How to beat cross-board players in today’s era with straight board play?

The finale of the Nanyang Olympic Moot saw the long-awaited “straight and horizontal battle” in the men’s singles final. The game’s ups and downs, exciting, 7-game battle let the fans audience straight addiction. In the end, the fat Fan Zhendong withstood the pressure and achieved a stunning comeback under the difficult situation of 1:3 disadvantage in the big score and 7:9 in the fifth game.

“How can a straight-board player beat a cross-board double reverse player in this day and age?


Despite his defeat, Xu Xin’s rapid recovery and his obsession with the previous game: “not to dwell on the times and the advanced style of play, but to focus on solving the difficulties and problems in the game”, gave full play to his style of play and showed the unique charm of the straight board style of play, which made Liu Yuehang praise vigorously in his review: Xu Xin is back!

After watching the match and calming down a bit, as a senior amateur straight board player, I was lamenting the difficult situation of straight board playing and the lack of talent on the straight board, but I was also thinking hard: how to break the game of straight board playing in this era?

“How can the straight board beat the horizontal board players in this era?


In fact, after decades of exploration and innovation, China’s Chinese straight board playing system has developed very richly, from the traditional “front three boards” attacking system to the straight board horizontal playing system perfected by Liu Guoliang, Ma Lin, and Wang Hao, and now Xu Xin’s richly developed forehand position holding, tangling and changing system.

It can be said that Wu Jingping’s hope that the straight-board style of play can reach the height of “the technology that can be used in the cross-board style of play can also be used in the straight-board; the characteristics that the straight-board style of play has, but not the cross-board” is already there in theory. In my mind, the complete form of straight board play is Ma Lin’s front three boards + Wang Hao’s straight board horizontal play + Xu Xin’s forehand technique.

The above three, with one of them, is the world’s first-class masters, with two of them can impact the world champion, with three of them I think the “Grand Slam” is definitely deserved. Unfortunately, it is too difficult to play straight. To be at the top in every aspect and system, in addition to spending a lot of time and energy on training, a straight player needs to be extremely talented, and he needs to have superior quality of will, ball counting ability, running range, rhythm control, and body explosive power, which is almost an impossible task.

“How can a straight board player beat a horizontal board player in today’s era?
Therefore, in the face of the current dilemma, I think that the straight board style has reached a critical decision point where we need to make trade-offs and simplify. So, how to make the trade-off in order to keep the straight board playing method alive and even create a new glory? I think we need to consider two factors: the development trend of table tennis technology in the era of big balls, and the advantages and disadvantages of the straight board style of play compared to the mainstream horizontal board style of play.

In summary, the key to the trade-off of straight board play is to follow the trend and avoid shortcomings. Specifically, we can consider three aspects.

  • First, take the small ball and avoid holding

This is a polarizing statement, in order to maximize the advantages of straight board play, so as to draw the attention of players. The advantages of the straight board compared to the horizontal board are still very obvious in the first three boards. The most important point is the use of precise and varied front three board technology, which limits Fan Zhendong’s high quality overhand, forcing the fatty to a dead end.

However, the most critical fifth game at the end of the game, Fan Zhendong with two firm and high-quality screw pull, disrupting Xu Xin small ball control, otherwise, the final game results should be rewritten. Of course, there are no what-ifs in the game. The point I want to make is that even if Fan Zhendong is strong in wringing and pulling, he will still be tied up in many cases by the delicate and versatile front three of the square board.

On the women’s line, there is also an exception to the extreme playing style of taking small balls and sacrificing phase holding – Ito Mimei, which I believe you are already familiar with as the main opponent of Guoping. In our national ping increasingly emphasize technology comprehensive + holding thickness of today, Ito Mimei froze with a variety of fierce front three plate technology, hard to break out a new way, beat the national ping many-core main, the world ranking is high in the second, is the national ping Tokyo to win the title of the biggest “blocker”.

This point should cause us to reflect, the front three board technology is actually our national Ping “heirloom”, especially for the straight board players, play the front three board technology originally has a unique innate advantage. Unfortunately, due to the excessive superstition and reliance on screwing and pulling technology, Xu Xin, after the straight-board juniors of Ping, small ball technology is slightly rough, completely lost the taste of straight-board play.

For our amateur straight board players, Xu Xin was able to snatch a 3-game victory from Fan Zhendong in the final, and the achievement of Ito Misaki shows that the playing style emphasizing the front three boards still has a strong vitality. Therefore, we straight board playing style players, to the small ball technology more polished, firmly established based on the fight for the first three boards to solve the idea of the battle.

Of course, it is undeniable that in the era of big balls, table tennis spin has dropped significantly and the ball is bouncing upwards, coupled with the widespread use of twisting and pulling techniques, it is very difficult and impractical to control the “death” of the opponent with small ball techniques. Therefore, in the actual battle, our tactical guideline can be appropriately downgraded to through the delicate and versatile small ball technology, limit the opponent’s high quality overhand, and firmly put the initiative into their own hands in the active overhand/strengthened anti-tear and anti-pull into the phase of holding.

Especially in the men’s line, the situation is completely different when you enter into a hold actively and passively.

  • Second, take the fierce and give up the stable

In general, the stability of straight board play in the holding end is not as stable as the horizontal board double-reverse play, which is also an important reason why the horizontal board double-reverse play firmly occupies the absolute mainstream position in the background of the new material of the big ball era when the absolute quality of hitting decreases and the game rounds become more. However, due to the inherent advantage of the straight board style, it frees the fingers and wrists to a greater extent, so the straight board style is theoretically more explosive than the cross board style.

“How can a straight board beat a cross-board player in this day and age?
Therefore, straight board play must be more aggressive, and “aggressive” is the only way to break the game. If you are holding on to the horizontal board, you will be attacking the enemy’s length with your own shortcomings, and it will be difficult to get ahead. I think of the simulated tournament in Xinxiang station to win the Zhou Qihao, he actually has a specialty technology so Ma Long, Fan Zhendong is difficult to fight, that is, the board in the near table up storm directly “a board over”.

So, isn’t the rush half-out the advantageous technique of straight board playing? Ma Lin, Wang Hao rush half out of the technology is very eye-catching, but nowadays the straight board youngsters in this technology but fewer people have a bright performance, even Xu Xin, in this technology on the explosive power is also poor a few points of meaning.

Of course, Xu Xin also has his own fierce place, his side down storm power is huge, very visual impact and deterrent, even if the success rate is not very high, but also will bring great pressure on the opponent, so Fan Zhendong can not feel comfortable with the implementation of the “pressure backhand transfer forehand” customary routine.

To the backhand position of the ball must be added to the quality, in order to compress Xu Xin side space, and once added to the quality, the rate of errors will rise; not to add quality, will give Xu Xin side the opportunity to storm, this a dilemma choice. And the game, but where there is a trace of hesitation, it is easy to make mistakes.

The word “fierce” should be the main focus of our straight horizontal hitting, and we should dare to take the initiative to add quality/strength to change the line/bounce to create opportunities for side attacks, rather than to fight with the horizontal board in a calm and steady manner. After all, Wang Hao is the only one who uses the straight board to resist and even suppress the cross-board backhand.

  • Third, take the rhythm change of falling point and give up the absolute quality

This point is mainly for the middle and long table holding stage. In the era of big balls, the rotation is weakened and the absolute quality of the ball decreases, so there is still a hope of “one board over” in the nearest table, but it is difficult to score with one board blast in the middle and far table. At this stage, the weakness of the straight board’s lack of stability will be exposed.

But the straight board still has its own advantages, that is, it is easier to pull the ball with sidespin, such as skimming pull or wrapped pull, you can pull out more spin changes, thus bringing changes in the landing point and rhythm. This is also Xu Xin’s specialty technique of forehand pulling that he developed in the big ball era when the “snake ball” became the norm and the name “Python” came from it.

“How to beat the cross-board players in today’s era?
No matter how the rotation changes, the final landing point of the ball is as close to the opponent’s body as possible when limiting the opponent during the holding phase; once the opponent’s return quality drops, you have to hit the ball to a large angle away from the opponent by storming/skimming/pulling. In this way, you can give full play to the advantages of flexible wrists and versatile ball paths of the straight board, and avoid fighting hard with the cross-board player to fight the absolute quality of the ball, which is the way to win the straight board pulling the ball.

This is the way to win the straight board against the cross board. This is a big topic, limited to space, in fact, there are a lot of ideas not to say and not to say through. These are the three key points that I personally feel are the most important, and I hope they will be of help to the players

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