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Finding Simple Tactics That Work

(By Larry Hodges)
Finding Simple Tactics That Work

I was going to write about this topic when I realized I didn’t have to – I already had. Chapter One of my book, “Table Tennis Tactics for Thinkers,” starts 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.”

What does this mean? Rather than explaining it again here, I’ll simply quote from the book – and hopefully you will learn how to win the tactical battle and make the game simple and easy!

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.

In simpler terms, the purpose of tactics is to mess up your opponent.

You do this by messing up his game, and by forcing your game on his. More specifically, tactics is finding ways to get your strengths into play while avoiding your opponent’s, and going after the opponent’s weaknesses while not letting him go after yours. It’s figuring out how you win and lose points.

To do this, you have to know both your game and your opponent’s. While you might go into a match not knowing much about your opponent (though ideally you would have scouted him out in advance), you should know all about your game. How well do you know your game?

If you couldn’t write a book about your game, either you don’t know your game, or you have no game. (We’ll get back to this shortly.)

Table tennis is a game of utter complexity and utter simplicity. If you get too caught up in the myriad of complex strategies available, you’ll be lost in a sea of uncertainty. Think KISS—”Keep It Simple, Stupid.” Most matches are tactically won on at most two or three tactical things, not the zillions that are possible. It’s finding those two or three out of the zillions that’s key. On the other hand, if your thinking is too simple, you aren’t maximizing your play.

There’s no conflict here. Much of tactics involves simplifying things so the game becomes simple and easy. If you use tactics that force your opponent into predictable returns that feed into your strengths, you’ve won the tactical battle and made the game simple and easy.

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