Table Tennis is a difficult sport to master, I think we can all agree.
If you want to become a better table tennis player, you must learn to understand your strengths, your weaknesses, and most importantly, your playstyle.
Your playing style determines the tactics you should use to win points, the training plans you should follow, the techniques you have to learn, and the racket you should use.
Having played table tennis for a combined total of 25+ years, we have watched and played against players of all styles and levels.
Using this data, we developed a modern, universal way of splitting table tennis players into different categories.
We ended up with 5 main player styles:
- The Aggressor
- The Controller
- The All-Rounder
- The Brick Wall
- The Defender
Find Your Playing Style
When table tennis players begin their journey, they will often start with an all-round style.
Most players will focus on getting the ball on the table in a controlled way until they get an opportunity to win the point with a smash.
However, once they start learning proper techniques, their true colors will surface.
Some players have great talent and the right personal traits to carry out an offensive playstyle. These players are risk-takers by nature and they aren’t afraid to gamble.
Other players are patient, and have great mental fortitude. These personality traits make for great defenders and blockers.
Having said that, not everyone has a clear, defined playing style. Some have a combination of various styles.
Also, your playing style can shift over time depending on your age, strategies and physical ability.
Aggressors are the daredevils of table tennis.
Aggressors love risk-taking. They play with bad intentions, as their only objective is to blast balls past their opponent. They never doubt once an opportunity arises.
- They’re limit testers who will take every opportunity to attack.
- Their shots are the most powerful there are.
- There is little counterplay to Aggressors since they’re always in the front foot.
- Aggressors can generate their own points from powerful attacks without relying on their opponents to make mistakes.
- Aggressors often make many mistakes per game due to their extremely offensive nature.
- When their attacks aren’t going in, they lose easily.
- Aggressors aren’t good at defending.
- Aggressors are quite one-dimensional since their only source of points is their power.
Controllers are balanced, consistent offensive players who like to develop points in their favou, forcing mistakes and creating easy chances to win points.
Controllers are one of the hardest styles to counter because they will attack repeatedly in many different ways while missing very few shots in the process.
- Controllers are players who feel comfortable in open rallies and often win long points.
- Controllers miss few of their attacks.
- Controllers like attacking their opponents in many different ways which makes them very versatile.
- Controllers have efficient strokes and they attack in combinations.
- Controllers don’t take as many risks which means they miss out on some opportunities to attack.
- Controllers can sometimes find it hard to finish out points with sheer power.
- Their shots are safe but they can be easily countered.
- Controllers don’t win many points off of 3rd ball attacks.
All-Rounders believe there’s a perfect balance to table tennis.
All-Rounders will attack or defend depending on what’s optimal given how the point is developing. This ability to adapt to any given scenario makes All-Rounders the most versatile players there are.
- All-Rounders can adapt to any given situation.
- All-Rounders hardly ever make unforced mistakes.
- All-Rounders are creative players who can play most strokes in table tennis to a high level.
- All-Rounders are tacticians who know how to counter every other playing style.
- All-Rounders don’t excel at attacking nor defending.
- All-Rounders don’t have much offensive threat in terms of shot power.
- All-Rounders don’t impose their style, they adapt to their opponent.
- It’s hard for All-Rounders to beat high-level offensive players.
The Brick Wall
Brick Walls like using their opponent’s power against them. These players transform defense into attack using blocking techniques.
These players will place the ball in awkward places for the opponent, moving them around the table until they make a mistake.
- Brick Walls can turn defense into attack with just one block.
- Brick Walls make few unforced mistakes.
- Brick Walls have vast tactical knowledge.
- Brick Walls demoralize the opponent by using their attacks against them.
- Brick Walls generate few points by themselves, they need their opponents to attack them.
- Brick Walls are passive players who don’t usually take the initiative.
- Brick Walls don’t attack with much power.
- Brick Walls often have poor footwork and stand in place blocking.
Defenders are the only players who never give up.
Defenders feel so confident in their ability to put the ball on the table that they’ll concede the initiative to their opponents and return each and every one of their attacks.
- Defenders make very few unforced mistakes.
- Defenders wear out their opponents physically and mentally.
- Defenders have an incredible fighting spirit and they’ll return the ball by any means necessary.
- Defenders are patient players who work hard for every point.
- Defenders let their opponents attack them first, putting them at a huge disadvantage.
- Defenders don’t attack often, and when they do, their shots don’t have as much power.
- Defenders rely on their opponents to attack them to play out their game.
- Defenders can’t win points if their opponents don’t make mistakes.