Thursday, 27 March 2014

Risk Taking out on the Table

One of the hardest things to balance in table tennis is when to take risks and how to balance and control those risks in a match. Even professional players often state one of the most difficult elements of the game is when to take the big risks and when to play safe, or how to incorporate elements of safety into a risky game. See more from my Coaching Blog.

A High Risk Player Kalinikos Kreanga
Image from ITTF.com


A player renowned for the risk game is Kalinikos Kreanga from Greece, he is well known for his big swings and all out offensive style, never scared to take the big shots. As his game has progressed and matured we now see more safety coming into his game, more elements of control. So how do you balance risk and safety? Well  it's all about shot selection, choosing the moment and making the most of chances and opportunities.

A common method for approaching the situation is to play controlled angle plays and when the gaps open up, make the risk play. An appropriate example of this is when a player is lobbing and the attacker often pins them into the backhand corner, pushing them further and further out of the table. When the comfortable shot arrives and a large enough defensive gap is created, the player then adjusts to play the shorter angle down the line to the forehand, an attacking stroke which is notoriously harder to control.

Any player who loves to take risks and play the big shots might also be tempted to hit the table tennis slots where risk and reward meet each other. Often with the right element of control and safety, the experienced players can turn the risks into reward!

One thing which proves difficult in risk taking is the timing, it is important to ensure the following when taking risks:

- Be Decisive: Once you have chosen to make a shot, you must follow through with it. Only 100% commitment to a decision will have a good chance of success, hesitation or less than full commitment will often result in a weak play or in failure.

- Choose the Moment: It is important to create the opportunity for risk taking, set the ball up, make the position correct and do your best to increase the odds of success.

- Don't Play a High Risk Percentage Game: A high risk percentage game will more often than not lead to inconsistent results. While some days all your risks may pay off, all the shots may land and the results will be amazing, other days when the feeling and timing is a little off the results can be somewhat catastrophic. The way to beat this is to experience what the right balance of risk and safety is.

Don't forget that in such a high paced game the odds are forever changing and risk taking is necessary to take full advantage of every situation. So find the right balance of risk for your game and may the odds be in your favour! :)

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