May 31, 2012

Forehand Looping from Backhand Corner

There's a discussion at the forum about a point showing Larry Bavly (Heavyspin) winning a point with a "relatively low speed block to show that all points do not have to be won by hitting the ball hard." He does this against an opponent who had forehand looped from the wide backhand corner. There was some debate as to how this happened. The basic problem was that the woman looping against Bavly was rushed, and so was left off balance at the end of the stroke, and unable to recover back into position for the next shot. Here's the video. (This will download the video as a wmv file, which you should be able to play.) See how she is off-balanced at the end of the stroke, leaning to her left (our right)?

Now watch this example (in the point starting at 2:41) on youtube of a player doing the same shot and having no trouble covering the wide forehand for the next shot. This is a match between Wang Liqin (near side, in yellow shirt) versus Ma Long (far side, purple shirt). Wang is serving. Ma pushes the serve back, blocks the next ball, then steps way around his backhand to forehand loop. Wang blocks the ball to Ma's wide forehand, and Ma has no trouble covering it. Throughout the match watch how both players take turns ripping forehand loops, and see how fast they recover - because they are balanced throughout the shot, and so are able to recover almost instantly for the next shot. (Watch the slow motion replay.) There's another example of Ma doing this at 4:35, though this time he barely is able to cover the wide forehand  Note how the players sometimes even use their momentum from the previous shot to get back into position.

A similar point happens in the second point shown, starting 22 seconds in. This time it's Wang Liqin who steps around to forehand loop, and is ready to cover the wide forehand. Ma actually blocks more to the middle of the table, but you can see Wang was ready to cover the wide forehand - and since the ball wasn't so wide, he is able to take this ball right off the bounce. (Watch the slow motion replay of this point.) There's another point like this starting at 2:24, where Wang again steps around to forehand loop, and is immediately able to cover the wide forehand - but this time, while he's there, he misses. There's another one at 3:43 where Wang against steps around, and this time Ma has an extremely wide angle to block to. Watch how easily Wang recovers and moves to cover the wide forehand, though Ma misses the block.

Regardless of where you are looping from, or even what stroke you are doing, balance throughout the stroke and rally is one of the key differences between elite and non-elite players. Players who can do repeated attacks in the same rally can do so because they are balanced and in control of their positioning and momentum; players who can only do one or at most two good shots in a row are usually off-balanced and not really in control. This doesn't mean you should always be perfectly centered between your feet, but that your weight should almost always be centered somewhere between your feet, with you in control of your body positioning, regardless of the momentum from the previous shot.

We won't talk about the rather awkward (but effective this time) "Seemiller" style block Bavly uses this point. Some things better remain unspoken.

Serving Short and Low

Are you playing in the Easterns this weekend, or any other upcoming tournaments? Have you been practicing your spinny serves so you can keep them short and low? No? Good. Then if you play anyone I'm coaching (and I'm coaching at the Easterns), we're going to loop or flip your serve in, and like the piggy with no roast beef, you'll cry all the way home. Oh, you've changed your mind, and decided to practice your serves? (Monday's Tip of the Week will be on how to do this. And no, you don't have to serve short all the time, just most of the time, or at least when facing an opponent who can effectively loop your serve.)

New Coaching Video from PingSkills

Overcoming Fear of Defending (1:32)

Joint Table Tennis and Golf Scholarship

Austin Preiss is going to Lindenwood College on a joint table tennis and golf scholarship, which must be a first. Here's the article. Some of you may know Austin both as a top junior player the last few years and for doing exhibitions around the country with his father Scott.

Stop-Motion Video Ping-Pong

This was a school project by someone, but it's hilarious, and gets better and better as it goes on (2:26).


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Re: May 31, 2012

Thanks Larry

I appreciate the well thought out comments.  I have been doing Falkenberg but I will definitely incorporate those other drills into my training.

-Dave Fortney



Re: May 31, 2012

Hi Larry

I loop a lot with my forehand from my backhand corner and like you am 52 years old and not getting any faster.  What do you think the best way to practice for this and try to remain balanced?  Falkenberg drill?  My problem is I usually try to rip this loop for a winner (I know, the 2100+ player is going to get it back) and it does put me out of position if someone can block or hit it back down my forehand line.


Larry Hodges's picture

Re: May 31, 2012

Hi Dipperdave,

Yep, my attack is primarily forehand from all parts of the table, though I've recently begun doing more backhand loops. A forehand loop from the backhand side, if it goes deep and you stay balanced and in position, allows you to dominate the table for another shot. 

Falkenberg really is one of the best drills for this. The focus should be on balance as you step around to forehand loop from the backhand, which is what allows the balanced and quick start toward the forehand side. Another good drill is serve backspin, partner pushes to your backhand, you forehand loop, and then he blocks to your forehand and you play out the point. An alternate version is he can block the first ball anywhere, so you have to be ready to cover the wide forehand as well as the rest of the table, so you can't overanticipate. 

When you forehand loop from the backhand corner, you should focus on either deep, aggressive loops so the opponent can't make easy winning blocks, or go for slow, spinny, and deep, with the slowness of the shot giving you time to recover for the next shot. Again, depth is important. Go mostly to the opponent's wide backhand or middle. If you go to the forehand, you leave the table wide open, so it's risky. I wouldn't recommend going that way too often except for winner. However, if you are relatively fast on your feet and stay balanced, you can loop down the line and still cover the wide forehand. The key is again balance. 

Hope this helps!