Competing Internationally

September 15, 2011

Deceptive forehands

Want to have a deceptive forehand without resorting to one of those twisty, wristy things some players use with both effectiveness and inconsistency? Why not develop one that's both effective and consistent? They key is in the shoulders.

Some players will seem to aim their forehand to the left (for righties), but at the last second twist their playing arm and wrist backwards, hitting the ball inside-out, creating a truly deceptive shot that goes to the right. But while it can be effective, it's often an erratic shot. Instead, at the last second try turning the shoulders back. This means rotating your shoulders twice - first to set up to hit to the left (and tricking your opponent into thinking you are going that way), and then, just before contact, rotate the shoulders back further, putting you into perfect position to hit a strong and consistent shot to the right.

Similarly, you can rotate your shoulders way back, even stepping forward with your left leg, as if you were going to the right (and tricking your opponent into thinking you are going that way), and then, just before contact, vigorously rotate the shoulders forward and whip the ball off to the left.

Backspin breakthrough

Yesterday I taught one of my students (a 10-year-old) the "scoop" method of serving backspin, where you actually contact the front of the ball by tilting your racket so far back it points backwards, and contact the ball with an upward motion. (I wrote about this in my blog on Sept. 6 - see segment "USATT Coaching Chair Richard McAfee teaches heavy backspin," along with video.) It was a great success. He'd been having trouble getting much backspin on his serves. So I told him to scoop the front of the ball, and not to worry about how high the serve went. After a few minutes, he was finally able to fulfill a goal I'd set out for him - serve backspin so the ball bounced back into the net! He even managed to do one that bounced back over the net after about three bounces on the far side. I assigned him the goal of serving five in a row that bounce back into the net, plus he has to make at least once serve that bounces back over the net after one bounce on the far side - like this! (He has a table at home to practice on.)

Competing Internationally

USA National Team Member, Junior Boys' Champion and National Men's Singles Finalist (how's that for a list of current titles?) Peter Li talks about the differences in competing internationally, in particular serve and receive. I played Peter semi-regularly since he was a little kid at my club, and am proud to say that he will never, Ever, EVER catch up to me - my record against him lifetime is probably 300-20. We won't talk about the last twenty.

ITTF World Hopes Team 2011

Here's the ITTF World Hopes Team 2011, which includes (and interviews) two USA Cadets: Kanak Jha and Chodri Kunal. Congrats to both! (I'm not sure why Ariel Hsing and Lily Zhang aren't included.)

Proper forepaw technique

At first, he's just a spectator. But 18 seconds into this 23-second video, this player smacks in a perfect forehand. Notice the perfect shoulder rotation and smooth follow through. You can learn from this.


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