OOAK Table Tennis Forum

Road to top 500
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Author:  Rawr [ 10 Oct 2016, 22:32 ]
Post subject:  Road to top 500

I can start this blog by introducing myself a little bit. I have been playing table tennis since 2007, and I am now 21 years old. I have been playing about two times a week, about 3 hours a week. Recently, I started gaining more interest and wanted to train more and play more. I haven’t actively played in many tournaments, but have played league games in the lower divisions in the Swedish system.

I would describe myself as a modern defender, although I don’t attack as much as I should. I have used long pips on my backhand since 2008 or 2009, since my coach noticed that my instinct was to chop the ball back. As a result, my forehand never really developed and until recently I would mostly just lift the ball back when the ball was on my forehand. I have recently started being able to chop and loop with my forehand, which is a step in the right direction I hope.
Since the league season hasn’t started yet, I am also going to try out short pips for some time.
My plan is to do one post here every Sunday to evaluate my training during the week, and also do one after every league game and every tournament.

My long term goal with the sport is to enter the top 500 players in Sweden. Currently, I am ranked in class 5, so my short term goal right now is to rank up to class 4. I need about 150 points to reach class 4.

Short facts about me:
I am studying to become a system developer, and I have a lot of free time outside of school to practice a lot. I have several tattoos and plan on getting more. I am originally left handed, but a traffic accident forced me to switch to my right hand. I love dogs.

Author:  Japsican [ 11 Oct 2016, 03:31 ]
Post subject:  Re: Road to top 500

Rawr wrote:
I can start this blog by introducing myself a little bit. .....

Very COOL! good luck and i look forward to your entries.

Author:  Rawr [ 16 Oct 2016, 21:10 ]
Post subject:  Re: Road to top 500

So my first week with a heavy practice schedule is finished and I have been able to play at least a little bit every day. I feel like I have been able to play quite well and have taken at least some steps forward. I am in school 6 hours a day on monday-wednesday, so those days can be a little stressfull, but manageable. I apologize if the text kind of comes out incoherent and rambly, I am just writing down the first thoughts in my head. I am a little unfamiliar with the proper terms in english, so bear with me.

On mondays, I have started playing with some of the older members of the club, their rankings range from top 200 in sweden to class 4 and 5 players. These sessions mostly consist of playing matches, you find a partner, warm up, then play a best of 3. After that, you rotate and play a match with someone else. These are people that I haven't really practiced with before, but I have met them and seen them play and I know most of them quite well. The atmosphere during these sessions is great as well. I played around 7 or 8 matches in total I think. What I noticed most about my play was that I really need to get better at attacking backspin balls. I have almost always returned backspin balls with my long pips before, but now that I try to attack more, I find it hard to lift the ball over the net in some situations. So that is one thing to work on.

I also often get into situations where I could finish a point with an attack, but I hesitate before playing my stroke, which means I miss and lose the point. Either that or I get a high floating ball and just step back and I chop it anyway, giving my opponent a way back into the rally when I should have finished it.

Another thing to work on is returning very spinny serves. This is mostly a problem when I return with my inverted side, since I'm used to taking these with the long pips, but it would be very good if I could just attack long serves with my forehand. I feel like I need to try and be more in control of the flow during points. I have noticed that the more spin the opponent puts on the ball, the more I hesitate when returning it, I think I need to be more decisive when returning serves in general.

I did play well during the monday practice though, I managed to win most of my matches, and even won against a player that almost went undefeated in my league last season. Very happy about that.

Tuesday is "regular" practice. Two or three people here also play on mondays, otherwise there is mostly junior players during these times. These sessions are more structured, since we have a coach and we do practice drills. I practiced looping against backspin a lot, since I felt like that was something important I had to improve. Forehand chopping is another thing I tried to focus on, I think I am quite consistent at placing my chops on the table, but I need to get better at placing them deep on the table. A lot of the time, my forehand chop might land close to the net and the opponent can just smash it in wherever they like. The match play during the end of this session was quite bad from my side. I managed to lose 0-3 vs someone that I should be beating. I also have him as an opponent in the league game next tuesday, since we have two teams from our club in the same division.

This wednesday, I played at home with my mother. She used to be a really good player, but stopped playing 20 years ago. To be honest, she is still really good, even though she is a little out of practice. If she started playing regularly, she could probably win against most people in my league. The most annoying part about playing with her was definitely her serves. She would do what looked like the same stroke all the time, but the placement of the ball could be anywhere on the table. I have not played against many people who could change the placement of their serves like that. We didn't really do any drills, we just played points. I still felt like I got a lot out of it though, especially since we don't have much space in the garage, so I had to stay close to the table and was forced to attack more.

Since I am free on thursdays, I stayed at home and practiced some with the robot we have. I played about an hour, working on my forehand looping and chopping a little bit.

In the evening I went to the club to practice with the same group as during tuesdays. Once again working on looping vs backspin and getting my chops more consistenly to land deep on the table. There was an older player there that day who helped me a lot with my backhand strokes actually. She told me that my thumb was too high up when I hit the ball. So I lowered it a little bit and I feel like my chops got ten times more consistent! It was such an amazing difference actually! Where do you guys have your thumb during backhand strokes? It may have been part psychological, but it worked! I lost again to the same player that I lost to last tuesday, so maybe it didn't make that much of a difference anyway...

On friday, I don't have anyone to play with, so I used the robot we have at home. It doesn't manage to put a lot of spin on the ball, so I think that it's better to use it for working on just consistently putting the ball on the table. I practiced chopping and looping alternatively, and tried doing some footwork excercises. I played two one-hour sessions.

On saturday, I was a referee for a match that our division 3 team played. They are a bit better than I am, but I feel like the gap is not enormous. They are much better at serving and placing the ball where they want it, and they have a better understanding of the game I think. But if you just look at the actual rallies between them, I feel like I could at least hold my own against some of them. The problem is that their serves have so much spin and they know just where they went to place it before they even get ready for the serve. I probably wouldn't beat them even if I could make a decent return of their serve, but I wouldn't be completely lost I think.

Trying to rest a little, do some homework, and finish writing this blog today!

Closing thoughts
I feel like I am more motivated than I have ever been about table tennis before. I have been able to play a lot more this week than I usually do, and I always look forward to the next session as soon as I stop for the day. I need to work more on being consistent with my chopping, placing every ball deep on the table and not too high. I need to practice looping against backspin. I also need to get better at attacking in general, since I plan to do a lot more of it in the future. The league starts on tuesday, we are playing another team from our own club, so that will be quite fun I hope. I am not really going into this match with an intention of winning every match I play. In the league overall, judging by last years performance, I am one of the better players so I should be able to win more than half of my matches at least. I am going to try for a 60% win ratio. I will be playing at least 28 games, we have 14 matches and I will always play at least 2 singles.

I am still using long pips, but plan on changing to short pips during the next two week break in the league so that I can practice a little with them. Hopefully that works nicely.

My next tournament is at the start of november, so I will write about that when the time comes. I will post an analysis of the league game on tuesday. I might also do random posts talking about any topic that got into my head once in while.

Author:  Rawr [ 19 Oct 2016, 07:25 ]
Post subject:  Re: Road to top 500

We won the league game 8-3! I managed to go undefeated, winning both of my games. Not really a whole lot to say about the games though.

My first game was against a regular practice partner that I don't think I have ever lost a best of 5 against, so I felt very confident going into the match. I lost the first set, playing carelessly and close to the table. I am not at my strongest when playing close to the table, but this guy knows how to play against me and wanted to just get into rallies where we both stood close at the table and just pushed. I should have attacked way more than I did, mostly because I knew I should win the match just playing and didn't want to take too many risks. I took the next three sets, winning 3-1. He had a lot of trouble returning my serves, I have been practicing varying my serves and really thinking about what serve to do and how the first few hits will go. I feel a big difference in my serving game just from actually deciding what serve to do before even stepping up to the table. I have also gotten better at reading how my opponent reacts to my serves, so that I can think a few steps ahead.

My second game was against someone who recently came back to table tennis, I think he quit playing 13 or 14 years ago and had only practiced once or twice before the match. I won easily in 3 sets, playing very offensively. I still have to work on my forehand attack a lot, but I'm starting to gain more confidence with it.

My other team members managed to win most of their games quite easily, one lost a close game 2-3 with 12-14 in the last set. She won her other one with 3-2 by getting a net ball at 10-8 though, so it evens out.

We played doubles too, me and my team mate lost ours 0-3, the others managed to win 3-2. The last set was won with 15-13 on a net ball, so we had some luck with us today.

In total, we managed to win 8-3. I think that serving is where I have taken the biggest steps forward lately. When I need to win a point, I know what serve I should make to get the opponent to pop up the ball for an attack. Choosing what serve to do before stepping up to the table and analyzing how they react to it seems very important.

Next game is in 10 days, hopefully I can keep my streak going.

Author:  Rawr [ 25 Oct 2016, 05:44 ]
Post subject:  Re: Road to top 500

Restructuring my game
I had my first session with the new bat today. I am using a Joo Sae Hyuk blade, with tenergy 05 on forehand and the TSP Super Spin Pips Chop 2 on my backhand. I decided that I should try to focus on my play close to the table and start building an attacking game first. This week at least, I am going to focus on attacking and staying at the table, no chopping yet. The reason for this is that I feel like I can't learn both attacking and chopping with the SP at the same time, and I need to be able to play well close to the table to get my opponent to start attacking me. So, for now, I am playing more like an offensive player.

The first thing I noticed today was how incredibly easy I have had it when playing with LP. Returning serves is so hard! I can't just do whatever I want and return the serve, I actually have to do something myself. I need to really hit the ball, not just block it, there has to be some force behind my stroke. I managed to play so many balls way off the table or into the net, but it got better and better. By the end of the session, I felt like I was getting the hang of it. It was actually quite fun to play this way.

My playstyle
I am thinking a lot about how I want to play and what I want my game to look like. My ideal way to play would probably be like what Joo does, chopping on both wings and attacking sometimes. This is very difficult to accomplish though. The most important thing for me is that I want to have strong fundamentals and a nice, clean game. It is not impossible for an attacker to play a beautiful game I think. If I enjoy playing this way, I might just skip learning to chop and switch to double inverted and play offensive instead. I am a little hesitant on going back on almost everything I have done for the last ten years though, so it is a tough decision. I am okay with playing a "worse" style where I might not take as many points, but I also do want to develop and be the best player I can be. I guess the most important thing for me is that it looks clean, I don't want to be a player who goes all or nothing, just attacking as hard as possible and hoping for the best. I want my game to look good.

My plan right now is to focus on an attacking game first, and then transition into chopping. The thing that hinders me the most here is the fact that most people I play with, in my league and in practice, are not the kind of players that a high level defender plays against. I think that if Joo or Muramatsu played against my opponents, they would look a lot more like an attacker, which means that maybe I should try to play like that? I don't have many opponents who can consistently loop chops back on the table. Instead, they will just stand and push endlessly. If I could learn to attack those balls instead, I think I could develop a lot more.

Author:  LordCope [ 25 Oct 2016, 08:50 ]
Post subject:  Re: Road to top 500

I'm enjoying reading your blog - keep it up!

A few comments before I turn in for the night....

If your goal is to maximise your results, you should work with your strengths and weaknesses. Do an assessment of your strongest and weakest parts of your game, and then you will get a sense of what to build on.

I'm skeptical about restructuring your game if you have 10 years experience playing with inverted and LP. That's a lot of experience to draw on, and unless you really think there's a glaring hole in your game, I would be tempted to continue that way.

Moving, as you have, to trying to chop with SP, is going to be very difficult indeed. I know, because I moved to SP on my BH earlier this year, because I wanted to try to attack more. It's much much more difficult, I think, and my service return went to pot too.

Regarding playing against players against whom you don't get to defend - yeah, you just need to attack them. Develop a confident FH loop, and you'll overpower them easily enough. You could also work on attacking with LP - against weaker players you'll definitely get easy to attack balls into your BH, and learning to put them away with LP is a good skill. It requires good timing, but some robot practice and some diligence, and you'll get there for sure.

Good luck, and keep up the blogging!

Author:  Rawr [ 26 Oct 2016, 00:07 ]
Post subject:  Re: Road to top 500

Thank you for your input! I do want to maximise my results, but I still want to play a style that I find fun to play. I want to find a balance between them.

Most likely, I will continue as a defender. Chopping has always been the natural stroke for me to play, ever since I started playing. It's also what I find the most fun to do. I enjoy table tennis the most when I have an opponent who can put the ball on the table consistently, and I get to stand far away from the table and just return the ball as many times as possible. This looks flashy and nice, but it's not so good for actually winning.

Is there a big difference in how I need to play my stroke when I chop with SP? Is there anything important to think about before I start working on it?

Author:  Rawr [ 26 Oct 2016, 04:34 ]
Post subject:  Re: Road to top 500

Quick update after playing today. Everything went much better than expected. I won against my coach without chopping once. I managed to beat him 2-0 by only playing offensive strokes. This feels like an incredible result, since I manage to win maybe 30% of our sets otherwise, not to mention almost never winning a best of 3 or 5. It was also way more fun than I expected. I think this could also be a little bit because he expects me to play very differently from what I did and it threw him off. The result might change on thursday. Overall, I was extremely satisfied with how I played, it felt great. This is only the second day with this bat, so it's still way too early to decide on how I want to develop, but I'm very impressed with the results so far. I will have to play some more and see how it goes.

Author:  Rawr [ 30 Oct 2016, 20:54 ]
Post subject:  Re: Road to top 500

I had a league game on friday, but haven't had time to write about it until now. I played three matches, lost all three. While the results were not good, I think it went well playing-wise. If I had another week with this bat, I would probably have been able to win all three.

The first game, I played well for the most part. The biggest problem with my play was that I like to back away from the table too much. When I use the short pips, when not chopping, from that distance it's hard to get the ball back on the table. If I'm playing offensive, I need to stay at the table more. I am also way too careful when attacking with my backhand. I seem to be more concerned with hitting the table than winning the point. That is fine a lot of the time, but I need to actually attack too, not just get the ball on the table.

In the second game, I fell behind and lost the first set. So I decided to try out chopping, since I was backing away from the table so much anyway. It went very well, I got in a lot of heavy backspin chops, but I wasn't consistent enough since I hadn't practiced it a lot with short pips. I also didn't chop with my forehand, since I hadn't tried that at all with this bat and felt I would just miss too much. I got a lot more points when I started chopping, but I couldn't catch up and lost anyway.

In the third game, I played vs an older guy with long pips and anti. I honestly feel like I should have won that one even with the new bat, but I am too careful when trying to attack. His weird floating balls were honestly not that much of a problem, I had no trouble getting the ball back, I think I played way too passively. There was no force behind any of my strokes, and he didn't have any problem getting them back. I lost because my serve returns are still not good enough and I am a little too inconsistent.

If I'm going to be a chopper in the future, I am definitely going to be chopping on forehand too, I don't want to be like Gionis and the other choppers who only chop with their backhand. I will need to practice it more. Otherwise I would rather play double inverted and try to get into counterlooping rallies from mid-distance, since I am actually pretty good at that despite not having practiced it that much. I am going to be trying out chopping a lot next week though. We'll see. I think I have more potential when playing with the short pips though, I just didn't have enough time before the match. If I can get better at attacking with the pips when I am close to the table, and I practice chopping a lot, I think I can play much better than with long pips.

Author:  Rawr [ 03 Nov 2016, 06:33 ]
Post subject:  Re: Road to top 500

Today was my first practice session this week since I have been sick. Being sick sucks, I just want to play. I am feeling very good about the change to SP actually. I didn't find it especially difficult to chop with, not yet at least. I was able to chop quite well from both FH and BH today, while also being able to attack many short balls, very encouraging. I have a tournament on sunday, so I will post about that either on sunday or monday. Probably going to try to practice extra in the next few days. I might end up getting some video, who knows.

Author:  Red [ 03 Nov 2016, 07:15 ]
Post subject:  Re: Road to top 500

Nice to hear your better.
And nice that you're lucky with the pips as well. Keep on writing...

Author:  Rawr [ 08 Nov 2016, 18:31 ]
Post subject:  Re: Road to top 500

The tournament went well all things considered. I'm still not at the same level with the SP as with the LP, but getting better. I think this fits me much better actually, and I will be able to play better than before once I have adjusted a little more. I played in class 5 and 4. I played five matches all together and lost 4 of them 2-3. I won one 3-2. Didn't manage to advance from pools in either class, but it was insanely close. In two of the matches, I was up 2-0 and my opponent learned to serve spinny to my forehand. Long spinny serves to my forehand is a big weakness I have to learn to deal with. Before, I could twiddle and hit back with the LP, much harder with SP. Maybe it's just because I haven't adjusted completely yet. I have a league game tonight, might go better. Next tournament is next saturday.

I wasn't able to get any video, there was no good place to put my phone. I should probably get a stand for my phone so I can take a video anywhere.

Author:  Rawr [ 09 Nov 2016, 07:07 ]
Post subject:  Re: Road to top 500

Today, we won our match 8-3, I won both of my singles matches, so I went 2-0. I won both 3-1.

First game was against an older player, all of the guys on the opposing team were at least 50+. He played double inverted and didn't really have any dangerous strokes except for his forehand loop. He took the ball almost at the floor, with a close to vertical stroke and the ball would go in a very high arc. If I didn't block it with my SP as soon as it bounced, it was really hard to return, since there was an insane amount of spin on it. I did chop a few of them, but most of them were barely returned. He had a lot of problems with my serves, I don't think it is because my serves are particularly good, but I have a lot of variation on them. I have also worked on my ability to select the correct serve to do in what situation I think. Even so, it was pretty close in the end. If I ever put any backspin on the ball, he would just push it back with backspin. I really dislike being caught in pushing rallies and I pretty much didn't push any of them back. I tried to open on almost every one of them, most of the time it was fine. Sometimes I would misjudge the spin and hit it into the net, mostly with my SP.

Next match was against their best player, I think. His play style was almost exactly the same. Returning every backspin with backspin and mostly pushing or blocking top spin balls. I did a lot of third ball attacking, since he had some problems with my serving. I lost the first set because I didn't vary my serves enough and made it easy for him. I managed to take the next three just by staying close to the table and getting into rallies.

I am very comfortable with my switch to SP at this point. When the opponent does loop, I can chop it back both on forehand and backhand with no problem most of the time. But when I am up against players who won't loop on a chop, I can play almost like an attacker.

My next tournament is going to be on saturday, going to enter two classes. Next league game is in ten days.

Author:  Rawr [ 14 Nov 2016, 03:08 ]
Post subject:  Re: Road to top 500

Came home late last night, so I haven't had the time to write about the tournament yet. Once again, the result was a little dissapointing. I am satisfied with my play overall, except for the last match which was pretty terrible.

I entered class 5 first. I played 3 matches in the group, only won one so I didn't advance any further. The first match was against a pretty good player, although I had the chance to win. He is ranked about a hundred or so points higher than me. I had 10-8 in the first set, but dropped it. Then lost the second one 7-11. I fell behind early and couldn't quite catch up. I feel like the problem was that I didn't play defensively enough. I won most of my points by chopping, but I missed a lot of attacking shots that I should be able to hit. I still think it is good that I went for those shots, as I need to land them to be able to progress further. I managed to take the third set 11-9, and then lost the fourth one 11-13. If I had taken the fourth set, I feel like I could have taken the whole match, because my opponent was getting a little frustrated towards the end.

The second match was against a player that I won against in another tournament a couple of months ago. I lost 0-3, although all of the sets were close and I should definitely have been able to beat him. I didn't really think about my placement or my shots enough, which he took good advantage of, so he deserved the win.

The third match I won 3-0 vs a left handed player. This match, I didn't play aggressive at all really. I just chopped a lot and he had lots of trouble lifting the backspin and I won quite comfortably. I even managed to chop a lot with my forehand, which hasn't showed up very much in actual matches, but it's getting there.

In class 4, my group consisted of me and two other players who were both ranked 200/300 points higher than me. I lost both 0-3. The first match was against a player who is very good vs defensive players, but I managed at least 6 points every set and even had 9-7 in the third. Pretty happy about that match actually.

The second one was against an older player with anti on his backhand. I played incredibly bad against him. I have never been very good vs other defensive players, but this was worse than I really should have done. I know he would probably beat me even if I played well, but I was very inconsistent, I pretty much only played with my backhand everywhere on the table. Every single rally was the same thing, over and over again. I would try to open, he did a short backspin with his anti and then I would just do weak, topspin returns with my sp until I misplayed it and missed. I didn't even try to hit the ball hard at all, I basically just put it over with absolutely no force behind it. I did hit with my forehand once or twice, but I just don't have any practice against this playstyle and would miss 60% of those shots. The few times I hit, I won the point, but I was afraid to do it. Not happy with how I played there.

Author:  Rawr [ 20 Nov 2016, 08:27 ]
Post subject:  Re: Road to top 500

Had a league match on friday, just now finding time to write about it. We managed to win the match overall 8-6, I went 1-2 plus a win in the doubles.

I played my first match against a player that I met in the tournament I played two weeks ago. Last time, I lost 2-3, after being up 2-0. This match looked about the same. I managed to take the first set 11-9. Most of our rallies were me blocking with BH to his BH, and then the one who put it to the opponents FH lost the point. I mostly played offensive, I didn't chop a lot. I think I should have played a little more defensively, further from the table. My blocking with BH is very inconsistent, because I don't angle my bat correctly I think. It worked when I used LP, but I need to adjust a little for the SP. I lost the next two sets, fell behind to 1-2. I had a dream start in the fourth set, going up 8-0, had 10-2. At this point, I relaxed too much. I missed a couple of easy shots, and at least 3 serves. Suddenly, it was 10-9. I did manage to take that last point with a good FH attack. In the last set, I kind of fell apart I think. I fell behind early, it was 1-5 at the switch. Then 3-10 and I couldn't get back into it. I had a decent chance at winning the game, but I couldn't really keep my focus at the end. I pretty much only chopped once or twice through that whole match too, which is not a problem I usually have, usually I am too defensive. My backhand attack was terrible all game too. I could never get any real force behind it, mostly because I think I'm just too scared of missing the table. I am used to getting the ball on the table 99% of the time if I hit it, because up until now I have only attacked very rarely. I need to realize that it is okay to miss the table sometimes.

Second match was against their best player, who I lost against 0-3. It was just a case of him being better than me. I played better than in my first match, but not good enough. He was a little weak to backspin, but I didn't realize that before it was too late. I need to think more about how I play during the first sets, because I need to be able to adapt to my opponent a little faster.

Me and my teammate won a doubles match 3-2, where I managed to do lots of great attacks. This is where I think I started playing well. I am quite slow to get going I think, I play much better the longer a match goes. I can't really focus much on the doubles, since I can't get regular doubles practice and my partner is always changing.

The last match I had was the 12th match of the evening, the score was 6-6, so it was an important match. I managed to win 3-2, but it's the match I remember the least of. It's unfortunate that I haven't had time to write until now, because I really should do this after the matches are finished. I know I took the first set, 11-8. He had trouble with my serves, especially backspin. I dropped the following two sets, so I fell behind 1-2. I lost my focus and played pretty bad, mostly I was a little disturbed by the coach of the other team. It was an away match, so there were some friends of the other team there. They cheered really loudly after every point. It had more of an effect on me than it should have, but it made me lose my concentration somewhat. I don't really have any problem with people cheering for their team, but it's a little frustrating when it's every single point. I managed to take both the following sets though. I started playing more with my FH. I play too much with my BH, even when it's a harder shot to take. It's harder to get into position for a FH, but actually playing the FH is easier. I think I'm taking the easy way for a difficult shot, instead of the difficult way to an easier shot. I had 7-5 in the fifth set, when the other team took a time out. I think that helped me more than them, since it was also my serve. I managed to take two quick points by tricking him with my serve to get 9-5. Then I took one from him during his serve to get 10-6, and from there I finished the match.

The biggest thing about my play this match is probably that I played very offensively and it was pretty fun. I have a little trouble with the fact that I'm too afraid to hit hard as I can, because I think I will miss. That leads to me missing when I do hit hard. I don't need to hit with 100% force, maybe more like 75/80. But currently I will often do something that is more 25/30% if what I could do. Then I lose the point because it becomes a very weak return. If I am going to continue playing like I played this match, I should probably switch to normal rubbers though, but I'm not going to change anything until at least after the winter break.

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