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PostPosted: 23 Jul 2015, 23:39 
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vanjr wrote:
Well I have not been writing in this blog much. I do seem to have settled on equipment issues. I am staying with slow, thinner sponge on my BH with either 802 on 1.0 dead sponge by cole or super spinpips 2 on 1.0 chop sponge. Both play pretty similarly with the ability to chop, block and hit to some degree.

Now I need to focus of something to improve on. It is kind of hard to focus as there are so many areas. I do think I should focus first on my BH. I can block well with it and chop well with it. But what to do with the "nothing" ball deep to my BH? I have no answer for that.

It does seem the more I learn that my game does not improve. I still beat the same few players in my club and lose to the same few players.



What do you mean by learn? If you mean things you know, verbal knowledge is not the same thing as practical knowledge. And even practical knowledge takes time to show up in matches. The way you beat players who you play often but lose to is that you need to break patterns and set up new ones. If you play them often enough, they know your patterns even before you get to the table, so they are quick to react. You have to figure out how to create a pattern that works to your advantage. You may need to improve a particular stroke or get a new stroke to do it, but something as simple as serving short to the forehand and pushing or attacking any return into the wide backhand can change a match even if neither of the players have changed their skills.



I know you live in a low activity TT zone so it's hard to get better - just giving you stuff to think about.

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PostPosted: 24 Jul 2015, 01:10 
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I do appreciate the stuff to think about.

The comment about the same players beating me is something I will expound on a little-
Player A-Is a guy who was at the club last night. He plays very aggressive, but also is very good at mixing heavy and dead pushes. I know he does this. I almost always read correctly, yet I will still miss either a dead ball long or a heavy push into the net. I will win game 1 or 2, but he still comes back and beats me 1-3. I assume it is because he is a level or 2 above me. I will play some points and people who do not know me will say, that guy is probably 1900 or 2000. But I offset that with even more points/shots where people would say, "I doubt he is above 1100."

Player B-is a guy who hardly ever comes to the club or plays at all. He used to play a lot and has a rating similar to mine (and never was rated as high as my highest),but even though he has only been to the club maybe 2 times in the last year he beats me 0-3 games. And they are not that close. I do seem to get him as I am EJing I guess, but I cannot seem to beat him.


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PostPosted: 24 Jul 2015, 02:19 
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Vanjr,

For player A, you probably need more serve variety and a good , short slow spin loop. If he is good at mixing pushes, are you good at mixing your serves so he has to read the spin properly to make the right push? When you get a ball you can't read, you need a safe way to open up and this is usually a brushy loop with good spin and arc just to see what your opponent will do. Place it to his weaker side if possible so that he will block. Then just attack the return if it is low quality (a block usually is).

For player B, you need to define the matchups. IT could be mostly psychological, but you have to know where he gets his points from to stop him from getting them.

I'm going to write an article on this at mytt fairly soon since I wrote a lot of emails to BRS when he had similar questions. When an opponent is beating you, you have to figure out how to restrict their options by introducing your weapons earlier or using your defense/control to constrain their play earlier in the point. In offensive TT, most rallies last less that 5 shots, and many matches average less than 3. Therefore, you should be thinking about the pattern of the points in terms of serve, serve return, third ball, fourth ball. fifth ball and rally. By the third ball, the person who is controlling the point is usually determined at most levels, though some good players can survive that and keep the point level. So if Player A's dead pushes are coming on his serve return, then you need serves to constrain that. If they are coming on the fourth ball, then you failed to attack on the third. Or if you pushed on the third, you have to push in a way that gets you an easier ball.

Your opponent could just be faster at reading you than you read him. He may also be challenging aspects of your game (transition, mobility, weaker wing etc,) that you haven't given him enough credit for challenging. That's why it is a critical step to know how you would play yourself to understand what other people are doing to you. And sometimes too, if you are not quite the same player you were, you may not be used to this. When I built my forehand, people started playing to my backhand more, and since I hadn't practiced my backhand, I struggled. But in my club, people already respected my backhand so they were challenging my forehand because they hadn't adjusted. So these are all details to account for when thinking about why someone is beating you. Where are they putting the ball, do they just play faster than you do because they read you better?

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PostPosted: 24 Jul 2015, 03:28 
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I look forward to your article. The more I play I find that I get quite confused in how to win. I used to instinctively know how to win matches when I had less skill (but more physical ability). Course I now play higher level players.

For example I feel like I can win almost any single point against player A. However I end up getting a lead, or trading points then will have a melt down and lose 5 points in a row and it is over. How is that I ask myself? I think it is that while I can win any single point or two, I cannot keep up that strategy indefinitely because my opponent adjusts. For example I can serve short, heavy underspin and loop the next ball heavy and control and/or win the point. I can then do same motion and give a deader serve to allow a pop up I can put away. But I cannot ride that strategy to win 3 games. I may can win one game off a strategy like that but not 3. As I talked with player A last night we both said that we were the King of unforced errors. I however proved myself by losing both matches to him.


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PostPosted: 24 Jul 2015, 06:43 
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I posted my article in the coaching section here. Here is an article by Brett Clarke - the opening part makes the main point that I am trying to make.

http://www.pingskills.com/blog/2009/08/ ... ndy-hints/

Serving – More Handy Hints
by Brett Clarke


Thanks to Brett for providing us with this insightful article of Serving. Brett is the current Australian National Coach and during his playing career was widely regarded as having one of the best serves in the game.

My first article in the “Advancing the Australian Game” series covered the importance of returning serve. My aim for this July article is to highlight the importance of serving and I will offer practical solutions for motivating players to practice and improve their serves.

To prove a point regarding the importance of serve and return, I’ve just finished analysing William Henzell Vs Jens Lundquist at the 2008 Olympic Games. Henzell won this game 4-2 and, in my opinion, this is Henzell’s best international win and a major step forward for Australian Table Tennis. It may however surprise you to know that the average length of a point in this match was 3.34 hits (including serve). That’s right, there were 398 shots played over 119 points. In the 4th set, which Henzell lost 11-5, the average plummeted to 2.6 hits per rally including serve and the longest rally was 4 hits in total. There wasn’t a fault served by either player for the entire match and the overall standard was fairly high. I have watched and analysed other matches and the statistic are reasonable similar. 3.7 shots per rally is generally a very high standard international match.
I have taken the time to perform the above analyse to help you understand what is important in the game of Table Tennis. All points contain a serve and generally a return and there is often a 3rd ball attack. A block or counter attack also occurs on a fairly regular basis and a follow up 5th ball topspin is required in approximately 25% of points. Rallies that contain more than 5 shots do occur, although not as frequently as you may believe.

I believe the fastest way for Australian players to improve their level is to improve the skills which are required in the early stages of points. If the length of a rally is 3-4 shots on average, it only stands to reason that we get really good at those first 3-4 shots. Our training should reflect what is required to win a match. Far too often I see players only practicing skills which are required after the 4th ball in a rally and they ignore the real issues of the game.

The serve is among the most important strokes in a game of Table Tennis as it is the first shot in every point. Even though we all understand that a good serve wins points, I rarely see players grabbing a bucket of balls and practicing it. Most hands-on coaches know that getting their players to practice serves is harder than extracting teeth. For various reasons, players prefer to practice their perfect forehand topspin off a block rather than attending to more important issues such as serve and return. Even more puzzling for coaches is that many players seem satisfied with the fact that they have poor serves. My experience tells me that players hate practicing their serves as they lack direction when doing so. If a player knows what he/she is aiming to achieve then they will quickly become enthusiastic about serving.

So let’s look at what constitutes a good serve. I believe the most important element is the serve being short and fast. Spin and spin variation are also very important factors. The concept of serving short and fast isn’t as difficult as it first sounds. I suggest putting a target about 30cm over the net on the opponent’s side of the table. You can then take a bucket of balls and aim to hit the target using your best serves. You should be trying to generate as much speed and spin as possible even though the serve will be short (bouncing twice on the opponent side of the table). When you become accurate, take the target off the table and just look out to the spot where you are aiming. It is important you continue to visually identify your target even in a game situation. You may like to look at several possible targets for deception if you are concerned about your opponent picking up on what you are doing. Here is a good example of a short fast serve.

(video no longer working)

Using a target normally inspires players to practice their serve. Even elite players become absorbed when trying to get their serves short and fast. It further motivates players when they are taught how to impart more spin on the ball by only using the wrist and forearm on most serves.

If a player isn’t getting enough spin on their serve it is generally because he/she is using their shoulder rather than the wrist and forearm. It is really important that the upper arm remains still until the ball is struck. I would encourage players to keep the upper arm still even after the ball is contacted, until a time when they can impart lots of spin. The only reason to move the upper arm is to disguise the spin when serving a sidespin serve. I find the best way to teach serving is to ask the player to ensure their elbow remains stable as this limits the possibility of using the upper arm. Take a look at this video for a demonstration on how to use the wrist and forearm whilst serving.

(video no longer working)

The serve is the only shot in Table Tennis where you are in total control of the stroke and you don’t even need a training partner to practice it. Hopefully this article will motivate coaches and players to improve their serves. Even 20 minutes of serving training per session will have a huge impact on a player’s level.

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PostPosted: 24 Jul 2015, 06:48 
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vanjr wrote:
I look forward to your article. The more I play I find that I get quite confused in how to win. I used to instinctively know how to win matches when I had less skill (but more physical ability). Course I now play higher level players.

For example I feel like I can win almost any single point against player A. However I end up getting a lead, or trading points then will have a melt down and lose 5 points in a row and it is over. How is that I ask myself? I think it is that while I can win any single point or two, I cannot keep up that strategy indefinitely because my opponent adjusts. For example I can serve short, heavy underspin and loop the next ball heavy and control and/or win the point. I can then do same motion and give a deader serve to allow a pop up I can put away. But I cannot ride that strategy to win 3 games. I may can win one game off a strategy like that but not 3. As I talked with player A last night we both said that we were the King of unforced errors. I however proved myself by losing both matches to him.


Opponent A is probably has some plays or things he knows how to do to you to get a point when he needs it. When a player consistently dominates you even when you have big leads, that is what is happening (and sometimes, you may begin to buy into it psychologically and make his job easier).

While an opponent may adjust to a strategy, that adjustment usually opens up other strategies. IF he can adjust to your backspin no-spin strategy, then it means he can read your serve.

I mean, have you ever asked how people usually win points against you? How would you describe your own game? How should someone play to beat you? You have been pretty silent about that.

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PostPosted: 25 Aug 2015, 23:37 
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So, my adventure continues.

After 8 months of using SP on my BH to try to do all things I think I am done with them. I played a tournament in mid August and it convinced me that using SP in the manner I was (thin 1.0-1.2 dead sponge) in a blocking and hitting style with some chopping was very difficult. I could block well, but I had a number of problems-many of which were technical that it is time to move on. You know you are having a bad tournament when after the disastrous morning session you start planning your major equipment change:)

I have a couple of weeks and have two double fish chen qi carbon blades (off-) and two sword yokahama yue blades (all++ to off--) I am using. I am going from defensive blades (mostly galaxy LQ-1 and LQ-2) to a faster set up. I am staying with my current FH rubber which I like very much-friendship Battle II in 47 degree sponge. The only thing I have to work out is my BH rubber. One part of me wants to try BH chopping with inverted playing a similar game as I was trying with SP, except it would allow me better BH flips and stronger attacks albeit with less BH chopping control. However the one guy at my club who knows the most says "No, No, No!!!!" and that I need to go for a more aggressive BH.

I have narrowed my choices on BH rubber to the following-
1. tibhar evolution EL-P. I have two older sheets in 1.7 sponge and this may work well for me
2. Air illumina in 1.7 sponge-hard or soft sponge
3. Air defenderS or AssasinS in either 1.5 or 1.9 sponges.

How will I benefit from the change from SP-I really never consistently was able to hit at the top of the bounce. Far too often I waited for the ball to drop and tried a longer stroke that did not fit my equipment. Also using the thin sponge led to me really trying to overhit and take an out of control stroke with poor consistency and horrible recovery.

So the adventure goes on...


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PostPosted: 26 Aug 2015, 00:39 
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Quote:
2. Air illumina in 1.7 sponge-hard or soft sponge -

I have used both hard and soft sponges and all sizes. It bottoms out when blocking really big hits and loops, but the trajectory isn't drastically changed when the ball hits the wood. However, I just didn't "trust" it enough in that thickeness. Chops well though in thin sponge, and opening loops are fine. Personally, I'd go for thin hard sponge in this case for a chopping/blocking game. IF just chopping, the thin sponge is pretty good.

Quote:
3. Air defenderS or AssasinS in either 1.5 or 1.9 sponges.

Really liked DefenderS in 1.5mm! However, I had hoped it was a chopping rubber, but I have now come to the conclusion that it's more suited for blocking/hitting/looping. Doesn't bottom out as drastically as the soft sponged illumnia. I think the topsheet might be thicker or have a more supportive pip structure. Don't get me wrong, it's good at chopping, but the throw angle changes greatly with racket speed (Higher throw with higher speed), which makes it less ideal for chopping IMO. For chopping, I actually like the hard version of Illumnia better...but that's just me.

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PostPosted: 26 Aug 2015, 02:06 
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Japsican wrote:
I have used both hard and soft sponges and all sizes. It bottoms out when blocking really big hits and loops, but the trajectory isn't drastically changed when the ball hits the wood. However, I just didn't "trust" it enough in that thickeness. Chops well though in thin sponge, and opening loops are fine. Personally, I'd go for thin hard sponge in this case for a chopping/blocking game. IF just chopping, the thin sponge is pretty good.

Really liked DefenderS in 1.5mm! However, I had hoped it was a chopping rubber, but I have now come to the conclusion that it's more suited for blocking/hitting/looping. Doesn't bottom out as drastically as the soft sponged illumnia. I think the topsheet might be thicker or have a more supportive pip structure. Don't get me wrong, it's good at chopping, but the throw angle changes greatly with racket speed (Higher throw with higher speed), which makes it less ideal for chopping IMO. For chopping, I actually like the hard version of Illumnia better...but that's just me.


I should probably just go with evolution el-p. It does it all pretty well, but i am cheap and like to try different things.

Illumina-I did not think that this would work at first-it is a softer topsheet and more a spinning setup, but I tried a sheet recently and it worked pretty well. I am concerned mostly with how well it pushes-I have in my mind that firmer sponge and firmer topsheets are better for higher level pushes, thus my initial plan to try assasinS and defenderS. I guess I remain in search of my own personal holy grail of BH rubbers just like everyone else. I want it to do everything well. Even though I know that is not possible.

I am not really worried about bottoming out from thinner sponge. If I am looping I will be grazing the ball. Blocking seems to be the main concern but I think I can adjust. What I do not want is super springy where the ball catapults off my blade with I do an aggressive push or block my opponents attack.


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PostPosted: 26 Aug 2015, 02:35 
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vanjr wrote:
Japsican wrote:
I have used both hard and soft sponges and all sizes. It bottoms out when blocking really big hits and loops, but the trajectory isn't drastically changed when the ball hits the wood. However, I just didn't "trust" it enough in that thickeness. Chops well though in thin sponge, and opening loops are fine. Personally, I'd go for thin hard sponge in this case for a chopping/blocking game. IF just chopping, the thin sponge is pretty good.

Really liked DefenderS in 1.5mm! However, I had hoped it was a chopping rubber, but I have now come to the conclusion that it's more suited for blocking/hitting/looping. Doesn't bottom out as drastically as the soft sponged illumnia. I think the topsheet might be thicker or have a more supportive pip structure. Don't get me wrong, it's good at chopping, but the throw angle changes greatly with racket speed (Higher throw with higher speed), which makes it less ideal for chopping IMO. For chopping, I actually like the hard version of Illumnia better...but that's just me.


I should probably just go with evolution el-p. It does it all pretty well, but i am cheap and like to try different things.

Illumina-I did not think that this would work at first-it is a softer topsheet and more a spinning setup, but I tried a sheet recently and it worked pretty well. I am concerned mostly with how well it pushes-I have in my mind that firmer sponge and firmer topsheets are better for higher level pushes, thus my initial plan to try assasinS and defenderS. I guess I remain in search of my own personal holy grail of BH rubbers just like everyone else. I want it to do everything well. Even though I know that is not possible.

I am not really worried about bottoming out from thinner sponge. If I am looping I will be grazing the ball. Blocking seems to be the main concern but I think I can adjust. What I do not want is super springy where the ball catapults off my blade with I do an aggressive push or block my opponents attack.


I just read what I wrote and realized it was confusing. I'm sure you deciphered what I wrote, but allow me to clarify nevertheless:
The Illumina in thin+soft was the only combo that bottomed out. Thick sponge in any hardness did not bottom out, and neither did the harder sponge in thin sizes. I thought it handled agressive pushes well, but admittedly I rarely do this. I typically hit balls with LPs that I would be able to agressively push with inverted.

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PostPosted: 27 Aug 2015, 21:59 
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Last night I spent almost all my time at the club using illumina red on my BH with 1.7 sponge, 41 degree. I hit a few shots with illumina 1.9 sponge 35 degree and could not seem to get the ball over the net even with a slightly faster blade.

Thoughts on illumina 1.7 with the harder sponge. I generally liked it. I blocked well with it, could loop, counter and hit with it. It pushed ok (not its strength) and I even tried to chop with it and with a good full vigorous stroke I had some decent chops. It could even counter attack off the table pretty well. It was not as effective a weapon as evolution EL-P but it was also lighter.

Going forward I think I would very well go with either illumina or evolution, but I may try assasinS in 1.9 sponge. I do not see myself using the softest sponge illumina for this blade and my BH. iI also do not see even trying defenderS in 1.5, unless I would be a chop only guy and I am not good enough to play that way right now (in terms of footwork and footspeed). I think assasinS may push better. I actually got a several points or pop-ups because my pushes with illumina were less spinney than they looks and a lot less spinney than my FH battle II pushes.


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PostPosted: 31 Aug 2015, 03:09 
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This past saturday I spent the entire club session using evolution el-p in 1.7 sponge on my BH and a very brief drill with air illumina. Both chop well and block well. I think evolution clearly has more topspin power, but it also a little heavier. I still cannot decide if I should use an all inexpensive setup (no tenergies, no tensors) or should use the evolution. I would like to play with what ever allows further development in my BH.

I am quite pleased with my yokahama yue blade by sword-I think it is a 5 ply wood but I see some places it is 5+2. I have no idea what the +2 is. I am sticking with friendship battle2 on my FH although with the flex in the blade I have to be careful. I really cannot counter loop very easily, but I am no convinced that counter looping is all that vital to sub 2000 usatt play.


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PostPosted: 01 Sep 2015, 11:09 
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You could go to my long time BH rubber of XP 2008 2.2, plenty of control. Nowadays I use Elpis, kinda like EL-P, it has better offensive potential, while still being a control rubber.

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PostPosted: 01 Sep 2015, 12:33 
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Der_Echte wrote:
You could go to my long time BH rubber of XP 2008 2.2, plenty of control. Nowadays I use Elpis, kinda like EL-P, it has better offensive potential, while still being a control rubber.


I have 2008 XP (but probably in 1.8 or at most 2.0 sponge) in my list of rubbers to try if I do not like some of Air rubbers (assasinS, illumina or sciroco). I do not want to go too heavy and max sponge on both sides, in addition to the control issues and wanting something that can chop too is too much for my puny arms to handle.


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PostPosted: 03 Sep 2015, 23:11 
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Last night was my first session with air assassinS on my bh. 1.9. It started off rough. I played a couple of kids who hit everything right off the bounce with no spin with almost no warmup. I was trying to see what this rubber could do and lost both matches 0-3 & 1-3. The kids are rated 400-600 usatt points below me. I then beat a 1300 rated player 3-2. After these matches I must say I was not overly impressed w assasinS. It did push well, really biting nicely in the ball but was probably to much on the control side.
I finished the night with several drills with the top player and certainly got warm. After several sets of drills we played a match and I beat him 3-2. He is about 150 usatt points above me and almost always beats me.
While I know practice club matches mean nothing, win or lose I do feel I got to know AssasinS pretty well. I used it almost entirely on my bh, but did flip and it control looped an opening off a push on my FH nicely. On bh it excelled at short game and heavy pushes. It blocked well and I did chop pretty welol with it. Bandanna flips over the table were ok. Topspin drives were controlled. Overall in 1.9 it is a solid control inverted that can do everything. It is not powerful or going to hit it past people. I do like how it serves and hits underspin compared to Illumina and it's soft topsheet


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