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 Post subject: Re: a BRS blog
PostPosted: 12 Nov 2015, 04:15 
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@NL I accept the good strokes. Just kidding.

If i have time i will find the time stamp to show you what i mean about the bh. We can judge semi-consistent or not off the tournament video this saturday. Playing at the bigger club in orlando for the first time and i hear they have room to record.


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 Post subject: Re: a BRS blog
PostPosted: 12 Nov 2015, 07:59 
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Light practice today as I am babying my shoulder a bit. Based on NL's post above about not trying serves beyond your current ability to control, I tried a new practice serving game just for about 20 minutes.

It seems that I can produce a decent amount of any two out of the four desirable attributes of spin, low bounce, speed, and short. So I chose low and short, accepting little spin and hardly any speed. I did one type of serve at a time, giving myself a point if it met the two criteria and subtracting one if it didn't, or wasn't a good legal serve. If I got to 20 I switched to another type of serve. From the goofy stance I succeeded after many ups and downs with straight underspin and side under, and failed spectacularly with side top.

Doing this it was obvious how much difficulty I have hitting the same way several times in a row. I don't mean an astoundingly good serve with perfect contact. These were slow, crappy, light spin, as-easy-as-I-could-possibly-make-it serves, and it was still a very hard to be consistent. So I think I will keep playing with this until I consistently hit these powderpuffs the same way ten times in a row or something.

They aren't going to be very useful in matches unless I want a no-spin serve. So for now I will just accept that all my match serves will be long. I can always serve them into the body.


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 Post subject: Re: a BRS blog
PostPosted: 13 Nov 2015, 02:03 
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BRS wrote:
Light practice today as I am babying my shoulder a bit. Based on NL's post above about not trying serves beyond your current ability to control, I tried a new practice serving game just for about 20 minutes.

It seems that I can produce a decent amount of any two out of the four desirable attributes of spin, low bounce, speed, and short. So I chose low and short, accepting little spin and hardly any speed. I did one type of serve at a time, giving myself a point if it met the two criteria and subtracting one if it didn't, or wasn't a good legal serve. If I got to 20 I switched to another type of serve. From the goofy stance I succeeded after many ups and downs with straight underspin and side under, and failed spectacularly with side top.

Doing this it was obvious how much difficulty I have hitting the same way several times in a row. I don't mean an astoundingly good serve with perfect contact. These were slow, crappy, light spin, as-easy-as-I-could-possibly-make-it serves, and it was still a very hard to be consistent. So I think I will keep playing with this until I consistently hit these powderpuffs the same way ten times in a row or something.

They aren't going to be very useful in matches unless I want a no-spin serve. So for now I will just accept that all my match serves will be long. I can always serve them into the body.
Sure, but part of the point is to keep working on your serves so they do get better - more spin generation and height control on floor serves translates into lower and faster table serves. When you push the edge in practice on certain serves, you accept the average as your match serve.

From the last matches, the average looks decent, but I am not always sure what the strategy behind the serve is for you.

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 Post subject: Re: a BRS blog
PostPosted: 13 Nov 2015, 02:52 
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Lots of good stuff in there which will get better. Will focus on a few areas for improvement.

I think you need to slow your backhand down on more strokes but with good wrist acceleration. In general, you need to relax much more on all your strokes. You have good drives but you don't always have good spin. You should time your stroke so that brush is maximum/close to it at the point of contact with the ball, whether the stroke is short or large - always have a backswing and brush. Your opponent should wait for your ball. Your strokes should put your opponent to sleep if you are going for spin - you do this much better on your forehand, even if you sometimes do not want to do it for misguided reasons about how to approach topspin.

Your forehand timing is better than your backhand timing, though both need some work. They are good enough for your general level though, but I keep getting this impression that you should be able to win more points with one good topspin even if the opponent blocks it and it doesn't happen largely because the combination of spin and placement is missing something. The backhand is new and developing so the progress is good, but it needs some flexible timing as well - you currently stroke it at one speed all the time.

I'm really imploring you to have a strong range training attitude to your practice. People focus too much on how hard they can swing at the ball but miss the important questions like how relaxed and slowly you can swing at the ball with good acceleration or how short or long a stroke they can use against certain balls or how well/wide they can place a ball. Being relaxed allows to place your emphasis on moving to the ball while remaining in form to play a good stroke.

WL is serving long topspin and you can't resist the desire to spin it hard and fast and then he smashes it. Sound familiar? You are usually better off blocking that ball flat if you can't spin it short or slowly.

The serves look good though I am not always sure what the serve strategy is. Your rally balls did have more movement but you still swing hard at the ball rather than using the extra control from a shorter stroke to place the ball or allowing the ball movement to test the opponent. You aren't going to overwhelm many players with your power - I mean I am a relatively strong guy and I overwhelm the better players I beat now with my placement. Whenever you are off the table, spin the ball with extra movement to pull the opponent wide or go to the middle to force them to come to your backhand which is better than most at your level. These smack rallies look cool but you aren't going to win them against better players unless you have a better table position already.

A late great player once said it wasn't about how hard you hit the ball but where you hit it. With more spin and the ensuing control, this is the next step for you.

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 Post subject: Re: a BRS blog
PostPosted: 13 Nov 2015, 04:13 
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NextLevel wrote:
The serves look good though I am not always sure what the serve strategy is.

I had the same observation except that it doesn't look like you have much serve variation and it looks like you're serving just to put the ball in play. You need to start thinking about spin variation, placement, and patterns. In the first game of a match, test your opponent with serves to different locations and different spins and observe his returns. The goal is to figure out what serves are returned to you either weakly or into your power zones. Use that knowledge to set up your third ball attack.


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 Post subject: Re: a BRS blog
PostPosted: 13 Nov 2015, 07:13 
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Here is my lesson with a friend on relaxation - unfortunately, the disk was full early but hopefully, you will learn a thing or two from it.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gy3iNHlAqyI


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 Post subject: Re: a BRS blog
PostPosted: 16 Nov 2015, 03:15 
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I played my last tournament until January yesterday. Usually I would like to post my best win and worst loss. But I was 0-8 so I can only post two losses - the most and least bad.

Here is my only 0-3 loss of the day. I have never played him before. Everyone says "If you can get past his serves in good position he's not that tough." Which is about as useful as saying, if he had to play left-handed, you would probably beat him. He is 200+ points above me, and for good reason.

EDIT: I fixed the links so they don't go to the same video. Also the embedding.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=slHVox7eF4g&feature=youtu.be



This was my closest loss. This guy was 43 points above me (I was lowest rated in a RR), and I lost to him 11-9 in the 5th the only other time I played him, at his home club last month. I had two five-set losses yesterday, but the first one I lost the fifth game at 3. This was 14-12, and I had a single match point at 11-10, IIRC.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_ib_6r18T8A


Last edited by BRS on 16 Nov 2015, 08:12, edited 2 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: a BRS blog
PostPosted: 16 Nov 2015, 03:38 
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Someone asked me how I win most of my points. Watching the video I win and lose most points the same ways. Mainly, I win by making a good loop off push, 75% from FH and 25% BH. Slightly less often, my opponent misses a loop off push, or misses the push itself. That's most of the points I win. Rarely I have a service winner. Maybe three in a match would be about normal.

Mainly I lose points missing loops off push, I am about equally likely to miss on either side. Not too far behind that is missing serve receives outright. Sometimes I miss passively and sometimes I miss aggressively, but I miss a few in most games, and a lot is some games. I also miss some of the pushes themselves. Considerably less often my opponent makes a strong attack and wins outright. That happened more yesterday than at most tournaments, but it was an unusually wide RR group 1701 - 1987. I don't usually have three 1900s in my group, I have none.

My robot practice, such as it is, has been focused on improving the consistency of my opening loop off underspin, both reading the spin and having a stroke/contact point that works against most spins. Nothing I did yesterday suggests that focus should change between now and my next tournament in mid-January. I do need to raise the quality of my practice by traveling to more clubs and playing more different players, although that may be tough during the holidays.

One of Brian Pace's ideas (probably extremely common but I heard it from Brian) is to take each table tennis skill and rate yourself on it alone. So FH loop, FH push, FH hi, FH block, BH ..., serve, receive, opening loop, footwork, chopping, lobbing, etcetera. Using himself as an example, Brian would say his FH loop was 300 points above the rest of his game.

Overall I play between 1650 - 1700, per USATT. But in my estimation all of my skills are at or below that standard, and none are really much above. My loops vs block may be my best shot due to placement, but I certainly wouldn't rate them at 1800. So I guess I have no particular strengths or weaknesses (looking at this level), just everything is around 1600 - 1650. That may be what allows me to stay where I am at the the moment, if the other players do have glaring strengths and weaknesses, I can try to play around them, since I have no game of my own to speak of.


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 Post subject: Re: a BRS blog
PostPosted: 16 Nov 2015, 11:01 
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Going over your more "bad" loss first:
Penhold serve giving you fits. This guy knows he can give you the backhand side/top ball and win every one of those. You know it too. Such a deflating feeling. I know - I am there all the time against many players in my town. It's something I need to see tons more of.
What is your plan to handle these types of serves? At the 5:00 mark you returned one rather well actually. Right now my plan is to at least handle the sidespin with a pretty passive shot and even stand back a little bit. I am thinking I'll need to hit through the ball at some point, but still need to read it.

It seems every one of your loops against backspin started at table height. Thus they almost all went into the net. Did you feel rushed? I know this feeling too.

In game 3 I saw a deadball serve and you got a nice popup from it. You should do that more. He made pretty much no errors on his push game, why would you give him a short serve to the middle if you were just going to push it back to him? I think you should have gone with considerably more variation on your serve. At least win some points there and continue to work on solving the serving issue - it even gives you more chances to see the serve.

I want to thank you for posting the video, I can study these serves and mentally prepare for them myself now. For me personally I see now that when a penholder uses the blade on his backhand side, it's very much like a backhand serve for a shakehander. The side-top serve that spins the return ball to his forehand. We know that serve - but it looks different from a penhold.


I don't think you can beat this guy just yet but ONLY because of the serve. On a good day, you could make him serve his very best serves and lose 3-0 but close games each one of them. I know this because that's exactly how I lose to these types :)


Last edited by wilkinru on 16 Nov 2015, 12:05, edited 5 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: a BRS blog
PostPosted: 16 Nov 2015, 11:12 
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BRS wrote:
Overall I play between 1650 - 1700, per USATT. But in my estimation all of my skills are at or below that standard, and none are really much above. My loops vs block may be my best shot due to placement, but I certainly wouldn't rate them at 1800. So I guess I have no particular strengths or weaknesses (looking at this level), just everything is around 1600 - 1650. That may be what allows me to stay where I am at the the moment, if the other players do have glaring strengths and weaknesses, I can try to play around them, since I have no game of my own to speak of.


With all of this training you are trying to find your game again. I think the matches show that.

What do you want your game to be like? Is there any sort of plays you like to execute? Anything you like to do specifically?

Any crazy serves you saw online you could emulate?


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 Post subject: Re: a BRS blog
PostPosted: 16 Nov 2015, 11:46 
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When playing a guy almost 300 points higher than you, BRS, you gotta have much, much, much more fun than this. Just saying. That's what wilkinru is trying to say - you execute your usual game style and go down in a blaze of glory. Have a couple of shots where you say: did you see that? And if you play seriously, pushing is the one thing you don't want to do.

I noticed he had long pips on his BH and twiddled a few times.

You played much better in the 3rd game, which is a good sign. I think one thing you may need to work on is the overpowering kill shot on a weak spin ball or a backspin ball. You should have served a lot of no spin to this guy and just ripped the third ball. At least, that is what I would have done. Since I don't return serves very well, I could very much have struggled with this guy so I applaud your effort in some ways, just wish you had more fun and avoided the push rallies.

Serve, serve return and third ball are your chances to establish your signature on a point. When you pass those up, then everything goes away. I think per this video, you should serve a lot more weak spin in addition to your heavy spin serves and learn to attack behind them:


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 Post subject: Re: a BRS blog
PostPosted: 16 Nov 2015, 12:01 
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Yes more fun must be added in.

I swear the entire match for me in my mind is: serve and return. How did the serves go? How did the returns go? The rest of the rally is just auto pilot. I really enjoy that aspect of the game...it becomes a challenge to find a weakness. This also makes me a pretty good tactical coach during a match at these levels.

Only when I've finally lost and still have no battle plan do I find the game frustrating right after (2 days later I'll have a new tactic to try). Even against players 500 rating points higher than me I end up with a plan usually! Yeah, I lost, but I found something that worked.


[Edit]
Now on to the second match.


Right off the bat I notice the other guy is trying to be aggressive and he didn't serve short on his first 2. He also stands pretty far to the backhand side - he needs to be moved to the forehand side and short. You must have seen it, because that's what you did at around 1 minute.
Now I've seen 6 serves and every one of them went to your backhand. After 8 he gives you 2 to the forehand, real juicy, still nothing short!

Got game 1 in...now to game 2.
Feels like you have all of the advantage on the top spin game. I'd be giving him top spin serves all day now, with the short to the forehand to keep him close to the table. At 6:40 I think you have this match won. He's behind 6-4 with you serving and down a game. This is when it's time to go for the kill and give a different serve he's not seen.

Bottom line on this match is that with a good deep serve, allowing a few easy points here and there, this was an easy win for you. Oh also ATTACK those serves. Or most of them.

Honestly this was the bad loss and there is a treasure trove of analysis for you to pour over here. By January you should be beating this guy 11-5, 11-7, 11-6.


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 Post subject: Re: a BRS blog
PostPosted: 16 Nov 2015, 13:00 
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The second match had some good parts and some bad parts. I guess I agree you should have won the match. I think again that you need to practice powering through high or easy balls with a spin shot. There were other things here and there - again, the pushing rallies point to a need to work on your safe and spinny backhand opener.

But I think there were some good things - I like the quality of the openers if not necessarily the technique. At this point you need to simplify your service game and consciously serve a lot of low, weak spin balls faked to look like heavy spin with the heavy spin as a rarer variation. Do more of this until you have a good idea (practicing and playing with lower rated players) of how to attack behind your (heavy spin) serves.

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 Post subject: Re: a BRS blog
PostPosted: 16 Nov 2015, 15:02 
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Hi BRS, well done for posting the videos, I've only seen the first so far. No doubt he is a better player all around, just like you would beat me, however the main thing I noticed is probably what has been said before, his serves are subtly different and I would have real trouble dealing with them, yours however are quite easy to pick and no matter how much backspin you put on the ball, if I've picked it as backspin then I'm not going to have trouble dealing with it.

At the level I play...1100-1300 US ? I get a lot of free points off my serves. Basically I just do a similar looking backhand serve with just a different contact point and bat angle thereby making some backspin and some topspin. Perhaps as said above you could work on your backhand serve but do it with no-spin or slight top spin, just subtle variants can be just as hard as lots of spin as it can be hard to pick but picking the wrong way and its all over. You might not win the point off your serve but an easy put away might present. Uncertainly is gold in this game. Of course the higher level you play, the more skill is needed to create the uncertainty.

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 Post subject: Re: a BRS blog
PostPosted: 17 Nov 2015, 06:48 
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Thanks to everyone who watched the matches and posted. Here is my take. The first guy, BL, outclasses me by a long mile. I don't think he was trying, because he is a very nice guy and wanted me to have a few points. About having fun, that was the last match if an 0-8 day, immediately after the 14-12 fifth set loss. I was tired. This club is more than 2.5 hours drive, we left before 6am. So I was having fun, inside, but way too tired to show it.

On the second match the guy just served me off the table. I attacked more, and he had no bh other than a push, so i could wait for a good chance. But i can't miss many receives every game and win. To beat him the only thing i need to change is to receive his serve on the table 80% of the time or more. If i did that i would win in 3.


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