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PostPosted: 25 Oct 2016, 17:53 
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Here we have some pictures of my $35 racket I continuosly use. The reserve-bat (Stiga Graphite with MarkV GPS etc) is setting dust and feels very pale in comparison.

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I've used yesterday's training session to prove myself that I'm on target. I played against a player with fh Dr.Neubauer medium ox and antispin on his backhand, quite at age and not that strong but he's still a tricked and routined player.
I didn't even hit hard nor did I use killertopspins or mean services to win quite easily, I've made use of placement and deception in the first place.

Then a clubmember came who's usually of low confidence and who has lost quite a few competition-matches recently. I suggested to do multiball with him, giving him a chance to get more confidence in his backhand-topspins and such. His physics are better than mine (for now), which means he was able to do several rounds of multiball without coughing...
He did backhand-topspin, then repeated it but the ball was placed to the middle and backhand-side in interchange, then forehand-topspin or shot followed by backhand-topspin in interchange etc. We didn't add extra strokes but we then tried to use the trained strokes in a freeplay-situation, while I tried to block them to fh/middle/bh side.
Finally I showed him a backhand-service which is easy to vary with different sorts of spin, intended to give him a good and safe start into the game. Well, he practiced it with about 50 balls at hand and I answered them with topspin he's told to completely ignore for now - it is something which he usually won't see happening in his competion-matches but it was a chance for me to improve myself also.
I guess it's been a win-win for both of us and I'll monitor his next matches to see if it did help.

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Last edited by Red on 28 Oct 2016, 22:25, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: 28 Oct 2016, 17:55 
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I try to improve my condition with daily workouts. This includes a strengthening of muscles and flexibility of rotary-cuff, hip, lumbus, knee, ankle and heel. I think I already got a lot quicker and agile compared to about 1-2 month ago.

Another Thursday, another xtra-training and of course I did a warming-up against a club-mate before training started. Today we've been 4 players attending the training which made multiball-sessions less likely - and indeed, the focus has been set on sequencials.
A sequence (with return to bh-side solely) like backhand-use on bh-side, fh-use on bh, fh-use on middle, bh-bh, fh-use bh, fh-fh is quite difficult to solve even for more sophisticated players. I kind of hate them since I prefer to act more instinctively and I guess I just should use it to improve my focus and consistency. I also doubt that I'm a good choice to let others finish such a sequence as I have to tame myself the whole time.
Another sequence consisted on receiving a short serve fh, flik or flip into fh, getting it back fh-long for a loop. Third sequence I remember was similar but this time it's been backhand, backhand etc.
Towards the end of the day we did a set against each other. I tried to play timid, like I did against the ox/anti-player of my club earlier this week. I had no troubles against the first, and against the 2nd it started very similar. I had a comfortable lead but suddenly I missed balls and I wasn't able to bring a (soft) topspin. I had to rely on advanced serves to bring the set home - which is not very nice, I guess. On the other hand I do play quite friendly, a lot less aggressive than I usually would play.
This mate fears my pips just by seeing them and he definitely has to shift the fear aside, he has to play against pips more often. I may accept an invitation to his club just for training purposes, albeit I'm for sure not the typical pip-player. His club also does a small tournament early next year (I guess) which could be fun to attend. I just think it's kind of unfair to attend at this tournament unless he had the option to train against me previously. The only problem here is the 20+ miles distance which is too far off for me and my bicycle.

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PostPosted: 01 Nov 2016, 18:54 
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Small update:
Yesterday was one of these regular training days and there's been the misfortune that 2 duo-teams did a competition-match at home while 2 other regular teams where out for matches. The low-confidence mate I wrote about earlier is part of one of these duo-teams.
Since noone else showed up I picked a table and a bucket of balls to improve some strokes and serves on my own. That's by far not the best way to improve skills due to the unnatural angles, except for serves. Hence, I was able to do slow-drives, hits etc. with the pips. I guess my serves are now back to the levels of 2002, next step would be to improve placement even further.

The 2 duo-teams did win their matches, and that very mate^^ did now win 3 out of 4 games since we did the multiball last week. Previously he had a losing streak of 9 games in a row. And I bet he could play even better if he dares to breakout of push-battles more easily or simply by attacking a weak service.
He agreed to do some balls afterwards so I was able to adapt my trained strokes to the natural angle and bounce. And I noticed that I need to patch my left eye regularly for an hour or two to improve my visual abilities - leaving it out for 3 days already lead to problems with estimating the trajectory of lengthy balls coming to my right, the forehand, side.

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PostPosted: 04 Nov 2016, 08:05 
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Another Thursday...
Group of today consisted of 2 players only, me and the guy I wrote about last Friday.
Focus has been set on footwork and movement plus preparation on 3rd and 5th ball attack by using a flip after a short serve.
I can do a lot more with my backhand now compared to 1 month ago and I'm quite satisfied with it; error-rate with the pips is still high but they produce very annoying balls. Furthermore, preparation for next-ball attacks do work very nicely.
Let's see if one of the two new blades I am going to obtain (see respective thread here http://ooakforum.com/viewtopic.php?f=43&t=30580) do help for getting more control out of the pips.
Flip with forehand or backhand is quite easy but I was told not to flip too deceptively (eg. going to the ball universally with a very late swing into either forehand or backhand), nor should I use extreme angels and length... *sigh*
It's maybe kind of funny but it is actually difficult purposedly not to act the way I got used to. I had to use some of my concentration to tame the inner beast.
Switching the side I was told to (pressure)push a flip to my long backhand while I thought I could easily use a drive as well. Control and error-rate is similar, maybe with some advances for the drive for now. I guess I should train the push on long balls further to get more options for competitive matches against strong(er) opponents. It definitely would make it even harder for the opponent to predict what I'm going to do with a certain ball.
Part of the flip-drill was also to give it to the backhand or forehand and getting the return diagonally, which means to attack if it's a forehand-ball whilst moving fast enough. That worked quite well but the angles were still moderate.
Funny note: After switching sides I also had to concentrate on giving a return diagonally and not sending it long-line into the open side.

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PostPosted: 11 Nov 2016, 21:03 
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Another Thursday, another...

Only 2 ambitious enthousiasts attained the traininggroup, me and the one with fears against pips.

I've received the Palio WAY 003 on this very day and eager as I am I started the day using it (WP1013 and Palio CJ8000).

While beeing more flexible, less bouncy, a tad softer and slower but having more throw compared to the TCT, I definitely had more response from the medium pips.
So, I could use it to drive with instant feedback to clean up the stroke itself.
Downside is that the fh-side with CJ8000 would take at least 1 week to adapt to the higher throw and higher flex, so luckily (?) I had hit my knee with the blade which provided a bleeding one inch scratch and partially detached the CJ8000 from the blade.
So I quickly put the racket back into the case and grabbed the TCT (to some surprise for the trainer and colleague, I guess) and I instantly had some sort of coming-home feeling.

I guess this session today had a main focus on how to play against pips (for my fellow comrade).
One drill was him to do (spinny) topspins on my backhand-side while I was asked to dig and retrieve with the pips.
I did my best but since it is similar to doing a sandbuggy-challenge with a dirt-track racer, it wasn't really satisfying. The WAY&WP1013-combination would have been a tad better here.
Also, using these pips has been like teething for me since September and I'd say it's just the first set almost through by now. Using them for blocks, disruption and deceptions works fairly well, preparing attacks, attacking with the pips and so on has to evolve over time.

I did win the match at the end of todays session where the trainer may have watched to get a clue on my actual strength. Assuming this made me play more timid than necessary after the first few points, making the game unnecessarily close and I had to get my head back into attack-mode several times.

Using the forehand for attacks works well, when correctly anticipated I can almost use the entire table including the backhand area for hitting and power-drives.
The physical condition is slowly but steadily improving.

Conclusions and goals for the next months for me are:
Keep concentrating on the game,
gain consistency in attacking even if there's a 3+ points lead,
regain aggressiveness every 4-6 points,
switch more flexible between fast play and slow-downs,
develop a few strategies to get a return into the attacking-zone

I expect also that this will ultimately reduce the amount of training-partners willing to spar. Therefore I've asked to be a substitute for actual teams in competition and I do hope I'll get a chance against some stronger opponents.
There will be a club-competition a few months into next year where I'd like to show my real strength.

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PostPosted: 15 Nov 2016, 09:30 
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Today was a normal training day with chances to play against other club-members. A good exercise I think, since I'd like to start playing (more) serious and practising it is an important part of the game.
And as some may have expected it didn't went as planned. I didn't dare to drive with the backhand on long balls, the error-rate went up and topspins, shots with the forehand only worked at the beginning. I was able to shift the strategy a few times but I'm doomed without successful hits or topspins - I guess, without exaggerating it, I missed more balls today than throughout the whole of October.
I won't accept an excuse even if I had some trouble with the visuals today or a weirdly soft CJ8000 since I've tried to 'refresh' the factory-tuning effect on Sunday. I should be able to circumvent issues with the rubber and the visuals by now, instead my positioning towards the ball for a topspin, timing and execution was dismal, I even 'forgot' that I prefer an early topspin, at about breast-height. So, it's back to square 1 on my topspin-technique here.

Apart from having almost no control with the Kokutaku 110 on my TCT I already have several broken and missing pips.
I still have a Friendship 563-1 and Kokutaku 119 in reserve but I go with the WP1013 as replacement first together with CJ8000 2-side loop 2mm. Today liquid-latex (low ammonium) will arrive which may give a different feel to it compared to rubber-cement which definitely isn't VOC-free.
There's maybe trouble on the horizon for Europeans whith China-orders, not only because of Euro dropping but there could come some political ice-age too. So I've ordered a set of CJ8000-rubbers, an ox-sheet of Kokutaku 110 and Galaxy Pluto. It should be enough to survive wholly 2017 if necessary.

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PostPosted: 25 Nov 2016, 01:52 
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Small update. At last weeks Thursdays training I was the only one attending the 'group', which ultimately lead to an almost pure multiball-session.
Misfortunate as I am sometimes my shoulder started to hurt 30mins in2 the session after switching between backhand digging and forehand looping/smashing and I had to slow down strokes a lot to compensate. I guess it has to do with the long head of the biceps, so I've trained that area the days afterwards.

I've put the 2-side loop and the WP1013 on my TCT which gave me more control on my backhand but forehand is less direct and hitting does need more concentration. I guess it's due to the 2.0mm sponge as compared to the previously used 1.8mm biotech which does look quite thin in comparision. I've ordered a 2-side loop in 1.5mm to confirm or bust the theory of gains due to bottoming out. At least I haven't had more spin/speed with 2.0mm compared to the thinner CJ8000, yet.
I've had the 2-side loop/WP1013 on the Palio WAY 003 previously where at least the CJ8000 behaved differently, e.g. a lot less direct. I now have the 1.8mm biotech and the Kokutaku 110 on the WAY 003 but I hadn't time to test this combination yet.

On Monday I had some balls against higher ranked players, no. 6 and 17 atm of the club. Both are able to keep the ball coming at a high pace and I was interested in how quick I am in reacting etc. The #6 was quite hard to play against and I absolutely understand that I have to play quicker if I am seriously targetting the top 5. No. 17 on the other hand felt quite easy and I should be able to dominate him already. But it's training, so a match would likely look different even if he's in trouble against pips.

The visuals still keep bugging me. I had a strange effect on Monday, a few minutes I had trouble to see the ball, I had some dark spots like I had seen into bright light before. I checked the lighting at the ceiling of the club and the pattern does fit with the dark spots I mentioned. I just can't remember that I've looked straight into it. I also consider other options valid, like a temporary hypoxy due to the physical effort or a shortage of vitamin A. The latter should be fixed now and my condition is still slowly improving, so physical exhaustion should be less and less an issue.

Let's see how it is working out today.

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PostPosted: 25 Nov 2016, 22:25 
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Yesterday was a good day. I had no issues with light, pain, stamina and strength so the performance was very reasonable.
We did some drills where the biggest challenge for me was control at backhand-digging and slower topspins/opening topspins with the forehand. I can't underline it thick enough that this is actually very difficult for me but it for sure adds options and allows me to stay in control and to prevent becoming dominated when punishing-strokes aren't suitable.

So, the final note here should be: let's make that consistent and keep progression at pace...

I've told to the trainer last week that I aim for the top-ten within the club in about 6 month (attentive readers know it's actually to get in the top 5 by June, har har) and yesterday I mentioned this very aim to the actual chairman of the club. So they shouldn't be surprised when matching me.
Results from competitions will start pouring in early 2017. I don't know if I should/can attain at ZHK2017 (South-Hollands Championship). I'd like to have a companion in the first place; there's actually zero risk involved, so there's nothing to lose at all.

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PostPosted: 30 Nov 2016, 14:02 
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I did some match-playing against the actual #15 of the club on Monday, one who easily shot me down about a month ago (and who'd also shoot me down if it were 13yrs ago, I guess).
We did more than 12 sets, I guess, and the first 4-5 sets were extremely close, 10:10 and beyond and I took 2 out, it was hard to tell who's been in advance. He then got a grip on my style and it was very hard to fool him any longer. I also became less active, more fallible - glad most games are done in 5 sets or less, especially if it is a best of three.
It's nonetheless proof that I'm on track and able to compete on par against experienced players I planned to surpass in January 2017, with more than a month to go from here.
I have to become quicker with moving from the backhand-area to the extended forehand and I need to get a grip on switching from backhand defense into forehand offense.

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PostPosted: 02 Dec 2016, 20:32 
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After the marathon against the #15 on Monday I had pain in my back and muscles starting on Tuesday evening. On Wednesday additional pain in muscles and peripheral joints occured, so I spend some time on massaging and stretching, fixing most of it except the pain in my left-back. Today I've used some Finalgon (Nonivamide) on the left-lumbal back and I feel relieved; I should have done that on Wednesday already.

Yesterdays training was done with the aching back and I bet noone even noticed it. I wasn't able to bow down without pain so I've kept my back straight most of the time and I tried to avoid twisting. I also didn't play my usual fire-and-forget hitting-style (which would need quick twists) and focused on mid-range play without sharp turns and hard movements. Stamina, on the other hand, was o.k., I had enough breath for everything.
I guess most players would have stayed home but I'm in need of more consistency so any chance to get there is welcome. I was able to do very nice topspin-series and I also got some nice off-table backhand-drives. Shadow-training is the only other option for these strokes at the moment, a robot or simple multiball just for strokes once in a while would be welcome and it definitely would give a boost in progress, especially for the backhand.
The WP1013 turns out to be a nice little beast which can be used almost like a grippy short-pip and it definitely has some LP-potential. But it is also a lot less confusing for the opponent compared to the Kokutaku 110. If only the sponge of WP1013 could be somewhat harder. I'll definitely order another one or two, it's a steal at a price sub $5. Compared to the other rackets I see here with Rakzas and Xioms in various expressions it's a very competitive and dangerous combination. I consider it possible to keep both rubbers and the blade through 2017 into 2018.

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Last edited by Red on 17 Dec 2016, 22:55, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: 17 Dec 2016, 22:52 
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Small update. I'm actually busy gaining consistency so reports within this progress aren't too spectacular. My back is still causing troubles and last Monday it's been extreme; I wasn't able to bring a serious top-spin without a sharp pain from the left-lumbal region shooting in. I also had trouble to lift my stretched left leg to 30° or more without pain within at least one of the 3 gluteus-muscles. It is spine related eventually, but nonetheless I am continuing to build up and to stretch muscles around the problematic-regions - this should give the necessary support for spine and joints to get back my full mobility.
I hope it is fixed in time for the tournament (and beyond), otherwise I'm no match for players around my level and below.

The next months I have to face players which, mostly, won't produce good spin.
I am quite pleased with the WP1013 so far but I would like it to have a more disruptive effect. It's also not that good for chopping and wrist-swipes. It is quite safe to use but some more effect whilst chopping or spinning would be a nice2have. I've had Kokutaku 110 previously which was way more disruptive and its blocks were deadly. On the other hand I had a lot less control and the pips broke quite quickly. I've tried Kokutaku 119 as well but this is and behaves like a short-pip, nice spin and very controllable but it is not what I had in mind.
So, I am thinking of giving 388-D1, 755 Mystery, Miracle and/or Neptune a try, for $5.50-7.50 each. I went through some threads but I'm still unsure about their specific qualities for blocking and counter.
It has to be more like Feint soft than CK531, if this helps.

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PostPosted: 01 Jan 2017, 22:41 
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Next week the tournament will prove my competitiveness. I am starting at least 1 class below my personal guess on where I actually am, but I refuse to set expectations on the outcome; playing thoughtful and using chances to learn and to improve is the priority number one. That said, I'm not going to destroy weaker players but I will use these matches to improve my backhand and so on.

I reject to replace the WP1013 for now and I'll put a fresh CJ8000 biotech on next week. Then there's a single training-session to check if it's ok before the tournament will tell me more. Glueing is recently done using liquid latex and I think I've found my way of doing it without getting a weak connection or reduced feel.

Considering the WP1013 I've found some vids of Martin Senn testing it and some other rubbers including 388C-1. Taking that into account I guess the Palio is for my style the better choice and looking for something else wouldn't be helpful. Instead, I'll focus on using it as stated previously, not as a weapon primarily but as a very supportive tool to bring the real weapon in position. Nonetheless, I still need to train drives and shots with the backhand and I shouldn't put too much weight on chops or defense anyway. Once the season is done in June I'll check if going ox would make any positive difference.


Edit: It's Martin Senn, not M. Steen.

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Last edited by Red on 03 Jan 2017, 00:33, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: 02 Jan 2017, 11:33 
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Good luck Red. Is there a rating range for each tournament class? Which one will you be in and what are the ranges?

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PostPosted: 02 Jan 2017, 17:35 
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Thanks Cobalt.
Yes, there's an ELO-based class-system A-H with A-C usually beeing the national level starting at +1750 points and D-H on regional level, Mates I've trained with at the club were at G-E level, maybe even D due to their score. I should be able to keep my head above at 1200+ which is E-level. I have no real idea how to compare this scores to USATT or even the German ClickTT, my cautious estimate would be 1250 ELO, 1500 ClickTT, 1800 USATT.

Since I don't have any entry so far and most players I have to face the next months are ranked around the G-F level I am going for G at the tournament, which would resemble players at 700-1000 points, in theory.

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PostPosted: 09 Jan 2017, 22:04 
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I probably have learned another lesson: Learn to warm-up very quickly before even touching a ball.
Yesterdays tournament left me with a price after winning the small final - that one of the consolation round of players who missed to qualify in the group-playoffs. I just missed it by an inch, lost in 5th against the unbeaten winner of the group who also won the doubles in a final where another one of this group became second (that guy lost all matches within the group).
The main reason I guess is that I felt cold, clumsy and extremely nervous at the beginning and I started to feel more comfortable at the semi-finals against a guy who's been the first one that day with significant pressure in his play.
The final was quite interesting and tighter than I'd like them to be (5th set to 9), and we (in honour to the opponent) had some nice rallies as well.
At least I've left some markings here.

Within the group I had to play only one match 'nicely', two opponents were deadly pushers who refused to give spin or substantial pressure and they as well didn't seem to care much about my spin and such. Against those I did away too much points trying to get warm, I did sent at least five golden opportunities into nirvana against the previously mentioned double-winner.

Now I'm testing ways to get flexible and somewhat warm in a minute, maybe 2, to prevent a repeat of such situations.

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