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PostPosted: 27 Nov 2013, 05:42 
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I've been threatening to log my ideas and progress here for some time, and decided to take the plunge. The purpose is to provide a record of how I develop, my ideas, inspirations, and ideas, and especially to be able to seek guidance from the depth of experience and talent on this fine forum. With any luck, something here will be of interest or value to other community members!

So - please please do comment, criticise and otherwise troll - the more interaction the better!

I'll begin with today, because practice today had some noteworthy things. When I get the chance, on a Tuesday, I go along to a two hour session at my local club. It being during the day, it's largely frequented by retired people, but not always. Of the regulars, we have a fellow who is certainly county standard, and who beats one of the top players in my local league, regularly. A few other experienced, and I would describe as 'pretty strong players', plus one or two of about my standard, and one learner somewhat behind me on the journey. It's a friendly setup, with plenty of doubles play, and is great fun.

First noteworthy thing was against a fellow who plays a fairly aggressive game, with OX Neubauer Terminator on BH. I found that pretty much any serve I did, he could hit back. I ended up resorting to very gentle and soft serves with LP, which he'd push back. I lost all my games to him, and he played well. Note to self, need a shorter spinnier serve.

In the doubles again I found my serving was a problem. The best player said I needed to thing about the angles I opened up for my opponent. I found that I was making the third ball tricky for my partner. I think perhaps short, no-spin serves are good here too, and if I can put a bit of side spin on the ball so it curves short and to the left, that might help.

Against the fellow slightly behind me, I won 3-0, without much difficulty. He's unable to read my spin, and often hits into the net. My lesson from playing him, and other weaker players, is I frequently don't need to do anything other than vary position pace and spin, and they'll make the mistakes.

Next I played a fellow who often comes along, and also plays in my league. He's 84 now, and not as mobile as he was, but still plays very very well. Today I won a set against him, and got to deuce. My best result ever. I found my pushes had just enough on them to make it hard for him to hit them back. He doesn't like to push, so he'd play a longer ball, which I could then go back and chop. He'd either try to hit that, and overshoot or hit it into the net, or hit one I could chop again, or pop one up which I could attack with a forehand drive. This opens up the discussion to another thing I learned yesterday. I've been tending to be fairly passive recently - pushing, chopping where there's length to do so, and waiting for mistakes. Not committing myself to an aggressive shot, and waiting for the opponent to make the mistake. This has been a lot of fun - I like the cat and mouse element, and find myself relaxing and almost meditating as I play. However, last night, playing against a chap whom I would describe is slightly better than me, I found that if I was a bit more aggressive, and went for the powerful forehand drive against slightly higher balls, I not only got a lot of points, but I also got a big psychological advantage, because my opponent was worried about weak pushes, knowing I'd attack and kill anything loose. Now, to be fair, the chap last night did give me quite a few easy-to-hit balls, and I was pleased to learn that my 729 Super Soft 2.0mm on the Tibhar Defense Plus could deliver a very quick forehand when needed. So - this made me think of erring to the 'modern defence' approach over-against the classical. I'm not sure it suits my temperament - I love the feeling of hitting a big winner, but I tense up, and get more frustrated if I miss shots. When I play more 'classically', I'm much calmer, and accepting if I err in a pushing battle, or my opponent outplays me. I think what it boils down to, is I don't like making mistakes when trying to force-win the point. Now - this became relevant today when I played against one of the players slightly better than me. She's a deceptive retriever-style player. There's more on the ball than you realise, and I went for the kill fairly often, and threw away 5-10 points. Sure I won some too, but I lost 3-0. 11-9 13-11 11-8. Patience is a big part of my approach, and I think I need to learn when to not go for the shot, and be more sure when it's right. Play the percentages, I guess. Thing is that only comes with practice, and taking risks, so I'm not sure what to do really.

Final thing to note was I had a good practice session with the strongest player, in which he would give me a good strong, deep loop to my FH, which I'd chop back. He'd then loop back stronger, with more side, and I'd chop back. The challenge was getting the right angle for the second chop to land, and once landing, to ensure it had enough on it to not invite an even stronger reply. I found if I had the opportunity to chop on my BH with LP, he couldn't overcome the spin easily and would have to return the ball with less on it, which gave me a chance to loop back, adding variety and perhaps opening up an attack. I thought my FH chop was pretty good. On my BH I'm still not playing beside myself enough - I have a tendency to play in front of myself. Being a bit further back helped me.

So that's my notes for now. No explicit questions yet, but if anyone has observations or wants to ask me questions, I'd be delighted!

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PostPosted: 27 Nov 2013, 07:13 
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Good on you LordCope! I looks forwards to read your progress, and it sounds like you're doing very well already! :up:

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PostPosted: 30 Nov 2013, 20:06 
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I'm eagerly awaiting the arrival of the post! 4 sheets of Tibhar Duo on the way. The plan for the day is to fix Milky Way 955 OX (Red) on the Fibercomp, to get a feel for OX pips.

I've taken some pictures of the blade and the sheet, and will upload shortly. I'll do a step-by-step series on attaching the rubber too!

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PostPosted: 30 Nov 2013, 21:19 
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Oooh! Post has arrived! *bounce* :)

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PostPosted: 30 Nov 2013, 22:03 
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So LordCope (or should we call you Sir Cope?) :D
How do you play against players who just push at you since you prefer defense?

Looking forward to your blog.


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PostPosted: 30 Nov 2013, 22:46 
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vanjr wrote:
So LordCope (or should we call you Sir Cope?) :D
How do you play against players who just push at you since you prefer defense?


Great question. My current approach is to stay in the push rally. Vary length, speed, direction, twiddle. Relax into it, patience has all the time it needs. When I can loop over the table, I sometimes do, to cause confusion, and if there's an obviously high enough ball to hit, I'll hit it.

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PostPosted: 30 Nov 2013, 23:39 
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OK! "Secondary" blade now has OX Milky Way 955 on it! Pictures and report of process to follow shortly!

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PostPosted: 01 Dec 2013, 23:00 
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The plan:

I currently have in the stores:

- 1 x 729 Geospin Tacky 2.0mm (red)
- 1 x CK531A unsure width-of-sponge (red)
- 1 x Sanwei Code OX (black)
- 1 x Sword Scylla 0.5mm (black)

And on the blades:

- Tibhar Defence Plus - 755 Mystery III 0.8 (black) // 729 Super Soft FX (red)
- Andro Fibrecomp Def - Milky Way 955 OX (red) // Tibhar Super Defence 40 (black)

I propose to obtain another Tibhar Defence Plus, and stick the Geospin Tacky on one side, and one of the black LPs, with a view to swapping them later.

That leaves me with a red LP to swap for the 955 if needed, which gives me more than enough kit to play with without resorting to more purchases, and plenty of room to adjust and tweak in a controlled manner.

Good scheme?

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PostPosted: 03 Dec 2013, 08:51 
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Training tonight! An excellent session, and some interesting lessons and observations.

My first knock was with a chap who plays in one of the stronger teams - he's a powerful looper with great speed and placement. I got out the Andro blade with the OX pips, and after about two minutes decided that this wasn't going to work. I'm sure I could have got used to it, but it was so radically different from the usual Tibhar with 755 Mystery that I figured I'd be better just practicing with the known good kit.

We practiced my partner looping to my forehand and me chopping back. I was able to get 6-8 feet back and chop back with plenty of spin. Main lesson I learned was that I need to be hitting the ball much lower - often below table height. This gives a lower arc over the net, and was sometimes troublesome to return. We then switched to backhand chops off loops. This was excellent, as I'm much weaker here. After a while I was getting chops on the table with a good length, and by consciously backing off a bit I was able the take the ball in the right place. I made a conscious effort to put a bit of a swing into it... I recalled a fellow in the vietnamese basement video talking about making a letter C, so I tried that. I found that if I could get the second loop back, there was so much spin on it that my partner couldn't loop it back. Next we practiced FH to FH, and I was encouraged that I was able to hit good spinny and fast FH shots and blocks with ease. This combo is actually really really nice when I need to turn offensive on the FH. Then I twiddled and did some FH blocks with pips. When I got the angle right these were unreturnable, as my opponent was putting a lot of spin on and getting it all back. I wasn't able to reproduce this on the BH though, so I need to thing about the angle. I then tried some BH LP hits, but couldn't get these to behave consistently, and by this time my partner was keen to play with someone else.

Next I practiced with one of the beginner juniors. She's an absolute beginner, and 9/10 shots are poor form and easy to kill, so I just concentrated on my footwork, and effectively lobbing them back for her. Then we had a match, and her play improved dramatically. She has a good eye and a good feel for the ball. She naturally knew how to push back my chopped balls, and sometimes was able to deliver a very nicely placed FH shot. I won in straight sets, but it was a worthwhile knock.

Next I played against another junior - I've played her twice competitively this season - I won one, she won the other. We knocked for a while, just keeping the ball on the table, and me practicing chops. She can't handle them well at all. Then we played a match. She's been training hard, and has improved since we last played. She's got some really good serves. In the end she won 3-2, and 12-10 in the last, so it was very close. I shall look forward to practicing with her again soon. I did find that my sliced bh serve with inverted resulted in her hitting into the net every time. To beat her I just need to be a bit more careful with service return. She also had a run of lucky nets... it could have gone either way.

After that match I played another junior, whom I played in the league last year, and lost in straight sets. He was quite arrogant, and had been watching my previous game. He challenged me to a match, which I won in straight sets. I was able to vary pushes and chops and hit lose balls. He didn't really have any answers, and I won without too much difficulty. This was really encouraging.

Finally I practiced against a strong youth, who just backed off and did high lobs for me to smash. This was good practice, but my smashes were too good for him, so we started playing more seriously. He's a very good player, with beautiful side-spin loops, control and placement. We didn't play a match, but had a good long knock. He'd beat me comfortably, but I did cause him trouble with some deep chops, and he said I'd played well.

All in all an excellent session. I'm definitely getting used to the feel of the 755 Mystery, and am delighted with how the 729 Super Soft is playing. I'm not sure when or if I'll get a chance to play with the other blade. In fact I think I shall play tomorrow, as there's a social tournament in the pub in London tomorrow. I've had a knock there and the standard is high - I wouldn't expect to get more than 50% overall. That could be a good time to try.

Comments, questions, observations?

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PostPosted: 03 Dec 2013, 09:16 
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Here's my question: Are we going to be seeing any videos of your progress/training?

Reading reports is nice, but it's even nicer to break up text walls with video so we can see exactly what you're talking about :-). Even just a picture of, say, your bat after an equipment change could go a long way towards making an article more attractive and fun to read.

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PostPosted: 03 Dec 2013, 16:33 
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Thanks for the feedback. I definitely plan to make some videos once I've procured the required kit. I've taken some pictures of the latest rubber change - I just need to work out how to post them - they're rather big.

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PostPosted: 04 Dec 2013, 11:25 
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So I went to the pub. There was going to be a kind of tournament, but it was very quiet. Eventually a fellow turned up looking very keen, so I asked him if he wanted to play. Turns out he's the 'resident coach', and plays in the British 3rd Division - i.e. against the very top players of the club I train at.

We hit for about 60 seconds when he scampered around and said: it sounds(!) like you're using long pimples! He was very enthusiastic indeed. I told him I was keen to have a go on my new OX LP. We hit a few shots, him hitting to my BH and me chopping, until I got the hang of it. I then switched back to my usual kit, and practiced for a bit, mostly BH chops. He was very encouraging. Then we played a match to 11- I lost 11-9. He was giving me a chance for sure, but I still played some nice shots.

Then he asked one of the "best" players to come and play me. We hit up for a bit, and he had a super-fierce FH. I thought "I'm going to get slaughtered here....". However, I won 11-7, mostly on account of him overhitting both my chop and serves.

The rest of the evening was mostly messing about, although I did get a chance to play with the OX LP for a while, and got the hang of how significant was the spin reversal it offered. I am still more comfortable with my main setup, but it was educational for sure.

Amusingly, later in the evening, the coach chap pulled out a *TINY* bat - like 2 or 3 inches in diameter, and played me with it, beating me 11-57 We swapped, and I lost 11-4! He asked if I would like to play on his team sometimes... which I thought was an interesting option - the more match play the better!

Lessons learned: I'm getting increasingly consistent with the primary setup. I understand a bit about how the OX LP plays. Playing wirh a small bat is HARD! :)

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PostPosted: 04 Dec 2013, 17:46 
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LC Don't worry about being defeated by a smaller blade...it's when you start to lose to a cell phone that you should start to worry :lol: ;)

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PostPosted: 05 Dec 2013, 03:31 
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Yup, some retrievers are not easy wins like it might seem, you gotta read the ball and play smart, or give away points.

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PostPosted: 05 Dec 2013, 14:44 
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