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 Post subject: Wilkinru's TT Journey
PostPosted: 09 Oct 2015, 06:07 
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Me and Adam Bobrow

Hi my name is Russ.

I'm a 35 year old living in Las Vegas, Nevada, USA.
I've played table tennis for about 7 years now but only in 2015 have I really put fourth the effort to actually improve since 2010.

My #1 (true) motivation is to get exercise! At the end of 2014 I was about 210 pounds, which is a lot for someone who is 5'8".
Truthfully I always struggle with motivation for exercise and eating right. It used to help when thinking about the females and trying to be attractive to the other sex but being married really nuked that. I went from around 170 to 210 after the wedding and a baby.
Table tennis performance is a great motivator. I desire to play a physically demanding "pro" style game with footwork and body control. This is hard work when you are obese. This has made me rethink my eating habits and training. I exercise for table tennis, I lose weight for table tennis, I weight lift/train for table tennis.

As of 3/02/2016 I'm 185 pounds.
My ultimate goal is to be around 155 pounds. I'm losing around 2 pounds a month currently, which is a good balance.

One thing that is relentless is my back/hip/butt problems. I am pretty much always dealing with some level of piriformis syndrome - which is when a butt muscle is tight. This restricts my training efforts. However I have had a wonderful 2015 with regards to these issues. I'm really hoping less weight will translate into more practice.


Current and initial rating: USA TT: 739.
Update #1 After Nationals 2015: 1341

My Setup
Main:
Timo Boll ZLF
Tenergy 05 FX (forehand)
Tenergy 80 (backhand)

Backup:
TB ALC
Barracuda 2.0 (forehand)
Tenergy 05 max (backhand)

A little bit about me:

What do you do?
Software Engineer

Where do you live?
Las Vegas , Nevada in the USA (lots of desert, no rain)

Other hobbies?
Working on my Subaru(s).

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Married/Children?
Married with a two year old (as of 2016)
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Because on internet - my generic kitty:
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Last edited by wilkinru on 03 Mar 2016, 05:39, edited 4 times in total.

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PostPosted: 09 Oct 2015, 06:24 
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On 10/7/2015 and 10/8/2015

Used backup paddle (viscaria light T05fx max and 2.0 barracuda) - it sure had more feeling. It being lighter helped but the timing was a little different. May try again. I don't like the less solid feel, tho. TBALC sure is more solid. It's a trade off. I might even play better with the backup...

I played some long pips players and won pretty easily. Still trying to find the right combination of serves.
Must remember short and low serves generally get returned deep. Deeper slower serves allow more time for a setup forehand.
Was very surprised that one guy was rated over 1700.

Did the night tourney and had pretty mixed results. Had good success serving to the forehand all night. Was obvious my backhand loop is just not there right now. Going to be a focus. Wrist movement was all wrong, elbow wasn't set.

Forehand loop against dead balls seems to be a little too open as it went long against mid-distancers. Need to slow down and practice more with that shot.

Pendulum top/side serve short to the backhand corner worked really really well, complimented the deep top/side. The top/side to the forehand side was not very effective - ball was either too high or missed the serve entirely. Need to work on that a bit more. Might be a really good serve for pressure points still.

Backhand near the table - need to make sure the paddle begins closer to 90 degrees. Was a little high on return and 3rd ball and caused lots of misses. Work on this in practice matches. This should help with down the line shots too. Continue to practice them.

Practice with robot:
Backhand counter / loop -> backhand down the line -> (move feet) forehand loop finish.


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PostPosted: 09 Oct 2015, 12:48 
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Is it always the same cheek giving you trouble? If so you may be standing with all your weight on your dominant leg. It's surprisingly easy to do that playing TT.


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PostPosted: 09 Oct 2015, 14:33 
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Hey, Russ, glad you have a blog. As you know, video is always helpful. Would like to comment, but I would only be giving general stuff and I am not always sure that is wise in the absence of a burning question.

In my experience, the biggest barrier to developing a backhand loop is refusing to take baby steps. People want to loop drive before they have even learned to thin brush loop. Try to start with slow backspin.

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PostPosted: 09 Oct 2015, 18:13 
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Once you get the "fine brush" motion on a backhand loop, everything else falls into place - or at least it did for me.

Find a robot, or a decent practice partner (for multiball, or just someone who can chop the ball back to your backhand repeatedly and with varied degrees of spin) and learn to play a proper fine-brush stroke against backspin.

If you can't play that stroke though, it's easy for opponents to serve heavy backspin into your backhand to either win points directly (you try to brush and fail) or to allow them to attack (you end up having to push even long serves).

Once I learnt how to do that, I found the "powerloop" came quite naturally and I could vary the spin dependent upon the stroke (I find backhand loop positioning abnormal as a chopper, so sometimes I'd be reaching - instead of powerlooping those balls I naturally and unconsciously brush-looped with heavy spin).

Oh, the other thing that both me and my regular practice partner have noticed on the backhand loop is that a lot of players learning the stroke don't have enough "backswing". If you watch the top players, especially vs. backspin, they angle their racket head right down to the floor before starting their stroke. The benefit/purpose of this is that there's distance/time between starting the swing and making contact with the ball meaning the racket head speed is high. It's racket head speed which allows you to get spin/speed on your strokes, that's no different with the backhand loop - but it is a little bit less obvious as to where you can find that speed.

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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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My blog: "Learning to play: as a modern defender": http://ooakforum.com/viewtopic.php?f=58&t=22254


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PostPosted: 09 Oct 2015, 18:40 
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> Once you get the "fine brush" motion on a backhand loop, everything else falls into place - or at least it did for me.

> Oh, the other thing that both me and my regular practice partner have noticed on the backhand loop is that a lot of players learning the stroke don't have enough "backswing".

What I find is that it doesn't matter much how to ease into topspin as long as you get the back swing right. I've taught several people looping and it's pretty easy once they understand how to get the racket into right position relative to the ball trajectory. Then it becomes matter of practice for consistency.


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PostPosted: 10 Oct 2015, 05:10 
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Thanks for the comments guys. The backhand loop sure was an issue today!

I think some of my problem is just not having practiced it in the last couple of weeks.

I really struggled. I will have to say the quality of the backspin today against Len(I shall call him) was a notch above what I'm used to.

I'll go into the history of my backhand a little and go from there.
Against a robot with no osculation I am able to hit some backhand loops pretty darn well. Brush and for power.
I've always struggled to translate this into a game situation. Getting the feet set, getting the swing right...seems as if everything has to be just perfect or it goes all wrong - this is the curse of the robot. I'll play some people and it works wonderfully, but against Len it just falls apart. It's too fast, too spinny, too low! I'm not even sure if my robot can create such a ball. Also I have this horrible habit of going down the line in matches, but in practice I almost always go cross court. I feel cross court is more natural and better margin of error.

What I need to do is develop a plan to translate my backhand loop into more match like situations. It's difficult with very limited training partners. Any suggestions on how to work on this with the robot - I have trouble making that thing seem realistic (newgy).

Len is the best player at my usual club by a wide margin - the following is some notes and ideas about how to play better against him.
Mostly backspin serves, wasn't willing to loop when pushed back to the forehand. Could possibly pivot and loop here.
Serves to the forehand worked best. Must keep them low and half long.
Forehand loop is less scary than I remember. Maybe just getting used to that.
Backhand long pips was easier to attack, but often used red side. Serving to the backhand did allow for an opening attack.

Random notes: Get a lot of backhand loops in before the match. At the end of the session they were working, but only after lots of misses.
The wet towel really worked well for grip. First time I tried that, good idea indeed.


Last edited by wilkinru on 10 Oct 2015, 05:23, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: 10 Oct 2015, 05:11 
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BRS wrote:
Is it always the same cheek giving you trouble? If so you may be standing with all your weight on your dominant leg. It's surprisingly easy to do that playing TT.

Mostly. Honestly it hurts more just walking and even if it feels good before bed, it usually hurts after. I suspect I'm probably leaning too much to one side while playing too. I've really focused on getting lower and being on the balls of my feet for the last few months. Was hoping that would work itself out.


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PostPosted: 10 Oct 2015, 05:25 
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NextLevel wrote:
Hey, Russ, glad you have a blog. As you know, video is always helpful. Would like to comment, but I would only be giving general stuff and I am not always sure that is wise in the absence of a burning question.

In my experience, the biggest barrier to developing a backhand loop is refusing to take baby steps. People want to loop drive before they have even learned to thin brush loop. Try to start with slow backspin.


Please, by all means, help me out mapping these baby steps.

Robot -> match isn't working :rofl:


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PostPosted: 10 Oct 2015, 08:19 
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Well, you either need to change to or buy a slower blade, or go much slower than you likely are currently playing. You need to master the feeling of silent brush contact by going slowly, then going faster but continuing to maintain the feeling of grip. Against backspin, you need to focus on generating slow heavy spin first before driving the ball. As for the actual stroke, have you looked through Ringer's thread or the videos on my blog?

Post video if you can - it helps us get more specific. Or send me or Brett a link if you can't share publicly.

There is nothing special about missing from robot to match. It happens with all shots. When your anticipation and prep skill catch up with the stroke, then everything clicks if you have a flexible version of the stroke. Starting with lower rated players is best as higher rated players pressure your overall game and make it harder to execute new shots.

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PostPosted: 14 Oct 2015, 05:44 
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For the last couple of days I've been using the T05fx backup paddle. It gives a little more dwell time for the backhand loop. It seems a little slower to me, but I don't think that was the issue. I was missing the ball off the edge, or entirely or hitting way too early or late - I wasn't set.

I worked on the ball machine, focused on brush.
Lastly I practiced with my usual foe. We did a little drill where he served backspin, I would short push, he would then push deep to my backhand and then I open looped to his backhand.
This is what I'll need more of - it's game situation like but controlled. I really focused on footwork and balance.


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PostPosted: 14 Oct 2015, 05:51 
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Yeah, that's an excellent drill to practice opening up against the push and generally improving your backhand loop. Good plan.

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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: 23 Oct 2015, 05:54 
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So my IT band has been just killing me. I'm going to work on leg strengthening.

So Len - the best competition at my usual club is off to China for the next 2 months. I'm absolutely bummed about this. So much for higher level competition. I know I can play to my opponents strengths, but it still doesn't allow me to see the higher quality ball: speed, spin, placement that Len provided was a new challenge.

My desire to get better is not there right now. It's difficult to quantify improvement if I'm winning my matches against just about everyone.
This doesn't mean I'm that good but it does mean that I've improved at my club quite a bit. 1 year ago I lost to nearly everyone there.

I'll do my best to go to one of the other clubs in town. There is no doubt there's better players in my area - just scheduling issues.

I think right now getting more fit is #1 on my list. Less tired will really help me at Nationals. Time for a little cardio and lots of weight training.


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PostPosted: 23 Oct 2015, 06:10 
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Use the scoreline. I find that reliably and convincingly beating lower rated people with a style of play is at least as good an indication of better play as is better results vs higher rated players. The ability to consistently convert east balls into winners is a sign of improvement. Beating players who used to feel they have a chance so badly that they don't enjoy playing you is a a good sign of getting better because it means you convert loose shots. This is especially powerful if you don't overuse tested and true strategies against the opponent and play to their strengths or at least with indifference to their specific weakbeas.

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PostPosted: 27 Oct 2015, 05:08 
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I do believe I'm starting to figure something out.

I've got 2 setups right now:
TB ALC
Barracuda 2.0 forehand
Tenergy 05 2.1 backhand

Viscaria Light
Barracuda 2.0 forehand
Tenergy 05fx 2.1 backhand

Last night I had an light go off in my head the moment I grabbed my TB ALC blade and did some practice hitting. The handle felt wonderful. I had to compare it with what I've used lately - the Viscaria light. The TB ALC has a more squared off handle - it feels so natural in my hand and with the more squared off handle I get a much better reference point to return to after serving. When hitting on the forehand I was moving the handle my hand non-stop. It just naturally developed. This did not occur one bit with the TB ALC.

So ah hah - I'll just switch back to that blade and I will improve.

So today I played a old nemesis. His serve is pretty simple, deep ball to the backhand. I had finally learned to move my feet and hit this ball pretty solid. He is a good blocker but I would at least get ahead in the point. It took a while to be able to attack that ball. Something horrible happened today, which happened previously - every one of my backhands went long! I had to reduce my backhand to a nearly passive brushy shot. Also on the forehand I was making more passive shots. Ugh, playing that match all I could think was...

The TB ALC setup is too fast for me! ;(
The forehand doesn't seem to be nearly the problem the backhand is, but it's there on both sides.

So what should I do?

Modify the Viscaria light? Sand it down to create a more squared off handle? Or put on a new handle?

Slow down the TB ALC with different rubbers?

Buy a new setup?

I'm leaning towards the Viscaria light being modified.


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