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PostPosted: 23 Jul 2018, 09:19 
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LordCope wrote:
...I can now score in Russian. I just need to learn how to swear ;)


You are doing it wrong - should've started with swearing. :)

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PostPosted: 23 Jul 2018, 11:39 
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Well done LC, sounds like a great experience. You know that whenever we have a good result we tend to say that the opposition weren't that good. I'm guilty of it when running. If I get a podium or a win I tend to think that there was none of the good racers there. Remember though that to all the people you beat, you are the good player. All you can do is show up on the day and see what happens. On another day, who knows, you might have lost several of those matches.

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PostPosted: 24 Jul 2018, 09:51 
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LordCope wrote:

... a person who makes a living as a coach turned up. My new friend had suggested I might have a session with him, and I felt it would be worth a go, even if only for some sparring.

The language barrier was significant, and he didn't seem to have any interest in trying to "teach" me anything. We did some fh/bh warming up, and I chopped for him for a while, then we did some free play, and ended with some matches. He won all the matches, but I got to 9 or 10 a couple of times. He was obviously a pretty decent player in his time, but is unfit and doesn't compete any more, but his touch was good, and he had some very good shots.
...


This is something I've recently become aware of as far as TT culture differences between countries is concerned. You were expecting 'coaching' (and I don't blame you...), but you've got 'sparring' instead, that is a higher level practice partner.

Coach is trying to actively teach you something, sparring partner is simply there to put ball back on the table for the drill you are interested in, but you have to pay in either case. The latter is pretty much non-existent here in the US (at least in the commercial sense in the area where I am in), not sure about UK, but it seems to be the norm in Russia etc. I guess once you have decent number of high level semi-pro players, they have to make a living somehow, and so this becomes a way to do so. I could be wrong, but that looks like you ended up with here: 'coaching' and 'practice' are more or less interchangeable in Russian meaning of the word 'тренировка'.

For other aspect of TT club differences: in many places in Russia you are renting a table by an hour, be it for a lesson with a coach, or just hitting with a buddy. Obviously no way you can have a 'challenge' system so common in US - you OWN the table for a certain time. So - no such thing as going to a club on a whim like I do here when I feel like it and playing whoever is there, it becomes more of a structured TT date. Don't know if that's what you encountered in Minsk, though.

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PostPosted: 24 Jul 2018, 20:15 
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pgpg wrote:
You were expecting 'coaching' (and I don't blame you...), but you've got 'sparring' instead, that is a higher level practice partner.


To be fair I would rather have sparring than coaching from a random, unless I know the coach has a particular expertise. While there's always value in listening to high level players and coaches, I've come to the view that too many cooks can really spoil the broth, esp. when it comes to developing technique.

Quote:
The latter is pretty much non-existent here in the US (at least in the commercial sense in the area where I am in), not sure about UK, but it seems to be the norm in Russia etc. I guess once you have decent number of high level semi-pro players, they have to make a living somehow, and so this becomes a way to do so.


Yes, pretty rare in the UK, but does happen, and I think possible on the increase.

Quote:
'coaching' and 'practice' are more or less interchangeable in Russian meaning of the word 'тренировка'.


Yep, so I explicitly asked for тренировка, anticipating that to mean "training" not "coaching".

Quote:
For other aspect of TT club differences: in many places in Russia you are renting a table by an hour, be it for a lesson with a coach, or just hitting with a buddy. Obviously no way you can have a 'challenge' system so common in US - you OWN the table for a certain time. So - no such thing as going to a club on a whim like I do here when I feel like it and playing whoever is there, it becomes more of a structured TT date. Don't know if that's what you encountered in Minsk, though.


At the centre, I just gave the coach some money (not much) for his time. It was mid/late afternoon, and there was nobody else around. On Saturday I think my friend had booked 2 hrs of the coach's time, but shared it with me, very kindly. I hope I can return the favour this weekend...

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PostPosted: 30 Jul 2018, 04:01 
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I had the opportunity to have a two hour session with Dmitry Chumakov, member of the 2003 European Team Championship-winning Belarus squad, alongside, of course, forum favourite Evgueni Chtchetinine.

I greeted him and introduced myself in Russian and was surprised that he replied in excellent English. We went into his gym, where I'd already trainined on saturday, and after gettting changed and a bit of physical warm up, we were ready to start.

We began with touch-to-touch play, with him constantly reminding me it's *touch* - we're looking for feeling, minimum force possible. I'm increasingly of the view this is one of the most important things to work on - feeling, in the fingers.

Next we did some FH - drives and topspins. A big emphasis from Chumakov on using the legs and body, synchronising with arm and wrist. Adding accelaration with the hand at the point of touch. He also commented that my ready position was much too bent over - making it very hard to use legs, and the ground for propulsion. I need to work on this very hard, because it will feel very strange, but is an important correction.

He made an interesting point here -- many players use a lot of energy before and after hitting the ball. Optimal is to explode energy at the point of contact. Of course there needs to be preparation and follow-through, but the maximum acceleration should be at contact. This makes sense if you think of other sports - golf, archery, snooker - you're coiling back, and exploding forwards. The other point was to *pause*. When playing a topspin shot we can wait just a little - we're a bit away from the table, and have more time than we realise - time to coil and prepare, remembering - power from the legs.

We did the same with BH, and again, the emphasis on using the legs to generate spin. I'd never really thought about this on my BH, but I tried it, and it did make a difference. Here once more, my ready position tends to be leaning too far forwards, which is bad for balance, and makes it hard to use the legs.

Now we were warmed up, he asked me what I wanted to work on. I explained that I'd like to develop a clear distinction between my FH topspin and my FH hit, because I feel that most of the time I tend to do a hybrid, which is neither a fast direct hit, nor a loaded topspin. Chumakov thought this was very interesting, and asked me to show him my FH hit. He thought it was ok, but used too much body - it should be a smaller faster movement with my wrist. He said my FH topspin was good as long as I waited just a little longer and made sure I used my legs, and a snap of the hand. He said in his opinion, with the plastic ball, the best way to attack is with a mixture of hit and spin, and that most players struggle to do this, but thanks to my years of SP play, I had a pretty decent FH hit. So we worked on some hits for a bit - short backswing, massive acceleration, and then mixing with topspin. Balls to my fh and middle, and my shots to each corner.

An interesting comment he made was that I was often over-keen to hit the ball. That is I wanted to rush into the shot, so as to reduce the amount of time he had. He pointed out that this really isn't necessary and often isn't helpful. When I did this my shots tended to be in the middle of the table, and easy to block. If I waited just a moment, I was better able to place the shot. He also said that when an attacker pauses for a moment, it has a very significant psychological effect - like a striker advancing on a goal-keeper - the goal keeper isn't sure which way the ball with go, and the pressure is on. The same is so - when you pause, the defender will have unconscious doubts - where will the ball go? This is a powerful thing to use.

Another correction on my hitting technique was to keep my elbow down and locked. My elbow tends to go up - we did some exercises with resistance bands to drill the idea of keeping the elbow low and strong, and this helped a lot.

Then we did something I've never done before. Chumakov asked me to hit chopped balls. I complained that I would never do that. I would open up against a chopped ball and hit the return. Chumakov asked me to do it anyway. He assured me if I got the angle right, even against a heavy chop I could hit it. We practiced for a while, and sure enough I was able to hit chopped balls. Next we moved into an exercise with movement, in which I had to hit chopped balls. This was much harder, of course, but I still felt I was making progress.

I asked about this as a strategy, and Chumakov explained that in his view, with the plastic ball, it's hard to generate enough spin against a push or chop to make it threatening - that a good player could attack an open-up. A hit against a push/chop (which also has somewhat less rotation with the new ball) is possible and much much harder to counter-attack. His view was to invert the paradigm of spin first, hit second, and try hit first, spin second.

Next he asked me to push a top-spin serve, and then chop a topspin, which he'd push, and again, I'd hit. At this point he had a number of things to say. He said that when I got into a good position, my chops were good, but I would often get into position and find my position wasn't quite right, and then my chops would lack control and spin. To remedy this, he suggested I try to get into the habit of moving with smaller movements - "mouse steps", he called them. Be lighter and faster on feet and be prepared to adjust. Same on FH - pay attention to footwork *after* the shot to make sure I'm still balanced and able to move in any direction. He also I needed to use my legs more in chopping. Just as in fh topspin, I need to drive up and forwards with legs, in a chop, I need to go down with legs as I move. I tried this, and it had a big effect.

After this we played some games - we had time for four. The first three I got 7, 6, and 7, but in the last he upped his game and I only got 2.

His comment after the games was that I needed to work a *lot* on my serves - with better serves and a follow-up plan I could add three or four points a game - by not giving away points, and by creating opportinities. A big focus on improving my serves would take me to the next level. Against anybody who can confidently attack a long or half-long serve, I'm in trouble. My long serves aren't fast enough or spinny enough, and I do them too often. My half-long serves are ok, but only one or two a game if that - make them a surprise. My short no-spin serve is good, but I need to mix it with a variety of spinny short serves. My attempts at spinny short serves usally drift long, and are very easy to attack. Additionally when I recover to reasy, I'm leaving too much FH open - I should either pivot more aggressively, or start my serve from further over. Again, use of legs and body momentum is important - I'd get a lot more spin this way. Additionally, I seem to lack a plan after my serve - I need to know what I am expecting in return, and have a point strategy. Service return wasn't bad, and BH service return was sometimes quite good. FH service return needs to be more relaxed and less jerky.

Overall a very worthwhile session - lots to think about and work on.

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PostPosted: 26 Jan 2019, 19:55 
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Wow long time no report. I barely played in the second half of last year - mainly because I was just too busy. Didn't train either. Trained quite a bit over xmas, and this month I've joined a team in the central london league, just to get some match play, and to help them out, as their number one has a long term injury. It's a lower level than I'm used to, which should be interesting. The standard is very varied - despite being in the lower half of a 7 league competition, the strength within this division varies from on a par with the middle third of the top division where I used to play, down to bottom tier of that competition. I think it may be a function of a busy league with new teams of strong players entering, and fighting their way up.

I've played three matches for my team, and played up in the division above once.

First match I played, we played the top of the league side, who have never lost. I beat their #3 easily, and chopped the #2 into submission. Was well beaten by their #1 - very promising youngster who played cleverly and generated a hell of a lot of spin. Good match. I played in the doubles, and we won the match!

Then I played up, and won 2/3 again - didn't play very well - lots and lots of mistakes. Their #1 played well tactically, and I didn't respond well.

Then last Friday I played my first home match. The venue is *terrible* - white walls, no barriers between tables, so balls and players everywhere; no barriers at the back of the court either - people just walking by, and bags in the way. Really really put me off, and I played absolutely terribly. Lost a match I would normally win in my sleep. Came close to losing the second, but just pulled it back, and lost the third, ignominiously. Against really average players. I was furious, and left early, and was really close to just not playing again. Shocking conditions, and terrible mental resilience from me.

Over the weekend I reflected on it, and thought about different mindsets. Didn't train this week, but the club manager texted me to ask if I would play last night, and I decided I would, as a service - as a favour, not for me, but for him. This really helped reframe things. I also decided that I would play to minimise mistakes. So basically defend, and keep the ball in play - not go for shots. The opposition wasn't very strong, but it was a very interesting experience. I didn't drop a game, and on average lost 3.7 points a game. I didn't hit a single winner - chopped, pushed, bumped, and blocked. Felt very satisfying, with quiet a few long, patient rallies. Also I knew what to expect from the conditions, and was patient and unfazed by it, which helped a great deal. Felt really pleased to have responded well, albeit against not terribly challenging opposition.

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Last edited by LordCope on 26 Jan 2019, 20:05, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: 26 Jan 2019, 20:00 
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Oh, and not for EJ purposes, but because my M1 had lost a lot of its grip, I replaced it. Normally get Donic because of club discount, but I'm playing for a different club now, and didn't renew membership, so just grabbed some T05 from Tees Sport because they could deliver in 24 hrs. Slightly prefer it for FH chops and short game.

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PostPosted: 04 Apr 2019, 03:30 
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The season has ended! I finished on 80%, fifth highest in the division. Unfortunately my team missed out on promotion by one point... if only I'd joined at the start of the season!

I played in one tournament, and put in a solid performance - comfortably beating those seeded beneath me, and putting up a strong fight in against two people ranked significantly higher than me - losing in 5 at the last, in both cases.

I'm hoping to get some more tournaments in over the summer, and will play some summer league for a bit of fun. Also planning a couple of camps - maybe B75, or maybe another trip back to Setubal. Also have a training weekend coming up shortly with Hannah Hicks and Carl Prean.

I found my tripod with its phone adapter this afternoon, so I may even get to record some stuff.

I'm still training every weekend, and I feel like my consistency and reliability in defence is improving, and in matches I'm now confident to invite an attack, to go back and chop and then turn defence into attack.

The only equipment news is that after a few complaints about my "brown" rubber (Hellfire OX is quite translucent, and my blade is blue, so the colour shows through), I've switched to black pips and red inverted FH. It may be complete coincidence, but the red Tenergy seems more vulnerable... I've only been using it for a couple of weeks, and there are some cracks/crumbles, which saddens me.

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PostPosted: 05 Apr 2019, 00:41 
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I just read your posts from your time in Minsk. Very interesting stuff.

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PostPosted: 18 Jul 2019, 07:37 
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An interesting accidental EJ adventure to relate....

I'm mostly based in and working in London these days, where I also train, so all my kit is there. I visit the family home at the weekend, but quite often won't have time to play TT, so don't bother bringing any stuff with me. I stayed longer than expected and on tue afternoon fancied a knock, and the old tues session of years gone by is still on, so I thought I'd pop along. One challenge: no equipment!

I had a rummage around and found some shorts and a t-shirt... but no shoes. More rummaging in the garage found my first ever TT shoes! They went in the bag. Now... what to play with? More rummaging... unearthed a pile of old rubbers, my daughter's bat (which had been sitting outside for a few years), and a slightly damaged spare barwell fleet, with no rubbers.

I sorted through the rubbers... several SPs, some old perished useless inverted rubbers, some old/thin chopping inverted rubbers, and nothing much else.

Next problem: my glue had dried up. I found some sheets of dtecs ox with gluesheets attached, but they were the wrong size for my daughter's bat. Finally I found a sheet of FL2 in 1.1mm, which was sticky enough to use, so I ripped off one inverted and stuck it on my daughter's bat, and went to play.

It was.... alright. I think the blade is a bit damaged... it felt inconsistent and rattly. The fh was dead, and couldn't generate much pace, and the fl2 felt kinda neutral/boring. I played for a while with it, but one of the fellows there said I could borrow one of his spares. He had a generic double inverted, and a 'fast' inverted. I tried the double inverted - it was fine, but I was missing my LP. Then... the old fellow I've known for years turned up. He uses a fast balsa/carbon blade, with inverted on one side and dtecs ox on the other. And he always has a spare. So I borrowed his for the rest of the session. Was very different from my setup - the fast balsa/carbon blade and dtecs combo was very potent. Not so good for FH topspin, but cracking for hitting.

Then today my old coach pinged me just to say hi, and we agreed to play this evening. I couldn't face using my daughter's bat, so I poked about a bit more and found a sheet of 802-40 which was sticky enough to stick on my barwell fleet. I was resigned to having to play with sp on one side... when I remember the guy with the spare 'fast' bat. I called him up, and he said I could have it on permanent loan. Turns out it's a Yinhe T11 (not the plus.... so the 3+2). He also had an almost unused sheet of AK47. I bought some glue on the way back from collecting the blade, and stuck the AK47 on one side, and a dtecs ox (which did fit this blade) with the already attached glue sheet.

Took it to play tonight... what can I say! Very favourably impressed! FH was ok... not much dwell time, so I guess I might recommend a softer/slower fh rubber, but pretty ok. But the dteces was very good - not just for close-to-the-table blocking - but away from the table chopping it really excelled! I landed chop after chop... low, spinny, hard to return, on fh and bh.

FH was "ok". I definitely prefer my standard barwell fleet / t05 .... but it wasn't bad at all. But BH with LP was really remarkably good. So good I'm genuinely tempted to rethink. Of course, many variables, and it's one session, but this was the most comfortable and confident I've felt defending with my LP for a long time.

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PostPosted: 20 Jul 2019, 07:55 
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Had a second session with the accidental bat on Thursday night. Not against very strong players, but gave me a chance to experiment. Overall I was still pleased with the dtecs/t11 combo, and in my mind favoured it over the barwell fleet/hellfire that I've used for years now. FH is suspicious. Flat hits are lethal - they go like a rocket. But... this setup encourages me to hit, which is not such a good strategy against better players, and tends to lose me points. And I didn't like it for more controlled shots as much.

Tonight I had the chance to train with my very good friend who's a UK band 3 and 4 player, and is circa 300 in the UK. In advance, I hunted a bit more to see if I had another inverted I could use, so I could get the spare barwell fleet with dtecs ox into a usable state. I dug out an old TSP triple spin chop and glued it on.

First ten mins with the inverted it felt a bit slow and a bit odd, so I changed back to the fast one, which was a bit more familiar, but did feel somewhat lively. Then I chopped on fh and bh with the t11 - was very good, as before. I changed to the barwell fleet, and found this was very secure too. A little less effect than the t11, but had the same feeling of security, so I've concluded this is a function of the dtecs, really. Interesting, as I'd used dtecs before... but I'm a much much better player now, and maybe I just wasn't ready for it then?

Played some conditional matches, which I won, and then a bunch of practice games... I won one, lost about three circa 15-13, and the other two maybe 11-8/11-7. Was pretty pleased with myself.

Then played some practice games with another friend... also a band 3/4 player. I won 3 and he won 5, but all but two of those went to deuce.

Finally played with a guy I'd not played before. He's a solid top level local league player... we played a match. I was 2-1 and 5-3 up, but threw it away to lose 11-9 in the 5th. I was tired and started making silly mistakes.

Overall impression was interesting. I stayed with the blade I know well. The dtecs worked very well on this blade. So well that I think I'll make that a permanent change. I certainly won't change blades - but it was an interesting experience using the T11.

More interesting was how the TSP Triple Spin Chop worked -- very well indeed. This has long been one of my favourite rubbers that I've dabbled with. It's superb for serving, and service return. I can flat hit with it, very dangerously, but I can also roll/spin against push or chop. I'm not a looper - much more a driver/hitter, but with controlled topspin. Worked beautifully on both fh and bh. Also excellent for blocking, and I chopped on fh and bh with it sometimes. BH hits were super crisp, and BH topspins against push, and FH against push and chop were secure. I'm going to train again on Sunday before I head back to London, so I'll see how it goes there, but again, it didn't feel like it lacked anything compared to my usual thin-sponged modern inverted, and if anything felt better controlled.

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Read my blog: "LordCope's Latest Learnings Log": http://ooakforum.com/viewtopic.php?f=58&t=24452


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PostPosted: 22 Jul 2019, 17:26 
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Had an intensive 2 hr training session this morning, which gave me a chance to put the triple spin chop through its paces... interesting stuff. Main observations are:

- For general control it's super - I can place the ball well, with plenty of spin, when not under pressure
- Attacking a heavy push with my fh is certainly possible, and generates a lot of spin, but the action required is very energetic - much like using a traditional chinese rubber - you absolutely have to commit to shot fully - it's very unforgiving of a half-hearted shot. It's also necessary to brush the ball finely - a thick contact won't go over the net.
- Blocking is very good, fh and bh... although perhaps a little on the slow side if blocking for a training partner
- Flat hitting is excellent, and very fast
- Chopping on the fh is excellent - produces absolutely loaded chops; bh needs a bit of work, but I rarely chop with inverted on my bh
- Service is excellent - as expected, much like a sticky Chinese rubber
- Similarly service return - good touch

In fact, comparing to HaggisV's review here: https://tabletennis-reviews.com/tsp-tri ... ge-review/ I'd say I agree entirely with his findings.

The main concern is that after two hours I was feeling rather more tired, because against push/chop I really need to work hard to commit to the open-up, with a burst of energy and very fast arm speed and wrist snap. This is a double-edge sword. On one hand it's sort of forcing me to commit to every shot - if I don't, the ball is just in the net. And when I do commit, the shot quality is excellent. However, compared to Tenergy 05 1.7, which is my regular daily drive, the amount of energy needed is huge. Tenergy is much much more forgiving of half shots and tired technique.

If I were to compare the two, I'd say I prefer the TSP in all but this area, but this area is a big part of my game. I'll chop or chop/block depending on the player, aiming to get a push, which I'll open up against, and then start to attack. If need be I'll reset with LP, or go back and chop, but at some point the opponent will push, and I'll need to come in and open up, and try to take control of the rally. In a long match, or a tournament, or even in a long point, I wonder if the extra effort needed with the TSP would get too tiring. Or maybe I'd just adapt.

Perhaps there's a middle way - eg a standard tacky chinese rubber with a bit more sponge... but I feel like everything else this rubber does is so nice, I'd rather just put in the effort on fitness/strength/technique. I feel like it wouldn't be wasted effort.

Actually, I'd be very interested in HaggisV's perspective, since he has used thin(ish) and tacky/sticky FH rubbers for a long time.

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PostPosted: 22 Jul 2019, 22:37 
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Dark Knight
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Blade: Trinity Carbon
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I tend to agree... it's awesome for spin and control, but takes a lot of effort to loop backspin. Although something like Tenergy makes this a lot easier, I found that the opponents had more trouble TSP, because it was slow and very spinny, instead of medium pace and not quite so spinny. For me this wins me more points, but it might be different for you. I think you need to work out what's more important for you.
I've since changed to Victas 401, which is someone in between in speed, and not as tacky. Although the topsheet is relatively soft, the sponge is hard and the rubber heavy... not for everyone.

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PostPosted: 24 Jul 2019, 14:57 
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Blade: Donic Li Ping Kitex
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BH: Tibhar Grass Dtecs 0.5
Still haven't been able to collect my regular kit... so soldiering on with the slightly unusual stuff.

For the sake of experiment, I stuck the other triple spin chop on the T11 . Annoyingly it's black, which meant I had to remove the dtecs, and I didn't have a red dtecs free, so slapped on a sheet of Pogo in OX. Not used this for ages and ages and didn't get on with it before.

Went to tuesday social, and mostly played doubles, but did get a chance to hit a bit with PG (bottom third of top local league), and then play some practice games to compare.

Overall, there's still something very nice about the way the balsa/carbon plays with the pips. FH was much more controlled with the slow rubber, and seemed to be easier to brush, but still didn't feel as secure or controlled as the barwell fleet.

An interesting data point to chart my development as a player:

When I first started playing league I played PG a few times, and he beat me very easily. I used to practice with him, and he could just keep the ball going and play at less than 50% and still win.

In my first season in the top flight I played him in my first match... and threw away a 2-1 10-4 lead to lose 3-2.

I played him last Tuesday and won 3-0. Yesterday I made him serve every point, and won 3-0 with both bats, and 3-0 alternating.

To people just starting and finding local players that seem massively out of reach - it does come... with time and hard work.

The other thing I noticed was how easily I adapted to the Pogo.

Again, this, I am certain, is a function of having played with hellfire for so long - I'm just a much more accomplished LP player now, with a bunch of experience... which I can now apply elsewhere.

Pogo felt nice - a bit grippier than the dtecs, not as disturbing when close to the table, and nice for chopping.

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Read my blog: "LordCope's Latest Learnings Log": http://ooakforum.com/viewtopic.php?f=58&t=24452


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PostPosted: 27 Jul 2019, 17:41 
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I have just discovered your awesome blog. It is great to read through, thanks man! The bit about opponents seeming absolutely out of reach when starting out is motivating and true for beginners in many areas I think. And thanks for the detailed description of your training sessions. I have to take notes!! Mouse steps, don't bend forward too much, etc. :up: :rock:


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