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Table Tennis Tactics: Beating a good junior player

Some players have difficulty playing against younger players. The junior players are quicker. They counter and drive every ball. They have the counter or driver playing style. Today, I explain you the tactics to play against the good counter playing style (young kids, or woman style).

And how to play against kids in table tennis?

Kids, ladies love “counter-attack and drive” playing style. That means they let you attack first, and “counter-attack” or “drive” your ball. They don’t generate much power, and their tactic is “borrowing your own energy to counter you“.

Best tactics to win counter drive (kids and women playing style)
Best tactics to win counter drive (kids and women playing style)

Kids use speed and consistency to win the game.

The counter/driver playing style in table tennis

Understand your playing style is crucial in table tennis. If you know your advantages, you will know the way to counter each playing style! There are the common tactics that drivers or counters will use:

  • They love to serve long with topspin, often to your weak side.
  • And then attack/ counter-attack at wide corner.
  • So you need to move and make unforced-error while moving.

Advantages of this playing style:

  • The kid is very fast. They stay close to the table and normally attack the ball on the table.
  • Young players have a quick footwork. They are trained to drive the ball at the wide corner all day.
  • They attack the ball to the wide angle or direct to your body.
  • If you let them play his game, you are dead. Because you will run around your table.
  • Junior players and lady are so consistent. They tend to make less unforced-error.
  • They drive more than topspin loop.
  • Strong backhand block and counter-drive. Rarely makes a simple mistake.

The weakness of this playing style:

  • Their shots variations are very weak. Kids love playing at the same pace. Their shots usually have medium topspin (but not heavy spin).
  • Kid lacks experiences. They do need a coach to guide the game.
  • The kid quickly jumps into his “playing zone”. Very motivated and can win several points in a row. But on the other hand, a young player is easily disrupted. They fall easily.
  • Kid’s mental is very weak. Once you find your own way to play your playing style, they will quickly give up.
  • Lack of real power. Balls directed wide to the forehand. Weak shots against underspin.

My tips for you to play against kids:

  • Variation is the key. Don’t let kids play his game (quick driving with medium force all of the table).
  • To answer the long ball: Don’t simply drive the ball, kids love it. If you can attack it hard, do it. If you can’t, return the ball short, or return the ball to the wide corner, make the kid move first, and you attack hard the next ball.
  • Junior love attacking to your wide corner, and now you need to move and hit the ball weakly. Kids repeat this step until you lose the point. To answer this tactics “wide corner”. You attack the ball in parallel, but not cross-court. That means, if kids attack to your forehand, you return the ball to kid’s backhand. Vice-versa, if kids send the ball to your backhand, you return it to his forehand.
  • Kids love medium spin and love borrowing your force. So Mix-up “heavy spin” and “no-spin”. You serve heavy backspin and then attack the next ball with heavy topspin. It works very well because now, kids can’t drive the ball easily. This way, you can break his playing style.
  • Junior players and female players love “fast pace” rallies. You need to break it. One slow ball, or the short ball, and another ball, fast and heavy spin ball. One ball short with heavy spin, and another ball fast with less spin. You will see, they will struggle to deal with it.
  • Young players lack experience and mental weakness. Once you show “no mercy, no hesitation”, kids can give up quickly. But don’t do the bad-manner acts (shout to the kids face, use bad words, etc)! A good coach can complain about your acts to the umpire.

Coaching example:

Table Tennis: Amazing 10 years old kid in China

Watch this video.

Look at the score. The big guy is leading 10-7, so he has a huge advantage to win the set. The young kid played a very good tactic: One long ball to the wide backhand and two consecutive long balls to the wide forehand side. Maybe, this is the advice from his father.

The weakness of penhold player in table tennis

This is a deadly tactic to play against the traditional penholder. Traditional penholder can only block the long ball with his backhand. And if you keep attacking the long ball to his wide forehand, it will take away his favorite position (pivot).

The penholder is becoming more passive on both sides, and let the kid play his game (quick counter-attack style). If the big guy has a good coach: a simple time-out can help him win the set.

You can meet a lot of opponents in table tennis: Old gentlemen, ladies, kids or Paralympics players. Everyone competes. If you are not ready to win, you will give up the wins.

Please remember: “In table tennis, No Mercy, No Hesitation”.

Do not look at your opponent as anything other than an opponent.

Age, style, height, strength, none of these elements are important in this game.

Of course, a good coach has many tools to protect the kids. And also he can make a good training kid become a fierce opponent to any player in table tennis. That’s the case of Harimoto Tomokazu, with the help of his coach (his father), he is now ranked top 20 at only 14 years-old.

Counter Quick Drive Playing Style
Counter Quick Drive Playing Style

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Table tennis coach in France since 2012, founder of pingsunday.com (the best online coaching program for table tennis players). Born in Vietnam in 1983, Ph.D. in Université Pierre Marie Curie. Read more about him.

4 thoughts on “Table Tennis Tactics: Beating a good junior player”

  1. This is Episode 052 of the Ask a Table Tennis Coach podcast. Today’s question comes from Roanac and is about switching from a European to a Chinese Rubber. “What are the changes that I need to bring to my game if I switch from a European rubber, such as Butterfly Tenergy 05, to a Chinese one such as DHS Hurricane 3 Neo?”

  2. Tomokazu Harimoto shot to fame at age 11, when he started beating adults ranked in the top 100 in the world . If a junior reaches an advanced level, he or she will be competing with and beating adults. Advanced juniors can choose any equipment they want. They will be able to cope with, and will benefit from, the very fast and spinny rubbers.

  3. I beg you to answer my question..How will the trend in next 8 years….???? please answer my question please my coach

  4. Dear Mr. Gaming,
    I am very happy to learn table tennis from your youtube channel, this is amazing and very useful.
    What I want to say to you that after almost one year learning and practicing through your channel, now, I need your permission to compile some important items to be in one hand book. This hand book is only for my internal club. So that my athletes can practice easily.
    I will send you file by file, eight files, if don’t mind you can correct whatever you want the wording or the content of this hand book.

    Best Regards,
    Uli Hasuri


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