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PostPosted: 17 Sep 2021, 00:05 
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NextLevel wrote:

A lot of people have said great things already. The biggest thing that stood out for me is that you didn't lose any points to the short serve double bouncing and I suspect that some of them would have come long. Don't injure yourself but you probably should practice against the racket-breaking half long balls on both forehand backhand but especially on forehand, because you did a great job when you hit the forehand opener. One of the benefits of this is that while you don't get that lovely short push, you do get to see whether an opponent really serves backspin and some of those topspin serves you popped up would have come long into your strike zone.

For your backhand, I think you tried to contact the ball too squarely on the openers vs backspin. Even with all the issues you had with mechanics, you could have just added some off center contact and made some of those shots with sidespin into the forehand. You should probably practice some chiquita or the over-the-table backhand loop if you can, it isn't entirely necessary but it will give you a different understanding of the backhand for sure.


Thanks NL, good points. Definitely could've gotten in more on those serves.

By too squarely I'm guessing you mean too much in the center of the bat? And that I should try contacting more towards the tip of the bat? I want to improve my BH flick, I used to do it a lot - even if it was very arm oriented. Now I'm not quite sure how to execute it even after having watched many videos on it, but that contact point tip could be a way forward with it.


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PostPosted: 20 Sep 2021, 08:30 
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Richfs wrote:
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Richfs wrote:
I recently played a tournament and lost 2-3 in the quarter finals. It was a close and really good game and I thought I generally played well. I've been trying to make my backhand less arm dependent but as the match shows I'm clearly not bowing down low enough. In my mind I'm bowing more than I really am and feel that I have no time to bow deeper - and if I do it it feels like I'll be too late. Maybe because I need to start the movement much earlier? I'm also confused about the arm structure of the BH. I also don't know how to push off with my legs for the BH. On the BH blocks I hit out I also think I'm bowing but I'm clearly not.

It feels to me like my racket is rarely pointing towards my stomach on my BH compared to before when I'd whip my wrist back more. I know it should happen with the momentum from the body usage, but what should I aim for?

I also think I can get a bit lower for my FH open ups and could probably get more points there. But there I have the same issue as opening with the BH - I believe that I'm bending lower than I really am and don't feel like I have time to get lower than I am.

Maybe I'm at times too close to the table?

I was a bit nervous at the start of the match and I did get frustrated missing some shots, but I managed to regain my focus better than usual. I'm trying to improve the negative body language, it's a strong habit.

My FH feels more stable than ever, but I'm also using the same shot/backswing for every ball and don't have a very adaptable swing.. like for semi high balls.

Appreciate any thoughts :D

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jpzwDOE5luw


Hey Rich,

Thanks for posting the match. Thanks to everyone for their comments.

I'm going to start by answering the question that most players really want to know - how could I have won the match?

Let's assume for now that you have no interest in improving your tt mechanics and you just want "the tactics". In other words, if you were to play this match again right now, how could you win. Or if I was sitting on your bench, what would I say between games. The answer is, you should often topspin the first ball to your opponent's middle and forehand side. This alone would probably have been enough to win the match against this opponent. Watch this point https://youtu.be/jpzwDOE5luw?t=1099 That first forehand topspin should be down the middle or into the forehand. Your opponent hopes you topspin to his backhand every time so he can make his favourite backhand block. As it stands today, your forehand naturally goes to the backhand most of time.

The above is the simple type of advice that I give to professional players in matches. Just serve more to this position and start attacking more to that position. Or do this return more and attack more to this position. It's rarely more complex than this. I have almost never given technical advice in a match.

It's a funny thing when someone posts a match and asks for broad advice. It's a little bit like posting a video of one's entire life and asking how they should have lived. I find it incredibly complex to watch a match and summarize everything I'm seeing to give effective advice. Sure, I could have said just topspin more to the forehand and left it there.

People send me matches and I just watch the points and get worried about how I'm going to respond to the 10+ years of training that I'm seeing. Surely just saying the you swing back too early on your forehand or you don't twist your legs/hips doesn't really change the story, or does it?

I see all of the stuff that Maurice posted. The kinetic chain principles he is getting at aren't well understood in tt and they are something I'm deeply interest in. In most sports these principals are a fair bit clearer and more broadly understood. When doing a free throw in basketball, you should bend your knees and then straighten them. As the knees are straightening, the hand comes back down over the eyes somewhere (against the force of your upward leg push) and you then you flick the ball out towards the ring. On a tennis serve, you lean your body back and then snap your body forward. As you snap your body forward, your racket goes backwards, and then forward to strike the ball https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A-Hcgjz1uow . As Federer turns his right hip forward, the racket goes backwards against the hip turn, before snapping forward at uncontrollably fast speeds https://youtu.be/EFY460oquXw?t=67 All of this stuff is a lot less clear in tt, so it's not commonly discussed. Because it's so much tighter in tt, the differences this stuff makes can't possibly be as significant as a correct tennis serve.

Let's get back to Rich. He's a good tt player who can improve on absolutely everything he is does, imo. I believe I see ways he can improve every single shot he plays. If you are reading this post, Rich would almost certainly beat you at a game of table tennis. We can all improve.


Thanks for the feedback and the nice comments! I know I put you in a tricky position when I asked about tactics against this guy. My tactic against him was to pin him on the BH because I knew he could just block there and the other guys told me to keep going to his BH, but maybe that was a mistake. If my technique were perfect I wouldn't even be asking for tactics :D. Isn't it imperfect technique that make tactics from either side possible? At the top level since there's so few technical imperfections it's no surprise it'd be hard to use anything other than generic tactics that would apply similarly to most of those players

So for the technical stuff that I should aim to improve in training, from what I understand is:
- Delay the backswing more on the FH and possibly more on the BH too.
- Bend from the hip more on the BH and more on the FH against backspin - the goal on the BH is to just do it a little bit in a match situation so I can find the feeling. My misconception made it almost impossible in match situations and in training I'd just sometimes do it right by accident.
- More aggressive leg push for both FH and BH
- Stomp more on the serve. When I fold my torso should that also be a bending of the hip? I feel like my serve is a bit of a mess and I don't know what I'm doing, I've tried to change my ball toss a lot and how I swing at the ball, but I don't really know what to aim for.

I was watching the first match I posted on here a few years ago and it's funny to see how many misconceptions I had then and that I kept having even when I knew better - and still, to some extent, have today. Thanks Brett for solving many of my misconceptions.


Let's start with the serve. You are only allowed to start the backswing when you are stepping down and forward with your right leg.

The above serve advice doesn't count if someone has a circular serve pattern like Ma Long though these players still need to have some part of the circle going against their forward step.

Now the forehand topspin. When you swing early, the racket stops at the back end and it doesn't work as well, regardless of how well you use your body. Using the body well is essential though it doesn't help that much if the swing isn't sequential enough. If the backswing leads the body, it doesn't help at all, I'm guessing.

The body movements for backhand are described fairly well in the ttEDGE 2021 series. I'd watch those again.

If I were you Rich, I'd send me short videos of your training for feedback.

As for your friends telling your to topspin to the opponent's backhand...that's pretty bad. At a certain level, this is rarely good advice. It's especially true if the opponent sets up for backhand block before you even hit the ball.

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PostPosted: 20 Sep 2021, 08:39 
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ziv wrote:
Brett Clarke wrote:
Whilst I'm here I'll tell you what I'm doing with my life.

I've taken a position as the full time coach of a professional table tennis player. This job involves moving countries to train the player in their homeland and then travelling to every WTT tournament and international opens etc. I'll be starting in the next few weeks though we've been working online for the 6 months or so.

I'm not going to write much about this situation here. The player is a very private person who has no online presence by choice. I don't want to create a situation where there is ongoing discuss about their performances etc when they choose to fly under the radar and just focus on improving and performance.

Hey Brett, goof to hear from you!

Are you coming to Houston?


Hey Igor,

I don't think I'll be in Houston but I'm still not 100% sure. No matter what happens I won't be able to coach there because I'm not with a national team. I have a complicated situation.

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PostPosted: 20 Sep 2021, 09:32 
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maurice101 wrote:
Dr Pivot, a very nice backhand.
I looked at your swing with very slow motion.
If you really want to change it to incorporate Bretts delayed swing concept I suggest the following.
You could try delaying the backswing till you are rising up.
Squat and do not bring the bat back. Just spot the ball with the bat.
Rise and backswing.
This would allow a much better, shorter and faster whip action and you would gain a lot more power from the body. Better body mechanics, more power and spin and MUCH less effort.
You could try this concept and I would love if you report back to the forum your results.

I got a theory about Bretts concept.
I think in the next 10 years this concept will become more evident in male pro table tennis.
I feel that Brett's latest thinking, in my opinion, is ahead of what most current pros do.

The reason I think is that if you do the delay the power and swing speed goes up will a shorter swing.

In the modern game many times you do not have enough time to do a longer stroke.
I predict more pros will add more of the delayed backswing to all strokes and stay closer to the table.

I would be interested in Brett's views on this topic.


In relation to the kinetic chain stuff I've been talking about, consider this video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7iUPXiLu-08

Actually, let's start with this mismatch https://youtu.be/hxP-8a4q1uk?t=252 . One of these players has the greatest hook/punch serve of all time and the other player serves the hook/punch like a club player, without proper spin. It may be a little difficult to see if you don't know exactly what you are looking for. Besides all of the training and the obvious skill level gap, the difference is Gerell's backswing happens as he is stepping forward and Dan's backswing happens as he is stepping backwards. It may seem like a minor issue, but it's the difference between travelling on the Space Shuttle and travelling on a Penny Farthing after 10 years of hard training is completed. It's the difference between a club player and a pro action.

Gerell's backswing quickly goes against his forward step/torso fold which creates a force. It's the same as this https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A-Hcgjz1uow where the final backswing goes against the forward fold of the torso. Then the racket has to catch up to the torso as that creates professional racket head speed. If you play tennis, consider this your free serving lesson. Lean back on your legs > Quickly snap your torso forward whilst doing the backswing concurrently > Then watch your racket snap forward at high speed to create an Ace...you're welcome!!!

Okay, let's get back to this https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7iUPXiLu-08 I've mentioned in one of my recent posts that the tennis kinetic chain stuff doesn't matter as much, or it is much more subtle in table tennis. This is the reason that it is less understood. But can you see that Ma Long is straightening his legs on the backhand whilst the racket is still coming back (and down just slightly) in towards his stomach? Or can you see on the forehand topspin that some part of his circular backswing is caught up in this forward torso turn? You may respond - "Let me slow this down even more whilst looking through my microscope." Or - " Brett has a large imagination."

Can you see that Timo Boll's racket is heading down as his body is moving up and straightening? This is, after all, the world's spinniest forehand, so it's like Gerell's serve in a way. https://youtu.be/dL68m34--ng?t=106

I have to go now but I'll post some more later. I'll get to Dr. Pivot soon.

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PostPosted: 21 Sep 2021, 12:50 
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maurice101 wrote:

The reason I think is that if you do the delay the power and swing speed goes up will a shorter swing.
In the modern game many times you do not have enough time to do a longer stroke.
I predict more pros will add more of the delayed backswing to all strokes and stay closer to the table.

I would be interested in Brett's views on this topic.


It's hard to know how tt will evolve. It's an interesting topic and I've thought a lot about it.

I think that winning players influence the technique of others. I'll give you an example. In 2009 at the World Junior Championships, most of the kid were doing this return (sometimes called the "strawberry") https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a8HlIHh9VaU It really looked like it was going to be the new backhand return and could possibly overtake the banana. The shot makes sense to me in every way. Simon Gauzy played at this 2009 tournament and already had developed his strawberry shot. The Germans, Swedes etc were all on board and it was almost like a competition to see who could do it best.

The problem is that no one (besides Gauzy) become very success with this shot. Zhang Jike started playing around with the shot in 2017, though I don't think he ever used it in match https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9EM0O9WUeqw

In the meantime, the banana flick was being used by almost everyone, including winning Chinese, and it won the backhand return battle. The banana flick evolved because winning players were all doing it and the copying continued, even down to club level. The strawberry sort of died because it wasn't winning tournaments. It will take a winning player to change the trend and not some bio machinic wearing a lab coat.

Maurice believes that in 5 years times we will see shorter swings with more delay. It's as good as guess as any, I guess. The problem is that it would take a serious contender to make the Chinese shorten their swings and add more delay. Whilst Xu Xin is still swinging big and taking out most Europeans, it's hard to imagine, though time will tell.

Timo Boll has had a massive influence over European table tennis. If you fly into Germany, you'll be told to shorten your swing before you leave German customs. Actually, they won't stamp your passport unless you agree to shorten your swing. I do understand this logic pretty well, though it has some obvious downsides like having the CNT laughing at you. The second problem is a lot more subtle and it goes to the heart of my recent ranting on this topic. Watch this video the whole way through https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j19XOYZsli8 As per Federer's forehand, the head of Boll's racket goes backwards whilst his body is turning forward. If you don't understand what I'm talking about, you need to go back and read my posts and watch Timo in the slowest motion possible. If you still don't understand it, just watch the speed of Boll's racket at the end of the backswing at normal speed.

Now when your German customs officer is demanding you shorten your swing before entering the country, I don't think he/she explains the above bio mechanics correctly. He just says "SHORTEN YOUR SWING BECAUSE IT'S GOOD FOR RECOVERY." You agree of course and then receive your free 90 day entry visa. The problem is, you still don't understand the sequential nature of a short swing. A 90 day European entry visa will feel sweet of course, but your forehand will probably lack spin and power. You racket probably won't be going backwards as your body is turning forward, like Timo.

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PostPosted: 21 Sep 2021, 13:06 
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Dr.Pivot wrote:
A snapshot of my current BH technique. Comments are welcome.



Dr. Pivot,

There is a lot to like about this backhand. I like the use of the body. I like the speed your getting at the backend of the shot and this is achieved by waiting longer before you start the backswing.

The part I don't like is the elbow position moving up and down in space. In other words, there is too much upper arm being used on the shot. Keep your elbow stiller and use your hand more. If you are finishing at eye level, your upper arm is in play too much. Keep the backhand below the chin as a rough guide.

If anyone is actually reading this and wants a free tip, start your racket somewhere around the point you want to contact the ball (just in the area). Then wait as long as possible and swing back and forward quickly. I'm assuming you know how to use your body correctly.

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PostPosted: 21 Sep 2021, 13:12 
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PostPosted: 21 Sep 2021, 13:24 
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Brett Clarke wrote:

Watch this video the whole way through https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j19XOYZsli8 As per Federer's forehand, ...


What is noticeable is that Timo Boll's wrist and racket are still cocked forwards as he is swinging his body forwards into the stroke, after the ball has bounced on his side of the table. The wrist/racket then whips backwards (quite a long way) and then forwards to hit the ball. All of this happens in a flash, so presumably his wrist must be without any tension to allow this to happen. Is cocking the wrist forwards one way to delay the backswing, similar to "anti-drift" when serving?


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PostPosted: 21 Sep 2021, 13:39 
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NextLevel wrote:
BTW, guys, I am going to Houston in November for the WTTC. Will be there for the whole week - always been a dream of mine to attend a WTTC/WTTTC so I seized the opportunity when it came to the US. Have to go with the wife and kids, but they will likely be busy with things not table tennis since my wife lived in Houston before we got married.

If you are making it, let me know and we can hang out etc.


This is annoying because it was always one of my goals to travel to a few big tournaments with the usual suspects from here and our camps etc. It would be so much fun to hang out with everyone and just watch some quality matches. Imagine the s*** that we'd talk after watching the best players! Ben would insist on watching every women's match and Laj would be so excited that we'd need to sedate him at times.

Covid has basically ruined the world. Australians still can't even leave their own country, if you can believe that. More that half of Australia is in full lockdown and all events are basically cancelled. The vaccine isn't the magic solution we were all hoping for. Will we be wearing masks for the rest of our lives?

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PostPosted: 21 Sep 2021, 13:50 
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elbowed wrote:
Brett Clarke wrote:

Watch this video the whole way through https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j19XOYZsli8 As per Federer's forehand, ...


What is noticeable is that Timo Boll's wrist and racket are still cocked forwards as he is swinging his body forwards into the stroke, after the ball has bounced on his side of the table. The wrist/racket then whips backwards (quite a long way) and then forwards to hit the ball. All of this happens in a flash, so presumably his wrist must be without any tension to allow this to happen. Is cocking the wrist forwards one way to delay the backswing, similar to "anti-drift" when serving?


Yes, having the head of the racket facing directly forward results in more delay and wrist movement against the body. I do this a lot in training as I mess around with the "European" version of the forehand topspin. This all shouldn't be confused with just using your wrist.

I also do a form of this when I serve (by default now) and I need to put that on my list of videos to make one day.

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PostPosted: 21 Sep 2021, 14:38 
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Brett Clarke wrote:
Dr.Pivot wrote:
A snapshot of my current BH technique. Comments are welcome.



Dr. Pivot,

There is a lot to like about this backhand. I like the use of the body. I like the speed your getting at the backend of the shot and this is achieved by waiting longer before you start the backswing.

The part I don't like is the elbow position moving up and down in space. In other words, there is too much upper arm being used on the shot. Keep your elbow stiller and use your hand more. If you are finishing at eye level, your upper arm is in play too much. Keep the backhand below the chin as a rough guide.


Brett, thank you for your comments! I have been thinking about my elbow position in BH quite a bit, but I just struggle to keep it in place. I think I need access to a robot or a good multiball feeder to fix this. Which I have neither. But I will try anyway.

I have one question, though. Not for the sake of arguing (everybody here knows I hate arguing) but for the sake of clarification. What do you think of ML's elbow position in the video you posted recently? Image

BTW, I really think that lockdowns (and maybe shadow swinging I did during those times) messed up my technique. My elbow position used to be better on BH, and my FH (especially against backspin) degraded a lot.

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PostPosted: 21 Sep 2021, 14:51 
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Brett Clarke wrote:
Now when your German customs officer is demanding you shorten your swing before entering the country, I don't think he/she explains the above bio mechanics correctly. He just says "SHORTEN YOUR SWING BECAUSE IT'S GOOD FOR RECOVERY." You agree of course and then receive your free 90 day entry visa. The problem is, you still don't understand the sequential nature of a short swing. A 90 day European entry visa will feel sweet of course, but your forehand will probably lack spin and power. You racket probably won't be going backwards as your body is turning forward, like Timo.


I mostly train with the same partner, and whenever I miss a forehand, he says it was because my swing was too big.

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PostPosted: 21 Sep 2021, 20:03 
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Dr.Pivot wrote:
Brett Clarke wrote:
Now when your German customs officer is demanding you shorten your swing before entering the country, I don't think he/she explains the above bio mechanics correctly. He just says "SHORTEN YOUR SWING BECAUSE IT'S GOOD FOR RECOVERY." You agree of course and then receive your free 90 day entry visa. The problem is, you still don't understand the sequential nature of a short swing. A 90 day European entry visa will feel sweet of course, but your forehand will probably lack spin and power. You racket probably won't be going backwards as your body is turning forward, like Timo.


I mostly train with the same partner, and whenever I miss a forehand, he says it was because my swing was too big.


Which airport does your partner work at? Frankfurt?

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PostPosted: 21 Sep 2021, 20:32 
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Brett Clarke wrote:
Dr.Pivot wrote:
Brett Clarke wrote:
Now when your German customs officer is demanding you shorten your swing before entering the country, I don't think he/she explains the above bio mechanics correctly. He just says "SHORTEN YOUR SWING BECAUSE IT'S GOOD FOR RECOVERY." You agree of course and then receive your free 90 day entry visa. The problem is, you still don't understand the sequential nature of a short swing. A 90 day European entry visa will feel sweet of course, but your forehand will probably lack spin and power. You racket probably won't be going backwards as your body is turning forward, like Timo.


I mostly train with the same partner, and whenever I miss a forehand, he says it was because my swing was too big.


Which airport does your partner work at? Frankfurt?


Yes, he is an officer at the local Technique Police Department. BTW, he never says that I have to shorten it for the sake of recovery. His idea is that if the ball has a lot of spin, it is very likely to bounce off the table in an unpredictable way. For example, it could have some residual sidespin, a player underestimated the amount of topspin, or the ball itself is not round, whatever. So if you swing big, it will be more difficult to adapt to "something going wrong." But if you delay the swing until the very last moment and make it very short, you are more likely to adapt to an unpredictable bounce. It probably works for him, but I could never make it work, even when I consciously tried to implement this idea.

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PostPosted: 21 Sep 2021, 20:36 
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Dr.Pivot wrote:
Brett Clarke wrote:
Dr.Pivot wrote:
A snapshot of my current BH technique. Comments are welcome.



Dr. Pivot,

There is a lot to like about this backhand. I like the use of the body. I like the speed your getting at the backend of the shot and this is achieved by waiting longer before you start the backswing.

The part I don't like is the elbow position moving up and down in space. In other words, there is too much upper arm being used on the shot. Keep your elbow stiller and use your hand more. If you are finishing at eye level, your upper arm is in play too much. Keep the backhand below the chin as a rough guide.


Brett, thank you for your comments! I have been thinking about my elbow position in BH quite a bit, but I just struggle to keep it in place. I think I need access to a robot or a good multiball feeder to fix this. Which I have neither. But I will try anyway.

I have one question, though. Not for the sake of arguing (everybody here knows I hate arguing) but for the sake of clarification. What do you think of ML's elbow position in the video you posted recently? Image

BTW, I really think that lockdowns (and maybe shadow swinging I did during those times) messed up my technique. My elbow position used to be better on BH, and my FH (especially against backspin) degraded a lot.


I have always encouraged questions and even arguments. I post so much dribble that all arguments are well deserved.

What do I think of Ma Long's elbow position? It all obviously works or else he wouldn't win all the matches. It's a bit of a pumping action, which I don't teach by default. I like this more stable elbow position https://youtu.be/_WdChUBhWfo?t=159 as it is less complicated and more teachable.

The biggest issues on bh happens when the elbow is changing altitude too much, as I mentioned above. Back and forward isn't as deadly as up and down, if that makes sense?

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