Tactics against defensive players

Table Tennis Match Strategy

Last updated 4 years ago

Jonathan Unknown

Jonathan Unknown Asked 10 years ago

Hi Coach - great website - I think you should have a section purely around tactics. For example I struggle against choppers - Any advice would be appreciated.



Jeff Plumb

Jeff Plumb Answered 10 years ago

Hi Jonathan,

We will be adding more and more information to our lessons page and almost certainly we will include a section of tactics so stay tuned.

As for some advice against choppers, here is a couple of things to concentrate on:

  1. Watch the spin - It is crucial against a defensive player to be able to tell if the ball was chopped with a lot of backspin or a little backspin.
  2. Direction - Try hitting your attacking shots into the body of the chopper cramping them for room and then wide to either side.

I believe these two points are the most important in improving your game against defensive choppers. I often see attacking players hitting 5 or 6 amazing, powerful forehands straight into the perfect spot for a chopper to make an easy return. And then I watch a player who is good against choppers and even though they do not hit the same amazing shots, they win the points easily by using good placement and attacking the right ball by reading the spin.

Good luck Jonathan. Let us know if these tips help you out next time you play a chopper.

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Jeff Plumb

Jeff Plumb Posted 10 years ago

Thanks for the great advice. The tip on placing the ball has really helped my game. By varying where I hit the ball it makes it much more difficult for the defender.

Jeff Plumb

Jeff Plumb from PingSkills Posted 10 years ago

Hi Jonathan,

 I'm glad you found the advice helpful. And don't forget about watching the spin the chopper puts on the ball - it will really help you out when you want to hit a more aggresive shot.

david Unknown

david Unknown Posted 8 years ago

dear all, if you want to win against a chopper, you must learn to consistently loop/drive against backspin,without this skill your chances are dim

andrew brand

andrew brand Posted 8 years ago

also learning to do good drop shots that bounce twice on the table. if you smash a couple of times to draw them away from the table then do the drop shot they might not get back in time for the second bounce.

Alois Rosario

Alois Rosario from PingSkills Posted 8 years ago

We have just filmed a lesson on the drop shot. It is in the editing stage at the moment. Watch out for it soon.

Stefan Liew

Stefan Liew Posted 7 years ago

My question is that should you play the ball short with a defender to prevent him from chopping?

Alois Rosario

Alois Rosario from PingSkills Posted 7 years ago

Hi, yes playing short can be a good tactic against a defender.  The wait for a loose ball that you can hit hard.  Hitting hard, while the defender is close to the table is effective because he hasn't got as much time.

gian crispino

gian crispino Posted 7 years ago

the general plan of most choppers is to make you tired by letting you loop again and again whenever i face a chopper i use short-long-short-long ball technique to make my opponent tired first

Paul Johnson

Paul Johnson Posted 6 years ago

I will hit short on different sides with various amounts of backspin until the ball go into the net or a bit high for a nice flick long to the corner or elbow shot. It usually is way to fast to get to it. If I notice they don't have good footwork and position then I will play their backhand with a mix of short and deep shots to work them to the corner and then when I get receive a shot to middle or right side I hit it fast to their forehand corner or far forehand just over the net. Either way they have to rush to get to it and I am able to get the point then or after their next shot which usually sets me up for a lovely smash. Also taking their backspin and giving topspin loop is crucial to learn.

Justin O'Toole

Justin O'Toole Posted 4 years ago

Here is some tactics against Choppers fellow ping pong players, i have really thought about this very hard.

With the serves. Do about 80% very short and vary the spin and placement. This makes the defender uncomfortable because they stand a long way back from the table.Also they have to run into the table to get the serve. The other 20% serve long and vary the spin-placemnt. This keeps them back from the table.

After the serve and the rally begins do two heavy top spins and keep them way off the table, then for the next two points push the ball over the net extremely short bringing in your opponent right up to the table. Keep this going for the whole game. Defenders are really comfortable away from the table but not up close to the table.

What you essentially are doing is tireing the defender out by bring him in and out. Another thing this makes a defender uncomfortable they like to be along way off the table chopping not frequlently standing right up at the table. Be paitent when doing this wait for the him to make a mistake then you hit the winner straight at him.

Your heavy topsin will force him into errors and your drop shots will force him to sit some up for you to attack-kill. I learnt this tactic from a croation coach coaching a croation Youngster who was playing a defender at the 2006 Oceana-junior world curcit leg matches when i was helping the Geelong Table Tennis Club run the event.

I have never forgotten this tactic the croations used against defenders.

Frendy Halim

Frendy Halim Posted 4 years ago

What about a deffender that are always near the table ? Just like my friend, he's a deffender but he only push and block and also put sidespin on the block (he's a penhold) but sometimes he attack with counterhit and topspin but his attack is not that good especially the topspin what do you think ?

Justin O'Toole

Justin O'Toole Posted 4 years ago

Good question Frendly Halim.!! This makes it harder when a player is standing up to the table. I must be honest with you i have always had trouble with this sort of player. I used to play someone just like your friend and i really struggled.I think standing up to the table and playing paitentley waiting for the right ball to attack is the trick.

But this is only my way of dealing with this situation. Ask Alois he will surely have an answer for you on this question. Myself i have struggled when i have had to play someone with your friends style. Excellent Question Friendly Halim thanks for bringing it up.!! 

Frendy Halim

Frendy Halim Posted 4 years ago

Um... Sorry before, my name is frendy xD what i do is to make him move sidely and keep attacking until he's move backward...

Esteban Mendez

Esteban Mendez Posted 4 years ago


I saw a similar question about dealing with blockers. The coach said that blockers like it when the ball comes to them fast and the same. To combat them you need to vary the speed and spin of your ball all the time in order to give these blockers trouble. I will try this when I face my opponent once I see him again-see, he's a blocker too and I find it annoying that he always returns my fast balls, he makes light of my games.

Justin O'Toole

Justin O'Toole Posted 4 years ago

Never think defensive players are defensive all the time. Some can be very attacking especially once your fustrated upset and hitting everthing, into the net because of their backspin. Also because they keep returing the ball can be anoying. Once your makling mistakes, getting tired and have stopped attacking defenders gain confidence and can have a devistating attack.

Don't get upset and let it get to you beat them at their own game. Just remember defenders can attack too and be very devistating.

Esteban Mendez

Esteban Mendez Posted 4 years ago


You are right about defensive players not being defensive all the time. I understand that defenders should know how to attack as well as defend. My opponent in particular though, I noticed that he simply puts the bat in the middle waiting to return that fast ball. I also noticed his habit of returning the ball long (especially attacking that way). I tried something different. I hit the ball short consistently and I noticed that he messed up more often than before. So I guess I can say that I found his weakness. To check, I hit the ball hard and long to him again and he blocked well (to make sure that he wasn't just having bad luck or anything). By the way, I saw a video of Waldner playing Li Gun Sang (defensive chopper) and I noticed that Waldner varied the spin and speed of the ball against his opponent in order to beat him.

Here's the link


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