General tactics to beat older players

Ask the coachCategory: Tactics & match-playGeneral tactics to beat older players
Alan asked 6 months ago

You wrote a very good article about how older players can compete with and beat younger players, but it looks like those older players have either read your article or are just very good!

Therefore, as I play table tennis in a large community hall where the average age is over 65 and the standard of table tennis is high, what general tactics do you suggest for players in their forties and fifties to compete with and beat players in their sixties, seventies and eighties?

I know it can vary from each player’s playing style and playing level and what rubbers are being used on the bats, but just the general tactics for younger players to compete with and beat older players.

Would it involve topspin, pushes or drives by the younger player to the well known ball placement areas, so to move the older player around the table, as they are usually slower to move around the table?

1 Answers
Tom Lodziak Staff answered 6 months ago

There are three general tactics you can try.
1. Ball placement. As players get older their movement becomes more limited, especially players in theirs 70s and 80s. So you can take advantage of this. Play wide balls. Play short balls. Play deep balls. Hit shots at their crossover position (playing elbow). Keep moving them from side to side. It sounds a little cruel to take advantage of any limited mobility, but if you don’t do this, they can easily dominate you.
2. Play with speed. Older players tend to react a little slower. Their eyes may not be as strong as they once were. If you take the ball early and inject some good speed and spin into your shots, you should have some success. Combining fast shots with good ball placement is likely to be a winning combination.
3. Use power. As older players have more limited mobility and slower reaction times, they will be vulnerable to shots hit with power. When you have an opportunity – when the ball is a little slower and a little higher – then don’t hold back. Try to inject some power into the shot and your older opponent should find it very hard to return the ball. 
These are three general tactics you should try, but of course you may need to adapt the tactics for the playing style of each opponent.