(By Larry Hodges)
The next time you are in a close match, and are worried about making mistakes, and so play super safe to avoid mistakes . . . consider this. Letting your opponent control play is the biggest risk you can take in table tennis. You no longer have control over your fate. All your practice and preparation is mostly gone as you sit back and hope your opponent will hand you the victory. What can be riskier than that?
This doesn’t mean you go for big shots. It means, for example, pushing quick, very deep or short, and wide-angled rather than a safe push to the middle of the table. It means taking the ball a bit quicker, so your opponent doesn’t have time to take control. It means going for aggressive angles and shots to the opponent’s middle rather than just safe shots toward the corners. It means finding ways to return serves that take the initiative away from the server (either by taking the initiative or getting into a neutral rally), rather than just getting them back and letting the server take the initiative. It means taking the initiative at the start of a rally, whether by attacking or by doing shots that make your opponent uncomfortable, so that you control play. There are many other examples. Take control – it’s less risky!