May 23, 2017

Backhand Flipping
There was a time when I was at the forefront of backhand receive technique. One of my strengths during my peak years was my ability to consistently backhand flip any short serve, regardless of how low it was or what type of spin, including heavy backspin. It drove many opponents crazy, since they often wanted a push return to attack. It allowed me to force neutral backhand exchanges on my opponent’s serve, while I’d dominate with my attack when I served. Gosh darn it, come to think of it, on paper I must have been the best player in the world!!!

Many-time U.S. team member (and 3-time Men’s Doubles Champion and Men’s Singles Finalist) Han Xiao developed at my club, and we spent probably a thousand hours hitting together. He once said he learned from my backhand receive that you could attack any ball, even a short, low, heavy backspin serve – but he took it to the next level. While my backhand flips had topspin, it was only light topspin, just enough to control the receive. At the higher levels, players could attack them. (Oh, that’s right, that’s why I wasn’t the best player in the world….)

Worldwide there was a technical revolution going on where players were learning the new “backhand banana flip,” which is basically an over-the-table backhand loop against a short serve. The extra topspin makes the shot even more effective – the topspin allows a more consistent aggressive shot, and makes it harder to counter-attack against. Here’s my article on the Backhand Banana Flip, which links to this video of Ma Long (3:25) demonstrating it.

As a coach, I learned the banana flip so I could teach it. While I can do it pretty well in a demo, I’m not that comfortable doing it in a match since I haven’t had decades of experience doing it, as I did with my more normal backhand flip. It’s one of the things I might work on if I were to get back into serious tournament play. But these days my priority is coaching these things, not doing them.

I’ve got a session tonight with one of our top rising juniors (age 11) where he asked if I could teach him the banana flip. He’s already been experimenting with it, so I’m going to make sure he gets it right. Part of this is preparation. I could easily just show up and teach it, but instead, as soon as I finish this blog, I’m going to review the Ma Long video linked above, and make sure to show it to him as a visual aid.

There’s more to the banana flip than meets the eye. As noted in my article above, the type of incoming spin makes a big difference in how you do it. There are subtle differences when you do it against straight backspin, or against backspin combined with left or right sidespin. Against one type of sidespin, it’s like looping against backspin, while against the other type, it’s like looping against topspin.

Five Videos to Study from EmRatThich

Online Administration Course Released
Here’s the ITTF article. “The International Table Tennis Federation is pleased to announce the launch of the ITTF Administration Course. Targeted at administrators within all table tennis associations, the course will help provide the skills and knowledge needed to promote improved administration.”

All 226 Earth Members!
Here’s the new ITTF graphic – what’s next? Martians? (Here’s the non-Facebook version.) “Table Tennis the No 1 most widely played sport in the World. All 226 Countries/Territories in the World are members of International TT Federation. Volleyball No 2 with 221.” (Here’s the ITTF article on this from May 11 which I’d previously linked to.)

Major Contenders

Mizutani Jun practice with Samsonov Vladimir
Here’s the video (11:24).

New Penholder to Replace Xu Xin for China?
Here’s the video (3:27).

Reactions of a Cat?
Here’s the video (20 sec).

Ma Long vs Ding Ning Funny Show 2017
Here’s the video (4:01) as the world’s top man and woman do a humorous exhibition.

Craziest Ping Pong Player I've Seen
Here’s the video (49 sec) – so, do you think she’s really rallying with her head, as it appears? Frankly, I have no idea what’s going on here.

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