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PostPosted: 20 Dec 2011, 03:40 
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The ability to hit accurately and at will with anti is crucial to take away from opponents the possibility to drive or loop to your anti and attack the return with relative ease. A common problem with hitting is, however, that it isn't accurate - balls tend to go unexpectedly into the net or long. The reason for this is that with anti the sponge has to grip the ball or you have virtually no grip at all (as the top-sheet has little to no grip). But when you do use the sponge when hitting, it will only have grip as long as the ball doesn't bottom out; as soon as it does, the grip will be gone. This means that your stroke to counter drives and loops may work when the incoming ball has medium speed, and may go to pieces when it comes in just a bit faster. As you can't see differences in speed accurately enough to judge it right every time, your counter-attack will be unreliable.
The key to solving this problem is the sponge. You can either adapt thickness and hardness so as to minimize the danger of fast balls bottoming out, or go around it completely by adapting your stroke.
As for the first way out, generally what works is to use medium to soft sponges in 2.0 mm or more when you attack frequently, or harder sponges in 1.5 mm or more. Thicker sponges allow attack strokes which are similar to strokes you'd do with inverted, which may be a technical advantage. But they are also less suitable for chopping, which is a distinct disadvantage when you want to be able to chop reliably away from the table. Another possible disadvantage, depending on your style and tactics, is that a thicker sponge will as a rule not reverse spin, but more or less stop it. A third possible disadvantage is that you may cause the ball to bottom out anyway if you hit hard against fast incoming balls. All in all, using the sponge may turn out to work pretty well, but it won't offer certainty.
The second way out is not to rely on the sponge anymore for getting a grip on the ball. You have to adapt your stroke for this. Instead of getting a good grip on the ball, you will now more or less guide it - using the topsheet and just a little bit of sponge (to have the minimum amount of grip you need). I have described the stroke which is needed as a "punch" or active block here: viewtopic.php?f=62&t=18109. Contact is made before the top of the bounce, on the rise, so you can use the upward motion of the ball to bring it over the net, guiding it by punching it with a slightly closed bat. You can do this also on the top of the bounce, or even slightly after, if the ball is high enough (it is has to go in a straight line from the tip of your bat over the net on the other half of the table) but you have to close your bat less for this; as it is difficult to judge which angle you should use, it is generally better to punch the ball on the rise. Also, you must not over-hit, especially not against fast balls with lots of topspin on it, for the harder you hit the greater the chance that you will reverse some of the spin (as hitting hard presses the top-sheet to the wood and thus creates the smallest possible contact-surface for the ball, hence the least amount of friction) and the ball will start to float a bit, going long as a result. The perfect execution of the backhand punch, by Eric Boggan, can be watched here: viewtopic.php?f=62&t=18057. Watch his timing! It is superb!
Strokes to drive and "loop" with can only be reliably executed with good result using a very thick sponge, or against medium fast or slow balls which will not bottom out.

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PostPosted: 20 Dec 2011, 12:03 
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Great post Kees, that makes perfect sense.

Stickied ;)

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PostPosted: 20 Dec 2011, 12:33 
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Has anyone else noticed that Anti "topspin" rubber is so much more effective against topspin than a well chopped ball. I'd like to be an Anti hitter but chop intercedes.

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PostPosted: 20 Dec 2011, 16:08 
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prean-clone wrote
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Has anyone else noticed that Anti "topspin" rubber is so much more effective against topspin than a well chopped ball. I'd like to be an Anti hitter but chop intercedes.
No harm in doing both. Variation is the most effective weapon in a chopper-attacker's arsenal. Besides, it is the best fun...

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