Strength and Weakness analysis
How to analyze why you win and lose points in Table Tennis, and what you should do to improve your game.
When we compete in table tennis we all have strengths and weaknesses. It is good to contemplate over them now and then. A current state analysis often starts with a SWOT analysis. A SWOT analysis is a simple method. First, you identify your Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. Then you make a brief post-analysis. Based on this, you decide on improvement activities. I recommend you to do steps 1–6 below at regular intervals.
1. Identify your Strengths
Of course you want to maintain and build upon your strengths. This is most important, as your strengths are very helpful to your performance. To improve your strengths, you first need to identify them.
Right now, think about why you win points and how you do it.
- Don’t only think about your strong shots.
- Think also about how you make your opponents miss their return/stroke/shot.
- Think about spin, speed and placement and how you are able to use and vary these parameters with good feels. With the effect that you win matches.
- Think about your game systems/schemes. Think about how you win because you have planned the pattern, the probable cause of action, of the rally.
- Think about other technical aspects of your game, which are strengths of yours.
Note your true technical strengths on a piece of paper.
Observe your physical strengths, which are important for your table tennis performance. Write them down.
Ponder your tactical strengths. Which are your own strengths in adapting to the style or game play of your opponents? Make a note of your tactical strengths.
Contemplate your mental strengths. What psychology traits or habits makes you win? Make a note about it.
- Think about your strengths on planning, and deciding, about your training.
- Think about how you organize, motivate and lead, and control, yourself to improve.
- Think about strengths in your training environment, that is in your control.
Write down all your strategic strengths.
2. Identify your Weaknesses
You need to overcome your largest weaknesses — to seal your biggest holes. This is second most important, as your weaknesses are harmful to your performance. When you have identified your weaknesses, you can take action to remove, reduce, or avoid them.
Think about why you lose points and how it happens.
- Don’t only think about your weak shots, or missed smashes.
- Think also about how your opponents often make you miss your return/stroke/shot.
- Think about spin, speed and placement and how you fail to use and vary these parameters with good feels.
- Think about your game systems/schemes. Or lack of. How you plan and make decisions in the rally.
- Think about other technical aspects of your game, which are weaknesses of yours.
When you are ready pondering your technical weaknesses, note your findings.
Observe your physical weaknesses, which are significant for your table tennis performance.
Ponder your tactical weaknesses. Which are your weaknesses in adapting to the style, or game play, of your opponents?
Contemplate and note your mental weaknesses. Is there anything special that makes you not fight at your highest level to the end. Or not being able to focus or concentrate on each point? Anything in particular that leads to lost matches?
- Think about your weaknesses regarding planning and deciding about your training and your improvements?
- Think about where you fail to organize, motivate and lead, and control, yourself.
- Think about weaknesses in your training environment, that is in your control.
Write down all strategic weaknesses.
3. Identify your Opportunities
Opportunities are potentially helpful to your performance. So, opportunities are important to identify and seize. This can help you to improve your future game play, and win more points per match. Opportunities have external origin. Opportunities are often related to your opponents’ style of play compared to yours.
- Now, think about the usual game play and your game perception. Is there a positive pattern? Something you could exploit further?
- Study your opponents. Look at the best players, and study them with care.
- Talk to the best coaches, don’t hesitate to ask questions, or ask for advice.
- Think about the technical, physical, tactical, and mental, as well as the strategic aspects of your game.
- Also, think about environmental aspects, such as the club, coaches, training and sparring partners, and training location.
Write down any opportunities you can think of.
4. Identify your Threats
Threats are potentially harmful to your performance. Thus, it is important to identify, address and protect against any threats. Threats have external origin, mainly your opponents. Threats are not weaknesses, yet, but they could be.
- Now, think about the usual game play and your game perception. Can you see any negative trend or pattern?
- Observe any changes in how others play.
- Think about the technical, physical, tactical, and mental aspects of your game. Do you see any threats?
- Also think about environmental aspects, such as the club, coaches, training and sparring partners, and training location. Any changes announced?
Note all your identified threats.
5. Make a simple SWOT post-analysis
Look at everything you have written down. Rank all items within each group. Then, ask yourself a few questions.
- How can you improve your strengths further?
- How can you remove, reduce, or avoid your weaknesses?
- Which weaknesses could you turn into strengths? What would be required to do that? How could you do it?
- Which strengths can you match with the opportunities?
- How could you seize the main opportunities?
- How could you protect against the main threats?
- Which threats could you turn into opportunities?
- How could you ensure that your weaknesses don’t increase your exposure to the threats?
Write down your analysis.
6. Decide on improvements
Go through all your notes from steps 1–5 and now make a list of improvement areas, all the things you wish to (put a special effort on to) improve.
Then, prioritize this list of improvement areas. Put, for instance, *** on the most important ones, * on the least important ones, and ** on the medium important ones.
There is a rule of thumb.
If you wish to become “better” and have limited training time:
- Most important is to improve your main strengths further.
- Second most important is to seal your biggest holes (all other weaknesses, or strengths, will be improved by the usual training and might not need any special attention).
- Of some importance is to seize the main opportunities (to pick the low-hanging fruit), and to protect from the main threats.
If you wish to become “the best” and have “unlimited” training capacity:
- Focus on your weaknesses, first and foremost, and prioritize only them. You need to seal all holes. And all the other items will improve anyway.
Review your now prioritized list of improvement areas. Decide which two or three of these improvement areas you need to focus on very soon. Write them down, and also note why you made this decision, and the date for the decision. Store all documentation for later planning or follow-up.
Make sure to include the decided improvement areas in your short term improvement plan or training plan. Take necessary action to execute the plan.