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PostPosted: 24 Dec 2016, 14:19 
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Firstly I'll set the scene. This is my mate WF. We joined the club together about 6 years ago and have often been in the same teams. A couple of years ago I took steps to improve and although was always a bit better, that gap increased in the last couple of years. WF has never been one to worry about drills or improvement and was just happy to play and take the odd scalp playing the game he'd always played......until now. He's now reached a level where he's now entered the bottom of our A grade meaning he plays all the best players and can see that if he wants to move up the rankings and start taking some bigger scalps, things have got to change. To put it in perspective my RC rating is 900, WF is 650. Last season we had 84 players and I was ranked 3rd and WF 20th. We are a rural club with most people just playing for a once a week bit of fun.

WF is known as 'The Wall' and gets a lot back which wins many points at our level and if he had an attacking loop would be quite dangerous. So thats what we want to get to.

Here's a video of us playing earlier in the year.


Today we made a start on counterhitting. The focus was on the following:
- Get the elbow out a bit
- Swing from low to high rather than straight across
- Do not cross the middle.

You can see there is some wrist issues there with WF often leading with his wrist. We will work on this. All up I could see some definite improvement and feel really positive that he might actually be able to do what most adults can't.......change.

I'm trying not bombard him and thinking to just focus on one or two things at a time so interested to hear what those things might be. Note your comments should be on the second video rather than the first. The first is just to see where he started from.


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PostPosted: 24 Dec 2016, 18:51 
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While I'm not one on comment of the proper technique, I do wonder whether teaching this player a proper textbook loop against topspin is the quickest way to improvement. He's already quite an awkward player, which I see as an advantage. Why not teach him to loop backspin balls instead? If he can loop backspin balls to create heavy topspin, I can see this as a big weapon, whereas a counter-hit against topspin is likely to just come back as this is what the higher level player practice all the time.
Just a thought.... didn't want to derail this thread, but it's the only thing I can think to contribute. :oops:

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PostPosted: 24 Dec 2016, 19:07 
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Thanks Haggisv, its not a derail, its exactly the input I'm after and I see where you are coming from :up: :up: . In fact I was going to make the comment on another thread that perhaps starting older players with a counterhit may be pointless as many are already good counterhitters with their own style, however as soon as a backspin ball comes they suffer, so my thought was the same as yours, the fast track to instant improvement would be to loop the backspin ball.

When I look back though I've tried to go directly to backspin with other people and they struggled and haven't actually improved. Last week with WF we also went straight for the backspin and although he he started doing shots he'd never done in his life ie thin contact, spinny balls, the technique was that far off, possibly brought about by trying to hit the ball too hard, that it really wouldn't stand up over time, was a real forehand windscreen wiper, though at least he was able to feel and see the fine contact though so that was a successful session in itself.

So today I thought I'd do what everyone seems to suggest, thinking if we at least got some distance in the elbow and got the bat travelling on an upward path, we could then in the next couple of sessions start doing the backspin using the same stroke but different swing plane. We'll see how it goes. :)

For now WF is pretty keen, so I'm really hoping that he gets some reward for effort. :clap: :clap:

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PostPosted: 24 Dec 2016, 23:42 
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Haggisv's general idea is correct. The specifics are what is open for debate.

Usually, there are two approaches to players like this, but the first step is always to know how good they want to get and who they want to start beating. After that, you can decide if you want to

1) mostly rebuild their technique, or
2) if you just want to give them a few more ways to score or
3) if you just want to expose them to a higher quality level of play and spin.

I would not work on the forehand counterhit - his forehand is already the strongest part of his game if your match against him is typical. He may want to improve it, but unless he develops a full loop, it is not going to give him a quick reward. As long as he learns to push his shoulders into the stroke and not just swing with his arm, his forehand has a logic to it that he can add power to if he practices against any ball you give him. I would not teach him to loop backspin, I would mostly serve him backspin and topspin and let him figure out how to attack it.

The bigger issues are see are his backhand play, and related to this is his close to the table play. He cannot take a ball at the top of the bounce and pressure you, he is always waiting for the ball to kick and this puts him well off the table. What is interesting is that he is a forehand player, despite being mostly in a backhand stance. In any case, for rally improvement, I would probably work on his ability to play a forehand, then a backhand, then a forehand etc. with an occasional chop swipe on the backhand (since he does that now), but mostly to hit through the ball early or to at least be able to produce a quality of ball on the backhand similar to his forehand. If he can do both off the bounce, that is ideal but if he wants to do them off the table, that is fine too. But the backhand he currently has doesn't do anything and he can't call upon it to play offense.

Serves are another issue but that depends on what you want to show him and how he intends to win points.

The biggest thing you can do for him is fix his ability to hit the ball or swipe the backspin ball with both backhand and forehand (if he can loop, great, but if not, don't think about it) and then loop to him repeatedly. You are the #3 player in the club, if he can transition and block your loop, he will not struggle with most of the loops from players 8-20, though they might be posing him different kinds of problems. If he can attack their balls closer to the table on both sides, and then rally on both sides, that is all he needs.

So in summary,
1) fix his backhand a little so he can play effective shots from there and transition more smoothly to his forehand and back.
2) let him develop his own approach to attacking a backspin ball based on knowing how to contact it and where to hit it. If he is trying to get to top 3 in the club, he may have to loop. IF he is trying to get to #10, there are many approaches that are not looping. He may develop a sidespin push or a fast push for example. He can lift with a sideswipe.
3) Add some shoulder rotation to his current forehand if he wants to hit the ball harder.
4) Loop and hit to him so he can get used to your quality of ball and take it both early and late.

One of two things will happen - either he gets better at playing, or he gets better at playing you. :P

But as you face certain problems, you may be forced to fix them with standard things (changes in elbow position etc,). Just realize that these can be painful and take time, and you have to talk him through the mental process or he might just give up once he starts missing shots he feels he could make.

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PostPosted: 25 Dec 2016, 01:31 
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the way he returns your loop and flat hits the forehand, his bat doesn't seem to have a lot of grip on it - before we discuss learning to loop etc, can you describe the rubber? Is it just very old? I may of course be wrong... :D

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PostPosted: 25 Dec 2016, 05:32 
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Good points above. The forehand seems to be more dangerous and adding a loop would help for sure. The backhand seems to be more safe without technical advancements. If pushing the ball is the preference an ox long-pip could add some acid and can help to win the points.
Next is placement: He seems to focus on just bringing the ball back without any decision of placement. Making him aware of it could also improve his play.

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PostPosted: 25 Dec 2016, 07:50 
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I vote for learning to forehand loop vs backspin. If you can get enough poly training balls then feeding multiball will get WF many more reps in a short time.

Most points start with backspin, so to me that seems like the fastest way for him to start attacking more.


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PostPosted: 25 Dec 2016, 09:03 
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Thanks for the replies everyone, I'll work out with WF what he wants to work on. He's lurking this thread but not a forum kind of guy so unlikely to comment.
PRW - His bat is the 729 fighter from OOAK but the rubbers were replaced with 1.8mm 729 Batwings a few years ago. He's reviewing this now.

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PostPosted: 26 Dec 2016, 23:23 
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Here's the next video for WF. He didn't feel that comfortable tonight but I can see progress. Whether we can take the next step is yet to be seen.

The biggest thing I've picked out is that when his bat is more of a 45 degree angle, he looks a lot better, when the bat is straight up in the air, there's all sorts of problems. I think sorting out the bat angle will improve things a lot. Keeping everything in line and cutting through the same plane. Often his swing is like an 'L' but the wrong shape 'L'.

Thanks to Debater for some tips in the background.


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PostPosted: 27 Dec 2016, 00:54 
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That's some great work by both of you.

The one thing I would like to emphasize is that he has a good enough loop to win points off his spin if he snaps the forearm and wrist and focuses on spin. There are times he is trying to power through the ball but that is largely unnecessary in my experience vs good backspin unless the ball is high, and even then, placement is more important. He should just get the spin and swing speed to a level where he can go through light backspin with good pace and heavy spin, not try to smash through it like he is doing now. That smashing stroke falls apart under pressure... speaking from experience...

The other thing is that he should learn to stay close to the table and attack the block with a more forward stroke. I am amazed at the number of times that I see players open vs backspin and back up, and when they get a block, they are too far back to kill it, so they have to loop a falling ball and continue the rally... at the lower levels, expect the block and attack it hard. At the higher levels, people have annoying counters that require more sophistication...

For the bat angle, don't worry about it apart from as an approach to contact point on the ball. You bat angle changes all the time with body orientation. What is more important is how you want to hit the ball and where on the ball you want to hit.

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PostPosted: 27 Dec 2016, 08:18 
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Thanks for the comment NL. We won't hit until the weekend now but next time I think we take the lollipop out of his hand (debater) and work on skin and contact point. Overall I was pretty happy with what was on the video. WF doesn't look as natural as when playing his own strikes but this is a while new thing and I think doing really well.

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PostPosted: 02 Jan 2017, 23:13 
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Had another practice session with WF at the club. We wanted to try a suggestion debater had to get the right foot back a little and exaggerate the hip turn by facing his right foot at 90 degrees. Also worked on contact points.
The below video had 3 drills
- Topspin first 90 seconds
- Backspin 1:30 to 3:00
- Backspin then topspin 3:00 to 4:00

WF not looking or feeling comfortable and a few things I think maybe the issue are: -
1) Weight transfer. Looks heaps better in the backspin section than the topspin section
2) Body could rotate more.
3) Taking the ball too early causing a flatter hit.

Obviously there are more but no point bombarding and we all have our flaws that we can just work around so I'm looking to perhaps get one or two main things to work on that will give good results.



Heres a video also taken tonight of us playing American Doubles to give a better picture of how WF is playing at the moment. In general play I think he should be using his backhand topspin more and could win a lot more points for him as its actually pretty good. He could still improve his forehand pushing of backspin serves and blocking.

I've made a slo-mo bit at 5-7 to highlight the angle of his swing against a backspin ball and how shallow it is compared to a couple of mine that I put at the end of the video. I think this is again a product of taking the ball to early and reaching. Also should rotate shoulders more. My technique isn't perfect however it does highlight that if you want to do a slow jizzy zinger you need to have angle and bat speed.


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PostPosted: 03 Jan 2017, 00:13 
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The slo-mo bit is more a swipe across the ball than a shallow swing. You are right that he is reaching out for the ball and needs to wait a little longer.

My candidate for one simple thing to fix is his grip. His index finger is way up the backhand rubber. I think that grip contributes to the funky swipe swing patterns.


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PostPosted: 03 Jan 2017, 00:16 
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When you loop, you have to contact the body while rotating and with most backswing and finishing positions, the ball should be contacted closer to somewhere over the right hip/foot. So yes, he is contacting the ball way too early and way too far from his body for optimal swing power.

But what he was doing better in the prior videos as well was focusing on making the ball rotate. When learning to loop, this focus has to be almost religious. Trying to hit the ball hard will set you back for a long time.

The other thing you haven't worked on is the swing plane. Start with a relative straight arm, swing to finishing position at forehead 90 degrees snap in the elbow and wrist. Finish at nose, eye, forehead,or left/right ear. There are other ways of approaching this, but if you want to put in this much work, you might as well get it right. What he is doing at 2:30 -2:45 is a viable inferior alternative up to a certain level.

If you made him focus on that swing plane, and wait for the ball, that would resolve a lot. But you also have to not hit the ball hard, both vs backspin and topspin. What you want to do is catch the ball and spin. Over time, you learn to do the same motion and hit the ball deeper into your bat and get more pace and spin. But I don't know anyone who got really good trying to loop hard most of the time because learning the timing is an exquisite process that needs to be built. IF you try to hit hard, you can't feel the difference between looping and hitting, and there is a big enough difference to make it a big deal.

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PostPosted: 03 Jan 2017, 05:39 
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I am no expert but I suggest you ask him to have a lower and wider stance. I was teaching a player with a similar upright stance and it was difficult to do the correct body rotation. Once he lowered his stance it was much easier to rotate correctly.


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