At what level do players stop beating themselves

Table Tennis Discussion

Last updated 8 years ago

Gary McAdams

Gary McAdams Asked 8 years ago

It seems that at my current level (1250) I am able to defeat any opponent that is around the same level by focusing more on consistency than forcing errors, opting for high percentage quality shots instead of low percentage attacks.  I'm not playing defensive, just to be clear, and I'm working every day to improve my ability to attack.  What I'm trying to do is be more selective and patient, and this is working very well for me (for now).

My question is this:  at what level do players stop being their own worst enemy and defeating themselves?  When will I need to rely more on forced errors to score points than unforced?  

What I would really love to see is a proficiency breakdown but I haven't been able to find one.  For example, a level 800 player will be able to (what?), a level 1500 player will be proficient in (what?), level 2000 etc. etc.  I think this would help developing players understand where they need to improve in each area to get to that next level.

Hope this makes sense.  

Thanks!


Alois Rosario

Alois Rosario Answered 8 years ago

Hi Gary,

I am not sure that there is a level where players stop beating themselves.  I see some highly World ranked players that will still do this due to tension or lack of emotional control.

I like the ideas of a proficieny breakdown.  It would be difficult to determine as there are a lot of factors including mental ability that is hard to quantify.

Any ideas from readers would be great to start this off.


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Ji-Soo Woo

Ji-Soo Woo Posted 8 years ago

This is a good question.  Playing in local pennant competition, it has always struck me that the vast majority of points are won on errors and not winning shots.  This is certainly true for the lower divisions, but it is my observation that you can even be a perfectly respectable division 1 player by just keeping the ball low and deep, perhaps with a bit of variation in spin and pace, and just wait for the opponent to make the mistakes.  It is only at the very top of division 1 where I see players who can consistently attack with a high percentage of success. 


Gary McAdams

Gary McAdams Posted 8 years ago

Ji-Soo What would you say the players at the top of division 1 are rated?

I know that this concept applies to my own game as well - most of the time when I lose it's because I give away points.  Anyone who overpowers me does so because I struggle with their serve - if I make a good return I have a good chance of winning the point.  It looks to me like this type of strategy will win at least through the next few levels, but can you really get to 2000 without having to force mistakes?  Can you go even higher than that?

Of course this is all anecdotal, I've got an idea for some simple data collection that would help to tell the real story.  It might even be useful in your vault Alois :-)

And Alois, the way I picture the proficiency breakdown would be similar to the way they do things in martial arts - to achieve the next "belt color" the student has to reach specific goals that are set.  The student then knows what he/she needs to focus on to get to that next level.  I agree that mental ability, performance under pressure, etc. are things that are hard to quantify, so maybe the guidelines would describe physical/technical skill only?  Or maybe they could go into the area of mental ability but be more general?  For example, a 900 player should be comfortable playing in a local club against different opponents, or a level 1800 player should have XX tournament experience to be mentally ready for the challenges he/she would face at this level.


Jean Balthazar

Jean Balthazar Posted 8 years ago

Hi there,

The question is a good one, and I agree that, not only can you reach a good ranking based solely on a consistent game-play, but you really need that strong base to build up on if you plan on reaching higher levels later.

On the other hand, table tennis is a game and it should be fun, whatever the level. So I'm not really interested in what my ranking could look like if I focussed on moving the ball around the table, waiting for the opponent to miss, because I would be bored. Even if they do not pay off statistically, I want to play the shots, all of them, the risky ones and the even sometimes the plain silly ones!

Just saying. I'm 42 and I don't really plan on ever become world champ anymore!

Ciao.


Anthony Capasso

Anthony Capasso Posted 8 years ago

Hi Gary,

I am a 1482 level player. Since I have not played a tournament in three months, I am more like a 1700. The unforced errors come when my opponent chooses to attack a difficult ball. However, I also beat myself too by not being patient enough. If I ever am behind, I will abandon all offense and start forcing my opponent to attack. I will often chop and back up. Since I am 14, I am fast enough to get away with that. I hope you can find a good mix of offense and defense.


Gary McAdams

Gary McAdams Posted 8 years ago

Thanks Jean and Anthony, appreciate the insight.

I think maybe the answer is that when you're playing someone at or around your own level, then unforced errors will always be a critical factor.  This probably wouldn't apply when playing against someone that is much higher or much lower than you, but when playing someone that is about equal you have a better shot at winning by playing high-percentage shots consistently.  


Ji-Soo Woo

Ji-Soo Woo Posted 8 years ago

It all comes down to shot selection.  You have to know your own abilities.  If there is a shot to be attacked and you know you have a high percentage chance of making it, then go for it.  Likewise, if you are making 40% of your attacks then you are handing the opponent a free point 60% of the time.  There is nothing that reduces pressure on your opponent as much as unforced errors.  However, like an addicted gambler who remember the wins more than the losses, table tennis players tend to remember the screaming winner they hit and forget the 3 misses that preceded it...even though they all count for one point.

 


Ji-Soo Woo

Ji-Soo Woo Posted 8 years ago

Sorry Garry, I can't help you with your question about the rating of the top div 1 players.  Ratings are very hard to compare, even between different states.  As a general guide though, the top div 1 player in the club told me he beat a Chinese provincial under 18 champion in a tournament...which is pretty impressive if that's true!


Jean Balthazar

Jean Balthazar Posted 8 years ago

One more comment, if I may. If you successfully execute one type of shot only 40% of the times, on a pure mathematical basis, yes, you should never play that shot. Still, I don't think that this is true if you consider all the parameters that will influence the game result. Bare with me: Let's say this 40% success shot is the fast long serve, and as a consequence you stick to short serves all match long. What will happen? You're opponent will quickly know that you always serve short, therefore he will have the advantage to pre-position himself for a short serve receive, giving him more time to adjust a more efficient receive, making every rally begin in a more uncomfortable situation for you. So to me, you have to use a large spectrum of shots just to keep your opponent guessing, even if it costs you some points. Not to mention that if you limit yourself to a narrow range of shots, your opponent will much more quickly get used to them and adjust his counter attacks.



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