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PostPosted: 23 Feb 2010, 04:38 
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This topic is in the same style as created by speedplay. :)

You're a shakehand player who is about to tackle a penholder. He is using inverted on both sides and has a nasty serve.
How do you tackle a player like that?

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PostPosted: 23 Feb 2010, 04:53 
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I am a penholder so I am definitely interested in the replies to this thread.

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PostPosted: 23 Feb 2010, 10:45 
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I am a shakehands modern defender. All players have strenghts and weaknesses, so I first probe them to see what they can do.

As a start, I do try to hit wide to the FH of penholders. Most people are so busy playing to their BH, that the penholder can camp out in their BH corner and control the point. Going with to the FH may win the point or it may open up the BH for further attack.


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PostPosted: 23 Feb 2010, 11:26 
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I generally try to hit with my long pips into their backhand. Most penholders will try to block that shot back, thinking it's topspin, and end up dumping the ball right into the bottom of the net, at least the first few times. On serves I try to go really wide to the backhand, then quick into the body to try to cross them up. And if looping, definitely vary the placement and pace.

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PostPosted: 23 Feb 2010, 14:56 
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Not enough information to answer. It depends on what they can do, how their footwork is, many other things. The species is very heterogeneous. Thints that might work for one will get you killed by another. But the usual things I would look for are whether they can attack with their backhand, how they handle wide shots to their backhand, how much do I have to fear their forehand, can they handle heavy topspin, and I try to find out where their crossover point is. The answers to those questions must be answered before I know how to approach them.

One thing for sure, I tend to serve a lot of very deep serves to the backhand of all penholders unless they have really good RPBs.

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PostPosted: 23 Feb 2010, 18:10 
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I play against a lot of penholders, both jpen and cpen.

I'd start by saying that the strategy is not so different to just sounding out any player, regardless of grip. It is well worth testing out their backhand and crossover points as these can often be weaknesses, and if their tendency is to run around a b/h then look for opportunities to drop short on f/h or put them wide on forehand.

There are some areas where ph players can be particularly strong so you need to be alert. Serves can be particularly spinny with seemingly little wrist movement and so can short play if the ph uses wrist effectively. ph players can also be very effective playing forehand topspins over the table that might prove too short for a sh player.

The above is all very general so of course you need to feel out your opposition, play to their weaknesses and manage their strengths.

One of my main practice partners is a left-handed cpen, which is a whole other dimension (I am right handed).

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PostPosted: 23 Feb 2010, 21:05 
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I already see 2 things I haven't applied to the penholder I played. Serve long to the bh, normally it gets killed but he didn't had a rpb.
2: Use angles to pull him out wide.
3: I couldn't find a cross-over point.
4: I had a nightmare with his serve. I am usually good at returning serves, but this time it was difficult. Any tips?


The guy I played was using Tenergy on one side, and an other attacking rubber on the other side, but those balls stayed dead. And he was quite laze with his footwork :lol:

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PostPosted: 23 Feb 2010, 23:16 
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cstt wrote:
4: I had a nightmare with his serve. I am usually good at returning serves, but this time it was difficult. Any tips?

The guy I played was using Tenergy on one side, and an other attacking rubber on the other side, but those balls stayed dead. And he was quite laze with his footwork :lol:


Possibly my best win this year was in 3 straight against a RPB cpen player with notoriously evil serves (and Tenergy on his forehand). An 80%+ player in our local premier league. I could not read it well (early) enough to attack so my tactic was to take the ball very late, and watch the ball's behaviour to judge spin. See the logo? then it's dead. If it's fizzing away does it kick toward you? Then it's top. Is it holding up? Then it's likely chop. Side you can usually see from the contact point.

If the serve was short I'd typically either touch short to his f/h or push deep into b/h. Long balls I'd chop or float deep into his backhand. Afterwards he asked me what 'funny' rubber I had on my b/h. Had to explain it wasn't a funny rubber, it's IQUL 2.0mm..............

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PostPosted: 24 Feb 2010, 00:50 
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I face what you describe daily. Here in my Korean club, I play against mostly penholders, at least 75 percent here are penholders. Of them, 4/5 of them are J-Pen one side and the rest are C-Pen with RPB. Most of the J-Pen players use an attacking rubber for their one side, like T05/T64 or Omega II. These play pretty much the same style of game, except for one who is mostly a blocker/counterdriver/pusher with a BH finish that is too wierd to tell where it will go. One of them uses Short Pips and blocks like slamming on the brakes, also fishes, but can at any time flip the switch to aggressive offense to finish any long push with a very flat power smash that he can hit anywhere right by you. (I can only hope he either misses his smash or hits it right at me to have any chance to win the point)

There are a few C-Penners with RPB and one has a RPB finish, while the other is a LP combo player who uses it to control serves and short game. I cannot play either one the same way or it will be a short match.

Short of it is that although the attacking one sided J-Penners play pretty much the same way, they all have different weaknesses that I can use to stay in the point or win it, yet they all have things that will get me killed, but they differ for each player.

Common keys to success against ANY of these players are having a VERY good service return game and being sure to take the first attack (and make it a winner or heavy pressure). The J-Penners here especially want to make the first attack and play worse when I can make the first one count. I have a very strong first attack that can carry great speed and very good spin, (thanks Outlaw !!) or it can be well placed and very heavy spin that often gets a long miss on the counter or block. I have a good serve and attack game and I can be confident to win most of my points. The difference is if I can win poins of their serve. That comes from controlling their options on serve, or forcing/enticing them into lower percentage/lower power attacks. Winning points on their serve puts them under extra pressure and saps their confidence. They know they are doomed to lose points on my serve and hate life when they lose points from their serve. A poor service return game from me is exactly the tonic they need to do the same to me. When I give them what they want, namely a long or high push to their power zone, they all have the power / wrist control / unpredictability to hit fast loops anywhere that are next to impossible to tell where they go until they are by you. When these J-Penners get on a roll doing that, they are almost unstoppable if I keep that kind of service return game up.

I can discover a flaw or two on a lot of our good club players, but I am not very well able to exploit them if I am getting attacked from my poor service returns. Knowing their weaknesses helps little if I cannot control their attacks. When I am failing at reading their spins and am feeding them the stuff they want, about all I can do is push faster / deeper / change the angles. That gives me a little relief, but not much. A lot of these players have good serves that are very low percentage for me to flick. If I can manage to flick one, it gives me a few longer ones, which i have a much easier time attacking strongly.

For me, the difference comes down to the service and return game. The Penholders and I both have great attacks. The Penholders with a better service or recieve game take away any advantage I might have over them. Finding a way to have a better day coping with the service return game opens up all kind of possibilities for me, but there is no one thing I can do to have a better day in that department consistantly. There are a lot of things that I need to develop and improve through training. They won't happen all in one shot or session.

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PostPosted: 24 Feb 2010, 01:41 
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Ok, I will add my 2-cents worth here. One thing that a lot of people say here is the cpen serve. And I will agree with that, one of the biggest strengths in my game is my serve, and how I am able to vary the spin, speed and length of the serve without really making any obvious change in my serve action. And yes, we rely heavily on either winning points on the serve outright, because I personally find the Cpen style to be really good for spinny serves, or we want to get the first attack in as soon as possible, definitely before the opponent.

And yes, the Cpen is very good for blocking, and the crossover point is minimal, much smaller than it is for shakehanders. I can play shots into my body quite easily unless I am just slow and was not ready.

The short game, or pushes vaies from player to player. While Cpen may be strongeer in blocks compared to pushes, I for one love to drag my opponents into the short pushing game, and will keep on pushing until my opponent gets frustrated.

I can't say if this is true for shakehanders as well, but the Cpen style lends itself very well to simply using the wrist to angle a block or push to either side of the table with equal ease. Hence one should be ready for pushes wide to backhand or forehand, from the same position.

And like most penholders I tend to stay closer to my backhand side, but that is not just out of necessity. I also do it on purpose, knowing that seeing the forehand wide open many will try to place a ball there. In other words, I am making sure they play a shot there by giving them a seemingly obvious gap, and I am ready to move across to hit or loop it back.

Cpen players have more wrist movement, that is why even a shot that may seem to be cramped or very close to the body, not allowing for a lot of arm or elbow movement can be played quite well, depending on the skill of the player, by just using the wrist.

I guess what I am doing here is not really saying how a Cpen player can be countered, but just validating what to watch out for. And there is a lot more.

At the end of the day, it is individual strengths and weaknesses in every player that will decide the outcome of the match.

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PostPosted: 02 Mar 2010, 16:35 
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Rangerman wrote that the crossover point is minimal, much smaller than it is for shakehanders.

I disagree, it is the same size, it is just in a different place relative to the arm and body compared to shakehanders. This is an important point, something important I learned from Eric Owens. The crossover is definitely farther away from their body than any shakehander, but it is there to be found.

I agree that a lot of penholders that I play against (lots of them in this city!!) are very comfortable pushing and have nice feel on their short games. It is important to not get impatient against that, they are trying to win cheap points and you don't want to give them any, but don't get too passive either. I also try not to get baited into going for that forehand side that looks so open. Rangerman is not alone in liking to hug that backhand side for that reason. I have learned that from hard experience and now know that I would rather keep playing into their backhand, especially with my backhand.

Penholders are often good at making that big step to the forehand corner that looks so temptingly open. Oddly enough, a lot of the ones here in the under 2200 range do have the same weakness of not being too willing to make the tiny little foot movements that optimize their shots when the ball is not far from where they are at. This means that once you figure out where their cross over point is, it is easy to keep finding it over and over again.

But like I said before, its tough to make too many generalizations. I have seen lots of different ways that people play penholder.

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PostPosted: 03 Mar 2010, 05:33 
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You make some very good points Baal, nice observation actually to be able to make those points. Its true, we do have a cross over point, and again as Baal says, its not right in front of us. But I guess I feel it is minimal because I am used to making adjustments to make sure I am not cramped for space. It helps that I am always ready to turn any possible ball into a forehand which means I am always moving or ready to move. And that pretty much is the only way that I know to avoid being stuck in the cross-over zone, footwork.

Baal is also right about being patient in the short game, in fact I think that would be a good thing to learn against any opponent, never hurry the point.

But please do go for that open table on the forehand. Its easy points, really...... :devil:

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PostPosted: 03 Mar 2010, 12:38 
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Our competition hasn't started yet. But I've been practicing regularly with 2 sect 1 penholders who I've had no trouble beating in the past. At the moment I am struggling to beat 1 of them because no matter where I serve (using my BH side (LP) he always gets around to his forehand and smashes them for winners, not that confident in fast corner serves (with my LP) to his forehand side as in a match situation I feel Like i'd stuff alot up. Should I just serve exclusively with my forehand side (inverted rubber) then?

Also the amount of topsin he creates on his loops is making it hard to return, I suppose technique (angle of blade) is what I need to improve on.

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PostPosted: 05 Mar 2010, 01:11 
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The things that are important for penholder, are important against every style. Service and return, placement, and ensuring the quality of your strokes. Penoholders, by and large, play better over the table, and are better at making the first attack, so your focus should be on limiting the quality of their first attack, so you can counter and use the away from the table advantage that a shakehander has.

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PostPosted: 05 Mar 2010, 13:52 
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Rangerman has a small crossover point because he is able to move, not because he is a penholder. That is true for everyone who can move. The better the player the smaller the crossover point seems to be because the harder it is to find because you are aiming for a moving target!

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