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Improve your game with Coach Samson Dubina!
We are proud to have Samson as part of the Paddle Palace family. In recent years, Samson has achieved many titles while traveling to Europe, Asia, and throughout North America competing in nearly 400 tournaments over the last 20 years. Currently Samson is training, competing in tournaments, coaching the top players in the state of Ohio, and is now coaching the top players in America as a US National Team Coach.
More from Samson.
This Tip is for those who wish to reach a high level of play, and who either play a looping style (like the large majority of top players) or are developing their style of play and aren’t sure what direction to go. The modern game at the higher levels is an incredibly athletic, fast, and spinny sport. What were considered incredible shots in the past are now routine as the looping game has developed to the current level. Part of this comes from training, part of it comes with the realization that these shots are possible, and part of it comes from modern sponges, which are far superior for looping than the ones from the past. (If I had some of these modern inverted surfaces back in the 70s and 80s. . . oh boy!)
Most rallies at the intermediate level start out with backspin, often with the server looking to serve and loop. If he doesn’t loop, then the receiver looks for a chance to loop. Whoever can open with a strong loop against backspin has a huge advantage. But many players practice looping against the block over and over, or occasionally do serve and loop drills where they get only one loop in the rally. Wouldn’t it be great if there were a way to practice looping against backspin systematically, over and over? (Well, that’s easy – play a chopper. But there aren’t that many choppers around these days. So what can you do if you don’t have a chopper handy?)
There are two standard ways to move in doubles. At the advanced levels, if you have two righties and they train regularly for doubles, they usually learn circling footwork, where after each shot the player steps backwards and circles clockwise to the left so they can approach the table from their backhand side and go into a neutral or forehand-favoring ready position. (A righty’s normal ready stance would be toward the left, with his playing elbow near the center of the table, or more to the left to favor the forehand, or more to the right to favor the backhand.) Two lefties would do the same, except they move counter-clockwise to the right. However, learning to do circling footwork takes a lot of practice, usually under the supervision of a coach. You also need two mobile players.
Players so often hear coaches tell them to attack the opponent’s middle. (The middle is not the middle of the table; it’s the midpoint between your forehand and backhand, where your playing elbow is.) But it is equally important to be able to cover the middle when the opponent goes there. How do you do that?
Where should the tip of your racket be when you hit a backhand drive? The answer has changed over the years. Historically, players could choose to keep the racket tip down (so that a line between the tip and the handle would parallel the ground), or with the tip pointed up to 45 degrees upward, or somewhere in between. At the higher levels, however, this has changed.
Dimitrij Ovtcharov took the bronze medal in men’s singles and contributed to the winning of the bronze medal in the men’s team event in London at the 2012 Olympics.