In nearly all sports, power is valued: the hardest pitch in baseball, the hardest shot in hockey, the sharpest punch in boxing, the strongest serve in tennis.
It probably isn’t a coincidence either that the top players in each sport often exhibit that trait of raw power. Nonetheless, finesse players succeed at all levels in every sport – with table tennis being no different.
A finesse player can be easily and accurately defined as one that focuses on shot placement as opposed to overpowering the other player. When executed correctly, a game plan based on finesse can be successful and very difficult to play against.
In table tennis one of the most effective ways to implement smart shot placement is to find your opponent’s weakness.
The backhand is traditionally a stroke that players can generate much less power with than the forehand, so consistently putting the ball there will reduce the likelihood of your opponent scoring a put-away shot on you.
Another advantage to doing this is that often times your opponent will become frustrated with their inability to make a big shot and try to force something to happen – namely by trying to hit a forehand where a backhand is the only real option.
If they do this, they’ll be handcuffed and consequently put the ball in the net, off of the table or produce a weak return that you can use to take control of the point.
A second devastating weapon that players looking for strong shot placement can use is the drop shot.
If an opponent is playing back off the table and the rally consists of a pattern of long strokes, simply tapping the ball over the net with no power can do wonders. Your opponent will need to hurriedly try to move up to get the ball back, and with their only priority being a safe return that won’t lose them the point right then and there, you will find yourself set up for a shot to finish the point.