Playing Styles

Most table tennis books, and many websites, include a section on table tennis playing styles, where all the different ways of playing table tennis are grouped into some broad categories. Usually, the styles are just listed one after the other, with general descriptions of each style. Occasionally a mention is made that the aggressive topspin styles are currently dominating table tennis, with the implication being that these styles are the best choice for any new player.

This is misleading in two ways.

1. Playing Styles Are A Description, Not A Goal

Firstly, it presents the playing style as a goal to aim for. Players are encouraged to pick a style and then mould their game towards fitting the style's description, instead of allowing their game to develop naturally. Your goal should not be to be a two wing looper, but instead you should be aiming to be the best player you can be. If that happens to make you a two wing looper, then fine. But if you end up as another playing style, then who really cares, as long as you are winning and having fun?

2. Might Does Not Make Right

Secondly, it fails to take into account anything about the reader. While the aggressive topspin style is certainly dominating modern elite table tennis, it is by no means the best choice for every new player. It is a style that demands great fitness, speed and athleticism. New players who are past their physical peak, or hampered by injuries, may find that other playing styles may be a much better fit with their capabilities.

Table Tennis Shorthand

Provided we keep these limitations in mind, the grouping of players into broad playing styles categories is still useful, since it provides a handy conversational shorthand when discussing table tennis, allowing for quick understanding of a player's general style without having to resort to lengthy explanations.

This is the main reason I'm presenting these playing style categories in this Guide - not as a goal to aim for, but as a convenient way of allowing me to discuss a certain type of player without having to give long explanations about exactly who is included. It is much easier for me to say something like "all two wing loopers should do this", then have to explain that I'm talking about every player who prefers to attack from both sides of his body with heavy topspin whenever possible.

Finally, keep in mind these are broad generalizations, made for convenience. It really doesn't matter if you read through the styles and decide that you are a mix of a two wing looper and one wing looper/one wing hitter. You don't have to be one or the other. Just remember that later on when I'm talking about stuff that is useful to loopers or hitters, it's probably going to be of interest to you!

List of Playing Styles

* two wing looper
* two wing hitter
* one wing looper/one wing hitter
* ph pips out hitter
* ph looper
* rpb
* classic defender
* modern defender
* blocker
* push/blocker (passive combi bat player)
* aggressive combi bat player
* fisher
* others that come to mind

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Greg's Table Tennis Guide