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Playing Styles: Which One is the Best?

I see that there’s a lot of talking out there about playing styles, so, let’s talk about them?

P.S: Each one of us has our own playing styles, but it is easier to analyze the way we play by “separating” them.

What are the basic table tennis styles? Find out the basic playing styles in table tennis right here…

I have discussed the different method of classifying table tennis playing styles in the previous article.

If you like you can do a search on this site to read the previous article before continuing from here.

table tennis serve
table tennis serve

There are different styles in playing table tennis. The modern table tennis game involves the use of combination rackets and speed glue with a high level of aggression applied.

The attacking style is the most common among styles of table tennis players. The basic table tennis styles are the attacker, the blocker and the defender.

The Attacker

The attacking style of play is very common among high-level players and also in the lower levels of table tennis today.

It is the dominant table tennis style that most professional players adapt in their game.

It involves the use of very aggressive attacking play. The modern table tennis attacker will make use of heavy speed drives and loop.

Most attacking players use the loop and smash as their main weapon, with a high level of topspin. An all-out attacker usually attack with more speed and spins from the forehand and mostly play closer to the table.

The Defender

The defensive basic table tennis styles are not too common among high-level players but can still be found at the lower level of the game.

There are not too many defenders in the high level of table tennis competition. Most of the defenders will hold the rally and look for an opportunity to attack their opponent.

The defender uses backspin chops to return the opponent’s repeated attacks, so as to tire out and frustrate the opponent to make a mistake or play a weak ball before they attack.

The Blocker

The blocker uses less speed and spin and they tend to utilize the opponent speed and spin against them. They usually hit the ball immediately after the bounce with their quick block strokes.

They usually play very close to the table and attack when there is an opportunity. It is good for beginners who are just starting to play to master the block style.

As their game develops, they can decide to master the attacking playing style, which is the most dominant style among advanced players.

Blockers make use of the backhand and forehand block strokes and counterattack any loose ball or mistake made by their opponent.

Some players use the push and block strokes together, the backhand is used to push the ball, and the forehand is used to block and attack.

The basic table tennis styles recommended for beginners is the blocking style.

The Bottom Line…

As a beginner, you should focus on the blocking style. It will help you develop your game and master the basic table tennis strokes.

The modern table tennis playing styles involves the use of combination rackets and speed glue because of the high level of aggression that is applied.

As you improve your game you will discover what type of playing style that is best for you.

A blocker is a player that uses the blocking stroke more often in a game.

playing styles
playing styles

Offensive styles

1. Close to table players:

The biggest part of players are “adepts” of this one and they usually use rackets with inverted rubber on both sides, players like Ma Long and Timo Boll, that always try to serve short and win the point with a 3rd ball attack and it is kinda hard to see them too far away from the table, since most parts of the players are shakehanders, most part of attackers are shakehanders, but the penhold grip is also used.

Main Aspects

  • Short serving and receiving.
  • Always trying to dictate the rhythm by attacking constantly.
  • Strong forehand and backhand topspin and loop.

2. The Looping style:

Most of these players like to attack from both sides of the table, by doing strong and spinny loops, sometimes really close to the table, sometimes far away from it, they usually try to control the rally and strike fast, players of this style usually have the shakehand grip, players like Zhang J.K dominate their opponents with their consistent strokes.

Main Aspects

  • High-quality short serving.
  • Usually strong looping from both sides of the table.
  • Usually at 2 to 6 feet away from the table.
  • High-speed glue and inverted rubber on both sides.

3. Short Pimple Attacker:

Nowadays, we have a reduced number of players around the world that use this style, which is a very fast and aggressive one, the majority of these attackers barely move away from the table and it is extremely rare to see them moving a lot backward, with their short pimple rubbers, they force their opponents to leave their comfort zone and move from side to side on the table, generally using their opponent’s own strength against them.

Main Aspects

  • Generally playing just at the end of the table.
  • Alternating serves between short and long ones.
  • Forcing opponents to move a lot sideways and backward.
  • Always using short pimple rubbers.
  • Generally using short pimple on one side, but some players use them on both sides.
  • Penhold or shakehand grip.

Defensive and All-round styles

1. The Chopping style(My favorite one):

This style is a very recent one if we compare it to the offensive ones, and has been changing a lot, since now, the defenders (called the “modern choppers”) have an intense “reversing stroke” at their backhand and a devastating forehand attack.

Most part of their time is spent far away from the table since they need time to turn their bodies when chopping. As representants of this style we have players like Joo Se Hyuk, Chen Weixing and Koji Matsushita, but, even as defenders, they are really different, so, as the other players, choppers have their differences too.

Main Aspects

  • Not playing close to the table.
  • Using long pimples on their backhand and inverted rubber on the forehand.
  • Their dominant stroke is the chop.
  • Not able to play with the penhold grip.

2. The Short Pimple Blocking:

Very similar to the short pimple attacking style, but this one is a “defensive variation” of it, so, instead of counter-attacking, they reserve themselves to return the ball to the table, because of this, the majority of short pimple blockers are penholders, because it’s a lot easier to block close to the table without having a crossover point.

Main Aspects

  • Always playing close to the table.
  • The majority of short pimple blockers are penholders.
  • Very similar to short pimple attacking.

3. All round style:

Personally, I think this one is the most difficult style to define, since it mixes offensive and defensive styles, so, they can attack short or long, defend from close or far to the table, so, we have players that chop with both inverted rubbers like Wang Tingting and attack just as an attacker.

Main Aspects

  • Mix other styles and create their own.
  • Rarely have a predominant stroke.
  • Not able to define them at all since there’s a colossal range of possibilities.

More styles being discussed here.

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