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 Post subject: Re: Zen of chopping
PostPosted: 13 Mar 2015, 07:51 
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Dr. Chop-Blogger
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One more league night on Tuesday: went 2:3, just as week before, but at least it was a bit more satisfying. I did lose to players ~300 points above me, so no real surprise there. Managed to avoid stupid shots, most of the time, and had more patience, it seems.

But:

- still having problems with better loops, especially on FH.
- not moving that well side to side, perhaps should watch the ball more and work on anticipation
- still trying to figure out how far from the table I should be and how do I get there in the game
- when caught in the grey area: too far to block, too close to chop, what exactly is the right play?
- practicing chops is very enjoyable, but you don't get to do that a lot in the actual game...

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Last edited by pgpg on 13 Mar 2015, 22:31, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Zen of chopping
PostPosted: 13 Mar 2015, 22:28 
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pgpg wrote:
- when caught in the gray area: too far to block, too close to chop, what exactly is the right play?


A chop block can do the trick. They mostly will play into your body when you're in that position.


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 Post subject: Re: Zen of chopping
PostPosted: 13 Mar 2015, 22:33 
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pgpg wrote:
- practicing chops is very enjoyable, but you don't get to do that a lot in the actual game...

Is this because your opponents can't loop or because they're hitting the ball past you?

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 Post subject: Re: Zen of chopping
PostPosted: 13 Mar 2015, 22:54 
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Lorre wrote:
pgpg wrote:
- when caught in the gray area: too far to block, too close to chop, what exactly is the right play?


A chop block can do the trick. They mostly will play into your body when you're in that position.



Which they did, at least better players - forgot to mention that.

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 Post subject: Re: Zen of chopping
PostPosted: 13 Mar 2015, 22:59 
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dunc wrote:
pgpg wrote:
- practicing chops is very enjoyable, but you don't get to do that a lot in the actual game...

Is this because your opponents can't loop or because they're hitting the ball past you?


A bit of both, and depends on the opponent of course. Or the ball comes into my body, as Lorre pointed out above. Or my old habits kick in and I try to drive/loop it back :) instead of chopping. Practice is a different beast - you do what you set out to do, partner is cooperating etc. while match becomes more of a free for all.

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 Post subject: Re: Zen of chopping
PostPosted: 13 Mar 2015, 23:36 
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If it's because your opponents can't/won't loop, there's not much you can do other than to mix the spin up and wait for a ball you can attack (or try and push them off).

If it's because your opponents are hitting the ball past you though, there's a few things you can do - and some drills that can help.

Apologies if this is spoon feeding, I have no idea how good anyone on OOAK is and obviously I'm not particularly good myself... but I do feel like I've encountered this issue and my third ball receive is no longer the worst aspect of my game.

Firstly, the quality of your push is really important. Are you pimples-rolling the ball at them? Or playing a weak push? Here are a few guidelines I try to stick to:
  • When returning serve, especially if it's with the pimples, make the return difficult. That could be long and fast. It could be out wide far to their forehand. It could be heavy into their backhand... etc, etc. Keep it varied, keep them on their toes, and if the possibility arises to play a forehand loop, TAKE IT. Even if you miss it puts the possibility of an attacking game in your opponent's mind and moves them slightly out of their comfort zone
  • When pushing, primarily concentrate on "digging" the ball. Get it heavy, get it long, get it fast. Don't touch. Aim to make the opponent choose whether they'll push the ball or go for the big loop against heavy backspin. Either way, if you get the push right, you should be moving back, but not too far - your opponent will either have to spin the ball up (which you shouldn't be too far back to chop if you're using LPs) or push it long which you can take a small step in to attack
  • Pay attention to how they play each ball in the first end. If you play heavy into their backhand, can they open up? If you play loose into their forehand do they lash it past you? Try to analyse patterns like that in the first end - and don't worry about losing because of it - which you can then implement into the later ends. Guy I played against last night can loop ANYTHING on his backhand apart from the heaviest backspin. He looped my pushes fine but on my heavy backspin serves he made mistakes. On the forehand he quite often netted my pushes. If I wanted him to open up for me to chop, I gave him average levels of backspin off my serve and once we got into a rally I pushed into his playing elbow. Every time I pulled that pattern off, I won the point. Obviously it's never that simple for 11 points per game though :)

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Blades: Butterfly Defence 3, Butterfly Defence Pro, Butterfly Innerforce ZLC, Butterfly Innershield, Butterfly Joo Saehyuk, DHS Power G7, Stiga Offensive Classic Carbon
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LPs: Butterfly Feint Long II (1), Butterfly Feint Long III (0.5, 1.3), Tibhar Grass D.TecS (OX), TSP Curl P1-R (0.5, 1, 1.3), TSP Curl P4 (1.3)
Full list (PM me for price): https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1xNLwjz5uZq_FcCowBgZ4zk1NwU83xVyCRoo0zhphu3w/edit?usp=sharing
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My blog: "Learning to play: as a modern defender": http://ooakforum.com/viewtopic.php?f=58&t=22254
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 Post subject: Re: Zen of chopping
PostPosted: 14 Mar 2015, 09:49 
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dunc wrote:
...

Firstly, the quality of your push is really important. Are you pimples-rolling the ball at them? Or playing a weak push? Here are a few guidelines I try to stick to:
  • When returning serve, especially if it's with the pimples, make the return difficult. That could be long and fast. It could be out wide far to their forehand. It could be heavy into their backhand... etc, etc. Keep it varied, keep them on their toes, and if the possibility arises to play a forehand loop, TAKE IT. Even if you miss it puts the possibility of an attacking game in your opponent's mind and moves them slightly out of their comfort zone
  • When pushing, primarily concentrate on "digging" the ball. Get it heavy, get it long, get it fast. Don't touch. Aim to make the opponent choose whether they'll push the ball or go for the big loop against heavy backspin. Either way, if you get the push right, you should be moving back, but not too far - your opponent will either have to spin the ball up (which you shouldn't be too far back to chop if you're using LPs) or push it long which you can take a small step in to attack
  • Pay attention to how they play each ball in the first end. If you play heavy into their backhand, can they open up? If you play loose into their forehand do they lash it past you? Try to analyse patterns like that in the first end - and don't worry about losing because of it - which you can then implement into the later ends. Guy I played against last night can loop ANYTHING on his backhand apart from the heaviest backspin. He looped my pushes fine but on my heavy backspin serves he made mistakes. On the forehand he quite often netted my pushes. If I wanted him to open up for me to chop, I gave him average levels of backspin off my serve and once we got into a rally I pushed into his playing elbow. Every time I pulled that pattern off, I won the point. Obviously it's never that simple for 11 points per game though :)



Thanks, dunc - there is a lot for me to chew on here... Also, the more I read this - perhaps one of the biggest problems for me is that I don't think hard enough during the game, treating it as a mindless fun instead. On one hand it's a hobby and 'just a game', but it is also quite complex and has plenty of tactical layers. So, presumably once quality and consistency of strokes goes up, so does the importance of putting the ball in the right place (and with the correct spin), otherwise I'll be stuck at a given level for quite some time.

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 Post subject: Re: Zen of chopping
PostPosted: 15 Mar 2015, 17:05 
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pgpg wrote:


Thanks, dunc - there is a lot for me to chew on here... Also, the more I read this - perhaps one of the biggest problems for me is that I don't think hard enough during the game, treating it as a mindless fun instead. On one hand it's a hobby and 'just a game', but it is also quite complex and has plenty of tactical layers. So, presumably once quality and consistency of strokes goes up, so does the importance of putting the ball in the right place (and with the correct spin), otherwise I'll be stuck at a given level for quite some time.



This might help a little:

http://www.experttabletennis.com/tactical/#more-4242

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 Post subject: Re: Zen of chopping
PostPosted: 16 Mar 2015, 01:18 
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I wouldn't actively try to think about it during a game, pg. Think about it during practice and have a simple plan before you play each point in a match.

Although my post is quite complex it boils down to one thing: don't give your opponent the ability to put the ball past you with ease.

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[Other gear I've used]
Blades: Butterfly Defence 3, Butterfly Defence Pro, Butterfly Innerforce ZLC, Butterfly Innershield, Butterfly Joo Saehyuk, DHS Power G7, Stiga Offensive Classic Carbon
SPs: Friendship 802 (1.5), TSP Spectol (1.3, 2.1), TSP Spectol Speed (1.3), TSP Super Spinpips Chop Sponge 2 (0.5, 1.3)
LPs: Butterfly Feint Long II (1), Butterfly Feint Long III (0.5, 1.3), Tibhar Grass D.TecS (OX), TSP Curl P1-R (0.5, 1, 1.3), TSP Curl P4 (1.3)
Full list (PM me for price): https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1xNLwjz5uZq_FcCowBgZ4zk1NwU83xVyCRoo0zhphu3w/edit?usp=sharing
==================================================================================================================================================
My blog: "Learning to play: as a modern defender": http://ooakforum.com/viewtopic.php?f=58&t=22254
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 Post subject: Re: Zen of chopping
PostPosted: 16 Mar 2015, 01:31 
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dunc wrote:
I wouldn't actively try to think about it during a game, pg. Think about it during practice and have a simple plan before you play each point in a match.

Although my post is quite complex it boils down to one thing: don't give your opponent the ability to put the ball past you with ease.


In my limited experience, every time I tried to actively think about a shot in the game, as in "I think I should aim my FH into his body as opposed to going cross-court", I mostly missed :).

The link NextLevel posted above talks about something else that I was wondering about for quite some time: when you are just practicing a FH-to FH etc. you are conditioning your mind to place a shot into the spot your partner expects, so that rally can continue. That's nice for this particular drill, but obviously not what you want in a game.

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 Post subject: Re: Zen of chopping
PostPosted: 16 Mar 2015, 09:45 
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pgpg wrote:
dunc wrote:
I wouldn't actively try to think about it during a game, pg. Think about it during practice and have a simple plan before you play each point in a match.

Although my post is quite complex it boils down to one thing: don't give your opponent the ability to put the ball past you with ease.


In my limited experience, every time I tried to actively think about a shot in the game, as in "I think I should aim my FH into his body as opposed to going cross-court", I mostly missed :).

The link NextLevel posted above talks about something else that I was wondering about for quite some time: when you are just practicing a FH-to FH etc. you are conditioning your mind to place a shot into the spot your partner expects, so that rally can continue. That's nice for this particular drill, but obviously not what you want in a game.


Dunc is exactly right - you practice placing the ball properly and then in a game, you do it largely unconsciously - Larry Hodges stresses this a lot (Werner Schlager talked about it in the book on him as well). Before the point, I usually ask myself how I intend to start and win this point. Of course, your opponent can always throw a spanner in the works, but it does't mean that you shouldn't ask the question or have a plan.

On the other hand, we shouldn't trivialize that there is a lot of TT knowledge that even if seemingly basic is required to understand how to give your opponent problems and how to recognize when he is doing same to you and how. One example is how ball depth/placement affects return difficulty for the opponent. Some have learnt a little of the theory in serve and serve return, but the theory actually applies on every point. Very deep or very shallow or very wide placements usually raise the difficulty of a return. Yet most of our warmup practice is based on putting balls into the places that do not raise the difficulty of return and very few players drill this if they are not advanced.

So a simple way for a lower player to get better is to practice consistently putting balls close to the net and the white lines. But since they are not aware of this, many players at lower levels never practice doing this, and they wonder why they don't get better. It's not something that better players just do, it is one of the things one has to do to become a better player. When your opponent is literally hitting the sideline or baseline on every shot, you must quickly recognize you are playing someone at a higher class and find ways to make him uncomfortable. However, if you don't realize this and find the ball placement that will make him more uncomfortable (as he is doing to you), then kiss the match goodbye.

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 Post subject: Re: Zen of chopping
PostPosted: 16 Mar 2015, 11:55 
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Spend about 3 hours at the club today - and of course went in with a thought of applying at least some advice I got here :)

SInce club was quite busy, I ended up playing mostly matches as opposed to practice. Went 5:1, which was not bad at all. Still recovering from a cold, so was not at 100% physically, but it probably affected outcome of only one game, the last one that I lost, of course :)

I did make an effort to make my serve return as uncomfortable as possible, and discovered that my pushes, especially against short serves are not particularly dangerous. BH pushing rallies also typically did not end up in my favor, since I had trouble keeping them low. Tried twiddling a few times, but that did not go well.

On the long serves to BH I usually was able to do a mini chop, more or less, which was either low and long or high enough for opponent to hit (but these usually ended up in the net) - this proved to be very effective against J, penhold hitter. I never played her before and did lose first set, but then discovered that reasonably high chops placed in front of her almost always won me a point, and she kept serving long...

Overall I was pretty happy - did not really follow on all tips I got, but managed to stay 'in the zone' and come back from 0:1 and 0:2 deficits few times. Even tried 'fishing' as an alternative to FH chopping a couple of times - something to look into. Lost the last match, but I was more or less exhausted at that point.

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 Post subject: Re: Zen of chopping
PostPosted: 17 Mar 2015, 01:43 
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pgpg wrote:
...when you are just practicing a FH-to FH etc. you are conditioning your mind to place a shot into the spot your partner expects, so that rally can continue. That's nice for this particular drill, but obviously not what you want in a game.



Timely tip from Larry Hodges - it's almost as if he's reading this forum :)

http://tabletenniscoaching.com/node/2068

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 Post subject: Re: Zen of chopping
PostPosted: 19 Mar 2015, 10:53 
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Tuesday league recap: 3:2, and I thought it was one of the better days. It's always hard to directly compare one week to another, since your opponents frequently change 100% from the previous week, depending on who showed up, who league director thought would be a good match for you etc.

However, this time I beat everyone below me and had a couple of scrappy matches against folks above me - lost but took a game in each of them and the rest were close.

Two of the wins were very comfortable - one match almost turned into practice one where I tried to win by never attacking and only doing pushes and chops. The other one was against opponent I used to have trouble with in my double inverted matches against him - I think taking away his serves with LP receive helped a lot here.

The 3rd win I actually had to fight quite a bit for, coming back from 1:2 - that was one of those cases where I spent most of the time close to the table and not a lot of time chopping on either side. Sticking with patient pushes and loose ball attack actually worked, so 'don't panic' was not a bad strategy here.

On the loss side I did run into a strong hitter, more or less a level above me, who really feasted on anything reasonably high on FH, just smacking it at a wide angle I could not even touch. Sloppy serves and returns were punished quickly, as were high chops when I managed to get them back. Still, the first 3 games were really close, and I think I did frustrate him quite a bit when I managed to send it low and deep. 1:3, but one of those 'good' losses, where you feel you learned something.

Overall, quite positive - I think paying attention to service returns and being careful with pushes helped.

P.S. For the first time ever was called out by my opponent for a low toss serve :). As a "heads up, don't do it", so it was not contentious - still, new experience.

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 Post subject: Re: Zen of chopping
PostPosted: 22 Mar 2015, 10:07 
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Question of the day: what an aspiring chopper should do about hitters? Players in this category whack any reasonably high ball into a corner you can not reach with disturbing accuracy. 3 of my last 4 losses came against them (OK, two losses came from the same guy, but still).

I assume simple answer is 'don't give them anything to hit', but anything beyond that?

While at the club today, finally broke first seamless ball (Nexy) in a normal, non-spectacular way. I did lose one before (Xushaofa) when my opponent hit it with an edge of the blade and ball pretty much disintegrated in flight. This time it just started to sound funny and we were able to see a crack - just like with celluloid.

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