – Five Ways To Force An Opponent Out Of Position

(by Larry Hodges)

One of the best ways of winning a point is to force an opponent out of position. There are many ways of doing this. (Many start with serve.) Here are some of the best! (Note that “middle” means the transition point between forehand and backhand, roughly the playing elbow.)

  1. Attack middle, then wide to corners. If the opponent covers the middle with his forehand, then he leaves his wide forehand open, and vice versa if he covers the middle with his backhand. In both cases, some players over-react in an attempt to cover the open corner, in which case it’s the other wide corner that’s left open.
  2. Short to forehand, long to wide backhand, or short to backhand, long to wide forehand. This brings the player over the table, allowing you to jam them on the other wide corner. This is especially effective when going short to the forehand, long to wide backhand, but both can work.
  3. Go to a wide corner twice in a row, taking the second one quicker and wider. After a player covers a wide corner, he often moves back quickly so that he can cover the other corner – leaving the just vacated corner open. (This especially works when attacking the forehand twice in a row.)
  4. Short to middle, wide to corners. This forces the opponent to decide whether to return forehand or backhand. If he returns with the forehand, he leaves the wide forehand corner open, and vice versa if he returns with the backhand.
  5. Aim one way, go the other way. This is one of the most under-used tactics. Most players react to your first motion in a direction, and if you then change and go the other way, you catch them going the wrong way.
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