How to get better at hitting against pips and hardbat?

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jrolfes
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Joined: 06/13/2011

I recently went to a tournament this past weekend and got destroyed against pips and hardbat players. It seemed like everytime I attempt to hit or loop a backhand, I would dump the ball in the net. My forehand was inconsistent; but my opponents constantly won points over and over again with my bad backhand.

Should I start doing drills with pips players to get used to their rubber?

Larry Hodges
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Re: How to get better at hitting against pips and hardbat?

Then during the game, he hit the ball fast, deep and wide to bh and it would just jam me up. I would weakly return the ball or just dump it into the net.

It sounds like you are letting him start off the rally with a strong shot to your wide backhand. Especially on your serve you should be able to make the first strong shot, and make him react to your shot, instead of you reacting to his shot. Depending on how he plays, you can likely do this with long serves to the backhand or short serves to the forehand. As to reacting to strong shots to the backhand, presumably the problem is that in drills, he blocked softer, and you only saw the faster shots in the game. The only way to learn to react against them is to play against them, in drills or games. As to the ball going wide, that's a footwork problem - need to move quickly to the wide backhand so you can do your regular backhand shots (adjusted for the pips, of course). 

jrolfes
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Joined: 06/13/2011
Re: How to get better at hitting against pips and hardbat?

Well, I drilled with a long pips player with my back-hand and then played him afterwards. I still got my but kicked.

I think the difference between the drills and the game was he was just blocking my bh drives and loops during the drills. During the drills I eventually got used to the dead ball by opening my racket more. Then during the game, he hit the ball fast, deep and wide to bh and it would just jam me up. I would weakly return the ball or just dump it into the net.

I guess next time drill with long pips, fast, deep, and wide to the bh?

jrolfes
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Re: How to get better at hitting against pips and hardbat?

I guess it covers both. About 50% of the people at my club use some sort of pips (both long and short) and anti. At the tournament, I actually beat a 1600 using inverted (3-0). He was only one of three people (out of the 8) that I played using inverted. I guess I definitely need the practice with the pips.

jrolfes
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Joined: 06/13/2011
Re: How to get better at hitting against pips and hardbat?

Thanks for the advice to both Larry and toxic. When I get back home to practice at the club next week, I'll let you know how it goes.

Larry Hodges
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Re: How to get better at hitting against pips and hardbat?

Hi Jrolfes, I just realized you wrote "pips player," not "pips-out" players. My advice was for pips-out sponge, not long pips, although there's an overlap. As to hardbat, it's pretty much the same as pips-out in many cases, except that you don't have to worry about quick, aggressive blocks against your loop. 

Toxicspin 2nd a...
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Joined: 06/27/2011
Re: How to get better at hitting against pips and hardbat?

Hi Jrolfes,

 

Larry has outstanding advice for playing pips out players.  I get to play one every week, he has long pips on the backhand and inverted on the forehand.  Early in the evening I have an advantage, but as the night wears on he gets better timing and then the match is on like popcorn.  I find mixing up topspin with no spin to the backhand can yield some results because they need the speed and momentum to get the ball over the net.  Also my friend and I are evenly matched so our games go 2 to 2 usually.  Oh yea, I play with inverted on both sides with def+ to all round blade.  My offensive blades have proved to be to fast for me to control.

jrolfes
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Joined: 06/13/2011
Re: How to get better at hitting against pips and hardbat?

Ok will do. 

Since I'm a looper, should I primarily hit to their deep wide fore/back hand or elbow?

Larry Hodges
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Re: How to get better at hitting against pips and hardbat?

Hi Jrolfes, generally the best place to loop is at an opponent's elbow. However, many players are just as successful looping to wide angles as long as they can disguise the direction as long as possible, or even misdirect the opponent. I tend to do the latter - I like to either hook a loop wide to the forehand (so it sidespins away from them), or make it look like I'm going that way, and at the last second rotate my shoulders to the right and go to the wide backhand. Players often loop way too much to an opponent's backhand, which is generally where they have their best block. 

Larry Hodges
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Re: How to get better at hitting against pips and hardbat?

Should I start doing drills with pips players to get used to their rubber?

It's the only way you'll learn to play against it! The ball from pips-out sponge is deader than you are used to, so you have to either open your racket slightly or lift slightly. The only way to learn to do this comfortably is to practice against it. At first, it might be difficult, but soon playing pips will be no big deal - you simply aren't used to them yet.  In general, don't try to be quicker than the pips-out player (except perhaps on the first shot) as that is their strength; instead, focus on making stronger and more consistent shots. Keep the ball deep as they will jump on a short ball, rushing you when you need more time to react to a ball you are not used to. Long balls do give pips-out players trouble as they don't put as much topspin on the ball to make the ball drop. Also, it's a good idea to actually play into the pips early in the match to get used to them. (This may end up in my blog tomorrow, or in a future Tip of the Week.)