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PostPosted: 16 Feb 2019, 01:26 
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Hey, it's been a million years since I last updated this thread. I've been playing regularly again for a few months now - took another hiatus after my wife gave birth to our third son in May.

I think I've lost the knack for forehand chopping. Since my return to regular play, I've been focusing on looping or counterhitting with the forehand when the opportunity presents itself, and as a result I'm not chopping that much and my stroke has deteriorated.

On Wednesday, I got to the club and played four matches:

Lost 1-4 to Rich in a handicap match (he spotted me ~6 points each game). Took two of the sets I lost to deuce, but that and ham and cheese and bread will get you a sandwich. He's a 2100-2200 level guy with a really unique style - his forehand often has close to no-spin, plays a lot of wide angles, excellent accuracy. Infamous at the club for getting an abnormal number of nets and edges. I was just happy that I could return his serve decently most of the time, although who knows whether he was giving me his nastiest.

Lost 1-4 to Seth, a typical two-winged looper. Felt like I gave him a good fight at least, although he made life difficult for me when he had serve by mostly giving me fast low dead balls to my backhand or in the area between my playing elbow and my hip. I've only beaten him twice out of probably eight or ten times we've played each other. To complicate things, there were extra tables set up at the time we played due to a glut of players so the barriers were closer than usual. It probably didn't have a material affect on the result, but I think I play worse when I feel cramped even during points where I don't end up needing to back up that far. A part of my mental game that I need to work on for sure.

Lost 2-4 to Tao, a mid-distance power looper with a rocket backhand and very good inside-out forehand. One of the few players who isn't far above my level who will attack chops instead of just pushing all the time. We've probably split the last half dozen matches we've played. Lost the first three games 10-12, 10-12, 9-11 playing my "normal" style, chopping on the backhand and trying to attack on the forehand. After the third game, I kind of head checked myself and realized that I was having better success in chopping rallies, so I started purposefully serving long back/side to the middle hoping he would initiate a manageable attack and then all-out defending, trying to mix BH and FH chops and keeping all my returns to the deep middle or his deep BH to deny him a good angle (or make him take more of a risk trying for a wide angle). It worked, and I picked up the next two games 11-2 and 11-6. In the sixth game he seemed to wise up to what I was doing and targeted my forehand more, and I ended up losing 8-11. Fun match though.

Won 4-2 against Don, a lefty who plays with a number of different setups - inverted/anti, inverted/Dr.Evil OX, anti/anti, and inverted/inverted. He was playing double inverted tonight. Don plays an aggressive close-to-the-table style, trying to generate errors and then pouncing on them. I usually lose to him except when he's playing with double anti (a gimmick setup IMO, as it totally nerfs his serve) or with Dr.Evil on his backhand, and I'd never previously beaten him when he was using double inverted. Mostly my success came from varying my serve to generate attacking opportunities, and being super-aggressive with stepping around to attack high pushes to my backhand corner with my forehand. I also had good luck stepping the other way to receive some of his trickier serves with the pips - he's got one particularly nasty one where the gives a heavy sidespin backhand serve to my wide forehand (recall he is a lefty and I am a righty) with a motion that makes it difficult to tell whether it's side/topspin or side/backspin or close to pure sidespin. Obviously in the long term I want to improve my ability to return these with my forehand, but it was pleasant for the pips to be a boon rather than a liability on receive for once.




As I was packing my things up, I overhead the club owner and Rich guesstimating my rating as part of a conversation they were having with each other. They concluded I was between 1300 and 1400, about 450 points above my official rating. I'll have to try and make a tournament at Westchester again sometime, I've only been to one about a year and a half ago.



In other news, I started dieting about 3.5 weeks ago and I'm down 10 pounds. About 45 more to go. Hoping that this makes things easier on my joints and lower back long-term.

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PostPosted: 22 Feb 2019, 05:19 
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First off, I'd like to reiterate that this is a COMMENTS WELCOME blog :)

Second off, I got to the club and played last night. The weather was crap (snow/sleet/rain) but it didn't present too much of a problem. I wound up going 2-2 on the night:

Lost 1-4 to Rob, an all-rounder. I don't think he plays tournaments, but based on how he plays others with known ratings I think he'd be around 1650 USATT (though of course playing at a club is very different from playing in a tournament, so who knows).
We warmed up for a while before playing, and he was kind enough to let me chop a bit to try and get the feel for it. I came out to a great start and took the first set 11-8, starting most points defensively and transitioning to attack when the opportunity presented itself. The second set felt like an entirely different game, and I lost 3-11 on a mix of pushing errors and exposing myself to wide angles while play was close to the table. I calmed down a bit after that, but still lost each of the next three sets 9-11. He had one particular attack pattern that I never had an answer for where he'd loop to my wide forehand, I'd move over to the right to either chop or fish it back and then I'd move back toward the center, and he'd then do a hook shot to my wide forehand and I couldn't move right quick enough to cover it due to my momentum in the other direction. One thing I did well was win every point where I was smashing and he was lobbing, something that I haven't been able to say on the couple of previous occasions where I've played him.

Won 4-2 against Dave, another all-rounder. It was a fun match with a mix of points that devolved into pushing wars and points where he'd attack my chops. I had a lot of success on serve, and it seemed he had trouble distinguishing between a couple of variations of the backhand serve that I've been working on so I got a few free points outright and a decent number of good third-ball attack opportunities. He misread pips pushes less than he has in the past.

Lost 3-4 against Don, the lefty whom I played last week. Don plays tournaments pretty regularly and I looked him up - he peaked at 1991 about ten years ago, and has been bouncing between 1350 and 1600 for the last few years. He's currently sitting at 1411. He was using his best setup (Tenergy on the FH, old-style anti on the backhand) tonight. I tried to receive his backhand sidespin serve to my wide forehand with the inverted more tonight, and over the course of several games and an intense attempt to focus on motion at the point of contact started to get better at it, especially when I stopped trying to murder the ball when I read topspin and just tried to sort of counterhit it towards his deep middle instead, though there were still times when I got frustrated and stepped to the right to receive with the pips. Two notable things about this match: first, I misread a LOT of balls off his anti where I thought a flat block of topspin would give me backspin but it was actually closer to no-spin, and second, every set after the first went to deuce.

Won 4-2 against Don in a rematch! I think I did a better job targeting his elbow (where it's harder for him to block) the second time around, and definitely played the serve/return game better. I found I had better results serving long heavy-ish backspin than short, for whatever reason; I got him to dump it into the net a few times even receiving with his anti, though I'm not sure why. Maybe the faster ball sinks into the sponge more and thus wants to kick downward harder? I also missed a fair bit less this time around.

Was totally gassed when I got home.

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My blog: "Two rubbers, one racket"
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PostPosted: 22 Feb 2019, 07:05 
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kaesees wrote:
First off, I'd like to reiterate that this is a COMMENTS WELCOME blog :)

Second off, I got to the club and played last night. The weather was crap (snow/sleet/rain) but it didn't present too much of a problem. I wound up going 2-2 on the night:

Lost 1-4 to Rob, an all-rounder. I don't think he plays tournaments, but based on how he plays others with known ratings I think he'd be around 1650 USATT (though of course playing at a club is very different from playing in a tournament, so who knows).
We warmed up for a while before playing, and he was kind enough to let me chop a bit to try and get the feel for it. I came out to a great start and took the first set 11-8, starting most points defensively and transitioning to attack when the opportunity presented itself. The second set felt like an entirely different game, and I lost 3-11 on a mix of pushing errors and exposing myself to wide angles while play was close to the table. I calmed down a bit after that, but still lost each of the next three sets 9-11. He had one particular attack pattern that I never had an answer for where he'd loop to my wide forehand, I'd move over to the right to either chop or fish it back and then I'd move back toward the center, and he'd then do a hook shot to my wide forehand and I couldn't move right quick enough to cover it due to my momentum in the other direction. One thing I did well was win every point where I was smashing and he was lobbing, something that I haven't been able to say on the couple of previous occasions where I've played him.

Won 4-2 against Dave, another all-rounder. It was a fun match with a mix of points that devolved into pushing wars and points where he'd attack my chops. I had a lot of success on serve, and it seemed he had trouble distinguishing between a couple of variations of the backhand serve that I've been working on so I got a few free points outright and a decent number of good third-ball attack opportunities. He misread pips pushes less than he has in the past.

Lost 3-4 against Don, the lefty whom I played last week. Don plays tournaments pretty regularly and I looked him up - he peaked at 1991 about ten years ago, and has been bouncing between 1350 and 1600 for the last few years. He's currently sitting at 1411. He was using his best setup (Tenergy on the FH, old-style anti on the backhand) tonight. I tried to receive his backhand sidespin serve to my wide forehand with the inverted more tonight, and over the course of several games and an intense attempt to focus on motion at the point of contact started to get better at it, especially when I stopped trying to murder the ball when I read topspin and just tried to sort of counterhit it towards his deep middle instead, though there were still times when I got frustrated and stepped to the right to receive with the pips. Two notable things about this match: first, I misread a LOT of balls off his anti where I thought a flat block of topspin would give me backspin but it was actually closer to no-spin, and second, every set after the first went to deuce.

Won 4-2 against Don in a rematch! I think I did a better job targeting his elbow (where it's harder for him to block) the second time around, and definitely played the serve/return game better. I found I had better results serving long heavy-ish backspin than short, for whatever reason; I got him to dump it into the net a few times even receiving with his anti, though I'm not sure why. Maybe the faster ball sinks into the sponge more and thus wants to kick downward harder? I also missed a fair bit less this time around.

Was totally gassed when I got home.


Given your record against Don (whom I played quite a few times), estimate of 1300-1400 might not be too far off, but you are correct that club matches are not the same as tournaments, so it can be lower of course. IIRC, you did not play too many tournaments, so your current official rating is quite uncertain as well.

Have you tried to play your pips into Don's anti? It can be effective...

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PostPosted: 23 Feb 2019, 00:37 
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pgpg wrote:
Have you tried to play your pips into Don's anti? It can be effective...



I don't think I tried to do this intentionally - do you mean with a push or more of a bump/hit?

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PostPosted: 23 Feb 2019, 00:42 
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kaesees wrote:
pgpg wrote:
Have you tried to play your pips into Don's anti? It can be effective...



I don't think I tried to do this intentionally - do you mean with a push or more of a bump/hit?


Mostly sending LP balls into his anti - just like you probably struggle with no-spin balls into your pips, same is true for him. He's used to playing against inverted (just the way numbers work...), so probing this can be useful.

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PostPosted: 07 Mar 2019, 23:46 
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I didn't make it to the club last night as I gave a tweak to my preexisting lower back injury on Monday; I wasn't feeling particularly bad by Wednesday afternoon, but it's far better safe than sorry with this sort of thing. That's what I get for being slapdash with regards to doing the exercises I got assigned when I finished PT :headbang: I ordered the McKenzie book and plan to make fifteen minutes in my morning for this going forward, though.


That all being said, I forgot to post when I played last week. Perhaps because it was a forgettable outing :/ My W/L record wasn't bad, but I took about ninety minutes to get on a table, felt 'off' (esp. in my footwork) the whole night, played almost non-stop once I did get on the table, and I was totally gassed for the latter half. From my recollection:

Lost 0-4 or against Cotter, the guy who likes to lob. I think I took one game to deuce playing very defensively (pushing on both sides), but overall continued to struggle against him as I have in the past. The problem is he almost never initiates an attack (and if he does so it's because it's something very high and short), and when I initiate I usually can't put the first loop past him; from there, he starts putting variable sidespin on his lobs and I wind up losing the point by missing the table more than half the time. But when I don't initiate the attack, it's a real struggle for me to just continually push and not get frustrated. I probably need to work on all of: patience in pushing wars, making the first attack deadly, *and* doing better smashing against lobs to have success against him. My dropshot is also so bad as to be almost useless.

Won 4-3 against Isaiah, a lefty attacker. This was definitely my best match of the night, despite playing in a physically constrained area (the club was packed last week). I don't remember too many details other than that he had no compunction about getting into loop/chop rallies, and that I came back from 1-3.

Won 3-0 against Ji, a very senior penholder. We then did practice rallies for a while because nobody challenged the table (we were in the corner far away from where people who aren't playing sit). If he missed less the result would have been reversed, it seemed like he could aim for an open corner no matter where I put the ball.

Practiced for a while against Tao, a shakehand attacker who happens to be Ji's son. We play great matches but he was waiting on another table, so we just did practice rallies for about twenty minutes. I worked on my forehand chop, which definitely needed the work!, and mixed in some counterattacks, while Tao worked on a mix of FH and BH attacks.

Won 4-1 against Kelly, a novice attacker. I was pretty gassed by this point having been on the table for about two hours with no breaks, but I tried to give Kelly a fun match instead of bamboozling him with the pips.



In other news, I'm down something like 15 lbs since I started my diet about six weeks ago.

_________________
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My blog: "Two rubbers, one racket"
Kill the game against long Pimps with Coach Li!

Currently experimenting with short pips: VKMO + Xiom Vega China VM + TSP Super Spinpips Chop 1 (1.5)


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PostPosted: 30 Mar 2019, 04:45 
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I was too lazy forgot to post last week, but here's an update from Wednesday night. In retrospect, the night's theme was mental toughness.

Overall went 5-1.

Won 4-1 against Seth, a two-winged attacker who has beaten me in the great majority of our matches in the past. I lined up a couple of feet further back than usual when he was lined up to serve at my backhand, which wasn't foolproof but definitely helped in returning his long serves to the pips; in the past, he's killed me when I try to chop low fastballs from too close to the table. When I was serving, I did a mix of very short serves (I've been practicing keeping my wrist loose during contact lately) in the hope of third-ball attack opportunity and long serves in the hope that he would initiate a manageable attack that I could then chop. He missed more attacks on my chops than usual, usually missing long; not sure whether I was getting less backspin on my chops than usual or he was just having an off night in that regard.

Won 3-0 in a best-of-five against Liam, a junior attacker. He was doing a bunch of weird shenanigans that I suspect he was taught by his coach - waiting until I was starting my service motion before putting his hand up, saying things in an affected robotic voice, taking forever during towel breaks, taking breaks outside of the normal times when you're supposed to, etc. In any case, he was overly aggressive for his level of technique and looped or flicked a bunch of my FH and BH chops into the net, and gave me some strong attacking opportunities misreading spin on pushes (though this tapered off over the course of the match). I didn't want to lay into him because he's in his teens and he's not my kid, but I did ask him in the most tactful way that I could after the match what he was up to and he mentioned something about being taught to slow the pace of the game when you're down. He also mentioned that he'd had success against a chopper in his most recent tournament using some patterns that he'd been taught.

Won 4-1 against Victor, a forehand-dominant attacker. I've played him a few times before and I'm pretty sure I've won each time. He made a lot of pushing errors early on before transitioning to attacking more frequently. After the transition we had some nice loop-chop and topspin-topspin rallies, and I came out on top at the end. Fun match for both of us, I think.

Won 4-0 against Earl, an attacker whom I had never played before (other players told me he plays more at another club). Because this was our first time playing, I made a point of telling him my red side was long pips during the warmup. The first two games were very close with a mix of close-to-the-table and back-from-the-table play, but during the third game I pulled away and he started getting pretty vocal with himself about errors he was making and by the fourth game he was yelling after every point he lost. He nearly skipped the handshake at the end, which unnerved me a bit but what are you going to do?

Won 4-0 against Kiran, a novice attacker. I don't think anybody's ever told him how hitting up before the match is supposed to work, because he kept trying to hit winners all over the table when I would feed him normal topspin balls to the FH corner to warm up. Don came to the club much later than usual while we were warming up and called next on the table, then complained after about two minutes that we were taking too long, but I was only happy to oblige him because it's frustrating trying to warm somebody up who continually swings for the fences. In retrospect, I should have talked to him about it, but I'd been playing for about two hours with no breaks at this point and was kind of mentally drained. In any case, he made all the normal beginner mistakes against long pips and lost in pretty short order.

Lost 3-4 against Don, who was playing with anti on the BH tonight. He blew me off the table in the first game (I think 4-11 or so), then I won the second game by about 11-8, then I blew him out the next two games. I had a lot of success picking on his BH side with no- or low-spin shots from my pips, as pgpg suggested in this thread not too long ago, as well as looping at his middle. I was also doing better than usual in using the inverted to return the lefty backhand sidespin serve to my very wide forehand that he likes to do. I was up 5-1 in the 5th game when a disappointing incident occurred. According to my recollection, it was his serve at 1-5, I won the point, the ball went far into another court, and after waiting a minute or so for players at the other court to throw it back Don called out the score as 2-6. Before he initiated his serving motion, I held my hand up and told him that the score was 1-6. He then argued with me, saying that he knew he had scored two points. I mentioned that a score of 2-6 was impossible because it was his second serve and the sum of the scores couldn't be an even number, which he rolled his eyes at but then said nothing and served. I attacked his serve and won the point (making it 7-1 and my serve), after which he reopened the argument with increasing volume. Now, I was just about 100% certain that my recollection of the score was correct, and he said he was just as confident in his recollection. He started implying (but not outright saying) that I was lying and had cheated him of a point, which got me pretty mad internally; arguing by insinuation instead of making a forthright accusation is one of my biggest pet peeves in the world. I did my level best to keep my temper in check, not raise my voice, and reason with him, but after a few minutes of continued disagreement over the score I threw my hands up and just said it was 6-2, my serve. In retrospect, I gave him at least one free point here - even going by his version of events the score should have been 7-2 despite the odd sum on a change of serve - but at the time in spite of my best efforts I wasn't thinking clearly. After play resumed I made a series of bad unforced errors (missed three smashes in a row on balls hanging about two feet directly above the net!), lost six straight points to go down 6-8, and ended up losing the game 10-12. I then lost the next game 10-12 and lost the final game 14-16. It's hard for me to say whether my mental state was right during these last three games, after being pretty steamed from the argument and also mentally tired from being on the table for six straight matches with no breaks. But even saying that to myself sounds like an excuse for a lack of mental toughness in my inability to close out a match against an opponent whom I've been splitting matches with for the last month or two.

Sorry for writing a sequel to war and peace, but that's how my night went on Wednesday. The acrimony at the end (especially with a player whom I consider more of a friend than an acquaintance) left a very bad taste in my mouth on my way out the door, but with another day's distance it was a very good night overall.

Also, with the benefit of hindsight I should have yielded the table after about the 3rd or 4th match despite having won, because it's probably not beneficial to go so long without taking a break.

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Kill the game against long Pimps with Coach Li!

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PostPosted: 24 Jul 2019, 23:11 
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I should mention, I've mostly been keeping to my normal schedule of daily play at work during lunch and once-a-week play at the club. I feel like my progress has stagnated, partly because that's only about 5-6 hours per week of total play and partly because it's all matches/no drills and roughly half of it is playing against pretty low level guys. Does anybody have tips for getting people to do practice sessions at a club? The winner-runs-the-table system precludes it for most of the night.

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Kill the game against long Pimps with Coach Li!

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PostPosted: 10 Aug 2019, 02:01 
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I played pretty well at the club the last couple of weeks. Did alright against same or higher level players both in "pushing war" mode, and by taking the initiative and attacking my way out of pushing wars. Had one fantastic win against a good penhold attacker from China who tended to serve long to my BH and attacked continuously at both wings throughout the rally.

That being said, I decided to experiment with short pips and slapped a sheet of 802 on the hardest sponge I could find on my spare VKMO. I'm going to try playing with it both at work and at the club for a month or two to see if I can adapt to the SP chopping style, and whether I like SP chopping. My goal here is to get improved pushing and greater variation on my BH chop compared to P1R. If it doesn't work, I'm out about fifteen bucks. I got a second sheet, but the manufacturer screwed up the glue job between the topsheet and the sponge so I can't put it on a racket immediately. After I contact the AliExpress seller, I might pull the topsheet off the sponge and try some other sponge under it. I'll have to learn how to glue a topsheet to sponge first, though. Also, I have to find somewhere that sells a decent variety of sponges. None of the stuff on Cole's looks promising for what I'm trying to do.

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Kill the game against long Pimps with Coach Li!

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PostPosted: 03 Oct 2019, 23:10 
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I should report that the SP experiment seems like mostly a failure at this point. Controlling chops is more difficult but that's not my biggest problem. The major issue is that my basic bread-and-butter BH chop has a little less backspin, and my "under pressure" BH chop has a lot less, and I'm making zero progress with intentional variation (sidespin, floats, etc) to make up for it. The added attacking possibilities are nice, and I beat a much-higher-rated guy for the first time ever because of them, but without a lot more practice time than I actually get they're wasted; this is also true of the BH chop variation now that I think of it. If I switch back to P1R I think all I'll miss is the way 802 pushes.

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Kill the game against long Pimps with Coach Li!

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PostPosted: 26 Feb 2020, 05:46 
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Subscribing to your blog now because you're also experimenting with SPs and as a thank for posting in mine. ;)

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PostPosted: 03 Mar 2020, 01:01 
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Had an OK afternoon at the club on Saturday. Lost to the two players that I played who were way above my level, won 2 of the 3 matches I played with opponents near my level. My only complaint is that one opponent didn't pay attention during the warm-up when I said, twice, that I was trying SPs on the black side this week, and acted surprised after losing the first two games that I wasn't using LPs. I even blocked with the SPs during the entire BH/BH part of the warmup, I don't understand how you don't figure out what's going on after hitting probably close to a hundred balls off the pips but whatever. In any case, the reason I won that match was because she had a lot of trouble with my serve which of course was done with the inverted rubber.

Got a pretty good practice session chopping with SSPC1 in with one of the much-higher-level guys. At my current state of development, the flow of a loop-chop rally is different than with P1r: a good opponent is comparatively more likely to net or over-lift a chop early in the rally, and comparatively less likely later in the rally. Control is not nearly so difficult as it was with 802.

One thing I'd really like to work on is variety in my pushes, and really understanding how SP pushing works. I know that good SP players can generate either decent backspin or a float ball when pushing a backspin ball, but I don't know how it's done. Is is purely in how much wrist you use? And also, sometimes it seems like the opponent's backspin 'bites' into my pips much more than other times - what determines this? Is it just the level of backspin they give me, or that plus my racket angle, or is speed a factor?

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PostPosted: 03 Mar 2020, 03:38 
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I've been using spectol blue 1.5 for chopping now, which is a bit less spinny than the ssc you have. I think those are easier to float/push low spin than with the spinnier stuff, but harder to add more spin with smaller movements.

For putting less spin, I think there's about 2 schools of thought on it. One is to use a stiff wrist and chop/push the ball, which does add some spin but generally not a ton. You do the same motion again, yet this time you use a loose wrist and really let it snap across the ball in a whip-like action. That generates a lot more spin (think of pendulum serves etc. using the wrist and not a whole lot of arm).

The other way to go about it is by 'bumping' into the ball, as opposed to brushing. You just change the racket angle a bit and try to replicate a chop motion, only avoid brushing as much or at all. Same for pushing. Bump vs brush and everything in-between. At higher levels it doesn't seem to matter much, but in the lower side of things... side spin pushes or chops can throw people off. You can also try corkscrew pushes or chops on slower balls.

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PostPosted: 03 Mar 2020, 06:25 
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kaesees wrote:
One thing I'd really like to work on is variety in my pushes, and really understanding how SP pushing works. I know that good SP players can generate either decent backspin or a float ball when pushing a backspin ball, but I don't know how it's done. Is is purely in how much wrist you use? And also, sometimes it seems like the opponent's backspin 'bites' into my pips much more than other times - what determines this? Is it just the level of backspin they give me, or that plus my racket angle, or is speed a factor?


Yes, the amount of wrist is crucial if you want to push with a lot of spin or no spin at all. Just think like with an inverted.

I think it is a combination of the amount of backspin and the ideal or less than ideal position you're in. Less quality of your own stroke equals more biting of the opponent's push.

How does the control compare between P1-R and SSPC I when it comes to heavy slow loops and fast spinny ones? In the sens of absorbing the power of the ball?

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PostPosted: 03 Mar 2020, 06:53 
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skilless_slapper wrote:
I've been using spectol blue 1.5 for chopping now, which is a bit less spinny than the ssc you have. I think those are easier to float/push low spin than with the spinnier stuff, but harder to add more spin with smaller movements.


How is the spectol blue compared with other versions of spectol for chopping? I think Hang Ying used spectol blue aswell


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