Players with attacking styles often reach a plateau at about an 1800-2000 rating, a fairly advanced level where they may have most of the strokes but little success against stronger players. From this point on, further advancement tends to depend on three areas in which higher-rated players tend to shine:
1. Better touch shots
Higher-rated players achieve more consistent and tighter serves, returns, short pushes, flips, and blocks and counters. As required, these shots go lower over the net and to exactly the places they should (e.g. short or deep) more regularly than lower-rated players can deliver. Such care with the touch game makes it much more difficult for their opponents to attack.
2. Better attack
Higher-rated players tend to have at least one attacking shot (like a forehand loop) than is more forceful and more reliable than a lower-rated player’s comparable stroke. Note, however, that “forceful” and “reliable” are both critical parts of the equation. It is better to have a single winning stroke that always goes in, rather than several that might miss at a critical time.
3. Better footwork
No doubt about it, higher-rated players move better, and are also more willing to move in a point rather than stay in one place, or hug the table. Better movement also lets you take your best attacking shot more often.
To break though the plateau, work on each of these areas — tight touch, a reliable winning shot, and industrial-strength footwork. Even small strides in all three can make a meaningful difference in your playing level.
About Carl Danner: Carl Danner is a rare gem you find in table tennis. As a former nationally ranked and rated player, he offers a lot of insight into the game, especially when it comes to understanding the physical mechanics, movements, and techniques involved in becoming a better player. Director and Secretary US Table Tennis Association Foundation from 2004 to 2008 and current USATT High Performance Committee Chair, Danner is passionate, qualified, and committed to growing the sport of table tennis.