Cell Phone Pong

March 28, 2012

Grip and Stance

Let's do a thought experiment. Hold a piece of paper so you hold the top with one hand, the bottom with the other. Now twist the top. Notice how the entire piece of paper twists? Now twist the bottom. Same thing. How does this relate to table tennis?

Now imagine holding a table tennis player in your hands. (You are either very strong or the player is very small.) Hold his playing hand in one hand and his feet with the other. Twist his playing hand and his entire body twists. The same if you twist his feet.

This is what happens when you have a bad grip or bad playing stance. It twists your entire body out of proper alignment, causing all sorts of technique problems. These two problems are by far the most common cause of technique problems. Most often they are not recognized as even many experienced coaches often treat the symptoms of these problems rather than recognizing the cause.

This is why I strongly recommend that players should use a neutral grip during their formative years, and usually well beyond that. (For shakehand players, this means the thinnest part of the wrist lines up with the racket. If the top is tilted away from you when you hold the racket in front of you, it's a backhand grip; if the top is tilted toward you, it's a forehand grip.) A neutral grip means your racket will aim in the same direction as your body is stroking the ball. A non-neutral grip forces you to adjust your stroke in often awkward ways since the racket is aiming one way while your wrist, arm, shoulder, etc., are aiming another direction.

At the advanced levels some players do adjust their grips, taking on usually slight forehand or backhand grips. (I generally use a slight forehand grip, but only after I'd been playing ten years.) There are some technical advantages to this, but only after you have ingrained proper stroking technique.

Similarly, make sure you are in at least a slight forehand stance when hitting forehands (i.e. right foot slightly back for righties, shoulders turned back as you backswing, etc.)

Even at the advanced levels often players have trouble with a specific stroke because of their grip or stance. Because they've played this way so long they don't even recognize the cause of their problem, and most often they are destined to an eternity of stroking like a crinkled piece of paper. In a few cases they realize what the cause is, and fix the problem, which often simply means going back to a more neutral grip or adjusting the foot positioning.

Like a piece of paper, if you get the top and bottom parts right, the rest falls into place. (An expanded version of this might end up as a Tip of the Week.)

World Team Championships
Dortmund, Germany, March 25 - April 1, 2012

Guo Yue in Slo Mo

Here's a 48-second video of China's World #7 Guo Yue in slow motion. She was #1 in the world in January of 2008, and has had probably a record 24 different rankings as #2 in the ITTF monthly rankings. 

Table Tennis - Pure Magic

Here's another table tennis video (5:59), set to music with lots of slow motion. It's from 2009, but I don't think I've ever posted it.

Cell Phone Pong

Yes, table tennis with a cell phone (0:16), with the phone's video camera running!

***

Send us your own coaching news!

Syndicate content