Training with Weaker Players
Make it an enjoyable experience
Saturday, October 08, 2005
by Greg Letts - an Australian state coach, an International Umpire and one of the top ranked players in his country.
From time to time on the various forums that I frequent, I read posts from table tennis players complaining about having to play against weaker players and wasting their time. So today I'm going to talk about how to get the most benefit from those times when a player much worse than you comes up and says "How about a game?"
Check what they want
The first thing to do is make sure you know what they are after when weaker players ask for some of your time. Some may simply want to give a better player a game for the fun of it, or to judge their standard against yours. Others may be hoping that you can give them some tips to help them with their own play. And there are those that may be thinking that they are better than you, and be out to prove it!
So, assuming that the person asking you is quite a bit weaker than you are, ask them what they would like to do. If they are looking for a serious game of table tennis, give them one. Some people say that you should play as hard as you can, while others say that you should let them play a few rallies and have some fun. I personally am of the second school of thought - show them some of your best stuff to give them an idea of what can be done, and then let them have a few rallies so that they can enjoy themselves. Those opponents who want you to play hard all the time will let you know straight away if they think you are taking it easy.
If they are looking to improve their game or get some tips, then you can ask them whether they would mind if you use the time to do some training in return for giving them some help and advice. If they are agreeable, then there are many things you can do that will help them learn something and enjoy themselves while you still get some training done.
What do you want to do today?
Provided you have a weaker player that is willing to let you train in exchange for some help, you have a wealth of options at your disposal. Possible choices include:
But what if he says no?
Against a weaker player who wants to play you but doesn't want to help you train, there are still things you can do to get some benefit, without offending your opponent.
Change your attitude
It might also help if you change your attitude to playing weaker players. Remember, at any typical club, if you are the strongest player you will have to play all weaker players, and vice versa. If you are in the top 25% of players at your club, then 75% of your possible opponents will be worse than you. You can't expect to only be playing the ones better than you - otherwise why can't they expect the same and not want to play you?
Some players also hate to play weaker players because they see them as possible competition in the future. Try to think of these players as future practice partners instead - the quicker you help them improve the more good practice partners you will have!
Unless you are the worst table tennis player in the world, sooner or later you'll have to hit or play games with someone who is worse than you are. Using some of the techniques above can make playing against weaker players an enjoyable experience for both you and your opponent, rather than something that must be endured.
© 2005-2019 Greg Letts
You may also read Greg's blog and purchase Australian TT videos from Greg's own website
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Table Tennis: Getting a Grip
Building a Better Umpire
How to Scout your Opponent
Back to Base-ics
The Guide to Serving in Table Tennis
Wobbling the ball with Long Pimples
Playing with Long Pimples (Part 2)
Playing with Long Pimples (Part 1)