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  1. Gozo is offline
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    #21
    Quote Originally Posted by TaiHaoPingPong
    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
    The 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 This also means moving in to hit the ball and not wait for the ball to bounce up and come to me ( the latter is obsolete method he said ).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 "

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    Last edited by Gozo; 4 Weeks Ago at 07:01 AM.

  2. Michael Zhuang is offline
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    #22
    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.

  3. NDH is offline
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    #23

    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.

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  4. UpSideDownCarl is offline
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    #24
    Quote Originally Posted by Gozo
    The 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.

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    Last edited by UpSideDownCarl; 4 Weeks Ago at 01:07 PM.
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  5. UpSideDownCarl is offline
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    #25
    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Zhuang
    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?

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  6. Way Zooted is offline
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    #26

    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.

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    Last edited by Way Zooted; 4 Weeks Ago at 02:36 PM.

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    #27
    Gary and Kit !!!

    Either would destroy 95%+ of this forum in a match.
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  8. NDH is offline
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    #28
    Quote Originally Posted by Way Zooted

    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?

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  9. Way Zooted is offline
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    #29
    Quote Originally Posted by NDH
    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.


  10. NDH is offline
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    #30
    Quote Originally Posted by Way Zooted

    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! 😂)

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  11. TaiHaoPingPong is offline
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    #31
    Quote Originally Posted by NDH

    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

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    #32
    Quote Originally Posted by NDH
    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...

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  13. NDH is offline
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    #33
    Quote Originally Posted by TaiHaoPingPong
    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!

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  14. Richie is offline
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    #34

    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.

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    Last edited by Richie; 4 Weeks Ago at 11:02 PM.

  15. UpSideDownCarl is offline
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    #35
    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.

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  16. UpSideDownCarl is offline
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    #36
    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.

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    #37
    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 .

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  18. Gozo is offline
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    #38
    Quote Originally Posted by UpSideDownCarl

    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?

  19. UpSideDownCarl is offline
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    #39
    Quote Originally Posted by Gozo
    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.
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    Senior TTD Member 657 406
    #40
    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.
    Last edited by Gozo; 4 Weeks Ago at 05:13 AM.

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