January 5, 2015 - Hitting or Looping?

In the past this was always a difficult question - should you be a hitter or a looper? It's a difficult question for many at the non-elite levels, but at higher levels there's not much question anymore - pretty much everyone is a looper. (When I refer to hitting, that includes blocking, so perhaps it would be better called a "hitter/blocker." Of course loopers also block, but not as much as a hitter/blocker style.)

Unless your goal is to be a world-class player (say, top 100 in the world), you can go either way. Players who start out young, once they've developed the basics, should probably focus on looping as their potential is high. Players who start older can also loop, but let's face it - if you start, say, in your thirties or forties, you are unlikely to be world-class. In this case it's a question of where are you more talented, and what do you prefer?

If you want to play the way the world-class players play - style-wise, not necessarily level-wise - then become a looper. If you have loose, relaxed muscles, looping will also be easier. Bigger, stronger players also tend to find looping easier. On the other hand, if you are very quick, then perhaps hitting is your forte. In some ways it's a dying style as few coaches teach it anymore except to older players - but that's also an advantage as players aren't used to playing this type of style as much as in the past. You might even consider using short pips, and really mess up some players who only know how to play inverted.

Whichever you go for, turn your looping or hitting into a weapon. Develop your serve, receive, and rallying shots to set up this shot. You want it to be a terror for opponents, who lose points both to that shot and in their attempts to not set the shot up for you - a double whammy. Perhaps work with a coach or top player on the shot, use it every chance you can in drills and games, and whether you are looping or hitting soon you'll have a true weapon.