One of the so-called axioms of table tennis is this: Against balls to your middle, if you are close to the table or rushed, favor your backhand; if you are not close to the table or have time, favor the forehand. It’s a useful guideline for most players. (Note – a ball to the middle is a ball hit at the transition point between your forehand and backhand, usually the playing elbow.) However, if you have a strong forehand, you might want to cover the middle with it, even when rushed or close to the table. How do you do this? You have two options.
In this modern game of topspin, many players battle to see who can get more topspin on the ball, with more speed and more consistency. After all, isn’t that what tends to win games? Yet you might want to consider whether you want to join in this escalating topspin battle every single point. Why not throw an occasional changeup at them – a “dummy loop” – and watch them mess up? Go for less spin, and mess up your opponent’s consistency!
Tahl Leibovitz first picked up a table tennis racket at the South Queens Boys Club when he was 14 years old, but his talent in the sport did not come easy. With benign bone tumors throughout most of his body – including his playing arm, it was difficult for Leibovitz to play. “Table tennis kept me out of trouble, and it had a strong mental component that I continue to enjoy.” Leibovitz says he will continue to play by this motto: “In order to succeed, one must dare to fail.”
About a month ago I picked up two sheets of Q1 XD from Tibhar to try them out. I had played with the Q1 original sheets before and the sponge was too soft for me. When I played with XD, which has a harder sponge, I was really impressed with the consistency of the trajectory that the ball enters and exits the rubber. I was also impressed with the amount of spin the rubber generates, even though it doesn’t look or feel grippy.
Once you get past serve & receive, the basic rallying shot at the highest levels is counterlooping. Some do it from way off the table, others from close to the table (often taking the ball on the rise), while most take it somewhere in between, sometime after the top of the bounce (around table level), from five to eight feet back. It’s mostly done on the forehand side, but some do it on the backhand side as well – especially the best players in the world, who often backhand counterloop off the bounce. (Spectators often don’t even realize it’s a counterloop as it happens so quickly, and think it’s just a backhand block.) For this article, unless noted otherwise, I’m mostly talking about forehand counterlooping.
Yahao Zhang, 2012, U-21 US National Champion tells how how important matching the right table tennis equipment to the style of game you want to play. In order to play your best game, you’ll need to know how your equipment will affect the ball. In this article Yahao will focus on the thickness and hardness of sponge and the way it affects your shot quality.
At the intermediate and advanced levels (below world-class level), the most common rallying style combines forehand looping and backhand hitting. These players often attack backspin by looping from both sides, but once in a fast topspin rally mostly hit on the backhand side. It’s simply easier for most to loop in a rally on the forehand side because the body isn’t in the way, so you have a huge hitting zone. On the backhand side, players are often cramped as they try to backhand loop a fast incoming ball, so hitting is easier and more effective. This often means trying to hit the backhand close to the table while looping the forehand from farther back. How can a player handle this?
This cool new table tennis video featuring Jean-Michel Saive, welcomes you to STIGA’s Calibra family of rubbers with plenty of slow motion shots showing the spin and trajectory these exceptional rubbers produce. You can read complete descriptions of each rubber’s attributes by clicking on their name at the bottom of the video window!
A loop against backspin comes at you differently than one against block or topspin. At the lower levels, the loop against backspin is often the only loop they see, but as players reach the intermediate level and beyond, more and more they face loops against just about any deep ball.
And yet most players practice mostly against loops off block or (at the higher levels) counterlooping. Much of the reason for this is how easy it is to do drills where one player loops, the other blocks. You can do a continuous drill in this way, facing a loop something like every second, and rapidly become proficient at blocking (or at higher levels, counterlooping) such loops.
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!)
One of my best friends from Japan suggested that I try the new Nittaku rubber – Fastarc G-1. At first, I was a bit skeptical. I don’t like making equipment changes. After trying Fastarc, I know this is one of the best equipment changes that I have ever made. The powerful sponge teamed with the grippy top sheet is the perfect combination.
One of the best ways to improve is to make a game that zeroes in on your weaknesses and forces you to improve them. There’s nothing like a little fun competition to bring out your best!
For example, suppose you have a weak backhand counter-drive. Here’s a game I’ve played with students for years, spotting points to make it competitive. I put a box, towel, or other object around the middle of the table so that my opponent has to aim for my backhand to keep the ball in play. Then we play backhand-to-backhand games, where either of us starts the rally by serving straight topspin, then we go at it, backhand-to-backhand. If the ball hits the box or towel, or goes to the other side of it, then they lose the point. If a player plays anything other than a backhand drive, they lose the point. The rallies become fast and furious – and the backhands improve!!!
The hooking sidespin loop had its heyday in the early 1970s, with the rise of Hungary’s Istvan Jonyer, the 1975 World Men’s Singles Champion. Jonyer looped with a straight arm, and would often contact the ball on the far side, hooking the ball to the left (he’s a righty) with incredible sidespin. Often his racket tip would point straight down at contact, giving him essentially 100% sidespin. When players went to his forehand side, often he would loop around the net, with the ball barely rising above table level, and mostly rolling when it hit the far side – nearly unreturnable. Primarily because of Jonyer, the rules were changed, requiring the net to project six inches outwards. This makes around-the-net loops rare, though top players still do this shot sometimes from the very wide forehand.
If you want to play table tennis at a high level, you really should learn to loop any deep backspin ball. There are, of course, exceptions, but they are few (such as choppers and some blockers). On the forehand side, where you have a big hitting zone, you should never really need to push against a long backspin. Think of this as a given – deep backspin to your forehand means you forehand loop. Don’t even think about it, just do it.