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  1. AndyK is offline
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    #1

    Thoughts on strategy from an old returnee

    Quick background: Mid-40s guy in good shape for my age; used to play competitively in high school; self-taught (no coach when I was young); Left handed, Shakehand grip, Regular inverted rubber, Current USATT Rating 1459

    Like many, I caught the fever again in middle-age and returned to table tennis after 20+ years. Two months ago, I joined a club in my area (where I play twice a week). My muscle memory is starting to come back nicely, and I should be much more consistent in another 2 months with 6-7 hours of play per week. In club play, I usually beat 1400 level players. I've also played two USATT sanctioned tournaments. In my last tournament, I beat a 1700 and a 1560 rated player, and I currently have around a ~1500 rating. My goal is to play 4 more tournaments this year and get to 1700 by the end of the year, and to hit 2000 rating in late-2022 or 2023.

    My style: I joke that my game is like Steffi Graf's -- I play close to the table, have an excellent service game for my rating that gives even 2000-level players issues sometimes, have a strong forehand loop with sidespin that I use any chance that I get, and my backhand side is primarily used for slicing or blocking. I'm also left-handed, which is something that troubles the right-handed majority.

    The game has changed quite a bit since I used to play tournaments as captain of my high school team more than twenty years ago. Here are some of my thoughts based on my experience over the last two months, and I would to get your feedback on whether you generally agree or have a different view. I feel that by playing a little differently from the norm, I've been able to win against higher rated payers who are unfamiliar with my style.

    - Short Chops: I've found that many players (under 1700) aren't very comfortable with playing shorter, heavy chops (heavy backspin). Once they loop these a couple of times into the net, they generally abandon the loop and enter the pushing game. That has allowed me to use my more consistent backhand chop and my forehand loop to win games. At my level, the player who makes less mistakes generally wins, and the chops help me there as well. Of course, my ceiling may be limited when I play higher-caliber players.

    - Backhand serve: Rarely do I see people use backhand serves anymore at any level. I use backhand serves a lot (sidespin, underspin, no-spin) since the receives tend to land nicely on my forehand side, setting up a strong FH loop or smash. Also, my fast crosscourt topspin BH serve, which I generally use once per game, has also worked surprisingly well at crucial moments for cheap points, with a number of aces or off-table returns. Why have backhand serves generally fallen out of favor?

    - Serving from the center of the table: Another serve that has worked surprisingly well for me at important moments is when I stand at the center of the table and serve a simple sidespin + topspin serve to the center of my opponent's side. Most of the time, they get confused on whether to use their backhand or forehand, and so the return pops off the table. Why don't people generally seem to serve from the middle of the table now, at least occasionally, to get cheap points?

    - General serve game: I spent hundreds/thousands of hours on my serve as a teenager because it was so much fun to learn new serves and I would win a lot of cheap points outright or with my third ball attack. I'm happy to find that my service variety, deception, and placement still give higher ranked opponents trouble. Yet in my last two tournaments I played 1800+ ranked players and generally found their serves to be rather pedestrian. Do these guys just focus a lot more on loops and counterloops rather than serves?

    - BH receive: The BH banana receive has really taken off with younger, higher level 2000+ players, and they are super-comfortable to just step over to their forehand side for these receives. Could someone tell me the biggest advantages of this receive? I have no experience or muscle memory with this and am wondering if it is worth the investment in time. Would I be better off continuing to generally push or chop back returns and focus on improving my relatively weak BH loop?

    - Flat hits/smash: I used to be an excellent flat hitter in the past and would use my smash for third ball attacks or on loops, even those that were low to medium in height. I feel like this could be a weapon for me because very few people outright smash anymore unless the ball is very high. Unfortunately, this has been one of the slowest aspects of my game to return, probably because I'm a lot older, and so my movement and reflexes aren't as good. Still, I'm optimistic that my smash will come back if I spend more time on them. Do you think it's worth the investment?

    Thank you for patiently reading through this. Would love any feedback, and also any suggestions on how I can improve my odds of reaching a 2000 rating. I don't have any videos yet, but will send a video of my next tournament in September. I used to play 4-5 hours a *day* between the age of 12-18 (I was obsessed), and now I can only probably put in 4-5 hours a week at the club and maybe another 2-3 hours on my robot, so I'm trying to optimize my time investment

    - Andy

  2. Lycanthrope is offline
    says From RPB to SH
     
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    #2
    Apparently you have very good fundamental skills and in-depth knowledge.

    The points you have raised here are outdated skills for pro-players, so people don't learn them from TV and don't know the way to handle them. They can easily help you win the games at low-mid level. It is just for fun for you to play at low-mid level, your knowledge and experience are at a higher level.

    Those points may no longer be effective at higher level competition. That will be your real challenge.

    Welcome back after 20+ years.

    I don't suggest BH banana receive for you. It would hurt your wrist. I used it when I was playing RPB, but I am now playing shakehand and find it is more difficult for shakehand than RPB. You can always find other solutions than BH banana receive for each serve, although they are not as modern as it. If you are good at short chop, you don't need to be eager to jump to topspin rally using BH banana receive.

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    Last edited by Lycanthrope; 08-04-2021 at 03:58 AM.

  3. AndyK is offline
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    #3
    Thank you, Lycanthrope!!

  4. Der_Echte is offline
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    #4

    and to hit 2000 rating in late-2022 or 2023.

    Good luck without some very frequent professional help. That timeline is very short. You will need a lot of touch, footwork, and match experience to get to and stay at that 2000 level.

    I played 1800+ ranked players and generally found their serves to be rather pedestrian.

    You MIGHT be simply very kind by saying just that. Many 1800 level players have ZERO idea how to serve short when they want, or actually use the serve for what it is intended for - to get an immediate offensive advantage.

    I used to be an excellent flat hitter in the past and would use my smash for third ball attacks... Do you think it's worth the investment?

    Well, I would say it has its place. At even the 2000 level, there is ALWAYS a chance of 1-2 balls coming in higher and shorter... in general, it is better to step in and hit or look drive / loop kill / Kill the Poor (little white ball I mean) It is a matter of recognizing it and having a one step forard step footwork to hit it in rythm with the right biomechanic do not need massive backswing. Closer to net you are, the better percentage chance by angle margins and even better by position, momentum power xfer to ball with ease and compactness. That counts more than crushing it from 5 ft behind endline. You are more quick, sudden and freeze opponent / rob time if you train yourself to take those early... but you need to see it developing and be on balance ready to move it quickly with control.

    The BH banana receive has really taken off with younger, higher level 2000+ players, and they are super-comfortable to just step over to their forehand side for these receives. Could someone tell me the biggest advantages of this receive? I have no experience or muscle memory with this and am wondering if it is worth the investment in time. Would I be better off continuing to generally push or chop back returns and focus on improving my relatively weak BH loop

    There are many ways to BH flip a ball. The safest IMO is the bananna... it alows you to impact the ball WAY on the way down, which gives you time. You impact it an inch or two from table, the ball has much downward vertical energy, so when you do your lifting stroke, the ball will not arc as high and it is very safe. Side swiping the ball the ay you do cancels out underspin easier, so it makes it more controlable and safer.

    You have to see the action and know what you can do, what opponent can do what are your chances and what you want to follow up with. Sometimes, a push is a good reply. A QUALITY push. The more you can lear to get close to ball with off the bounce timing for short push and on the rise 1/2 - 3/4 up net heigh for fast deep push if you locate it to middle or weak zone, than that can be safer and more effective than a flip... so long as you are not doing it so much you train opponent. Having all three returns and changing where you place it witout showing it is a skill that is worth learning.

    SERVE RECEIVE (and a good serve/attack that nearly eveyone has) will get you to 2000 faster than all the other stuff I wrote above. it isn't MACHO MAN stuff, but it what you need at 2000 level.

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  5. AndyK is offline
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    #5
    Thank you, Der_Echte. Great point on the importance of the receive game. I definitely need to work on that since right now I have some challenges returning half-long serves low, especially those loaded with top spin. They usually pop up and give my opponent a juicy lollipop. My FH and BH flips are an abomination as well.

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  6. AndyK is offline
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    #6
    Oh, and lol on the "kill the poor" reference

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  7. pingpongpaddy is offline
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    #7
    Quote Originally Posted by AndyK
    welcome. back Andy!

    Quick background:
    Mid-40s guy in good shape for my age; used to play competitively in high school; self-taught (no coach when I was young); Left handed, Shakehand grip, Regular inverted rubber, Current USATT Rating 1459

    Like many, I caught the fever again in middle-age and returned to table tennis after 20+ years. Two months ago, I joined a club in my area (where I play twice a week). My muscle memory is starting to come back nicely, and I should be much more consistent in another 2 months with 6-7 hours of play per week. In club play, I usually beat 1400 level players. I've also played two USATT sanctioned tournaments. In my last tournament, I beat a 1700 and a 1560 rated player, and I currently have around a ~1500 rating. My goal is to play 4 more tournaments this year and get to 1700 by the end of the year, and to hit 2000 rating in late-2022 or 2023.

    My style: I joke that my game is like Steffi Graf's -- I play close to the table, have an excellent service game for my rating that gives even 2000-level players issues sometimes, have a strong forehand loop with sidespin that I use any chance that I get, and my backhand side is primarily used for slicing or blocking. I'm also left-handed, which is something that troubles the right-handed majority.
    as a lefty against rightys yr general direction of play should be towards opponents fh corner which means his ball will be coming back to HQ (bh corner)
    from where you can step around with fh and also control direction with fh


    The game has changed quite a bit since I used to play tournaments as captain of my high school team more than twenty years ago. Here are some of my thoughts based on my experience over the last two months, and I would to get your feedback on whether you generally agree or have a different view. I feel that by playing a little differently from the norm, I've been able to win against higher rated payers who are unfamiliar with my style.

    - Short Chops: I've found that many players (under 1700) aren't very comfortable with playing shorter, heavy chops (heavy backspin). Once they loop these a couple of times into the net, they generally abandon the loop and enter the pushing game. That has allowed me to use my more consistent backhand chop and my forehand loop to win games. At my level, the player who makes less mistakes generally wins, and the chops help me there as well. Of course, my ceiling may be limited when I play higher-caliber players.

    if you have a high quality pushing game, that will raise your level more than anything else.
    you should be able to push deep to the white line with varying amounts of spin
    you should be able to push short and low with varying spin.
    a good way to develop this is by having just 1 pushing game every time you play with yr regular practice partner
    finally part of pushing practice is to link your pushing to your attacking play
    vis:
    short
    short
    deep (force opp to open)
    ready to answer opponents topspin



    - Backhand serve: Rarely do I see people use backhand serves anymore at any level. I use backhand serves a lot (sidespin, underspin, no-spin) since the receives tend to land nicely on my forehand side, setting up a strong FH loop or smash. Also, my fast crosscourt topspin BH serve, which I generally use once per game, has also worked surprisingly well at crucial moments for cheap points, with a number of aces or off-table returns. Why have backhand serves generally fallen out of favor?

    fh serves work well from HQ (bh corner) because by standing there you give opp less opportunity to return to yr bh.
    of course if you are not fh oriented you may rethink this




    - Serving from the center of the table: Another serve that has worked surprisingly well for me at important moments is when I stand at the center of the table and serve a simple sidespin + topspin serve to the center of my opponent's side. Most of the time, they get confused on whether to use their backhand or forehand, and so the return pops off the table. Why don't people generally seem to serve from the middle of the table now, at least occasionally, to get cheap points?

    you make a good point but as a lefty there are some juicy angles serving from HQ
    study He Zhi Wen and how he stresses opponent by serviing wide to rh fh then redirecting next shot down the bh. (reach on bh is shorter than fh because of reaching across body)



    - General serve game: I spent hundreds/thousands of hours on my serve as a teenager because it was so much fun to learn new serves and I would win a lot of cheap points outright or with my third ball attack. I'm happy to find that my service variety, deception, and placement still give higher ranked opponents trouble. Yet in my last two tournaments I played 1800+ ranked players and generally found their serves to be rather pedestrian. Do these guys just focus a lot more on loops and counterloops rather than serves?

    on serve try to improve the quality of yr short chop serve such that experienced may put it in the net. Then learn the empty version. Everytime yr partner is late arriving serve 100 balls
    yes many amateurs waste their time going fh to fh when serve receive are the two most important things.They are having fun but not improving as much as they could



    - BH receive: The BH banana receive has really taken off with younger, higher level 2000+ players, and they are super-comfortable to just step over to their forehand side for these receives. Could someone tell me the biggest advantages of this receive? I have no experience or muscle memory with this and am wondering if it is worth the investment in time. Would I be better off continuing to generally push or chop back returns and focus on improving my relatively weak BH loop?

    notice that pros also use the flick/punch as well as banana to play bh receive crosscourt from fh You need to understand the angles and have good footwork
    I recommend the strawberry as worth developing if bh loop is not natural for you


    for receive
    2 elements
    1:
    reading the server
    watch players serving even when yr not playing them. Watch for backspin. As a general rule anything without backspin can be attacked. Sidespin simply aids the disguise.
    2:
    the stroke
    against long serves you should have a consistent topspin with a good arc for net clearance.

    against short serves the racket face should start vertical while you are reading the serve and then open if you read backspin so that you can apply chop.
    If topspin you can continue with vertical face adding sidespin if you like. This results a flat slow receive which gives you time to get ready for 4th ball.
    One of the biggest mistakes is to try to spin an incoming short serve which you cannot read.
    if instead you guide the racket head through the contact point smoothly and confidently ensuring that the racket head is the same height over the table throughout the stroke you will have better results.
    the practice of “racket head on rails” short service return requires good footwork otherwise
    there will be problems
    step
    then
    ​​​​​​​contact




    - Flat hits/smash: I used to be an excellent flat hitter in the past and would use my smash for third ball attacks or on loops, even those that were low to medium in height. I feel like this could be a weapon for me because very few people outright smash anymore unless the ball is very high. Unfortunately, this has been one of the slowest aspects of my game to return, probably because I'm a lot older, and so my movement and reflexes aren't as good. Still, I'm optimistic that my smash will come back if I spend more time on them. Do you think it's worth the investment?

    definitely worth it
    my practice method for low ball:
    10 balls
    stand bh corner towards the net. let ball bounce on table 18 inches from net such that it rises 6 inches above net. execute kill paying attention to relaxation, power and footwork. standard required:
    10 out of 10
    next step try from 24 inches
    ….
    until from base line.
    this is an effective practice because it is EASY
    so if you experience errors you will be sure that you have technique to correct and can get on with it
    another good suggestion is 1 lob/kill game per session with yr partner
    or push game where points only count when kill is made (lose 2 for a miss )



    Thank you for patiently reading through this. Would love any feedback, and also any suggestions on how I can improve my odds of reaching a 2000 rating. I don't have any videos yet, but will send a video of my next tournament in September. I used to play 4-5 hours a *day* between the age of 12-18 (I was obsessed), and now I can only probably put in 4-5 hours a week at the club and maybe another 2-3 hours on my robot, so I'm trying to optimize my time investment

    - Andy


    I see you have a robot With yr systematic approach you are good to go
    I hope this wasn’t overkill and there is something helpful
    good luck

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    Last edited by pingpongpaddy; 08-06-2021 at 10:39 AM.
    ppp

    bh
    spinpips chop2
    yinhe ayous wood 1 ply
    fh
    max moristo sp

  8. AndyK is offline
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    #8
    Wow, fantastic suggestions! Thank you, pingpongpaddy.

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