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PostPosted: 19 Sep 2014, 06:42 
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Rambo Looper Spin First Ask Questions Later
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The rec center crowd without any coaching, training and reliance upon unsound mechanics will forever remain so, yet if they are happy, let them eat tomatoes!

Some of the rec center champ types are not even 1000 USATT level, some of that untrained crowd are 1600ish with tactics and shots that work for their level and trouble the next level above them.

Whatever that crowd wants to use, and for that matter, what us amatures want to use, drive on. If we are satisfied with it and enjoy ourselves, that is a lot of the battle. I play a similar level using TBS with T05 on FH around the same level I do using a Galaxy 896 Der_Echte modified special.

Lord Cope, the bat you saw me use in Boston was a 896 I did a simple mod to make it heavier and slapped on used sheet of Aurus and a new on of XP 2008. I play a similar level using that set than I do if i had a master-blaster top of the line bat in my hands as well. This week, I'm getting the Nexy Kanaph and i'm sure it will be an awesome bat I will love, but I can and do play a mean game with a simple slower bat too.

While we are at it, there was a gent from the Boston TTC who played C-Pen single sided with sponged SP and could time perfect off the bounce active blocks and bumps. He had CONTROL in heaps and with poke your topspin right back to you or way away from you. You had damned well better be ready to cover some territory or spin him off the table, because you try to fast loop vs him you are asking for it unless you fake him and blast it by him. Such a gent is content with his equipment and can be a troublesome opponent too.

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PostPosted: 29 Jan 2015, 10:28 
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I'm a full time hardbat player (Dr. Evil both sides & a Nittaku Resist blade). I agree that hardbat has a lower plateau. But that plateau is probably far higher than I will acheive at the age of 55 and I believe I can certainly improve well beyond where I'm at. Well above USATT 2000 seems very achievable if I do the work. There are full time hardbat players that have reached USATT 2300. None of these players did so in their prime. I recently saw one of these fellows (Franz Huermann 2327 - easily into his 60s) beat Arizona's best player (at the time) of a similar rating. Surprisingly, even though I seldom even test the Arizona player's skill, I managed to beat Franz. I play well against choppers and got a bit lucky.

This last summer I went to San Jose and attended a weak long TT camp there at World Champions Table Tennis Academy http://www.butterflyonline.com/WCTTA/ . Three of the coaches are former world class players (two world champions ) and the fourth is a former (current?) national class player. All of them are super-nice people. I was a little concerned that I might get some grief about using hardbat when I began to train. But to my surprise, no grief at all. What I got instead was input on the strengths and weaknesses of my racket and how I should consider adjusting my techniques as a result. Nobody questioned my choice of gear. I think they understood that I wasn't training to be an elite modern player at my age. So why try to fit me into the approach they might advise for a sub-teen up and comer?

That camp was great and I'm going back this year.

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PostPosted: 29 Jan 2015, 11:46 
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I have to agree with Jay and Scott and the others who have pointed out that at the recreational level there is nothing inherently limiting about hardbat or any other (legal) combination of surfaces. I once youtubed a guy who plays long pips on both sides and I think was about USATT 2200 or something. Honestly I would just politely ignore the coach if I were you and keep on playing hardbat if that's what you like.

Coaches are fine and I appreciate the work they put into the game but they seem to be mainly trained to develop elite players and focus on just that. Developing adult recreational players to reach their highest potential is very different.


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PostPosted: 29 Jan 2015, 15:25 
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It depends on the level and flexibility of the coach. The biggest advantage of listening to a coach and using similar equipment to what he uses is that he knows how to teach you to use it. Without guidance, you are better off using whatever you understand. It's the biggest reason why grip and racket innovation in this sport is still in the stone ages, IMO.

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PostPosted: 29 Jan 2015, 17:48 
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David.Bernstein wrote:
I have to agree with Jay and Scott and the others who have pointed out that at the recreational level there is nothing inherently limiting about hardbat or any other (legal) combination of surfaces. I once youtubed a guy who plays long pips on both sides and I think was about USATT 2200 or something. Honestly I would just politely ignore the coach if I were you and keep on playing hardbat if that's what you like.

Coaches are fine and I appreciate the work they put into the game but they seem to be mainly trained to develop elite players and focus on just that. Developing adult recreational players to reach their highest potential is very different.


To be fair, I do think that for most people playing hardbat is harder the higher up the skill levels you climb.

And going back to the original comments the first coach made, those are actually good points. And my answer to both of them for myself would have been that yes I can vary the spin on my shots in a way that bothers most opponents and yes I can hit just about any shot with topspin if I want to. In fact, I work very hard at producing a lot of topspin, if not for the direct benefit of my game, then so that I can warm up with inverted players in a manner that they are accustomed to so that it is easier to find warmup partners at tournaments. Lots of players don't want to warm up against anything "funky."


In the U.S. there is an additional motivation for me to play hardbat fulltime that may not exist in other countries. Our two big tournaments are the Nationals and the Open. Both have hardbat events. I actually have a shot at winning open hardbat events. At 55, I have essentially no chance at winning "regular" open events. I can be competitive in some rated events though. So always playing hardbat makes these two tournaments more interesting for me while letting me be highly competitive in regular "sponge" events.

Also, if I were to use a racket with sponge, I probably wouldn't play with inverted. I'd probably use short pips on my backhand with relatively thin sponge and use a medium pips on my backhand. This would allow me more spin and pace than I can get with hardbat and more spin variation without having to change my strokes and style of play wholesale.

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PostPosted: 30 Jan 2015, 00:48 
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Throughout my foray into table tennis (2y3m now), I've struggled with other people's advice.

Everyone thinks that the best way to win at table tennis is to do what they do. I've had a huge number of people tell me to "ditch the pimples" because I'd be a "much better player without them".

I've encountered really bad coaches. A local level 3 coach is renowned for telling people to "slap through pimples". I've seen him lose to a mid-table pimples player by trying to do exactly that.

Recently I encountered a really good coach. He insists that I have to continue learning a backhand counter despite never using that in a game. I struggled with that advice but other than that I agree with everything he told me. However, I'm also pretty confident that if I went to him with a sub-par chopping game (i.e. my backhand chop was really bad), he would try to convert me to a normal inverted player. So if I'd gone along 18 months ago, I think I would've come away feeling really frustrated because I suspect this coach might have tried to move me away from the game I've always set out to play.

The majority of coaches only know how to play one or maybe two different styles of play. They have developed attacking players and watched them climb to meet their potential. They don't know how to do that with you, nor do they know what the potential is for your style. You can't really therefore blame them for trying to "improve you".

I would however like to pass down a few pearls of "wisdom" from my learning curve:
  • My league of 5 divisions and ~220 players has no hardbat players in D1 or Premier, 5 that I can think of off the top of my head below that
  • My league has 6 pimples players in D1 and Premier
  • The best pimples player in my league averages 70% in the Premier division (he doesn't attack often, either)
  • My belief of any non-inverted material is that in comparison to inverted rubbers they make you better early on, then it becomes significantly harder to improve

I think I accelerated up the divisions quickly because of my pimples. Now I think that if I was playing Premier and I'd been practising inverted on both sides since day 1, I'd be a better player. I'm OK with that though because it can be attributed to the fact that a) I have twice as many shots to learn, b) I have two directions of movement which I have to work on more than inverted players and c) there isn't a single coach within 100 miles who actively coaches my style of play.

Sometimes, "in real life", you have to ignore table tennis advice from other people. However, that's where forums like this come in. My blog has been running since the very early days of me starting table tennis and throughout it I've had brilliant advice from leatherback, Lorre, DA, Pipsy, carbo and a multitude of others. Experienced players who play the same style, or players like carbo who have huge experience of table tennis at a high level. You can add all of that feedback up and help it to guide your choices... but eventually it comes down to you.

Whatever you do though, carbo is spot on - pick one set of equipment and train it relentlessly. That's ESPECIALLY important when it comes to pimples because knowing your equipment inside-out is the only way to take certain advantages away from your opponents. If you want to use hardbat for example, your service return must be excellent - angles, depth and the ability to attack weak serves - else you will just lose to attackers from a certain point.

Realistically, neither you nor I, having started TT as adults, will become world class. My ambition is to play Senior British League but even then I know that I can't become a top player in that league for various reasons (started too late, not enough time to prac, not high enough quality of opponents to prac against etc). I think a good hardbat player could play in SBL and we know that a inv/LP player can play on the world stage. So don't let people put you down about your choice, just weigh up the pros and cons, pick a setup and...

... train the right things.

That's the important bit for me. Video your matches and get them on here so our good players can help to suggest drills that would benefit your game. There's no point relentlessly drilling a hardbat counterhit stroke if you intend to chop on your backhand. Do it a bit, sure, but focus your practice to the shots that you need to learn and the situations that you struggle with.

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