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PostPosted: 19 Dec 2013, 23:39 
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mynamenotbob wrote:
Hi Kees,

Thanks for your response. Wow! I'm surprised you picked a thick balsa blade as your ultimate pips-out set up. I've been resisting this blade, but maybe I'll have to get one. This is just the normal Barath blade we're talking about? Not one of his eight zillion variations? lol

Do you think Legend 105 rubbers would work on the Barath also? Those rubbers sound interesting and I like disruption.

I have a RE-Impact Taipan blade. Do you think that would be good? I currently have Milky Way Pluto 1.3 on the backhand, but I have a couple of 1.5mm 802s I could put on it.

I also have a Sardius blade, which is supposed to be good for short pips, but after many years of playing with OX on one side, I don't like heavy blades.


I don't know the Taipan, or the Sardius either. Sorry...
As for the Barath, yes, it's the regular version. Oversized it would play better close to the table, I think (mine is rather small). The reason to pick it is the unbelievable control and speed, combined. I have also used it with OX LP on the BH; that is very good, but tricky if you want to block passively, as the catapult of the blade reacts very vividly to incoming high speed - it is much better to close the blade and block slightly active against fast balls. Even so, with real slow LP it is best. A Sanwei Code, black OX, is my current favourite. I have 1.2 mm 802 on the forehand - with this, I can make more speed than with 2.2 mm on a regular OFF blade, but also block very short. A 1.5 mm works as well, but with 1.2 there is more disruption. As I can't move my feet very well anymore, an extra plus is that the set-up is so light-weight that I can reach evey ball; and the blade is so dynamic that even when I stretch my arm, I can still make great speed.

I am not sure the Legend would work on this blade. It is just a bit too thick, maybe, at 1.9 mm; and extremely fast. But it's worth a try.

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PostPosted: 19 Dec 2013, 23:45 
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MNNB
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Coincidentally, There were a couple of He Zhiwen games posted on YouTube today and I noticed he was using BLACK PIPS, which I don't recall him ever using before. So I wonder if He finally switched to another rubber?
Looks very spinny. Maybe 802-40? Or it might be 802 in black. I don't know. Curious. Would he have begun to feel his years and have started to try and compensate?

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PostPosted: 20 Dec 2013, 03:00 
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Kees wrote:
MNNB
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Coincidentally, There were a couple of He Zhiwen games posted on YouTube today and I noticed he was using BLACK PIPS, which I don't recall him ever using before. So I wonder if He finally switched to another rubber?
Looks very spinny. Maybe 802-40? Or it might be 802 in black. I don't know. Curious. Would he have begun to feel his years and have started to try and compensate?


I wouldn't be surprised if it's Haifu Dolphin that also what Chen Sung uses.

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PostPosted: 22 Dec 2013, 20:26 
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Kees wrote:
ON REVIVING THE CLASSIC PIPS-OUT STYLE – FOR SHAKE-HANDERS.


In table tennis there is a confusingly great number of individual players who do a confusingly great number of individual things. Labelling a certain number of players who seem to share something in the things they do, and calling that label a style, generally doesn’t help to understand what it is they actually do – unless you are able to explain why they are doing it. And the best way to explain is, I think, by starting from the equipment used; in this case: classic short pips-out rubbers. Players who used or use short pips-out rubbers with relatively low friction and high speed on relatively high speed blades, even if they all did or do this in their own individual way, all focused or focus technically and tactically on speed and precision, instead of on speed and power, to win points – because that is what this kind of pips technically do best. This specific focus and the resulting kind of play is what I refer to as the classic pips-out attack style.

The classic pips-out attack style, then, was at its peak in international professional competition from the 1960’s to the 1990’s, bringing forth several world champions in that period, but even back then the shake-hand version was as rare as the penholder version was (relatively) fashionable. Trying to understand why this was, and nowadays apparently even more so is, may help to get some ideas about how to play this beautiful style in a modern and effective fashion. How did it actually work, classic pips-out attack, technically and tactically? Why did it become unpopular? And why, and how, would anyone try it now – using a shake-hand blade at that?

Firstly, the core of the style. Table-tennis is all about controlling the kinetic energy of the ball – that is, controlling its speed, its spin, and the direction in which it moves. Short pimpled rubbers, by decreasing the total surface of the rubber to the surface of the pips, are designed to be relatively insensitive to incoming spin; they are not much affected by spin and can’t produce lots of it either, so the trajectory of the ball is often quite straight. As a result their behaviour when bouncing back the ball is very predictable as regards the direction: with short pips, control over placement is very high.
Furthermore, as these rubbers are neither designed to nor capable of producing lots of spin, the most effective way to make contact with the ball with them is “head-on” (or “solid”) instead of grazing; this means the direction of the moving bat is at a very small angle with the direction of the ball when it bounces back, so the transference of kinetic energy is maximized. Therefore, control over the speed imparted to the ball is very high as well.
A bonus, at least against players using inverted rubbers, and also against defenders, is the pimples-effect, viz. the tendency of the rubbers to scrape the incoming spin off the ball and replace it by no spin or some reversed spin. Against defenders it means incoming backspin isn’t a great threat and can’t take away the initiative of the pips-out attacker. Against looper-attackers it means the opponent has to work a bit harder producing his topspin-loaded loops and has to make his strokes a bit longer for that, losing precious time.
Put together, this means short pimpled rubbers are most effective when used to place very precisely while playing at high but well-controlled speed. The tactics of the classic pips-out style were (and are) based on this; the proper technique going with it as well.

As for the tactics of the style, it is the combination of speed and placement that is really essential. Just hitting hard to where the opponent can return the ball won’t work – it has to go where the opponent cannot reach it well enough to control his return, so you will get the advantage. And the speed of the ball has to contribute to this. For instance, aiming perfectly for the transition point of a looper-attacker is ineffective when this opponent is allowed the time to move aside, out of trouble; the speed of the ball must prevent this by limiting the looper’s reaction time – enough so to substantially lower his control over the return. The classic pips-out attacker, on the other hand, needs very little time to return balls, for his “stroke” (which is actually more of a punch) is very much shorter than the stroke with inverted, and the point of contact is earlier. Every next return will therefore mean that the pips-out attacker will take away a bit more time from the opponent, and in a series of quick returns the pips player will thus take gradually away the looper’s control over the ball, and eventually either force the looper to miss, or hit a winner himself.
It is important to see why, with shake-hand two-winged pips-out attack, one should not go for 3rd ball attack. You could do it if you were playing with a penholder blade. A penholder player can make significantly more spin, especially over the table, with short pimples than a shake-hander; therefore he is able to load the ball with energy, almost like a player using inverted, and, similarly, to attack and take the initiative much sooner. A shake-hander, using the same pips, can’t do this as well because he can’t apply the same wrist-action, and therefore he has to lay out and build up his play more patiently instead of frequently going for quick wins. Then again, not even a pips-out penholder would play 3rd ball attack in the classic style, but instead would mostly block and drive, building up the essential series of quick and precise returns; for a penholder’s “backhand” block with pips is potentially even more dangerous than the shake-hander’s block, because for a penholder it is easier to block several times in a row with very little time between blocks, thus putting pressure on the opponent.

Individual players applied and apply this core of the style, viz. the combination of technique and tactics described above, in their own way. Some of them do it till this very day. The best, both classic and contemporary example for it is single-sided pips-out penholder He Zhiwen. Classic pips-out shake-handers, however, are few and far between. Teng Yi played in the 1980’s and early 1990’s a (from my point of view) hybrid style, using short pips on his forehand, but inverted on his backhand, with which he served and blocked; young Zhan Jian is doing in his own way something similar in our time. But obviously backhand blocking with inverted is different from backhand blocking with short pips. Perhaps the best example for classic backhand blocking and hitting with short pips is Wang Tao, who, however, used inverted on his forehand. As far as I know, Johnny Huang was the only professional male player ever to use short pips on both sides. Why did so very few shake-handers take up the classic style? I think the answer lies, again, in the way the equipment has to be used to be effective.
With the style’s proper technique, when the speed is high enough to achieve the tactical goal explained above – that is, taking away control over the ball from your opponent, in a series of quick and precise returns – more speed is absolutely superfluous. More speed will in fact make it more difficult to get the ball to land on the table, so it will compromise the precision of placement, and therefore the style itself. This means that the pips-out attacking stroke should be executed in such a way that you make solid contact (no grazing) to maximize speed as well as aim, but never with more force than needed to get the speed just right. Overhitting is a serious technical error which will do damage to the pips-out tactics: you will lose precision, which will allow your opponent to get control over the ball, and hence the advantage.
The key to the core of the style, then, is self-control. But to control your force, that is, willingly and systematically holding back your physical power in order to get to your goal, playing fast but patiently and meticulously, has never been seen as a typical manly thing to do. Exertion of physical power, on the other hand, has. So the limitations to the shake-hander’s style in this respect made and make it (culturally and psychologically) less attractive for male players, and for an important part this will explain its typical lack of popularity.
A penholder player, however, being capable of producing more spin, does not quite run the same risks when using pips; as he could (and can) hit with more physical power than a shake-hander, his version of the pips-out style could be and was more popular for a while.
But inverted rubbers allow (as well as demand) the exertion of force much more, and that will be an important reason why nearly every male player is drawn to some form of power-looping, away from the use of pips for attack.

The limitations to the amount of power to be used in the pips-out style for shake-hand worked out especially negatively for it when in the 1990’s the development of faster and spinnier inverted rubbers, which were used with great success against Chinese pips-out attackers, put more pressure on the classic pips-out style. In the course of history, behavioural change of social groups is seldom based on a completely rational basis; either made anxious by the success of the new inverted rubbers, or tempted by the new possibilities of applying greater force, in China many players and coaches concluded that spin should be fought with spin, more energy with more energy, and that if pips were still to be used in the future at all, they had at the very least to become spinnier. This quickly became the dominant view. And the great Liu Guoliang, on the top of his career as a penholder player already using spinnier pips than his predecessors, moreover announced in the late 1990’s that he would change the classic style by combining pips with inverted. Few of these players and coaches noticed, however, or took into account that the classic style’s effectiveness as such wasn’t decreased by much at all, or that its principle still was as valid as ever. For it was a fact that the new inverted rubbers and faster blades used by looper-attackers now allowed them to make their strokes shorter than before and therefore in quicker repetition, which in turn allowed them to stay closer to the table; and this meant that the classic pips-out style’s principle, viz. to take away time from the opponent in a series of quick and precise returns, actually took away less time than it had done before; but even so, the classic pips-out stroke would per se always be shorter and quicker than the stroke with inverted, and therefore time would always be on the side of the pips-out player – the only change was that he had to be become perhaps even more precise and more patient.
Patience, however, was not to be favoured by the many. The pips players who thought they had lost the key advantage of the classic style, viz. the ability to win time, thought they should become faster now to compensate the loss; more speed meant the trajectory of the ball would become even flatter and the risk of over-hitting greater, so to compensate for that as well, better spin was needed in pips-out rubbers; but in order to retain the pips-out effect of the rubbers, again more speed was needed, either in the rubbers or in the blades; which in turn would need more spin, and so on and on in circles – by compromising, the pips-out style had started to spiral inevitably towards the inverted styles. The end of the classic style had come.

Or had it? As I mentioned before, individual players have always had their individual way of playing in the classic style. The differences between them were quite remarkable. If you would look at those differences without the correct historical perspective, you might get the impression that the classic style has vanished or at least changed. You would, for instance, argue than Zhan Jian’s way of playing with pips, using inverted on his backhand and a very spinny short pip (Friendship 802-40, in black even) on his forehand, is far removed from how Johnny Huang played a few years ago, using short pips on both sides; and you might think that this proves or at least indicates that the pips-out style has indeed spiralled towards the styles using inverted. But comparisons like these miss the point. Taking a historically broader view, comparing players using similar equipment, you will actually see how alike Zhan plays to Teng Yi, who used a similar set-up, similar tactics, and really the same technique.
It is very informative, or it was at least to me, to compare these two players, watching two video’s, viz. Zhan Jian playing against Kenta Matsudaira in 2011

and Teng Yi playing against Jan Ove Waldner, 22 years earlier, in 1989
.
There is very noticeable difference in the pace of the games; everything has got much faster after 22 years. Then, Matsudaira’s strokes are shorter and faster than those of Waldner 22 years earlier, and Matsudaira consistently stays closer to the table. But, amazingly, Zhan’s technique is just about a copy of Teng’s. The same is true of his tactics. This must mean that the advantage of Zhan over Matsudaira is smaller than the advantage Teng had over Waldner, due to their pips-out forehands, because Matsudaira is losing less time in rallies to Zhan than Waldner was losing to Teng. But still, in both games, the players are pretty evenly matched. Apparently, this hybrid version of the pips-out attack style has not become less effective, not even after 22 years, despite the immense developments of inverted rubbers and despite awkward changes (such as the bigger ball, and 11 point game) which overall work out more negatively for pips players than for inverted players. So, in fact, one should conclude that Zhan does a better job with his set-up than Teng did 22 years before, as Teng had, in his time, better odds. If anything, then, this version of the pips-out style has become better.
It is also informative to compare Johnny Huang in 2004 to himself in 1996. In 1996 Huang was in his prime; in 2004 he had changed equipment several times (different blade, different pips-out rubbers, both mainly to be faster) and the circumstances (bigger ball, 11 point game) had changed as well; at that, he had become 10 years older, and visibly slower with it. His famous match against Waldner at the 1996 Olympics is on Youtube; so is a match of his against Samsonov in 2004. Waldner, too, was in peak form in 1996; a year later he would become world-champion. Samsonov, in 2004, was a widely feared top 10 player, every bit as technically and tactically accomplished as Waldner had been, and perhaps more so. Huang beat Waldner, and lost to Samsonov. When you watch the matches (the last set against Waldner is on
;
the match against Samsonov on 2004

you will again see the increase in pace, which is a bit less this time, because there is only a difference of 10 years, and the shorter strokes of Samsonov compared to those of Waldner, and how close to the table Samsonov is able to play consistently. You also see that Huang has become slower and makes many more unforced errors; at times I got the impression his set-up is too fast for what he wants to do with it, especially with his backhand. He also seems to be far more forehand-oriented than he was in 1996, which in part compromises the classic style and suggests that he may be trying to compensate something by the use of power. The advantage Huang had over Waldner is gone when he plays Samsonov, clearly, but even so there are still many moments when Johnny is playing well and I had the feeling he could have done better with better equipment.
In sharp contrast to Huangs decline, single-sided penholder He Zhiwen has continued his successful style to this day. He has played all his life with the same DHS PF4 032, a blade for controlled attack, and a red 2.0 mm Friendship 802, a very classic, relatively un-spinny pip. This set-up makes his returns fast and precise, his blocks very dangerous due to the pimples effect, and his hits very hard to return. With it, He still plays the purest possible form of classic pips-out play: quick and precise returns in a series which takes away the control of the opponent. No 3rd ball attack. Patience, precision. And He still regularly beats top 30 players, even if he is over 50 now. Why has He been able to last so much longer than Huang? It can’t be his forehand, for he doesn’t use it as much as he is using his backhand, and besides its advantage would be the better spin-potential, which Huang possibly tried to compensate by using spinnier pips and more forehand power-shots. It has to be He’s amazingly consistent backhand block, then, because that is the dominant element in his play. It is a punch-block and that is something you just don’t see with male shake-handers; though with female players using pips you see it al the time. The problem seems to be once again that a shake-hander using a less spinny pip has to control his force for this: he has to really hold back or the ball will fly over the table. So when Huang changed to faster and spinnier set-ups, he made things even more difficult for himself.

Summing up, I think it is safe to say that the classic pips-out style still works, but that it takes a bit more precision and patience than before, and being a man you would have to want very much to be different from the vast majority of men to actually choose and play it. Then again, if more male players made that choice, it would add to variety. And variety is what keeps us alive, as a species, as social beings, and as individuals. So why not give it a try?
For even if on a professional level this style has become a bit more difficult, or rather somewhat less advantageous than it was compared to inverted styles, on amateur levels things are essentially different. It is true that amateur attackers who favour inverted rubbers are greatly helped by modern developments which allow them to produce faster balls with more spin, but their physical skills – speed of hand and feet – have not substantially increased with it, as is necessary and has been achieved on the professional level. For one thing, amateurs simply do not have the time to exercise daily for hours on end, as pro’s must and do. Therefore, despite their faster and spinnier equipment, few amateurs will be really fast enough themselves to cope with the combination of speed and precision coming at them from short pimpled rubbers used by a good classic pips-out attacker. This makes, at least in my opinion, the classic pips-out style very much viable on amateur levels.

Playing the classic pips-out style using a shake-hand blade with short pips on both sides, you obviously can’t copy He Zhiwen’s successful version of the style, but what you actually can do is to take the basic idea and translate it into a shake-hand version. And since Zhan Jian can copy Teng Yi, a shake-hander who wants to play like Johnny Huang can copy him, that is, his 1996 version. It would also help to take Wang Tao’s backhand as a model.
But before you start, you have to have the gear. As a two-winged pips-out attacker you will block and drive fast and with precision, without letting the speed compromise the placement. Your equipment, rubbers and blade together, has to fit these requirements of the style.
Getting the speed right is always connected to getting the spin right, in this style. Taking He as a model, it is clear that you do not need anything faster than the combination of his 802 in 2.0 mm on his DHS blade. Few if any of the classic short pips rubbers are faster than the 802; some are less fast, but not much. The Pf4 032 (which isn’t in production anymore) is fast, but not extremely so. Therefore, in order to get the speed you need to play effectively on an amateur level, the speed of your blade may vary from ALL+ to OFF, and the pips used should be fast on an ALL+ blade, and moderate to fast on an OFF blade. This way you get an ALL+/OFF combination and a OFF/OFF combination. The latter is for accomplished players, as the higher basic speed requires higher precision as concerns timing of contact and angle of the blade.
Choosing a blade you should keep in mind that the fastest blades now available have been developed for use with inverted rubbers; they are not for pips-out attackers. It is also important that the blade is quite rigid, or you will lose precision when you drive and smash; for the main kind of contact with the ball is solid, so any deformation of the blade on contact will compromise the angle, therefore the precision. A 7-ply, consisting either of 7 layers of wood or of 5 layers wood and 2 synthetic layers that make the blade more rigid, is best, even for ALL+ blades. Despite the required rigidity of the blade, its feel should be rather soft. Carbon in a blade can therefore be a problem, because it makes the blade very hard and the dwell-time very low; the latter may compromise control. But relatively soft carbon layers (arylate, kevlar) are fine. Also, if the outer wooden plies are relatively soft or thick, this may compensate the hardness of the carbon. One of the best kind of carbon blades, though, is the one with outer plies which have been made firmer by "weaving" thin carbon rods through them, instead of adding carbon as a ply (this is done, for instance, in the Sword V8). A relatively low weight helps to get to the ball quickly, especially when switching from forehand to backhand and vice versa, but weight is not as much a problem as it can be for loopers, who have to swing the blade a long way, whereas all you do with it is punch, essentially. Balsa in a frame (to make it light-weight) is not a good idea, generally, as this kind of wood has higher dwelling time at low speed and lower dwell at high speed, which is exactly the opposite of what you would need as a pips-out player; but very thin layers of it, as for instance in Friendships 7-ply Bomb, will not affect the blade too much. Finally, a straight handle helps to stabilize the blade when holding it, which is important, as getting the angle right is essential to your technique.
What you need in the rubber is sufficient speed (in combination with the blade, of course) and just enough spin to manipulate the incoming spin on the ball in the short game (push, flick, roll). Thickness should be at least 1.8 mm, or you will lose control on fast drives and blocks, when the rubber bottoms out. More than 2.0 mm is generally not necessary and will compromise control. Huang played with the same thickness on backhand and forehand, and of course a single-sided penholder like He does that too, but especially with spinnier pips like Friendship 802-40 or DHS 652 or Globe 889-2 it may be better to use 1.8 mm on the backhand, to avoid becoming too vulnerable to incoming topspin; 2.0 mm on the forehand is generally less of a problem, and advisable to get enough speed. The pips have to have some spin, but not too much or there will no pimples effect – that is, if you block a fast and heavy topspin ball, your return should have no spin or a little backspin. Almost all Chinese short pimpled rubbers will do, in this respect. Cheap classic short pips with relatively low spin value are Friendship 802, DHS 651, and Globe 889; the 651 has the best pimples effect, but is slower than the 802, so you may have to go to 2.2 mm on the forehand for this rubber. For medium spin (on faster blades, or blades with lower dwell-time) take Friendship 802-1, Friendship 799 (a backhand rubber, with good pimples effect but moderate speed), DHS 652. For higher spin (on the fastest blades) Friendship 802-40, Globe 889-2. Actually the differences between these rubbers are rather small, as concerns spin. Friendship 802-40 is often said to be nearly as spinny as inverted rubber, but that is an exaggeration; used to hit flat with, for instance, it produces as dead a ball as will 802. New short pips like those by Palio and Tuttle have higher spin-rates, but play in practice rather like 802-40. Some combinations stand out; DHS 651 in 2.0 mm black on the backhand and 2.2 mm red on the forehand, on a really fast all-wood 7-ply blade comes quite close to the equipment Huang used in 1996 (TSP Spinpips in 1.9 mm on an Avalox P700). Wang Tao used 2.0 mm Spectol on his backhand (and he, too, had the P700 blade); Spectol is still around, but Friendship 802-1 plays about similar and is much cheaper; it offers superlative blocking properties and great control. Friendship 802-40 in 2.0 mm or 2.2 mm (on a slightly less fast blade) is a great forehand rubber to go with it, or with anything else. But copying He Zhiwen’s set-up for shakehand, you would have to use a slightly spinnier rubber than 802 on your forehand, and perhaps a rubber with a bit more control on your backhand; so two-winged 802-1 in 2.0 mm (or 2.2 mm on the forehand) would come close if used on an OFF or OFF- blade which should have a relatively soft feel, as the 802-1 is rather hard.
Keep in mind that the combination of the dwell-time offered by the blade and the spin offered by the rubber determines the actual spin-value; a fast carbon blade will generally have a low dwelling-time and so will need a slightly spinier pip than an all-wood blade. The throw of a blade will also partly determine for which kind of pip it is suitable; low throw goes with spinny pips, and high throw with less spinny pips. Low throw in a combination helps to make your returns more dangerous, but beginners shouldn’t go for too much of this good thing.

When you have acquired the equipment, the next step is to master the technique. Instead of reading lengthy explanations, it is more effective to watch on Youtube videos of players like Johnny Huang (2002 or before), Zhan Jian (just the forehand), and Wang Tao (just the backhand) to get a grip on this. But it may be helpful to point out a number of things.
The basis of all your attacking “strokes” is the punch-block. It is important to start there and to get it exactly right. Use very little wrist-action on it, to prevent actually stroking the ball, as the latter would impair contact and compromise precision.
For the same reason it is also important to never use topspin to get the ball to land on the table in fast drives and in smashes. Instead of using spin, you must adjust the speed, applying the correct amount of force. But it may be necessary to use topspin in slow shots, that is in rolling. You have to use a roll not just against backspin, but also against no-spin or side-spin if the ball doesn’t bounce high enough to smash it, or the ball will go long.
You will not see Huang or Wang use a spin-reversing block with the backhand the way He is using them. Still, this is a very useful and effective stroke. It is essentially a passive block, with just the angle of the blade doing the job of redirecting the ball; you have to relax your arm for this, keeping the underarm almost horizontal in front of you for it. Go a little bit upwards on contact, without any wrist-action, using just the arm. For getting the speed right, press a bit if incoming speed is too low, and hold back a bit if it is too fast to get the ball on the other half on the table. Keep all movement very short and relaxed.
Not using topspin to bring the ball down, it is important that on fast shots you help bringing it down by going down yourself, that is by lowering your centre of gravity. Bend your right knee and come down with the stroke. You can see Huang do this a lot, in fact always when he is smashing, and very gracefully as well.
Do not forget that pushing is an essential part of your arsenal. With pips you lack the ability to attack nearly every serve or other short ball, so you do need an effective push to deal with those balls. Watch Wang Tao pushing against serves; he will nearly always put sidespin in, making his return awkward for the opponent, and easier for himself because a sidespin push makes contact with the side of the ball and so is less sensitive to the incoming backspin. Especially when the amount of incoming backspin is hard to read, this is a sensible stroke; you will avoid pop-ups with it, for one thing.
You do have to be two-winged to be a full-fledged classic pips-out attacker. Your backhand is as important as your forehand; you should be able to block and drive as well with the backhand as you are with the forehand.


Finally, tactics. They are basically simple and logically directly derived from how your equipment works.
Your basic position behind the table is behind the backhand half, a bit over half an arm-length away of it; but you will have to be that distance plus a full arm-length away to deal with fast balls that land deep. Your maximum distance to the table during rallies is the distance at which you still hit the ball at or before its highest point; you should never be further away than that. This way you will cover the space efficiently.
Tactics start with being aware of your reach, in this basic position, and of the reach of your opponent. Beginning with yourself, you have to know where you can deal with the ball in a controlled way in order to place it with the purpose of getting it back within your reach, building up the series of quick and precise returns with which you intend to take control away from your opponent. Being a shake-hander, your transition point area is a weak spot, which you have to cover with good footwork and an active backhand – it is often necessary to use the backhand a bit on your right-hand side for this, but your hand should always be well to the left of your elbow when you do this, so you can prevent the tip of the blade from pointing upwards. You cannot move the bat a lot when you use it in this position, but you do not need to; since you do not have to really stroke the ball, but basically punch it, covering your transition point this way is sound. In contrast, a player using inverted is much less capable of covering this weakness.
This fact points to your primary target – if he has positioned himself correctly and therefore there is no open space to place the ball in (where it is out reach for the opponent), you aim for his elbow; in Chinese this primary tactical rule used to be phrased as: attacking the middle before attacking the wings. Placing the ball to the elbow of the opponent, you have to anticipate where his return will go and move accordingly, and place again. You have to keep attacking the middle until your opponent moves and leaves an open space; but you should not do it more than three times in a row and the second and third time it should be placed slightly different. If the opponent doesn’t move, he can’t return with maximum force, so his return is relatively weak; you have to take advantage of this by hitting the second and, if necessary, third ball with more speed. The fourth ball should be sufficiently easy for you to hit fast to the opponent’s far forehand or far backhand. You have to change the series of attacks after the third return, and sometimes even after the second return, to prevent becoming too predictable. For the same reason you have to vary your second and third return slightly; there is generally no room for more variation after your third return, and since generally by this time the returns of the opponent are sufficiently weakened, you do not need it, but go for one of the wings instead.
The opponent may step out of his transition point going left or right, in which case your subsequent return is to the opposite wing. If he chases the ball to that side, your next return is again to the opposite side. In other words, as soon as he starts moving, you make sure he moves from side to side, so you will gain time on him and take away his control. A sufficiently weak ball (a slow long one, a high one, etc.) you will of course kill, by smashing it.
The opponent may also move out of his weak spot by backing off. And he may do the same when he is being moved from side to side, in an attempt to gain more time to make his strokes better. As soon as he moves back to second position (that is one step away from the table), you stop moving him from side to side. This is because now he is at a distance which allows him to return effectively even if moved from side to side. Instead you concentrate on moving him further away, by again attacking the middle; you will be able to do this now with great speed, often even by smashing, since your opponent’s returns will be deep and bounce relatively high. You will, of course, have to move a little backwards yourself to do this. Attack the middle with variation, as you did when the opponent was close to the table, but keep the pressure on his weak spot; this will force him to back away even more. You have to do this within three returns, or he will read your returns and anticipate accordingly, regaining control. Therefore, be fast and precise. If he has taken another step back, he is far enough away to be in trouble when chasing a ball, so now you go for the attack of the wings again. By this time you will be smashing all-out. The point should be yours, but be patient, and keep at it quick and with precision still, even when you hit very hard.
This is one way how a rally may develop. The other way is when the opponent decides to serve and return short. A short serve may often force you to push. If you do push, and want to push deep, you must be sure that you can be in position to deal effectively with a deep return, or you will get caught being over the table. It is safer to push half-long or even short, out of reach, to have the time to get into position for the kind of rally described above.
This is how to deal with looper-attackers, which the vast majority of your opponents will be. Against a blocker-hitter, who either is using inverted or pips like yourself, tactics are essentially the same, but you have to attack the wings sooner, as the opponent has better possibilities to cover his middle. Go first for the weak wing (which is generally the backhand, but with a passive blocker often the far forehand) and keep moving the opponent from side to side, until he backs off; then follow the same routine as described above.
Against a mid-distance looper, who moves away from the table to second position of his own accord and will put pressure on you by using power-spin from that distance, you of course skip the tactics for close to the table, and start right away with second-position tactics, attacking the middle, forcing the opponent further away. But you have to keep your eyes open for a good chance to attack the wings early in the rally, as at mid-distance the opponent may have more trouble covering them.
Against a defender you again start attacking the middle, where cannot develop his defensive game by chopping hard. This time you will roll the ball instead of hit it. When he moves away, as he will, keep at it; it makes little sense to move him from side to side as his wings are his strong points; instead focus on small variation in placement which may lead to a slightly weaker return – when it comes, change to hitting, mostly going for the wings this time, but the middle is still a good target. If the defender is also able to loop, you have to watch out, as he may at any moment attack from mid-distance; this is another good reason not to go for his wings when you are still rolling, because your return is relatively slow and predictable, so he will have a good opportunity if he decides to attack. One good attack of the opponent is all he needs to regain the initiative, so you have to parry, he will chop, and you will start from the beginning. Never think you can easily beat a defender, especially if he is a modern one with a strong loop. You have the advantage, but only if you are patient and precise and don’t fall for surprise attacks.
Serving follows the same tactical logic. You may serve short or half-long, or long to get the series of quick and precise returns started; if you serve short, it will take longer before you can start; if you serve long you run the risk of a dangerously fast return; so generally it is best to serve half-long and use the other kinds for variation. For the rest, you have to concentrate on making your service hard to read, as it is difficult to put an awful lot of spin on the ball to make returning difficult for the opponent; but keep in mind, always, that your serve has only the purpose of starting the rally – you do not have to serve winners to win the match.


Well, that’s it. I hope it covers the classic pips-out attack style for shake-handers enough to be able to start seriously with it, or to continue with conviction. If you choose to do so: have fun. If you don’t: have fun as well. Because having fun is what playing is about.


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PostPosted: 10 Jan 2014, 23:48 
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Hello Kees,

I found your article outstanding. I played pips-out on BH for three years and on both sides for now about four months. I´m eager to enhance my play and you have given me a lot of insight but also invoked some questions.
The style makes a lot of fun and a lot of curious/frustrated looks from the opponents ;)
Until now I went for the winner, your article has changed my view, so I plan to go for more patience.

My racket ist Donic Kevplay (very old - 7 layers with 2 kevlars plys) with Friendship 799 with Red Magic Sponge 1,5mm on BH and Spinlord Degu 1,5 mm on FH.

Do you think I should go for less spinny blades or are they ok?

The classic view is that thinner blades give more controll. You say the opposite.
Do you think I should go with maybe 2.0 mm on both sides?

Im thinking about Friendship 802-1 on both sides or do you think the differences to my actual Blades are not so big?

Greetings from Germany (where very few play short-pips on both sides)

ClausTrophobie


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PostPosted: 11 Jan 2014, 01:22 
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ClausTrophobie wrote:
My racket ist Donic Kevplay (very old - 7 layers with 2 kevlars plys) with Friendship 799 with Red Magic Sponge 1,5mm on BH and Spinlord Degu 1,5 mm on FH.

Do you think I should go for less spinny blades or are they ok?

The classic view is that thinner blades give more controll. You say the opposite.
Do you think I should go with maybe 2.0 mm on both sides?

Im thinking about Friendship 802-1 on both sides or do you think the differences to my actual Blades are not so big?


I guess that you are asking about less spinny rubbers (Beläge)? In the thickness you are using them, I wouldn't go for less spinny SP; 1.5mm on a regular blade is pretty thin for an attack style and the extra spin will compensate it. If you want thicker rubbers, you might get less spinny SP, but not necessarily so; it depends on your style and blade.

Thinner rubbers offer better control in one respect: they are less sensitive to incoming spin as the ball can't dig in that much.

As for thinner (=more flexible) blades (Hölzer), they tend to give more control for inverted rubbers used by loopers at mid-distance, and for classic defenders. For attack styles, the flex of a thinner blade tends to compromise the angle, as the blade will bend back a bit on impact; especially with pips-out rubbers, where the angle is critical, this is a disadvantage - as a rule you will need a rigid blade. Blades with 7 plies tend to be more rigid than blades with 5 plies. But any fairly rigid blade is OK.
There is an exception. If you play a controlled allround style with pips-out rubbers, with the emphasis on blocking instead of fast driving, a 5 ply allround blade or even a 3 ply DEF+ blade may be ideal, as you'd want to be able to manipulate the spin and for this some flex does come in handy.

The 802-1 plays very differently from your current rubbers. This is a rather classic, hard SP, not very spinny, best for quick blocking and fast driving with a straight trajectory. The Degu is more like 802-40, but softer and even spinier. On your Kevlar blade, the 802-1 might prove rather difficult to play; your timing would have to be exactly right. The Degu is more forgiving in this respect, even in 1.5 mm.

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PostPosted: 11 Jan 2014, 01:40 
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Kees wrote:
I guess that you are asking about less spinny rubbers (Beläge)? In the thickness you are using them, I wouldn't go for less spinny SP; 1.5mm on a regular blade is pretty thin for an attack style and the extra spin will compensate it. If you want thicker rubbers, you might get less spinny SP, but not necessarily so; it depends on your style and blade.

Thinner rubbers offer better control in one respect: they are less sensitive to incoming spin as the ball can't dig in that much.

...

The 802-1 plays very differently from your current rubbers. This is a rather classic, hard SP, not very spinny, best for quick blocking and fast driving with a straight trajectory. The Degu is more like 802-40, but softer and even spinier. On your Kevlar blade, the 802-1 might prove rather difficult to play; your timing would have to be exactly right. The Degu is more forgiving in this respect, even in 1.5 mm.


Thank you for your quick answer!

You are right, I meant rubbers.
I´m not sure, if i should give my rubbers a try in 2mm or try less spinny rubbers in 2mm.


Grettings ClausTrophobie


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PostPosted: 11 Jan 2014, 03:13 
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Quote:
I´m not sure, if i should give my rubbers a try in 2mm or try less spinny rubbers in 2mm.

You could go for a less drastic step upwards and try your rubbers in 1.8 mm. The 799 is available in the Mystery version in 1.8 mm, excellent for a backhand rubber. The Degu in 1.8mm would also be a bit faster and spinnier. Generally, changes are best made gradually, allowing you to take with you what you have already mastered onto the next level.

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PostPosted: 11 May 2015, 16:23 
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I played yesterday with that set up.the style is really really underrated. its lethal for amateur level

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PostPosted: 05 Apr 2016, 11:28 
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I have been experimenting with different sponges and Valor Premier rubber on my FH, I finally found one combination which I really liked and I am assembling them for sale.

CHEERS!

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PostPosted: 25 Apr 2016, 19:07 
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Kees wrote:
There is also a very interesting SP by Spinlord, the Waran, which is extremely fast and less spinny than 802-40, but spinnier than classic SP. I am not sure how well it keeps, though, as it comes with extreme factory tuning. Personally, I don't like factory tuned SPs, think they lack control and they change rather rapidly with time. My favourite is 802, closely followed by 802-1 for blocking and hitting on softer blades, 802-40 on harder blades, and Legend 105 for disruptive attack on OFF blades and for LP/SP modern defense on DEF or ALL blades.


Hi Kees,

would you say the Galaxy T-6 (which I play) is to hard to combine it with 802 (I would try 2.0 mm)?

Greetings Claus


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PostPosted: 25 Apr 2016, 19:51 
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ClausTrophobie wrote:
Hi Kees,

would you say the Galaxy T-6 (which I play) is to hard to combine it with 802 (I would try 2.0 mm)?

Greetings Claus


Which version of the 802? The one with the classic orange tackspeed sponge or new versions with softer sponge (green, yellow, red) that offer more spin (less control)?

In general, the lack of "grip" of a carbon blade makes it more difficult to play with SP that have low grip themselves. Your timing has to be more precise; you can't make as much topspin as with softer blades; so your control is lower. For instance, if you want to roll against backspin, the trajectory of the ball will be quite flat, which increases the probability that the ball will go long or into the net. Spinny pips do much better on carbon blades.
But it also depends on your style. If you only block and hit against topspin or no-spin, and if you push against backspin, then it is less of a problem.

With the poly ball, I find carbon in blades causes more problems than it did with the 40 mm ball. Personally, I prefer a wooden blade for this ball, and one that isn't very hard or extremely stiff either.

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PostPosted: 25 Apr 2016, 20:10 
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Kees wrote:

Which version of the 802? The one with the classic orange tackspeed sponge or new versions with softer sponge (green, yellow, red) that offer more spin (less control)?


The classic orange sponge.

At the moment, I play Spinlord Waran 1,8 on both sides. My goal is to shoot more and block safer with FH.


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ClausTrophobie wrote:
Kees wrote:

Which version of the 802? The one with the classic orange tackspeed sponge or new versions with softer sponge (green, yellow, red) that offer more spin (less control)?


The classic orange sponge.

At the moment, I play Spinlord Waran 1,8 on both sides. My goal is to shoot more and block safer with FH.


The difference with 802 in 2.0 mm would be vast. 802-1 in 2.0 mm (classic, not the Mystery version) would be a better option for safe blocking. Globe 889-2 in 2.0 mm would be spinnier, more like the Waran, but slower, and much safer. (ttdd.de sells these pips)

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PostPosted: 27 Nov 2016, 17:28 
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Been playing SP both wings for over 3 weeks now. I have to agree that this is a thinking man's style especially if you came from inverted. You need to be in a proper mindset to be consistent and deadly. In the heat of a rally, I often start my stroke very low when I go to the kill - instant netted ball. I think the most important thing to remember for us beginning SP players is the 90 degree crook of the arm. Be it forehand or backhand, the lower arm(where the hand holding the bat is attached, for better description) should not fall above 90 degrees(or fall down with bat pointing to the ground). Kees have already reiterated this so listen up :D :D

I played with a guy who beat me during my transition phase to SP. For 2 Saturdays, he peppered me with drives and loops that I was more than happy to receive, sometimes wrongly to see the effect. I lost, of course but little did he know i was getting better the more spinny drives he was sendng my way :lol:

Now when we played yesterday, I was ready. I served him short, he banana flicked, I punchblocked (when the ball goes to my middle) and smash when return goes to my forehand. I also surprised him with a chop in the middle of a flurry of exchanges. I hit most of his serves and flicked the short ones. I blocked his drives, sending them low to his far forehand. Oh man, it was fun! In a race to 10, I was 8 and he was 4. I experimented with other strokes mentioned by Kees the rest of the game (to prolong it, more learning :lol: ) One thing, or two, worth mentioning. The 802 2.0mm is a bit difficult to block with. It is fast and throws higher than the Yinhe Uranus jeans. Speaking of the Uranus, it is a good backhand pips capable of a bit of spin and ripping drives but feels weird in the FH.

In a place where power looping and topspinning is the norm, I will train my 6 year old daughter to be a two winged SP/MP player, for sure!

Thanks Kees.

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