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TaiHaoPingPong
04-29-2022, 03:54 PM
I'm making some tweaks to my backhand topspin and am wondering something about the shoulder. Generally the advice for BH topspin (as well as most other shots) is to keep the shoulder and upper body relaxed during the stroke, but I've been playing around a bit with the shoulder blades and was wondering what other people do. Without actually using the shoulder itself to power the stroke, I notice a distinct difference in feeling between:

keeping the muscles at the back-of-shoulder/upper-back engaged, with shoulder blades pulled down/retracted, and
leaving those muscles (traps/delts/core? not sure on anatomy) loose and the shoulders more hanging free and naturally hunched forward

While on a FH topspin it feels obviously better and whippier when I manage to keep the shoulder area loose, on the backhand when I pull my shoulder blades together and keep these upper back muscles engaged it somehow feels better. I saw a video where Timo Boll talked about keeping the core tight is important, and doing this feels more similar to that, rather than actually using my shoulders to swing the arm in the stroke. If that makes any sense.

I haven't played enough to try it out yet, but I just wanted to ask here if anyone could try out their swing and report what they notice they do with this part of their body

KM1976
04-29-2022, 05:35 PM
When you mention Backhand topspin are you talking about topspin against backspin or topspin against block/topspin? Also is it near the table, mid distance or more. Please clarify.

Der_Echte
04-29-2022, 06:24 PM
Tightening the shoulder is a bad idea, ask Carl about the consequences of that.

TaiHaoPingPong
04-29-2022, 06:32 PM
When you mention Backhand topspin are you talking about topspin against backspin or topspin against block/topspin? Also is it near the table, mid distance or more. Please clarify.
I had in mind against block/topspin, mid distance.

But if you do it differently against backspin or from other distances I'd be very interested to hear also

Richie
04-29-2022, 06:36 PM
I'll copy and paste a comment I made in the video feedback thread where I referenced Pitchford's backhand:


https://www.youtube.com/embed/LGzP8ljs6hA?autohide=1&controls=1&showinfo=0

"You can see he has his arm quite well out in front and just does a short whip motion with his wrist, since you're hitting backhands close to the table I think this is what you should aim for. The turning of the upperarm and a push with the legs is what drives the swing. The further you are from the table the more you can turn your upper arm back for a bigger swing. Your upper arm/elbow should be stable and not move much, it's the turning of it that is the backhand swing imo."

You don't need to do anything with your shoulders, definitely do not tighten them. Just place your arm out in front of you with the elbow at a slightly distance from your body (so that you have space to swing) and turn the upperarm. If you do a quick short turn then you'll see that it'll be just your wrist that whips back and forward, if you do a bigger turn you'll see that your forearm will follow as well. Make sure to use your legs and do a slight bend at the hip as the ball is coming towards you, then push with your legs as you backswing so that your swing is driven more by the body and legs than just arm.

The more time you have, the more you can bend at the hip and push with your legs. The real test for your technique is opening against backspin. When against topspin or nospin balls you'll have less time so you'll have to opt for the shorter swing (true for a fast backspin ball too I suppose but you get the gist). But all the basic mechanics are in place no matter what. When they're right you just practice every type of variation.

Der_Echte
04-29-2022, 09:03 PM
Richie BH is crap !!! Why you gunna listen to that Joker ??!!

The insane joker who said that ought to step on Carl's trapdoor setup for the dummy Goon Squad trying to pillage that pile of Nation H3s.

Richie has a good BH (even though he says it is a weak link) and he can articulate.

So many BHs possible, but none of them will be worth a crap tightening shoulder joint. I see adult players do that on both FH and BH shots... all that joint tightening does is STOP power from flowing to arm-wrist-hand-finger-bat... and makes players do a stop and restart.

You try to restart the power from rest starting from the shoulder, you gunna end up trying to over power the whole shebang with your upper back and look tighter and stiffer than Frankenstein on a cold morning.

Dr Evil
04-29-2022, 10:34 PM
...on the backhand when I pull my shoulder blades together...
Echoing Der_Echte and Richie, don't do this. Very easy to strain your upper back this way. You have the better idea when when you write about leaving those muscles (rhomboids mostly) relaxed and letting the shoulders hang free and even a little hunched forward. This will place your elbows forward, too, and give you more room to swing as Richie describes.

Der_Echte
04-29-2022, 10:47 PM
I had in mind against block/topspin, mid distance.

But if you do it differently against backspin or from other distances I'd be very interested to hear also
Hi TaiHao,

At mid distance, vs a slower light to medium topspin ball (you have a lot of time), you can squat down some, rotate waist a little, and rotate shoulders back as prep... then explode up and forward uncoiling and when you are in strike zone, stop the shoulder turn, allow upper arm to be stable (but not tight) and explode that lower arm and wrist through the ball with a firming at impact to deliver great force. This is repeatable and if you are biomechanically sound, will not injure you.

You try to explode with wrong timing and or tightening things you should not, you are on track to tear yourself up trying to do that a lot at full power.

maurice101
04-29-2022, 11:34 PM
I much prefer Ma Longs and Harimotos body work in the backhand compared to Pitchford's backhand. Pitchford's backhand is excellent but the game is becoming faster and faster. These 2 pros squat and rotate the right hip back a bit compared to rotating the left hip back. Ma Longs backhand is faster to set up as it does not have a forehand backswing and the arm stays more to the right of the body, very powerful with parallels to a martial arts punch and it has a larger side to side hit zone in front of the body. It is more deceptive for down the line shots. Transition from a forehand to a backhand etc is faster.

Ma Longs and Hiromotos shot is simple with less things to go wrong and thus it is more reliable. Everything is going in the ball direction. Even I can do it in a match situation.

Try both methods on a robot and slowly reduce the time between the shots until your technique breaks down.
Try this for an off the bounce backhand too.

As a coach I would not teach Pitchfords backhand and my students have a big advantage with the modern backhand over people that have the more traditional backhand. The off the bounce Hiromotos type backhand down the line is a winner at all levels.

Of course your shoulders should be relaxed as the body work fires up and forward as the bat goes back to get a fast whip action. Delay the backswing as long as possible to get a fast whip action. Relax the wrist to get the wrist shake at the end of the short whip action.

Lula
04-30-2022, 11:59 AM
As a part time coach for many years i think it could be diffiuclt to think about what muscles to tense when playing. I do think it could be good if you are leaning forward with the upperbody a bit like a monkey.

I also think there are many ways to play the backhand and very individual to how you want to use it. If you want to play a lot of forehand i think you will become faster with the elbow closer to the body because shorter way to go around and smaller pocket and will be able to play fast with the backhand and if you want more power need to get the elbow a bit next to the body.

Personally for me my backhand have improved when i start the swing earlier, many times the ball comes to close to racket so i do not get any racket speed and also of importance for me is to push with the index finger so i get a better angle and also push with the thumb so i tense at a ball contact. When playing further away from the table i tense the little finger instead and try to put shoulder in front to be able to use more hip. I have had big problems with too lose grip so i can not swing fast without feeling that i will drop the racket and to relaxed at ball contact but tense like above have worked for me.
I also feel that players with good backhand have more backhandgrip and feel that is helping me aswell.

As a student of physiotherapy i think too much tensing in shoulder and especially shoulderblades where i think many are weaker could lead to injury so be careful. Think more important to think about tense the muscles so elbow is steady and triceps to stop the motion and/or finger and thumb.

And as always, a video says more than words and would definitely help you the most.

Good luck.

UpSideDownCarl
04-30-2022, 08:48 PM
Yep. If you are thinking of muscles to tense instead of the movement pattern and the quality of the movement, it will cause problems.

https://www.tabletennisdaily.com/forum/server/php/files/38/138/22/04/30/42c336f9353e8d9dc9b10e83fbb51d36%20jpg.jpeg


If you look at photos of Zhang Jike’s BH he rounds his upper back and will move it a little towards straight during the stroke to add power. But I guarantee he is not thinking about tensing muscles or even thinking about the stroke. He may have the trajectory of his shot and where it will land in mind, but not muscle actions which you actually don’t have control over anyway.

When you consciously try to contract specific muscles what actually happens is that you contract a whole host of muscles you don’t want to engage which will actually impede the movement you are trying to do.

When learning a movement pattern, it is better to visualize and practice the actual movement pattern rather than attempting to control what muscles contract.

Richie
04-30-2022, 10:00 PM
Yep. If you are thinking of muscles to tense instead of the movement pattern and the quality of the movement, it will cause problems.

https://uploads.tapatalk-cdn.com/20220430/42c336f9353e8d9dc9b10e83fbb51d36.jpg

If you look at photos of Zhang Jike’s BH he rounds his upper back and will move it a little towards straight during the stroke to add power. But I guarantee he is not thinking about tensing muscles or even thinking about the stroke. He may have the trajectory of his shot and where it will land in mind, but not muscle actions which you actually don’t have control over anyway.

When you consciously try to contract specific muscles what actually happens is that you contract a whole host of muscles you don’t want to engage which will actually impede the movement you are trying to do.

When learning a movement pattern, it is better to visualize and practice the actual movement pattern rather than attempting to control what muscles contract.
So much this. I've had a few coaches say to tense this and that, to "use" the forearm etc. Maybe I misunderstood what they meant but I could never get it to work when thinking about my strokes like this. It'd just cause this conscious tension that doesn't work well. I've improved so much since letting these kinds of things and other smaller details go and instead focus on a couple of things and just keep it simple. I would hardly even call it thinking about it, it just goes at the back of my head as a reference and then in practice try to find what feels right according to this reference.

maurice101
05-01-2022, 09:28 PM
I think most coaches give incomplete advice. You create racket head speed in the backhand by fast forearm speed and then stopping the arm to create a wrist whip action. You see a wrist shake at the end of the stroke in some pros.

The feeling is acceleration into ball contact. Pros do this whip action without thinking about it, especially in serves. They might tell you to accelerate into ball contact or use your forearm but not how they actually do it.

You can use this wrist shake idea in most strokes to create high racket head speed. My backhand and forehand flick has improved a lot using this principle.

Most club players tense up to start the stroke and have a tense wrist on ball contact. Pro technique is relaxed and simple in easy multi ball situations.

I suggest to try to get the wrist shake in your backhand to see if you are relaxed enough.
Other keys are the delayed backswing and the body fires forward as the bat goes back.

I am an average club player so take that into consideration looking at my video. You can see a shake in most of my backhands.

http://youtu.be/HSbHoGqfFFo

TaiHaoPingPong
05-03-2022, 09:24 AM
Thanks everyone for all the great replies. It seems whether for the Pitchford or Ma Long style of forehand, everyone is in agreement that these rhomboids or whatever should be loose 😀. And just to clarify on the idea of actively thinking about tensing muscles during the stroke, I meant more as a constant throughout. Like how if you're doing strength exercises like pushups or pullups you're advised to keep the shoulder blades pushed down the entire time. I meant it more as, should this be standard way we hold our upper bodies while playing backhand, rather than do I just suddenly engage them and summon their power into the stroke.

While on the subject of looseness vs tension on backhands, do you have your core tensed or engaged during playing? I experimented a bit last night with my arm and grip also, and it seemed clear that the looser my grip and arm up until right before contact, the easier I could get spin on the ball (esp. vs backspin). But at the same time it felt a bit less controlled to be so loose, but this could just be because I'm not used to it. But I'm wondering where the line or middle ground is: we can't just be keeping our entire bodies loose like spaghetti people the whole time surely?? 😂

I realise typing this that it's very much an individual and subjectively felt thing, most of you probably dont even think about it and it's clearly hard to communicate. I'm just curious on hearing how others with more experience see it and describe it

Richie
05-03-2022, 11:20 AM
Thanks everyone for all the great replies. It seems whether for the Pitchford or Ma Long style of forehand, everyone is in agreement that these rhomboids or whatever should be loose 😀. And just to clarify on the idea of actively thinking about tensing muscles during the stroke, I meant more as a constant throughout. Like how if you're doing strength exercises like pushups or pullups you're advised to keep the shoulder blades pushed down the entire time. I meant it more as, should this be standard way we hold our upper bodies while playing backhand, rather than do I just suddenly engage them and summon their power into the stroke.

While on the subject of looseness vs tension on backhands, do you have your core tensed or engaged during playing? I experimented a bit last night with my arm and grip also, and it seemed clear that the looser my grip and arm up until right before contact, the easier I could get spin on the ball (esp. vs backspin). But at the same time it felt a bit less controlled to be so loose, but this could just be because I'm not used to it. But I'm wondering where the line or middle ground is: we can't just be keeping our entire bodies loose like spaghetti people the whole time surely?? 😂

I realise typing this that it's very much an individual and subjectively felt thing, most of you probably dont even think about it and it's clearly hard to communicate. I'm just curious on hearing how others with more experience see it and describe it
When Timo talked about tensing the core in his video I while back I experimented with that, but I haven't been able to get it to work. What's funny about that is that my physiotherapist is helping me with an injury atm and while she was testing for muscular imbalances she said my core was strong and that she noticed that when I showed her my FH vs backspin video. My first thought was "huh, so maybe I do tense my core when I play FH". But I guess it's so automatic that it's very difficult to tell when it's happening. And I guess consciously starting to tense messed up my rhythm.

What I think happens is this:
If you have the swing sequence down, like you push with your legs as you backswing - you'll get a lot of racket speed from that. Around when you've contacted the ball it's very difficult to stay loose as you're pretty much forced to grip your racket a bit harder or it'll go flying out of your hand and your core might tense and legs/feet push back down again to break your momentum. If you're too loose in this situation you'll have a bigger forward swing (and sometimes you might have to have a bigger forward swing, that's okay too).

So it's like a balance of keeping a quite relaxed upper body and arm as you backswing correctly and then push in certain ways with your legs. So your lower body (legs etc) will have tension when you push off. If you timed the backswing and push well you've now created a lot of speed in your arm - racket collides somewhere on the path it's on with the ball. After this at some point it'd be a good idea to break the momentum so your body might then tighten slightly.

I think when you're in the ready position or you get in position for a FH or BH topspin you're often slightly bending at the hip. At least for me when I do that I feel my core muscles activating.

My intuition tells me that it's a better idea to strengthen the core muscles overall than consciously tensing them. There is a balance between overly loose and tense. You can see some very good amateur players out there who play super loose and they can get a lot of power and spin, but then their recovery is being compromised.

There is so much that could be talked about here, it's difficult to cover everything 😁

OldUser
05-03-2022, 11:32 AM
Being relaxed is the key for ANYTHING music or sport related, too much tension brings problems, even medical issues sometimes. When I teach my students for music lessons, I check their fingers, shake them to see if they're "floppy". Most of the time, floppy fingers bring a more accurate playing, more precise rhythm and better articulation with a clearer sound.

BUT, as in sport, you also have to exercise a lot in order to get all those motions being instinctive and fast. Multiball and robot with advices from a coach will help you a lot, repetition is the key to master anything.

UpSideDownCarl
05-04-2022, 07:04 AM
So, it is not whether muscles contract or not, it is that, if you are thinking about what muscles contract, the wrong muscles will contract.

If you are relaxed and do the movement pattern, the muscles that need to contract to create the movement pattern will contract. But if you are thinking of contracting muscles instead, muscles that should not be contracting will inhibit the movement and cause the movement to be stiff and will cause your racket speed to be notably slower than if you were trying to be relaxed while doing the stroke.

Also, it is a common misconception that pulling your shoulderblades back is good posture. If you are doing that too much of the time in normal life you will get a messed up neck and upper back. The natural curve of your Thoracic Spine is a gentle flexion (rounding). Pulling your shoulderblades back flattens the curve of the thoracic spine. But the curve in the thoracic spin is there for a reason (Shock Absorption). So, if you are walking around with the shoulderblades pulled back and the upper back flattened for a substantial amount of time while doing normal daily activities, that will give you disk damage in your cervical spin (neck).

But if you can't see from that photo of Zhang Jike how his ROUNDING his upper back during the backswing and preparation for the BH stroke might help him add power to his BH, then I am not sure what to tell you.

Video yourself playing and watch the footage. See what you think. Feel free to post footage here or in the Video Safe Thread if you want other people to see what you are doing. You will learn a lot from watching footage of yourself playing. It will help your game and help you improve.

UpSideDownCarl
05-05-2022, 02:57 AM
BTW: a note on what I said above: if you pull your shoulderblades back and work all those muscles in your upper back for short periods of time, it will make those muscles strong and more able to do the work they are supposed to do. If you try to hold that position for too much time, you will make them weaker and tighter: a muscle that is contracting for extended periods of time in ways it is not meant to, at a certain point starts getting stressed, then it starts getting weaker and over time it will also go into spasm and stop "remembering" how to relax.

Good posture is actually upright but relaxed. If too many muscles are contracting to hold you in a position you will not be able to move freely when you need to.

parin_90
05-06-2022, 12:31 AM
You have to be as relaxed as possible and catch your breath as much as possible to be as clear as possible.

Richie
05-26-2022, 10:58 PM
One of my training partners recorded a few points from a training match I had with a 2300+ rated Swedish player who plays in the second highest swedish league. I guess it's a response to the troll comment (that was deleted) in the thread, sorry I couldn't resist. 😂


https://www.youtube.com/embed/rIPLPhYOeuA?autohide=1&controls=1&showinfo=0
Seriously though: Of course, I'm just an amateur player and I don't have optimal technique. I just try to aim for it and hope that with small steps I'll approach the technique I mention in my posts. Someone doesn't have to be a very good player or have very good technique to make decent inferences about how to develop good technique. We often give good players too much credit for their coaching ability or believe their word is law just because of their playing ability.

The advice I give is what I try to use for myself (and have received from other really good coaches like Brett, Nextlevel and other forum members.. YT videos etc). We've gotta find what works best individually, but the core principles I think apply to most players (injuries etc can change this). How to communicate advice is also tricky..

Gozo
05-27-2022, 08:00 AM
I'm making some tweaks to my backhand topspin and am wondering something about the shoulder. Generally the advice for BH topspin (as well as most other shots) is to keep the shoulder and upper body relaxed during the stroke, but I've been playing around a bit with the shoulder blades and was wondering what other people do. Without actually using the shoulder itself to power the stroke, I notice a distinct difference in feeling between:

keeping the muscles at the back-of-shoulder/upper-back engaged, with shoulder blades pulled down/retracted, and
leaving those muscles (traps/delts/core? not sure on anatomy) loose and the shoulders more hanging free and naturally hunched forward

While on a FH topspin it feels obviously better and whippier when I manage to keep the shoulder area loose, on the backhand when I pull my shoulder blades together and keep these upper back muscles engaged it somehow feels better. I saw a video where Timo Boll talked about keeping the core tight is important, and doing this feels more similar to that, rather than actually using my shoulders to swing the arm in the stroke. If that makes any sense.I haven't played enough to try it out yet, but I just wanted to ask here if anyone could try out their swing and report what they notice they do with this part of their body

https://www.youtube.com/embed/q7mrPYLcT6U?autohide=1&controls=1&showinfo=0The above is my latest BH drive. Whether it is decent or not, I let others decide.However, I wish to chime in with my coach's pointers:
1. Hit at position 1 or just as the ball bounces. This means hit early and rapidly just as the ball bounce up. This also means moving in to hit the ball and not wait for the ball to bounce up and come to me ( the latter is obsolete method he said ).
2. Flick the wrist as though you are throwing away the racquet. Isolate the wrist and do not move the shoulder nor the elbow. Keep them lock in in relation to the body. Only flick the wrist.
3. Keep the racquet face parallel to the table.
4. Keep the muscle in the torso tense.
That's all folks. As Adam Bobrow always say, " Peace and keep on ponging "

Michael Zhuang
05-27-2022, 08:24 AM
one thing that helps me is to lower my head to almost at the ball level. My eyes are near where the ball bounces, and somehow this helps me get lift and acceleration through the ball.

NDH
05-27-2022, 02:00 PM
I've only just seen this thread, and I was going to post some video of my backhands, before I realised @Richie has already posted a Liam Pitchford video which is very good!

I did want to highlight one thing though..... Size matters (sorry guys).

By this, I mean your own height and size, and your physical ability.

Pitchford has very long arms (as do I) - Which is great for playing shots outside of our body with plenty of time.

Not very good for playing those quick, over the table shots like Harimoto.

Also... Whilst the current trend in the Pros is to have that punchy, fast backhand (Harimoto and the Chinese spring to mind)..... I just don't think it's anywhere near as effective unless you are playing a Pro.

My recommendation would be to develop a backhand loopy shot (like Timo Boll for example) - Stay away from the less spinny punchy backhand.

If you have a Spinny backhand loop type shot, you'll be a MUCH better player and win more points at every level.

UpSideDownCarl
05-27-2022, 02:06 PM
https://www.youtube.com/embed/q7mrPYLcT6U?autohide=1&controls=1&showinfo=0The above is my latest BH drive. Whether it is decent or not, I let others decide.However, I wish to chime in with my coach's pointers:1. Hit at position 1 or just as the ball bounces. This means hit early and rapidly just as the ball bounce up. This also means moving in to hit the ball and not wait for the ball to bounce up and come to me ( the latter is obsolete method he said ).2. Flick the wrist as though you are throwing away the racquet. Isolate the wrist and do not move the shoulder nor the elbow. Keep them lock in in relation to the body. Only flick the wrist.3. Keep the racquet face parallel to the table.4. Keep the muscle in the torso tense.That's all folks. As Adam Bobrow always say, " Peace and keep on ponging "If you look at the footage of your BH, you are kind of banging into the back of the ball. It is a little like a slap rather than a drive or a loop. It is way better than it was just a few weeks ago when it was all punch and every stroke was entirely different from any of the previous ones. But, there is a reason why the longest sustained clip has you BHing 7 balls and that rally has 2 nets in it. When your BH is more consistent, hitting at that intensity, you will be getting a few 100 shots before you miss.....at least when there is a pro on the other side returning the ball to you that is what should happen.

UpSideDownCarl
05-27-2022, 02:09 PM
one thing that helps me is to lower my head to almost at the ball level. My eyes are near where the ball bounces, and somehow this helps me get lift and acceleration through the ball.
Since the OP's question was for people with decent level BH, can you show some footage of your BH topspin?

Way Zooted
05-27-2022, 03:33 PM
Our lead coach (Gary Fraiman) is a firm believer in sandpaper and/or hardbat to help with technique and feel for table tennis stokes. Definitely has helped me a lot. Maybe give it a try.
https://www.youtube.com/embed/uOw_KOk5dq4?autohide=1&controls=1&showinfo=0

Der_Echte
05-27-2022, 04:53 PM
Gary and Kit !!!

Either would destroy 95%+ of this forum in a match.

NDH
05-27-2022, 05:12 PM
Our lead coach (Gary Fraiman) is a firm believer in sandpaper and/or hardbat to help with technique and feel for table tennis stokes. Definitely has helped me a lot. Maybe give it a try
This is an interesting take.

I've played some very good sandpaper players (the best being the Scottish champion and last 32 at the World Ping Pong Championships).....

it's such a strange game, playing against a sandpaper player when you are playing with "normal" rubbers.

I find playing with sandpaper bats/hard bats so much harder, because I've never trained like that.

I've never really considered the technique to be transferable either - I play with quite a lot of wrist snap, which is a big no no with a sandpaper bat!

What's your experience been like?

Way Zooted
05-27-2022, 05:31 PM
This is an interesting take.

I've played some very good sandpaper players (the best being the Scottish champion and last 32 at the World Ping Pong Championships).....

it's such a strange game, playing against a sandpaper player when you are playing with "normal" rubbers.

I find playing with sandpaper bats/hard bats so much harder, because I've never trained like that.

I've never really considered the technique to be transferable either - I play with quite a lot of wrist snap, which is a big no no with a sandpaper bat!

What's your experience been like?
It is more difficult. Sandpaper forces you to make a stroke on the ball. So you do have to move into position and have proper stroke timing. High level players are able to get some additional spin from the wrist but no rubber still makes you to use a proper stoke with the blade.

With sandpaper, topspin to topspin is more like lifting an underspin ball in table tennis. Looping an underspin ball is easier, so it is a bit strange in that sense. You get very little grip so when reversing the spin there is a lot of slippage on the sandpaper.

NDH
05-27-2022, 05:43 PM
It is more difficult. Sandpaper forces you to make a stroke on the ball. So you do have to move into position and have proper stroke timing. High level players are able to get some additional spin from the wrist but no rubber still makes you to use a proper stoke with the blade.

With sandpaper, topspin to topspin is more like lifting an underspin ball in table tennis. Looping an underspin ball is easier, so it is a bit strange in that sense. You get very little grip so when reversing the spin there is a lot of slippage on the sandpaper.
Hmmm, if I trained with a sandpaper bat, it would mess me up completely.

I know the likes of Andrew Baggaley stop playing with reverse rubber for a month or two before the big tournaments so he can really get the difference in technique down.....

Perhaps it can help at the entry level of TT, but it's virtually a different sport (a much harder one! 😂)

TaiHaoPingPong
05-27-2022, 10:20 PM
I've only just seen this thread, and I was going to post some video of my backhands, before I realised @Richie has already posted a Liam Pitchford video which is very good!

I did want to highlight one thing though..... Size matters (sorry guys).

By this, I mean your own height and size, and your physical ability.

Pitchford has very long arms (as do I) - Which is great for playing shots outside of our body with plenty of time.

Not very good for playing those quick, over the table shots like Harimoto.

Also... Whilst the current trend in the Pros is to have that punchy, fast backhand (Harimoto and the Chinese spring to mind)..... I just don't think it's anywhere near as effective unless you are playing a Pro.

My recommendation would be to develop a backhand loopy shot (like Timo Boll for example) - Stay away from the less spinny punchy backhand.

If you have a Spinny backhand loop type shot, you'll be a MUCH better player and win more points at every level.
Since the relax vs retract question was so clearly and resoundingly answered (STAY RELAXED :) ), I'm happy to see the discussion's broadened to BH topspin technique more generally.

@NDH , I'd love to hear why you think the more spinny/pully (in another thread I saw a pull/push distinction) BH stroke is more effective at the non-pro level. Is it because non top-level players simply tend to have a lot of trouble managing spin, whereas sheer speed can be more effective vs pros who can handle spin easily? Or because vs non pros you probably have more time for the stroke? I tend to think too often in terms of which stroke looks more pleasing but not at this level of effectivenss vs different level players.

Also, can you or anyone put their finger on what exactly distinguishes these two types of strokes? The punchy vs loopy BH topspin? Clearly both can have topspin in them, in both the forearm and wrist fly forward in a singly motion, both can be played with relatively closed racket. Is it the backswing, weight transfer,elbow position?

Final question, key points for performing this more loopy/spinny timo boll version? To me it looks quite different to pitchford's for example

latej
05-27-2022, 10:57 PM
This is an interesting take.

I've played some very good sandpaper players (the best being the Scottish champion and last 32 at the World Ping Pong Championships).....

it's such a strange game, playing against a sandpaper player when you are playing with "normal" rubbers.

I find playing with sandpaper bats/hard bats so much harder, because I've never trained like that.

I've never really considered the technique to be transferable either - I play with quite a lot of wrist snap, which is a big no no with a sandpaper bat!

What's your experience been like?

Strange indeed. Two players in the neighbour club enjoy to play sand-paper now, when its off-season. One of them is much older than me, and a higher level than me. First set against him with sand-paper, I lead 4:0 and then it was 4:10 :-). I won the match 2:1, we played only to 2. But next time I lost badly 3:0. The balls are always the same, he is catching my spins. This time he caught all, zero mistake on BH. It is a really good training. And good experience. An alegory, I fight with knife, he bare-handed, and he still wins...

He promised to play me with his normal bat, but when he tried his bat, he said it is too different. He needs time to get back. That confirms your point that it is really different. I myself played 1 minute with it. It was 1 minute too much...

NDH
05-27-2022, 11:31 PM
Since the relax vs retract question was so clearly and resoundingly answered (STAY RELAXED :) ), I'm happy to see the discussion's broadened to BH topspin technique more generally.

@NDH , I'd love to hear why you think the more spinny/pully (in another thread I saw a pull/push distinction) BH stroke is more effective at the non-pro level. Is it because non top-level players simply tend to have a lot of trouble managing spin, whereas sheer speed can be more effective vs pros who can handle spin easily? Or because vs non pros you probably have more time for the stroke? I tend to think too often in terms of which stroke looks more pleasing but not at this level of effectivenss vs different level players.

Also, can you or anyone put their finger on what exactly distinguishes these two types of strokes? The punchy vs loopy BH topspin? Clearly both can have topspin in them, in both the forearm and wrist fly forward in a singly motion, both can be played with relatively closed racket. Is it the backswing, weight transfer,elbow position?

Final question, key points for performing this more loopy/spinny timo boll version? To me it looks quite different to pitchford's for example
Ok, I’m on my phone so I’ll try my best to answer in order.

At virtually every level (certainly every level that most of us will play), spin is more important than speed.

That’s not to say speed isn’t important, you need to combine them both.

But those quick backhand punchy type shots you see in the woman’s game and the Chinese team for example, are just not as effective at every amateur level.

Those backhands are virtually no different to your typical “knocking up” before a match, and unless you are incorporating it into your game plan (likely to get you into position to attack on your forehand….) it’s just not as effective.

The minute you start looping those backhands, generating more spin (akin to a forehand loop), it’s a compete game changer at the amateur level.

There is no wing that opponents can pin you on, and most people aren’t good enough to counter big top spin, so they end up blocking and playing a little more passive.

Pitchford has unique abilities due to his size and reach. His backhand makes the most of those long arms, and many people won’t be able to replicate that.

Timo’s backhand (and overall, controlled attacking style) is the one I personally think is the best foundation to base your game on if you want to win at the amateur level.

Good control, good spin, loopy on both sides, and doesn’t rely on running around to his forehand at the earliest opportunity.

As for the difference, in my head, I see Timo’s BH stroke to be a little longer, bigger weight transfer and more “loop like” vs the Chinese style that is a little more punchy, less arc and less spin.

For clarity, I’m not saying that’s bad in those situations, and you often won’t have the time to play expansive backhand loops in fast paced games…… But we aren’t playing at that level, and even a very very very good amateur level does not need to be reliant on those punchy backhands.

I spent an entire summer about 8 years ago just hitting backhands. All summer.

You end up developing your own stroke, and from there you can tweak it.

But in my head, I just wanted to get more of that arc that you often see on the forehand, and I can 100% say that it’s improved me as a player no end!

Richie
05-28-2022, 12:01 AM
Yeah spin is important, it gives you safety in your shots and it gives you time to set up your next shot. And at lower levels where players have a tough time countering, even a high spinny loop can be very effective. Then you can build on your speed from there. Thin contacts to get high levels of spin can also be risky. So there needs to be some balance here, not too flat and thick contact and not too thin, both ends of this spectrum can be useful for different things. But imo this comes from experience, lots of practice and developing the fundamentals. Theorizing doesn't do much.

A spinnier BH is what I've been trying to work on. It looks and feels great when I hit a banger (and it has its place), but a spinnier version is more reliable and safe for winning and setting up points.

UpSideDownCarl
05-28-2022, 12:45 AM
I am going to tackle that issue of why go with spin first when developing a backhand for an amateur player and I am going to come at it from a different perspective. But I think both Ritchey's and NDH's answers are solid and can stand alone. So, not to detract from what they said. But to add to it. And while doing this, I am going to see if I can put into context how, the sandpaper comment is interesting and kind of has its place.

When you see a high level player do a smack, a slap or a bang shot, it looks to us mere mortals like it is kind of a flatly hit shot. But a lot of the times, the big boys are still putting LOADS of spin on shots that we see as flat bangers. These guys already know how to spin the ball soooooooo freakin' well that on those shots with more direct impact, they are still spinning the hell out of the ball.

And then when one of us club level players is trying to emulate that as we are trying to learn and improve our shots, we end up with a ball that is really a lot flatter.....not much spin at all. Now, to a decent level player, if the ball is fast but it only has a little spin, by the time it gets 2-3 feet past the end of the table, it is not really going so fast anymore because the topspin did not cause it to kick and increase its spin off the bounce so it is just continuing to slow down and its trajectory is very easy. Whereas, if it had loads of topspin, the topspin would also start pulling the ball towards the ground after the bounce and past the table. So, aside from the heavy topspin hitting the topsheet of the opponent's rubber causing him to have to touch the ball just so for a counter (which, as NDH already said, not a lot of mid-level players are solid at) the topspin also causes the ball to accelerate off the bounce and drop towards the ground rather than hanging up in the air and slowing down. A few feet back from the table that flatter shot is very easy to CRUSH.

So, what did I say up there that connects with the sandpaper: The higher level guys are able to still spin the ball while making deep and seemingly direct contact. If you don't make solid, dead on contact with Sandpaper, the ball won't go anywhere. So, hitting with sandpaper could, for some, help with learning the idea of deep, penetrating contact and really crushing the ball. But this is a two edged sword. For some they could learn to do this AND spin the ball. For others, it could cause them to hit everything MUCH FLATTER.

UpSideDownCarl
05-28-2022, 12:59 AM
Now I will talk about Sandpaper. I know a guy who is about 2700 who is amazing at playing HardBat and Sandpaper. He could probably compete at a decently high level in those tournaments like The Ping Pong World Championships if he gave himself a month of just playing HardBat before the tournament. This guy is originally from Poland and was on the cadet team in Poland when he was a kid. Pretty amazing player. He spins the hell out of the ball but he makes very very direct contact a lot of the time even though he is looping. He can and does do slow spinny thin contact loops too. But.....a lot of his best shots he is just crushing the ball and an uneducated observer might think he is smashing the ball. But he is not.

I know another player, a little higher level, he is from France. His contact is more delicate and spin spin spin.....He is not as good at Sandpaper. But both are amazing TT players. Just two different styles of play.

Now, one more detail. I have a friend who is a Pro Tennis player who also plays Table Tennis. Hit shots, from FH and BH are beastly, fast, spinny, cracking shots. One time I was hitting with this guy and another friend of mine who did not know Mr Tennis, was watching and he said: "Carl, he hits harder than you! He has more power!" I said, "Yeah, no shite....do you think I did not know that?" When he makes contact he digs into the ball and spins the ball. He did a lot of TT training with Lily Yip and has known her since the 1990s.

This guy is probably higher rated as a HardBat and/or SandPaper player than he is as a smooth sponge player. But he is darn good at either skill and I think you can tell why he is good at the skills for HardBat from how I described it.

So, here is what I would say:

If you played Tennis and also play TT, you may already have enough technique and feel for contact to dig into the ball, make deep contact and still spin the ball. But odds are, if your main racket sport is TT, it would probably be worth going from starting with learning how to make brush contact and maximum spin and then moving from there to deeper and deeper contact WHILE STILL SPINNING THE BALL.

Hopefully that ties things together and makes some sense.

Richie
05-28-2022, 01:05 AM
Fully agree. I think the fundamentals of sandpaper and regular table tennis is very similar. In both you use your body in different ways to propel the arm. But the contact is different.

I saw the ping-pong (sandpaper) world champs in 2017. One TT pro (Filip Szymanski) was there and did a good job. He didn't do any practice before. He actually played defensively, was pretty cool to watch. But the reason that many of the players there could do so well, without having played with sandpaper their whole lives is because their technique in regular TT is so steady. Plus they already have good feeling for the ball so they really just needed to become more familiar with the different contact.

There is no escaping the fundamentals and experience for improvement. You can try different things to get there, some are a bit gimmicky imo, but trying different things and making it more fun is also great. And there is no one size fits all, so those different approaches may very well work. But a long consistent journey wins the race imo, except it's endless :).

Gozo
05-28-2022, 03:32 PM
If you look at the footage of your BH, you are kind of banging into the back of the ball. It is a little like a slap rather than a drive or a loop. It is way better than it was just a few weeks ago when it was all punch and every stroke was entirely different from any of the previous ones. But, there is a reason why the longest sustained clip has you BHing 7 balls and that rally has 2 nets in it. When your BH is more consistent, hitting at that intensity, you will be getting a few 100 shots before you miss.....at least when there is a pro on the other side returning the ball to you that is what should happen.
Thanks for your feedback. Now I know 100 uninterrupted strokes is considered decent. Thanks for setting the standard. BTW, what is the reason that will make me more consistently?

UpSideDownCarl
05-28-2022, 04:50 PM
Thanks for your feedback. Now I know 100 uninterrupted strokes is considered decent. Thanks for setting the standard. BTW, what is the reason that will make me more consistently?
One time, a friend and I did 20 min straight without dropping a BH going BH to BH. This is a long time ago. But we figured out, at about 50 per min which is not that fast, but not slow either, we did about 1,000 hits each before dropping the ball. :)

And, when Dan broke the world record with his dad, they were hitting much slower, but they did over 8 hours. :)

Gozo
05-29-2022, 06:07 AM
Ladies & Gentlemen of this fair TT community,

With regards to this punchy aka chinesey / Harimoto'ish BH versus traditional loopy BH ala Timo Bollish type, kindly allow me to add my little two cents worth of comment. As mine is not under the category of Timo Bollish type so I can't comment on this type of BH.

However, in regards to the punchy chinesey / Harimotoish BH ( also include FZD to some extend and LYJ type ) I can see some advantage that I personally feel and can visualised.

NB: I also realised that I receive more serves using my BH even to the extend of moving to the FH side on many occasion. I can see personally see why LYJ, FZD, Harimoto et al prefer these as well. Why?

1. It feels comfortable and quite natural if I may say so myself. This so if you have BH dominant grip at the onset ready position.
2. Contrary to some who argue that the opponent can hit a down the line to your BH and win the point outright, I doubt so because of the side spin we put when returning using the BH flick aka Chiquita. The ball has loads of side spin which makes it tendency to come back to the middle or FH side ( depending on the opponent racquet angle ).
3. If it comes back to the middle then we can start a BH to BH rally or if it comes back to the FH side we can easily hit a down the line with BH or start a FH loop-a-loop.

NDH,
The above are the advantages I see with using the Punchy ala Chinesey / Harimoto / LYJ type BH.

NDH
05-29-2022, 07:18 AM
Hey Gozo, I wouldn’t disagree with you too much on that, and I’m certainly not saying the Chinese style backhand is bad.

It’s more that at the amateur level, I see far more advantages to the spinny backhand.

I should also probably add…..The people who have the ability to play the “Timo Boll” style backhand, also have the ability to play the punch style, and will regularly do so close to the table if needed.

But if you’ve only ever learnt that style, it’s unlikely you can unload a massive backhand loop away from the table (or even got lots of spin on close to the table backhands).

There definitely isn’t a right or wrong way, just my opinion!

PingBirdPong
05-29-2022, 08:26 AM
Hey Gozo, I wouldn’t disagree with you too much on that, and I’m certainly not saying the Chinese style backhand is bad.

It’s more that at the amateur level, I see far more advantages to the spinny backhand.

I should also probably add…..The people who have the ability to play the “Timo Boll” style backhand, also have the ability to play the punch style, and will regularly do so close to the table if needed.

But if you’ve only ever learnt that style, it’s unlikely you can unload a massive backhand loop away from the table (or even got lots of spin on close to the table backhands).

There definitely isn’t a right or wrong way, just my opinion!
I wanna practice the Timo “magic” Bill backhand, but I still can’t go to a club and play.