Table Tennis Blog
Table tennis is one of the most dynamic sports on the planet requiring three key, game elements: Speed, Spin, Power.
If you had to prioritise the three elements, which would be your top choice?
Let’s discuss all three, then I’ll place my personal order and leave you to ponder.
Spin started playing a huge part in the game once technology kicked in and this began in the 1960’s. Many Champions were formed via the ability to produce lots of spins, through new high tech rubbers.
Nobuhiko Hasegawa: World Singles title, famous for his heavy topspin and high arching lob shots.
István Jónyer: World Singles title, famous for inventing the sidespin loop shot.
John Hilton: Famous for winning the European Singles Championships, using deceptive chop and float shots. John used a normal spin rubber and an anti-spin rubber on the other side. Both rubbers were coloured red (allowed back then) making it very hard to distinguish what spin was imparted on the ball.
Jan-Ove Waldner: Grand Slam Champion, famous for many shots, including the chop block, hook and fade plus punch. All of these variety of spin shots enabled JO to adapt and change at will, creating many difficulties for his opponents.
At a young age or lower to advanced level table tennis, Spin is by far the most effective element and skill.
Early 2000’s power began to overwhelm spin. The ball was increased in size reducing spin and players like Ryu Seung Ming (Olympic Champion 2004) crunched every ball regardless of spin. Wang Liqin won the world single title 3 times, with his gigantic forehand topspin. And table tennis began to see a breed of stars focusing on hitting the ball harder, rather than spin focused. Table tennis has been dominated by power players over the past 20 years now.
Jean Phillipe Gatian, comes to mind when speed is the main focus. He won a world championship title using his lightning footwork. A few other examples include: Desmond Douglas and Wang Tao, they both gave every player hard time, taking the ball super early. Nevertheless, back then speed was unable to contain spin and neither won a major title!
Are we seeing a new trend coming into play?
Spin was the major killer initially but over the past 20 years power has taken command. But...
I have been keeping a close eye on China vs Japan for the past 3 years and I’ve noticed a new trend which may be tomorrow’s winner.
Speed has not had the success of the other two but Harimoto is proving that speed does actually kill.
Harimoto, as we all know gone from strength to Strength and is still in his early teens. He has beaten the best players in the world including Zhang Jike, Fan Zhendong and the dragon Ma Long. All three, Zhang , Fan and Ma are renowned for their awesome power and they have dominated table tennis over the past 5-10 years.
Harimoto seems to have found a chink in their armour, SPEED!
He played Ma Long two weeks ago and with all of Ma’s awesome power, it seemed nullified. Harimoto, did not give ML time to wind his big shots and even if he did Harimoto used it against ML. Ma Long, would rocket a ball and Harimoto would counter, firing ML's power straight back at him. Furthermore Harimoto used speed alongside good placement which saw him win many points by either wrong footing or disabling Ma Long.
Are we seeing a new powerhouse trend emerging?
I believe we are! and Harimoto, still is proving that speed does truly kill.
My personal order:
At no.3: Spin, it had its day but can not live with power at pro level. Spin is still king at lower, intermediate to advance level of play.
At no.2: Speed, today I believe power is still the dominant force but very soon I can see it changing and speed will be the new king
No.1: Power, is a force not many can deny but speed likes to kill, so let’s see what will happen in the very near future!
My current coaching theory and methods using all three elements:
First ball: Serve or Return the focus should be on high quality spin and placement.
Second ball: 3rd and 5th ball, the focus should be on Speed and placement taking the ball early and putting your opponent on his/her back foot.
Your 3rd ball: 5th and 7th ball, focus on producing a powerful attacking ball with good placement and lots of energy on the ball.
There you have it, three key table tennis game elements that have evolved and change our game over the last 60 years.
Written by Eli Baraty
eBaTT (Eli Baraty Academy of Table Tennis)
Coach Me Table Tennis
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I began playing when I saw Forrest Gump and from that day it became a life long journey..