August 27, 2018

Tip of the Week
Never Think About Winning or Losing While Playing - Excise the Thought and Play Well!

How's Your Backhand Attack?
I've never had a strong backhand attack, relying instead on consistency and a strong forehand. It worked when I was younger and fast enough to cover much of the table with my forehand - though I'd have been better if I'd a better backhand attack - but now that I'm an eensy, wheensy, tiny bit older (um, 58), that doesn't work anymore. I can and do a backhand loop, but during my playing career it was more of a variation I'd throw at players. I actually developed my backhand loop more as a coach so I could demonstrate it. In practice, I actually have a pretty good backhand loop against backspin now.

Back in the days when I was developing a common slogan was, "One gun is as good as two." This meant that if you developed your forehand and footwork, having a strong backhand attack wasn't necessary. In fact, during those years there were a lot of style confrontations as one-winged attackers played two-winged attackers. The one-winged attacker often won, but these days the game has gotten faster and faster (even at the intermediate level, due to faster, bouncier sponges), and you really need to be able to attack from both wings, especially if you are an up-and-coming player. Some established players, especially in the senior ranks, don't really attack against backspin much on the backhand, and mostly block or "punch" their backhands in rallies; Dave Sakai and Charlene Liu have been piling up senior titles for years with just push and block backhands.

There are basically two types of backhand attacks: hitting and looping. When I was coming up, on the backhand side in rallies you either faced hitters who didn't back up, or loopers who did back up. Very few players back in those days backhand looped from close to the table, except of as an opening shot against a push or serve. With modern techniques and sponges, it's now common for players to backhand loop over and over without backing up - it's almost unfair!

Here's video (3:25) of Tomokazu Harimoto doing close-to-table loops. (Some would just call them "topspins" - same thing.) The video only shows about 13 seconds of it, then goes on to other drills. This is from a year ago when he was "only" 14; now he's 15 and #6 in the world. His backhand terrorizes everyone. Here's a video (5:09) that shows how he does his backhand. Here's video (7:11) of him (black shirt) beating world #1 Fan Zhendong (red shirt) at the 2018 Asian Cup - watch how he dominates with his backhand.

You can backhand loop from right up at the table (as Harimoto mostly does); you can do them from half a step back (as most do), or from farther back as the ball drops (as players used to do, and some still do, though rarely at the highest levels). Most top players can do all of these, looping right off the bounce as Harimoto does, but backing up some as the rallies get faster. Harimoto's strength is he is able to stay closer to the table in faster rallies than most players. Watch his matches and you'll see how, in backhand-to-backhand exchanges, the opponent is almost always half a step further back than Harimoto, including the big Chinese stars like Ma Long, Fan Zhendong, Zhang Jike, and Xu Xin. All of these Chinese players like to backhand loop close to the table, but all back up some as the rally gets faster, more so than Harimoto. (Xu especially backs up more, while the others stay as close as they can.) Harimoto can play his backhand from a step back, as he does here (the start of the first video linked to above), but to get him to do this in a game usually means drawing him out of position first by going to his wide forehand.  

One interesting thing you'll notice is there is often a difference between Chinese and European backhand loops. (This is not a firm rule, but I'll call them Chinese and European methods.) In general, when backhand looping, the Chinese keep a near constant racket angle during the swing. In contrast, many Europeans tilt their racket back during the backswing, essentially closing it and then opening it as the racket approaches the ball. The Chinese method is simpler, quicker, and more consistent, with fewer things that can go wrong, while the European method has more pure power but is less consistent, and is generally done from further back. (Some top players tilt the racket on the backswing only when going for extra power, or when ripping against backspin.) Here are some examples in addition to Harimoto above (who uses the Chinese method):

  • Hugo Calderano, world #9 from Brazil, European method
  • Timo Boll, world #3 from Germany, European method
  • Ma Long, world #6 from China (but should be #1), Chinese method
  • Zhang Jike, former world #1 from China, Chinese method
  • To see more, put in the name of your favorite player, followed by "backhand loop," and see what comes up.

Now that we've spent all this time on backhand loops, does this mean you need one? Against backspin, it's a big weapon, and yet, you can still do a simple backhand drive against backspin by simply doing a regular backhand but stroking up more and with a little more topspin than a normal drive, but not like a backhand loop. This is especially easier for older players. Once in a rally, you can focus on regular backhands or you can learn to topspin more, especially if you are younger or athletic.

Czech Open
Here's the home page for the event that finished this past weekend, with results, articles, pictures, and video.

Asian Games - Table Tennis
Here's the home page for the event that started yesterday in Jakarta, Indonesia, Aug. 26 - Sept. 1.

2018 US Open Table Tennis Championships Headed to the Sunshine State
Here's the USATT article. The U.S. Open will be in Orlando, FL, Dec. 16-22. I'll be there, and then I'm going to Disneyworld!

New National Team Groups Announced Under 2018 Selection Criteria
Here's the USATT listing.

New from EmRatThich

New from Samson Dubina

Three Steps to Hitting a Forehand
Here's the video (60 sec) from Keenan Southall. "How to hit a forehand in 3 easy steps! These are 3 very basic steps you need to do in order to have a good forehand in table tennis. The forehand starts from the ground up! Set your feet first, put the power of your hips into the ball, and let your shoulders and arms hit the ball for you."

Tactics in Table Tennis, Part 2
Here's the article and video (20:41) by Joze Urh, with links to Part 1 (which I previously linked to).

Amicus Training Tips Series: How to Banana Flick with Richard Prause
Here's the video (55 sec).

Can You Do the Service Challenge?
Here's the video (60 sec).

Local Table Tennis Legend Teaches Players the Game - Dan Seemiller
Here's the article and video (3:02) from WNDU. "Dan Seemiller is a living table tennis legend. He’s won five U.S. men’s singles titles, 12 doubles titles and was even the head coach of the United States Olympic teams in 2000 and 2004."

Tao Continues to Push to New Heights
Here's the USATT article by Matt Hetherington. "Tao Wenzhang set the bar in 2014 when he won the US Open Table Tennis Championships in Grand Rapids, Michigan. At that event he showed the scope of his abilities as he overcame strong international opponents like Thomas Keinath and Jin Ueda. Fast forward four years and Tao has settled in the USA, continuing to contribute back to the game as a coach and training partner, but not losing sight of his goals as a player."

Clean Sweep Averted, Jayden Zhou Flies the Stars and Stripes
Here's the ITTF article on the El Salvador Junior & Cadet Open. "Success for Jayden Zhou of the United States, hard fought success; on the concluding day of action, Sunday 19th August, the 13 year old born in January 2005, prevented a clean sweep of titles by Chinese Taipei at the 2018 El Salvador Junior and Cadet Open. He won the Mini-Cadet Boys’ Singles event."

WAB Club Feature: Seattle Pacific Table Tennis Club
Here's the article by Steve Hopkins.

Fan Zhendong Assumes Role of Responsibility
Here's the ITTF article. "Listed in top spot on the current Men’s World Rankings, Fan Zhendong is afforded the mantle of responsibility; he leads the Chinese quest for honours at the 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta, the table tennis events commence on Sunday 26th August."

Feeding the Table Tennis Monster
Here's the article by Coach Jon. "What if everything you believed about table tennis wasn’t true?"

Olympic Games Format in Jakarta
Here's the ITTF article.

DHS ITTF Top 10 - 2018 Australian Open
Here's the video (5:30).

Tennis Players Playing Table Tennis
Here's the video (21:33) - this is great!!! Federer, Williams, Nadal, Djokovic, Murray, Kyrgios, Thiem, Wawrinka, Sock, Tiafoe, Monfils, Querrey, the Bryan brothers, and many more.

NYCTTA Professional Table Tennis Action!
Here's the video (13:20) of exhibition play by Dora Kurimay (of and Coach Kevin Wang.

History of USATT – Volume 21 – Chapter 14
Here’s chapter 14 of Tim Boggan's latest volume, which covers 1993-1994. Or you can buy it and previous (and future) volumes at This chapter covers "April 1995 Tournaments." Volume 21 is 438 pages with 1667 graphics, and covers all the wild things that happened in 1994-95 - and I'm mentioned a lot! Why not buy a copy - or the entire set at a discount? Tim sells them directly, so when you order them, you get it autographed - order your copy now!

Custom Redskins Table and Why You’ll See More Table Tennis Tables in Locker Rooms
Here's the article!

Guinness Book of Records - Most Hits in 60 seconds in Around the World
Here's the video (65 sec)!

Big Paddle, Big Trouble?
Here's the picture of Scott Preiss, the PingPongMan, going through security with security checking out his oversized paddle. (Here's the non-Facebook version.) 

Championship Ping-Ping at the Highest Level
Here's the video (72 sec). 

Musical Pong
Here's the video (24 sec)!

Tight-Rope Pong
Here's the video (40 sec)!

Zhang Jike Ball Bath
Here's the video (10 sec)!

Ping-Pong Tricks from the Ping-Pong Kid
Here's the video (41 sec).

The Funny Faces of Tomokazu Harimoto
Here's the video (10 sec) - he may be #6 in the world, but he's still a 15-year-old kid! (And who among us doesn't sometimes make funny faces like these when no one's around?)

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