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PostPosted: 25 Mar 2015, 22:47 
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As the 2014/15 season draws to a close I have decided to make a fairly drastic change to my game, and move from inverted to SPs for my backhand. You may think this is not a drastic change, but aside from the odd fun 'hardbat' night I have played double inverted since an elderly neighbour gave the 10 year-old me his beloved Stiga Ehrlich blade with 2 well-worn sheets of Blue Yasaka rubber on it back in about 1978. In all this time (albeit with a 12-year break) I have always used the smooth stuff.

So.......
What level am I?
In the UK so no USATT rating to quote or even guess! (would like to think 2000+ but let's not go there). Best description I can give is good level top-division local league player, mostly seeded top-8 at local tournaments and play veterans inter-county and national league in about 3rd tier. Ranked about 300th Over-40 nationally, and have wins over several top-100 seniors and top-50 veterans. Just coming up to 47 years old.

Why do I want to change ?
I have never been completely happy with my backhand. I am generally too negative with it (albeit with a decent touch, block and, when needed, chop) and on that wing lack confidence, power and consistency - especially in competitive situations. For some reason I can have very good practice sessions, but it just doesn't transition to matches. Also, with inverted (and opponents knowing that I rarely attack long serves to my BH strongly) I can be vulnerable to long/fast/spinny serves to the BH if my returns aren't spot-on.

What do I hope to gain, what do I expect to lose ?
Above all I hope to be both more positive and more consistent on BH. My forehand is very strong so I am looking for BH to support it by getting the ball 'open' at every opportunity. I hope for a little more control in the short game. I hope that the variation between the inverted forehand and SP backhand will cause some opponents 'issues' :devil:

As a payoff I accept that I will lose some of the ability to generate my own spin (and my inverted 'dig' is very heavy) and also lose the ability to 'spin the ball up / loop, although I have never been happy with my mastery of this shot.

Why now ?
A3: Close season, plus the change to plastic balls and we'll all be adapting anyway. So why not?

What equipment will I use ?
A4: No change to blade and forehand rubber; Xiom Offensive-S (A fine OFF/OFF- stiff/soft 5-ply) and Rakza 9 max. I actually have 3 of these blades now (and at £35'ish they are super value) and will try SPs on 2. I have bought TSP Spectol in red 1.7-1.9mm (which I am trying now) and also have TSP Spectol 21 (Offensive sponge) in red 1.7-1.9mm should I decide I'd like something a little quicker. I basically wanted a classic, do it all SP and this seems to fit the bill. Most recently I played Tibhar VariSpin 1.8 or 2mm on BH.

Early impressions:
I have only had 3 short sessions with the new setup. I can definitely see potential, and a lot of hard work ahead! I have played a few best-of-fives with a practice partner and initially focussed on BH counter drives and a little on lifting backspin, basically just getting a feel for it. Blade angle is clearly crucial, and not taking the ball too late. The non-offensive aspects of play feel quite natural and actually very controlled. Blocking is good, with my partner often misreading the spin (not that I am sure what I was doing TBH). Mostly he overhit the next ball. The game play is not very natural at the moment, because I am looking to play BH shots whenever possible which is the opposite of what my match/final strategy would be.

Please contribute your thoughts and suggestions, and I will update this blog frequently; I will put up some video soon too.

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Last edited by so_devo on 20 Apr 2015, 19:41, edited 2 times in total.

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PostPosted: 25 Mar 2015, 23:46 
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Cool idea, devo. Which County do you play for?

One thing I would say is to make sure you really use the SPs. Every player I've played that uses the inv/SP combo just uses it as a crutch because their backhand with inverted isn't good enough. That's fine... but SPs are infinitely more powerful than that.

Once you get the basics down, look at soft-blocking and punching. Look at how to float pushes, and possibly learn to twiddle?

Nothing worse as a looper than having your first ball returned as a soft-block and then your weak second loop punched flat down the line.

I think SPs are a real weakness unless used properly. And if they're used properly, they can be awesome.

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PostPosted: 26 Mar 2015, 00:03 
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dunc wrote:
Cool idea, devo. Which County do you play for?

One thing I would say is to make sure you really use the SPs. Every player I've played that uses the inv/SP combo just uses it as a crutch because their backhand with inverted isn't good enough. That's fine... but SPs are infinitely more powerful than that.

Once you get the basics down, look at soft-blocking and punching. Look at how to float pushes, and possibly learn to twiddle?

Nothing worse as a looper than having your first ball returned as a soft-block and then your weak second loop punched flat down the line.

I think SPs are a real weakness unless used properly. And if they're used properly, they can be awesome.


Essex (as a veteran). And I agree with pretty much all of this !

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PostPosted: 26 Mar 2015, 01:57 
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Ooh, which Essex team? You may have recently played against a few of the players in my league. Northumberland County!

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[Old Gear/Other Setups] DHS Power G7, Adidas P7, Galaxy Mars v2, TSP Curl P1-R, Friendship 802, Butterfly Innershield, Xiom Omega IV Elite, Stiga Chop n' Drive, Butterfly Tenergy 64, Butterfly Tenergy 80, Butterfly Tenergy 05, Stiga Calibra LT Sound, Stiga Calibra Tour S, Tibhar Grass D.TecS
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PostPosted: 26 Mar 2015, 12:42 
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The biggest and most deceptive strength of SP in my experience is on continue the spin shots - looping/rolling backspin, chopping topspin or adding to sidespin on service return. I think those are things that higher level SP players do in addition to blocking and smashing that are really annoying.

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PostPosted: 27 Mar 2015, 03:56 
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dunc wrote:
Ooh, which Essex team? You may have recently played against a few of the players in my league. Northumberland County!

3rds.......we played this year in one of the two (regional) 2nd divisions. If I understand it correctly there is one premier, 2 firsts, 2 seconds, 4 thirds and 4 fourths. I got 50% in my singles playing p2. I don't recall playing Northumberland, but did miss one day.

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PostPosted: 27 Mar 2015, 04:09 
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NextLevel wrote:
The biggest and most deceptive strength of SP in my experience is on continue the spin shots - looping/rolling backspin, chopping topspin or adding to sidespin on service return. I think those are things that higher level SP players do in addition to blocking and smashing that are really annoying.

I wouldn't disagree; my challenge will be to play positively enough to do this, or hit through topspin etc. I am looking forward to learning new techniques!

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PostPosted: 27 Mar 2015, 04:29 
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Here is a practice vid to give some context. I am playing quite casually, serving mostly just to put the ball in play, not getting low to receive serve etc and not being as mobile as I usually am. Mostly I was just getting feel for the bat, and the quality improves as the video progresses. I am the older one, my practice partner a student at the uni where I work. He is generally defensive but can and does attack. He uses a defplay with hurricanes. My SP is red.

Comments welcome; I am fully aware I need to be more positive on BH.


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Last edited by so_devo on 28 Mar 2015, 17:09, edited 6 times in total.

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PostPosted: 27 Mar 2015, 18:18 
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To use the youtube tags you need the full YouTube URL and you need to take the "s" off "https", i.e. https://www.youtube.com?v=12345.

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[Old Gear/Other Setups] DHS Power G7, Adidas P7, Galaxy Mars v2, TSP Curl P1-R, Friendship 802, Butterfly Innershield, Xiom Omega IV Elite, Stiga Chop n' Drive, Butterfly Tenergy 64, Butterfly Tenergy 80, Butterfly Tenergy 05, Stiga Calibra LT Sound, Stiga Calibra Tour S, Tibhar Grass D.TecS
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PostPosted: 27 Mar 2015, 18:28 
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Your backhand looked controlled there for sure, but it didn't look dangerous. Obviously it's mega early days but definitely try to work on varying the spin on your pushes, soft-blocking and punching.

I thought you opened up against backspin with it reasonably well mind, was that your Spectol?

Once you get more confidence with it there was a few of those balls that you could just slap through. High push to your backhand? Slap.

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[Old Gear/Other Setups] DHS Power G7, Adidas P7, Galaxy Mars v2, TSP Curl P1-R, Friendship 802, Butterfly Innershield, Xiom Omega IV Elite, Stiga Chop n' Drive, Butterfly Tenergy 64, Butterfly Tenergy 80, Butterfly Tenergy 05, Stiga Calibra LT Sound, Stiga Calibra Tour S, Tibhar Grass D.TecS
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PostPosted: 27 Mar 2015, 18:42 
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Thanks; I wouldn't disagree with any of that and with only about 3 hours of table time with short pips -ever- I am just learning blade angles and how to put it on the table, with variation and power to be added at a later date! Yes, it is standard Spectol (1.7-1.9mm). This seemed a good all round option and a sensible sponge thickness to start with.

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PostPosted: 27 Mar 2015, 19:07 
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For how little you've played with the SPs I think you've adapted to them very naturally. You didn't seem to have any control issues. I often dump the ball into the net when I first start playing with SPs (after inverted) because I get my bat angles all wrong.

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[Old Gear/Other Setups] DHS Power G7, Adidas P7, Galaxy Mars v2, TSP Curl P1-R, Friendship 802, Butterfly Innershield, Xiom Omega IV Elite, Stiga Chop n' Drive, Butterfly Tenergy 64, Butterfly Tenergy 80, Butterfly Tenergy 05, Stiga Calibra LT Sound, Stiga Calibra Tour S, Tibhar Grass D.TecS
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PostPosted: 27 Mar 2015, 19:08 
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so_devo wrote:
dunc wrote:
Ooh, which Essex team? You may have recently played against a few of the players in my league. Northumberland County!

3rds.......we played this year in one of the two (regional) 2nd divisions. If I understand it correctly there is one premier, 2 firsts, 2 seconds, 4 thirds and 4 fourths. I got 50% in my singles playing p2. I don't recall playing Northumberland, but did miss one day.

Our Northumberland team (we only have one) played in the division where Essex 2nds played. One of the Division 2s, I think?

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[Old Gear/Other Setups] DHS Power G7, Adidas P7, Galaxy Mars v2, TSP Curl P1-R, Friendship 802, Butterfly Innershield, Xiom Omega IV Elite, Stiga Chop n' Drive, Butterfly Tenergy 64, Butterfly Tenergy 80, Butterfly Tenergy 05, Stiga Calibra LT Sound, Stiga Calibra Tour S, Tibhar Grass D.TecS
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PostPosted: 27 Mar 2015, 19:18 
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dunc wrote:
so_devo wrote:
dunc wrote:
Ooh, which Essex team? You may have recently played against a few of the players in my league. Northumberland County!

3rds.......we played this year in one of the two (regional) 2nd divisions. If I understand it correctly there is one premier, 2 firsts, 2 seconds, 4 thirds and 4 fourths. I got 50% in my singles playing p2. I don't recall playing Northumberland, but did miss one day.

Our Northumberland team (we only have one) played in the division where Essex 2nds played. One of the Division 2s, I think?


Looks like your team was in the other division, and top of it too. We on the other hand were bottom :( with a bit of a mish-mash of a team at times, a couple of players getting nothing all season. I was happy with my 50% from position 2 :)

http://tabletennisengland.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/county_championship_tables_2014-15.pdf

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PostPosted: 27 Mar 2015, 19:36 
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Yeah we've got a strong lineup. If we can stay afloat in Division 1 next season, our league's best player becomes a veteran the season after. We'd then have 3 incredibly strong players - our #2 is ranked 18 in England in O40 vets, our #3 is ranked 35 and the aforementioned new #1 is better than both of them.

At that point we could probably put a second team in too I think as we've got a load of other good vets (some real classy O60s).

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