On the importance of controlling the rhythm of the game

There is an old saying in table tennis: “Novices fear spin, masters fear rhythm”. Rhythm has different connotations in different fields, and in the field of table tennis, the core essence of rhythm is four words: lightness and urgency.

In the performance of a symphony, different instruments perform different parts of the voice and take on different roles, making the music richer in layers and making the performance more tense and infectious. The rhythm in ping pong is also layered. In my personal understanding, the rhythm of table tennis runs through the four levels of technique, tactics, competition, and even life in general, so let me tell you about them one by one.

Today we will talk about the technical aspects of rhythm change.

As we all know, every reasonable stroke in table tennis has the complete process of “lead – hit – restore”, and the “slow-fast – fast The “slow-fast-fast” rhythm is already hidden in the process, which is “slow lead-fast hit-fast restore”. Why are the table tennis masters so flowing and pleasing to the eye? Because the rhythm of the waltz “Cha Cha Cha” gives them a soul, and elegance is embedded in them.

Many players who like to ponder the technique should have already discovered that many of the technical actions of table tennis have the meaning of “light and heavy” included or hidden in their names. For example, the “foul”, “foul”, “light”, “light”, “fast”, “fast”, “fast”, “fast”, “fast” and “fast”. “The names of these technical actions are actually the most reasonable rhythm of hitting the ball summarized from the extensive practice of many professionals and amateurs.

So how to change the rhythm of the stroke? In short, it is to go off the beaten path, or even the other way around. This is the legendary master of the game, to play those who play hard, but make the opponent more uncomfortable ball. Of course, for us amateurs, to master the skills of rhythm change, we still have to understand from the most basic principles, from the simplest technical actions to practice, in order to start from the beginning to master, and finally become the master of the rhythm of the whole field.

Adding and subtracting power

  • Even with the same technical movements, just the amount of power used to hit the ball can have a very direct impact on the rate of play. It is easy to understand that a slow return speed with a small force reduces the pace of the stroke, while a fast return speed with a large force speeds up the pace of the stroke. Here we have to mention an “old technique” – pushing the block.
  • In fact, it is a combination of two techniques: pushing and blocking, adding force to push and reducing force to block. The same structure of hitting action, just the precise control of the power at the moment of hitting, plus the change of landing point will give rise to endless routines. This is the weapon of the GPC small ball era against the arc ball technology, moreover, many amateur players are deep in the fear of being dominated by the community push block boss and can not extricate themselves.
  • The power of light and heavy will also bring changes in the depth of the landing point, so as to mobilize the opponent to move back and forth, the effect is excellent. I remember when I was still a young student when I was playing straight rubber and pushing left and right, one of my favorite routines was “serve short + push long ball close to the net” or “serve short + push long ball close to the body”, which was an insurmountable problem for small/slow-footed players. The problem is simply insurmountable. Because the natural footwork of human beings is more difficult to go backward than forward, so the short ball first and then the long ball is one of the most basic and practical rhythm changes.
  • Nowadays, with the decline of straight blocking technology in the professional field, it is rare to see it in the international arena, but in the hands of the park boss pushing blocking is still played to perfection if coupled with the particle monster rubber …… that you can not pull through his defense in two or three boards, then the end of defeat is almost certain. The current short and then long set is still very practical, that is, the forehand position short ball, followed by splitting the backhand position long ball, this set is especially used in the game. If the opponent’s pace is a little slower and the rhythm doesn’t catch up, you can create a good opportunity for yourself to attack.

The hitting point

  • This is where you need to knock on the blackboard because hitting point is the essence of changing the rhythm of the ball. Let’s talk briefly about the ubiquitous curveball technology in conjunction with the hitting point. Today’s arc ball technology has developed into a complete technical system, from the in-table twist and pull to the near table fast tear, and then from the near table fast pull to the middle and far table back pull, as well as the main technology from defense to attack fast belt, all belong to the arc ball technology.
  • Generally speaking, the closer the technique is to the table, the earlier the hitting point is required, basically, it is the rising period to hit the ball, in order to facilitate the borrowing of power and speed; and the farther away from the table, the later the hitting point is required, the ball can be hit at the high point or the falling period, more emphasis is placed on the active power and the ability to create the arc.
  • Then, the idea of changing the rhythm is clearer, that is to change the habitual hitting point, you can change the rhythm of pulling the ball. Question: Why is Xu Xin’s win rate against Zhang Ben Zhihe high, while Lin Gaoyuan’s win rate against Moto is much lower? Part of the reason is that Xu Xin plays at a much slower pace than Lin Gaoyuan, and Zhang Ben Zhihe is often unable to match the point; while with Lin Gaoyuan playing fast and playing with power, Zhang Ben Zhihe is instead playing very comfortably because this is his preferred pace of play.
  • Some details: Xu Xin in dealing with Zhang Ben Zhihe sent over the half introduced ball, often in the down period will pull a very turn but not very fast high hanging arc circle, Zhang Ben can not borrow on the force, the quality of the counter-rip is relatively low. Xu Xin can take a half-step back to swing the open-handed counter-pull and enter the rhythm of his customary full-desk forehand attack. This tactic was also used by Lin Gaoyuan against Zhang Ben Zhihe, but the effect was not good, on the one hand, because after two boards Lin Gaoyuan went back to his customary upward pull, and on the other hand, the quality of Lin Gaoyuan’s active attack was much lower than Xu Xin’s.
  • Of course, Zhang Ben Zhihe will not always fall in the same place, not long ago in the men’s World Cup semifinals when he played against Ma Long, he dealt with this slow and turning high hanging arc ball has been very comfortable, I believe he definitely did target intensive training during this time in the epidemic. This forced Ma Long to look for scoring breakthroughs from other places, and fortunately Ma Long found them, or it would have been a different story.
  • So, sometimes we evaluate the comprehensiveness of a player’s skills, not just the first three plates of the hair and hair and the forehand and backhand of the holding section, for each hitting point of the ball and the rhythm of the changes brought about should be mastered to be truly comprehensive. I saw a video of Zhang Jike teaching the ball on the internet in the past two days, and he also emphasized this point: the pulling techniques in the rising, high, and falling periods should be specially trained, which is the real practice of the combination of the tournament, with the meaning of the actual practice, only one hitting point of the pulling training is ineffective training.


  • The reason why spin changes the rhythm of the ball is that the spin of the ball affects the trajectory of the ball in the air (Bernoulli’s principle), and on the other hand, a ball with strong spin will have a secondary acceleration when it touches the table (the kinetic energy of rotation is transformed into the kinetic energy of flat motion). This is most obvious in the comparison between top-spin and bottom-spin balls, one will accelerate after contact with the table, the other will decelerate significantly after touching the table.
  • Therefore, techniques that change the spin of the ball are techniques that change the rhythm, such as the pulling down-spin technique, which is the turning point from the rhythm of control to the rhythm of attack. However, because most people think that the change of rhythm from slow to fast is very common and natural, this point is not very important. However, I personally feel that the ability to master the pull-down technique and adapt to the change in tempo can often be considered an important “watershed” point for an amateur table tennis player from the beginning to the advanced level.
  • Why are many players afraid of some “iron-pusher”? The root of the problem lies in this, which is simply the lack of mastery of the underspin technique. However, from the point of view of rhythm control, it can be said that your attacking rhythm is completely controlled by the opponent, being led by the opponent’s rhythm, the scene is naturally very passive.
  • The technique of turning a downward-spinning ball into a top-spinning ball is already a standard for advanced players, so the technique of turning a top-spinning ball into a downward-spinning ball can often be called a “miracle technique”. For example, Ma Lin’s backhand is often used to squeeze the side, and Tanba Takashi and Ma Long like to use to show their feel side cut. Of course, the chipping techniques commonly used by chippers are also counted, but since chipping is a middle and far table technique, the difficulty is much lower than the difficulty of side squeeze and side cut, which are middle and near table techniques.
  • In addition to the above three elements that affect the rhythm, there are some secondary factors such as the length of the landing point, left and right sidespin, etc., but their changes to the rhythm are not as direct and obvious as the three elements, so there is no need to repeat them here. I believe that all of you will be able to learn from one to three, a pass.

All in all, I personally think that in order to master the change of rhythm in the technical level, the order to start should be power control -> hitting point control -> rotation control, which is also a progressive order from easy to difficult. If you understand these elements and integrate them, you will become a “master of rhythm” in table tennis technology.

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