September 14, 2017

Teaching the Topspinny Backhand
When a player first learns to play, they learn basic forehands and backhands, which include putting at least a very light topspin on the ball. A proper stroke automatically puts some topspin on the ball as the racket is moving forward and slightly up at contact. Beginners often hit the ball almost straight on, and so generate little or no topspin. Here’s a good backhand drive video (2:55, from ITTF). This teaches the standard, light topspin backhand. Here's a good backhand topspin video (3:18, from EmRatThich) showing a more topspinny backhand. Note how the racket tip drops down, allowing more topspin from the stroke. In the ITTF video, lefty Timo Boll is shown for a few seconds hitting backhands 28 seconds in, and also topspins his backhand this way. 

One of my students, age 8, tends to hit the ball almost straight on, resulting in a rather erratic backhand that’s more a blocking motion than a stroke, with the ball coming out dead. I could have done the standard slow progression to getting more topspin, but since she tended toward blocking, this would likely lead to more of a blocking-type backhand, and I wanted more. I've watched great backhand players like Crystal Wang, Han Xiao, and many others develop at my club and know how they and other top players developed their backhands.

So yesterday I went the other extreme and decided to spend over half of our hour session on turning her backhand into a real topspin backhand - not quite a backhand loop, but a backhand drive with good topspin. (I’m feeding multiball to her with light topspin.) Fortunately several of our top juniors were playing on nearby tables, hitting topspinny backhands. So I had her watch them to get a good mental image of what I wanted her to do. (I’m copyrighting the term “topspinny” – if you use it, you owe me $1! Here’s my Tip of the Week on the topic, from July 29, 2013, Topspinny Backhands.)

It took some time, but she suddenly got the knack of it – and started putting real topspin on the ball! Some of them were almost scary. If someone had asked me a month ago I would have said she was at least six months away from hitting backhands like that, but often we limit players by limiting them in our thinking. She’s also learning to forehand loop against backspin (and already has a decent forehand drive), so hopefully she’ll be developing into a serious two-winged topspin attacking threat. Next week I plan to introduce her to backhand looping against backspin, as well as incorporating that topspin backhand into regular backhand to backhand rallies. (I didn’t want to do that in yesterday’s session yet – not until she’s really got it down so she won’t fall back into blocking when we rally.)

2017 ITTF PanAm Championships
It’s taking place right now in Cartagena de Indias, Columbia, Sept. 11-17. Here are some links.

Footwork Drills by Stefan Feth: Drill No. 8
Here’s the video (1:43).

Pre Match Routines
Here’s the podcast (33:53) from PingSkills.

You Think Table Tennis is Not a Sport?
Here’s the video (9:12). I’ve seen a number of videos with this title and thought they were the same one, but discovered that there are several different versions.

Table Tennis Town
Here’s the video (1:26) about this table tennis club in Tokyo, which even has a table tennis themed restaurant.

Top 3 Table Tennis Ghost Points
Here’s the video (1:40). “Ghost Points” are when you hit the ball with backspin so the ball bounces back and away from the opponent.

Kenta Matsudaira & Jun Mizutani Demonstration and Exhibition
Here’s the video (3:10). After playing spectators, they play exhibition points near the end.

Best Trick Serve Ever?
Here’s the video (20 sec).

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