March 22, 2017

Serve and Attack
One of my junior students (age 10, about 1600) is a great rallier, but often just serves to put the ball in play. So now we’re focusing on third-ball attacking. He knows he’s supposed to do this, but to make it a habit, he has to do it in games. The problem is most of his games are either league or tournament matches – and he doesn’t want to lose those. So we’re arranging for him to play regular practice matches once a week where he just plays games, where he can work on new things such as this.

The problem with league matches is 1) they are rated, and players get protective about even league ratings, and 2) if you do poorly, you move down a division the following week. As I explained to him, 1) you shouldn’t take the league ratings seriously (or other ratings, for that matter), and 2) if he moves down a division one week, it’s actually an opportunity, as that means he can focus on beating these “weaker” players with his third-ball attacks.

I’m working with him on three types of third ball attacks:

  1. Serve short, follow with forehand.
  2. Serve short, follow with forehand or backhand.
  3. Serve long, mostly big breaking serves to the backhand, and follow from both sides.

Today’s session focused on serve short and follow with forehand. I demonstrated by doing it myself – and this is a strength in my game, even at age 57. I served short backspin to the middle, he pushed long anywhere, and no matter where he put it, I was able to forehand loop very aggressively, almost always for a winner. (This will be the topic of next Monday's Tip of the Week.) Then he took his turn, and it was almost a new concept for him, this serve and going for the forehand. In theory he’s always known he should do this, but in practice he’d avoided it. No more! I made sure he understood that unless the return is weak, the first loop shouldn’t be a rip, but just an aggressive, well-placed, heavy topspin shot.

Next we’ll be focusing on serve and two-winged attacks. But first I want him to be able to serve and forehand loop whenever needed against passive returns. (We also did some work on his backhand loop, to prepare him for following up on short serves, #2 above, and on backhand kill, to prepare him for following up on deep serves, #3 above.)

More Table Tennis Tips
Here’s the USATT news item! Let’s face it – I’m going to keep posting about More Table Tennis Tips until YOU – yes, the one reading these words right now – buys it!!!

Don’t Ever Question Yourself
Here’s the article from Eli Baraty.

Forehand Chop Tutorial
Here’s the video (3:12) from PingSkills.

 “Recruiting Enthusiastic Kids”
That’s how this video (2:39) begins, where he talks about attitude. The speaker is Geno Auriemma, Head Women's Basketball Coach at Univ. of Connecticut for 32 years. According to Wikipedia, “The UConn Huskies are the most successful women's basketball program in the nation.”

2017 World Table Tennis Day - April 6
Here’s the video (73 sec).

Interview with Chen Bin - Coaches Grow Together with their Players
Here’s the video (9:25).

History of U.S. Table Tennis, Volume 18 (1990-1991)
Here's chapter 26! Or order your own print copies at TimBogganTableTennis.com, as well as Volume 19!

Table Tennis/Ping-Pong T-Shirt ALIEN Design
Here’s the Kickstarter page for these new TT t-shirts.

Zhang Xielin- the “Magic Chopper”
Here’s video (13 sec) of this Chinese penhold chopper from the 1960s, who chopped with both backspin and sidespin, and gave Europeans fits.

Jorgen Persson – Leg in Cast!
Here are the pictures and comments. (Here’s one of the non-Facebook pictures.) And note my comment: “My years of patiently waiting have finally paid off!!! Jörgen, I hereby challenge you to a match. (Scary part: I'll still probably lose.)”

Afloat Without a Ball
Here’s the cartoon!

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Re: March 22, 2017

> Today’s session focused on serve short and follow with forehand. I demonstrated by doing it myself – and this is a strength in my game, even at age 57. I served short backspin to the middle, he pushed long anywhere, and no matter where he put it, I was able to forehand loop very aggressively, almost always for a winner.

Whoaa! I have been trying to learn this skill for a while now, with quite modest results. Do you have a video of doing this? Or did you write any tips about it before? Do you use straight backspin serve, or sidespin-back? I often succumb to fast and sharp pushes to my wide forehand when trying to do that. Sometimes I can reach those with a cross-step, but not as often as I'd like. If I move closer to the centerline, I get jammed when somebody pushes to my backhand (although I usually loop those, the quality gets low). I fell like the problem is that my serve jumps too high that gives my opponent an opportunity to push sharp, but I am not sure...

Larry Hodges's picture

Re: March 22, 2017

I think I've mentioned this in passing in my blog, but I don't seem to have a Tip on this - so that'll be next Monday's Tip of the Week!

Re: March 22, 2017

Cool, thank you! It would be nice to read about the service tactics used to set up this kind of 3rd ball, using both directions of sidespin. For example, for a long time I thought that it is best to serve very wide cross-court from the backhand, with pendulum-like sidespin. Then I realized that this serve gives a yuge angle to wide backhand, which is awkward to loop with forehand. Then I watched lots of Ma Long's matches and noticed that when he seeks to follow-up with his forehand, he serves pendulum to middle of the opponent's forehand (assuming he is a rightie). It actually makes more sense: serve down the line limits the angle to backhand, while the sidespin limits the angle to forehand, plus forehand push is more awkward. Though this placement works better in practice, it is still hard to reach when the ball occassionally goes to wide WH.

Some people also argue that the reverse sidespin serve better suits backhand-oriented players, yet there are many top players (e.g. Fang Bo, Marcos Freitas, Par Gerell) that use it to setup forehand attack.