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PostPosted: 24 Oct 2018, 02:16 
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Hello everyone,

Like you, table tennis has been a lifelong passion of mine. However due to frequent moves and other excuses, I've had rather long periods of time off from the sport. My playing style has varied greatly throughout the years and partially responsible for the fact that I've never been truly proficent in any. As a philosophical question, would you stick to a proven style and work around the weaknesses, or take your own personal strengths and build the rest of the game around that?

As a background, I started "semi-serious" TT as a penhold single sided looper. Back then I was using DHS G888 (just to give an idea of how long ago). Played a fairly simple game with consistent and sometimes very strong forehand looping/driving and backhand counters.

Just for fun, I got myself a short pip setup and tried to augment it with at the time half-assed RPB. I never quite developed it for very long but remember it as a significant step backwards in my overall technique. Back then I had no coaching and being in France/Canada was one of the few penholders and only short pips player around, so everything was trial and error. I was using full body motion towards flat hits and never managed to develop a consistent forehand. 80% of the time I was a penhold backhand active blocker. While my attacking game went down the drain, my backhand got really good during that time.

Due to jobs and many international moves, I stopped playing for ~5 years. Fast forward to about 3 years ago, I had the chance to move to Shanghai, played a few local tournaments, occassional recreational clubs, and even took up weekly coaching. My coach is a short pips hitter by trade and intuitively, I picked up where I left off trying to develop that style. Over the past year, I saw huge improvements. Corrected many years of mistakes, built my game around a fairly aggressive high tempo attacking style.

Despite being trained in the traditional forms, I never quite gave up looping. Even when selecting equipment, I place high value on looping ability of short pips and my opening attacks are more often a full brush loop rather than the typical "small lift and smash" (against the insistence of my coach), under pressure and if forced away from the table, I instinctively fall back to counterlooping. Not to blame it on equipment, but counterlooping with short pips was hard and I mostly end up loosing such exchanges.

Yesterday, I brushed-off an old Jpen blade, slapped on a 2 year old Tenzone SF on it and went for some fun. Feels like I can loop anything! Over the table, mid-distance, step around and loop serves, felt like superman! It was only a short 40 minute session, but I enjoyed it more than I expected.

If you were in my position, seeing very steady improvements in a hitting game, would you focus on developing it the best you can, or would you give in to your instincts go back to looping?


Last edited by lasta on 24 Oct 2018, 02:42, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: 24 Oct 2018, 02:27 
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I would put sp on one side and inverted on the other, develop a bulletproof penhold twiddle, and switch between looping and hitting as the situation dictates.


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PostPosted: 24 Oct 2018, 02:28 
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My canned response is "do what gives you most fun' :).

Before you do that, however, I'd play a few matches with your J-Pen to see how much your level drops (if at all) - practicing loops is fun, but if you suddenly lose twice as much, your 'fun' might be somewhat diminished.

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PostPosted: 24 Oct 2018, 02:47 
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BRS wrote:
I would put sp on one side and inverted on the other, develop a bulletproof penhold twiddle, and switch between looping and hitting as the situation dictates.


Haha, if only we can be bulletproof in everything! Recently I've been moving towards a deep firm grip, very hard to twiddle with cpen to start, not to mention getting a firm grip after flipping.


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PostPosted: 24 Oct 2018, 02:49 
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I see people playing short pips all the time but doing full inverted strokes.

I ask them why short pips: they say for return of serve but then I'll serve them off the table just like inverted.
These are are often lower level players but it seems like short pips for them is a bit of a waste.
Of course there are plenty of short pips players who use the equipment to their advantage.

I think as long as a player can make powerful strokes then any grippy rubber will work, even if not optimal.

This reminds me of the debate on loop vs loop drives. The difference is basically the angle of the paddle on the ball and up vs forward. In the end you still need to rotate the body and make as big of a swing as possible.


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PostPosted: 24 Oct 2018, 03:26 
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Hi lasta

My experience:
- I switched from shakehand to cpen seven years ago (because I acquired some Chinese friends who played cpen, and I didn't want to appear to have any advantage from shakehand): the change stuck. Still playing cpen.
- Started reading in this forum and switched main offensive rubber from inverted to short pips (Kees, He Zhiwen, Gao Jun) about six years ago: played Gao Jun style for maybe two years but it did not stick.
- Tried long pips as main weapon with sp or inv on the other side about four years ago (Zhou Xintong, Wang Qiuyi): did not stick, I guess, but *I did acquire a permanent enjoyment of lp OX that continues*, and will enjoy whole games with long pips, especially if winning. :-)
- Throughout, tried softer sponge. Always went back to hard.
- Throughout, tried softer veneer many, many times. Always went back to hard. (Current exception is Taksim, a thick carbon with softer veneer that doesn't seem to matter because the blade is so rigid and has carbon just underneath.)

CONCLUSION:
Regardless of the philosophical or aesthetic draw of some player or style (or of some reasoning that decides that X or Y must be "ideal"), some of the deepest ingrained original instincts can be overridden or replaced, and some can't. It's hard to know at the time which will be which, but I do know that it will be hard to renounce feeling "like superman". :-) (As pgpg suggested.)


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PostPosted: 24 Oct 2018, 12:31 
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Hi Zhaoyang,

So, after all the changes what's your playing style now? Short pips didn't stick, LP didn't stick, are you back to inverted?


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PostPosted: 24 Oct 2018, 20:39 
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I most enjoy trying to play like Zhou Xintong because it's fully self-controlled and I see it as fully active, not passive.
I would like to twiddle as frequently as Lay Jianfang but have been too lazy to develop it.

Zhou Xintong, Gao Jun and Ma Lin have this in common, at least in my mind and I think in reality too: I see their games as fully self-controlled placement until a juicier ball appears to kill, with very little "hit or miss". It's just executed differently with different equipment.

You asked "would you give in to your instincts". My answer was that my instincts remained the same (EDIT: and I was always giving in to them), just as you said was the case for yourself, in the third-to-last paragraph of your first post.


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