Playing against opponents who keep hitting wide angled shots to my forehand and backhand

Ask the coachCategory: Tactics & match-playPlaying against opponents who keep hitting wide angled shots to my forehand and backhand
Gary Hudson asked 8 months ago

How do you play against opponents who continually hit their rallying shots to my wide forehand and my wide backhand? Do I try to hit the ball deep on the table to their playing elbow, to cut out their angles?

1 Answers
Tom Lodziak Staff answered 8 months ago

Players who are good at hitting wide to the backhand and wide to the forehand can be very tricky to play against. This is a little bit how I like to play as well!
I find it easy to find these wide angles if my opponent is not putting me under pressure. If his/her ball placement is too safe and the speed and spin a little weak, then I can dominate by finding wide angles.
So what should you do? You have to find ways of putting players like me under pressure. You can do this in three ways…
1 –  Ball placement – If you get the first good ball placement in the rally, then it will be harder for me to dominate you. If I am reacting to your good ball placement, then my balls are likely to go back a bit more central, making it easier for you to control the rally. Whether serving, returning serve or playing a 3rd ball – can you find a ball placement which puts me under pressure?
2 – Spin – If you use heavier spin – whether backspin or topspin – then I will have to work harder at returning the shot. My mind will focus more on dealing with the heavy spin and less on my ball placement. If someone gives me a heavy backspin push, I’m just happy if I have looped it back on the table (anywhere!). The pressure you have applied has made it harder for me to find a wide angle.
3. – Speed / power – If you can increase the speed and power of your shots, then once again you will force me into a more ‘reactive’ mode. I will have less time to focus on my ball placement and I will just be trying to return the ball anywhere on the table.
So in summary, to make it harder for a player to use lots of wide balls, you have to put him/her consistently under pressure using a combination of good ball placement, spin, speed and power. Easier said than done, but it will work.