I have four players I’m coaching at the moment who all have the same problem. Their attacks are so powerful the ball goes long more often than it hits the table.
When their attack goes in, it’s often a winner. It’s very difficult to return the ball. They hit the ball so hard, that if it hits my body, it leaves a little red mark for the next few hours.
But here’s the problem. For every successful attack they make, they usually miss another three or four. They hit the ball so hard, they have trouble controlling the length of the attack, and the ball often goes long.
Even though they can play some great attacking shots, their attacking game isn’t effective as they miss too many shots. They have poor consistency. In a match situation, there’s not much point hitting 2 great attacks in a game, if you miss another 6.
So, here’s two very important pieces of advice I give to any player I coach who makes too many mistakes by hitting the ball too hard.
1. Reduce your power to 80%
If you hit your attacks at 100% of you power and you keep missing, just reduce the power of your attacks.
Think about attacking at 80% of your power rather than 100%.
When you take off some of your power, your consistency will increase, sometimes quite considerably.
As you’re hitting the ball so hard in the first place, you have plenty of scope to take some power off the attack. A shot at 80% of your power will still be pretty damn fast and beat most opponents, but it will be much more consistent.
You don’t have to blast an opponent’s head off with your attacks. Just get the ball on the table!
2. Focus on placement
When you take power off your attacks, you should find it easier to focus on placing the ball where where you want.
Aim to get your attacks deep or wide. Anywhere close to the lines is good. This puts a lot of pressure on your opponent.
A well placed attack at 80% of your power will be just as likely to win the point as a 100% power shot. And your consistency will be higher.
Two of the best players in my division last season had quite slow attacks, but their placement was excellent. They were always finding the lines, finding great angles, pushing their opponents back and stretching them wide. They didn’t blast the ball. They just focused on placement. And they hardly ever missed.
I’d much rather face an opponent with a huge, but inconsistent, attack, than a slower attacker who never misses.
100% power + placement + consistency?
It would be great if the four players I’m coaching were able to attack consistently at 100% of the power, with great placement.
This is an admirable goal to have. But it takes time to build this high level of power, consistency and accuracy.
If you miss too many attacks by hitting the ball too hard, it is far better to reduce your power and find a level where you can attack consistently.
From this base level, you can gradually start increasing your power. Just add a little more power and see if you can maintain consistency. If you start missing too much, just ease off again.
You need to find the right balance between power and consistency.
Above all, think about placement. Whether you’re attacking slow or fast, if you place the ball deep or wide, you’re going to win many more points.