A couple game videos, help me return serve better

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With ambiguous no spin or pure underspin serves, best to contact a bit more towards the side of the ball, it will help you control the ball a lot more in pushes as well as flicks. Try to make the dwell time more. If you contact purely at the back of the ball then your margin of error will be quite low for these serves.
Contact the side of the ball as in doing more of a chikita flick?
 
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Contact the side of the ball as in doing more of a chikita flick?
No, even on pushes you can curve the ball around the side (not just chiquita), it produces side underspin and because your dwell time is increased you get more control. It is basically the only way I can short push reliably even against half long balls of ambiguous spin.

If you watch the pros push they always have this sidewards contact too.
 
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How much multiball does the OP do?

You need to train at a higher intensity in order to sustain that level of intensity in those nice points. Multiball can achieve that even with a weaker partner. Your entire game will get a comprehensive boost, e.g. stroke, footwork, timing, speed, spin, power etc.
Do you think multiball is a shortcut to improving topspin rallying skills? I feel like this is where my bottleneck is at the moment, I often initiate the first attack but somehow against better players I'm outplayed in the rallying game which is really annoying for me because I initiated the first attack and still I'm in a losing position which really shouldn't be the case.
 
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Do you think multiball is a shortcut to improving topspin rallying skills? I feel like this is where my bottleneck is at the moment, I often initiate the first attack but somehow against better players I'm outplayed in the rallying game which is really annoying for me because I initiated the first attack and still I'm in a losing position which really shouldn't be the case.
Not a shortcut but a requirement for sure. In principle, multiball is the repeated practice of anything. A form of reinforcement learning that can be optimized as necessary to make it transferable to the context which it occurs in. Once you know the right skill, multiball it, even that a slower speed sometimes just to build it out and let adrenaline kick in during matches. Or at competition speed ro build endurance.
 
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Do you think multiball is a shortcut to improving topspin rallying skills? I feel like this is where my bottleneck is at the moment, I often initiate the first attack but somehow against better players I'm outplayed in the rallying game which is really annoying for me because I initiated the first attack and still I'm in a losing position which really shouldn't be the case.
Without video, I have two guesses of the root problem:
(1) Your opening shot does not have enough quality, so your opponent can handle it with ease, and return it aggressively.
(2) Your opening shot is good enough (to prevent your opponent returning aggressively) but your recovery is slow, so all your opponent need to do is a well-placed block.
Multiball can help with both issues but you should do slightly different exercises to focus on the most critical problem. If you don't have access to multiball but a decent practice partner, I find problem (2) slightly easier to solve than (1) in my experience.
 
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Without video, I have two guesses of the root problem:
(1) Your opening shot does not have enough quality, so your opponent can handle it with ease, and return it aggressively.
(2) Your opening shot is good enough (to prevent your opponent returning aggressively) but your recovery is slow, so all your opponent need to do is a well-placed block.
Multiball can help with both issues but you should do slightly different exercises to focus on the most critical problem. If you don't have access to multiball but a decent practice partner, I find problem (2) slightly easier to solve than (1) in my experience.
Usually they don't return my opening loops aggressively, I'm just losing to nasty angled blocks with varying spins when it comes to the topspin rally. I'm confident if it becomes a BH-BH rally festival but it usually doesn't turn out that way, the better players know not to do that and then they keep on exploiting my middle and wide FH and then randomly go back to my BH and then I'm kinda screwed.
 
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Usually they don't return my opening loops aggressively, I'm just losing to nasty angled blocks with varying spins when it comes to the topspin rally. I'm confident if it becomes a BH-BH rally festival but it usually doesn't turn out that way, the better players know not to do that and then they keep on exploiting my middle and wide FH and then randomly go back to my BH and then I'm kinda screwed.

You have to train precise placement then, you are probably taking very little risk on your third balls, which means very little risk for a good opponent as well to make a play that troubles you. If you can hit the corners or wide angles or the elbow, people stop giving you the simple stuff because they don't want to miss either. But it is easier to diagnose with video obviously, just guessing with imagination.
 
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Well I played a pair of old Chinese guys today, the type that doesn't have really proper technique and possibly illegal serves but they kinda grew up playing in the school yard.

It was so frustrating, because I still go back to my original problem that I can't return their serves well. In terms of games I won like 20-0, but I feel like I won the points but lost the actual battle. I won all the points because my spin game was way better, and they couldn't block any of my loops and they couldn't loop any of my pushes.

But I feel like in reality, I was losing every service situation to their serve. Let me describe the main serves they did:

1. Fast long side-underspin pendulum serve to my bh. I couldn't do anything with this serve so I just had to push it back long everytime. I couldn't loop it effectively, I couldn't push it short, I just had to give up the position to my opponent. He would try to 3rd ball loop and missed 80% of the time because he's low level. So in points, it looks like I was dominating. But in terms of real tactics, I was losing every serve.

2. Fast long sidespin serve. Again, I was forced to just push this back, often resulting in a high ball. Again my opponent missed most of the 3rd balls. When I try to flick return this serve, I can't angle it to the left. Because the ball comes into my backhand, the natural angle is to return it cross court in a chikita motion. But when I do this, the ball goes far to the right and off the table. Again, in terms of tactics, I was losing every serve.

3. Mid-table dead ball or sidespin ball. I resorted to just gently flicking this ball back. I couldn't do a more aggressive loop without losing consistency badly.
 
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Well I played a pair of old Chinese guys today, the type that doesn't have really proper technique and possibly illegal serves but they kinda grew up playing in the school yard.

It was so frustrating, because I still go back to my original problem that I can't return their serves well. In terms of games I won like 20-0, but I feel like I won the points but lost the actual battle. I won all the points because my spin game was way better, and they couldn't block any of my loops and they couldn't loop any of my pushes.

But I feel like in reality, I was losing every service situation to their serve. Let me describe the main serves they did:

1. Fast long side-underspin pendulum serve to my bh. I couldn't do anything with this serve so I just had to push it back long everytime. I couldn't loop it effectively, I couldn't push it short, I just had to give up the position to my opponent. He would try to 3rd ball loop and missed 80% of the time because he's low level. So in points, it looks like I was dominating. But in terms of real tactics, I was losing every serve.

2. Fast long sidespin serve. Again, I was forced to just push this back, often resulting in a high ball. Again my opponent missed most of the 3rd balls. When I try to flick return this serve, I can't angle it to the left. Because the ball comes into my backhand, the natural angle is to return it cross court in a chikita motion. But when I do this, the ball goes far to the right and off the table. Again, in terms of tactics, I was losing every serve.

3. Mid-table dead ball or sidespin ball. I resorted to just gently flicking this ball back. I couldn't do a more aggressive loop without losing consistency badly.
For 1) you have to contact the bottom and back of the ball (if the sidespin is overwhelming sometimes even slightly on the right side) when you loop, for 2) you have to contact the back and maybe even more towards the right side.

Use the fingers to add a lot of spin on your BH loop and body for power, and you should be able to execute a safe opening loop against these serves.

When I'm feeling lazy I do the strawberry stroke (BH fade - basically like the BH pendulum serve motion) against this - it's not a loop but you can create a very heavy sidespin ball curving towards their wide FH :) Good players will loop these, but against players with poor FH loops or footwork this will destroy them as they will be caught out wide giving you an opportunity. But against players with good FH loops this tends to get powerlooped and you'll be in a bad position lol. You can also fade it to their BH for more variation. The heavy sidespin can be very disruptive to some players.

3. Gentle short flick is a good choice as it's safe, and hard to attack with too much quality by the opponent. There's also the dead flick which is my fav... Other receives I like are the FH fade (or sideswipe?) to both sides, FH hook flick/push wide to their FH.

I probably spend way too much time on serve/receive/3rd ball patterns as you can probably tell 😂
 
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Well I played a pair of old Chinese guys today, the type that doesn't have really proper technique and possibly illegal serves but they kinda grew up playing in the school yard.

It was so frustrating, because I still go back to my original problem that I can't return their serves well. In terms of games I won like 20-0, but I feel like I won the points but lost the actual battle. I won all the points because my spin game was way better, and they couldn't block any of my loops and they couldn't loop any of my pushes.

But I feel like in reality, I was losing every service situation to their serve. Let me describe the main serves they did:

1. Fast long side-underspin pendulum serve to my bh. I couldn't do anything with this serve so I just had to push it back long everytime. I couldn't loop it effectively, I couldn't push it short, I just had to give up the position to my opponent. He would try to 3rd ball loop and missed 80% of the time because he's low level. So in points, it looks like I was dominating. But in terms of real tactics, I was losing every serve.

2. Fast long sidespin serve. Again, I was forced to just push this back, often resulting in a high ball. Again my opponent missed most of the 3rd balls. When I try to flick return this serve, I can't angle it to the left. Because the ball comes into my backhand, the natural angle is to return it cross court in a chikita motion. But when I do this, the ball goes far to the right and off the table. Again, in terms of tactics, I was losing every serve.

3. Mid-table dead ball or sidespin ball. I resorted to just gently flicking this ball back. I couldn't do a more aggressive loop without losing consistency badly.
Serving can be a big advantage, so I wouldn't be too surprised or upset if you struggle with illegal serves from new opponents that you are not familiar with.

When I receive my first aim is to neutralise the 3rd ball and 5th ball, similar to the tennis mindset. It is all kinds of demanding to return all serves aggressively, even against an opponent you'd beat 99% of the time.
 
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Well I played a pair of old Chinese guys today, the type that doesn't have really proper technique and possibly illegal serves but they kinda grew up playing in the school yard.

It was so frustrating, because I still go back to my original problem that I can't return their serves well. In terms of games I won like 20-0, but I feel like I won the points but lost the actual battle. I won all the points because my spin game was way better, and they couldn't block any of my loops and they couldn't loop any of my pushes.

But I feel like in reality, I was losing every service situation to their serve. Let me describe the main serves they did:

1. Fast long side-underspin pendulum serve to my bh. I couldn't do anything with this serve so I just had to push it back long everytime. I couldn't loop it effectively, I couldn't push it short, I just had to give up the position to my opponent. He would try to 3rd ball loop and missed 80% of the time because he's low level. So in points, it looks like I was dominating. But in terms of real tactics, I was losing every serve.

2. Fast long sidespin serve. Again, I was forced to just push this back, often resulting in a high ball. Again my opponent missed most of the 3rd balls. When I try to flick return this serve, I can't angle it to the left. Because the ball comes into my backhand, the natural angle is to return it cross court in a chikita motion. But when I do this, the ball goes far to the right and off the table. Again, in terms of tactics, I was losing every serve.

3. Mid-table dead ball or sidespin ball. I resorted to just gently flicking this ball back. I couldn't do a more aggressive loop without losing consistency badly.

You will probably not like this, but it is a direct consequence of using very hard rubbers on BH. Look at your earlier post in the "how comfortable are you with hard (53+) rubber on your backhand?" thread:
I feel like I'm getting better and better at playing with the 55d rubber on my backhand. It's feeling much less foreign to me now, and it almost just feels normal to me now.

I can loop underspin quite well with it, and its pretty good at controlling pushes.

In my practice session today I blocked fairly well with it
In practice, when you're not under pressure, hard rubber on BH might feel great. But in a real match, even against weaker opponents, it's a different story.

In order to loop long serves effectively, you need to be unafraid to make a solid contact with the ball, hitting it hard if necessary, in order to override the spin and send it where you want it to go and also you need to do it consistently. A 55d hard rubber for BH may be alright for Jorgic but for mere mortals like us - no.
 
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Serving can be a big advantage, so I wouldn't be too surprised or upset if you struggle with illegal serves from new opponents that you are not familiar with.

When I receive my first aim is to neutralise the 3rd ball and 5th ball, similar to the tennis mindset. It is all kinds of demanding to return all serves aggressively, even against an opponent you'd beat 99% of the time.
But i cant neutralize the 3rd ball attack. All I can do is push the return back and give up the 3rd ball attack.

I actually won 11-0 in one of the games because he cant loop at all. But a trained looper with the same serve wouldve been able to loop me.
 
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There are 3 difficulties in receiving serve:
1- reading what ball is coming: spin, length, placement, (height)
2- reacting quickly
3- making the receive itself

I think the first thing to practice / check: if the server tells you what serve they are doing, can you receive it properly ??? this is step1. if you can't, then it means you lack some techniques that you need to work on

As for reacting quickly is about practice, general footwork, knowing some basic steps, notably when you get to a short ball, do it in 2 steps, not 1 step, and keep a good low stance. Multi-ball is the best to work on reaction time.

reading the serve is the most difficult. and i suck at it. but i think some things can help.
---
look first at the impact, and speed of racket. if the racket has little speed, then there can't be much backspin (nor topspin) and you can attack or flick it.
be aware of the first bounce for the length. if its close to the baseline, good chance serve comes long.
then try to look at the mark on the ball when it crosses the net. if you can't see it, good chance the serve is with spin and not knuckle.
then look closely at the 2nd bounce and be careful of last instant deviation if the guy is a good server.
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then the waiting position is crucial. don't be too close from the table. At our level, most serves are long, and don't bounce twice on the table.
against lefties or guys who do BH serve from FH side, or if you know the guy likes to serve short or half long to your FH, you can wait with the RIGHT foot in front of you.
i think also you need to relax a lot before receiving
---
perhaps if you post a movie or tell us WHICH kind of serve cause you most problems we could help more.

---

EDIT

as for me, for example i know that i don't like long and half long serves to my middle. i don't know how to do the small adjustments to receive with BH opening loop. im better off just pushing long with the BH , or even better if i can make a bigger step to receive with my FH.

i know there is higher quality in my BH long push so if a serve comes short i try to cover 2/3 of the table with it. if i react quickly and have extra time i might go for a chiquita.

You have to know what works best for you against each type of serve, and try to have at least 2 good options, and use them in the early stages of the match. When you feel more comfortable with the serves you can try something more exotic to surprise the opponent, or to test him in something you've not tried yet. Maybe the opponent has some weakness and even a not so good receive of some particular type can cause him trouble.
 
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You will probably not like this, but it is a direct consequence of using very hard rubbers on BH. Look at your earlier post in the "how comfortable are you with hard (53+) rubber on your backhand?" thread:

In practice, when you're not under pressure, hard rubber on BH might feel great. But in a real match, even against weaker opponents, it's a different story.

In order to loop long serves effectively, you need to be unafraid to make a solid contact with the ball, hitting it hard if necessary, in order to override the spin and send it where you want it to go and also you need to do it consistently. A 55d hard rubber for BH may be alright for Jorgic but for mere mortals like us - no.
Hmm... I am not Jorgic for sure, but I find it easier to play with Dignics 09c and Golden Tango on backhand than I do softer rubbers. But I think you make a good point about the effort required to play consistently with those rubbers on backhand might not suit everyone's styles, especially people looking for easier to hit backhand strokes. I have a spin-everything mentality (which I think has its bad sides and good sides) so the tacky rubbers just fit my intuition better than the non-tacky stuff. And I am also one of the guys who blocks far better with harder rubbers than softer rubbers.

So I wouldn't be surprised if the issue is not as big a deal for TensorBackhand as you think...
 
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i also prefer harder rubbers with the BH. you need to be active and spin the ball. when receiving with BH i think one of the key point in the technique is to have the forearm including the elbow as stable as can be and try to do most of the action only with the arm and wrist. one of the common errors when executing chiquita or BH topspin is that the elbow goes down during the swing. then the swing goes too much upwards, the contact with the ball cannot be good as well.
using only the arm suppresses a lot of unnecessary parameters and make the stroke actually easier to remember and execute.

btw for FH receive i think the same can be applied, especially useful against half long serves. against those, another key point is to have right foot in front, near the ball.

---
another important detail i think helps when receiving is to keep the racket high in the waiting position. im trying to fix that as well. if your racket is too low you risk to naturally wait for the ball to go too low where its difficult to play because of the table being in the way.

Free arm and shoulders in front help too, especially on BH
 
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Do you think multiball is a shortcut to improving topspin rallying skills? I feel like this is where my bottleneck is at the moment, I often initiate the first attack but somehow against better players I'm outplayed in the rallying game which is really annoying for me because I initiated the first attack and still I'm in a losing position which really shouldn't be the case.
As Nextlevel stated, multiball is a must. It is the easiest (fastest and most efficient) yet the hardest (dullest and most strenuous) way to improve anything.

https://www.tabletennisdaily.com/forum/topics/return-of-international-tt-matches.23956/post-328638
In various TV programs in 2016 and 2017, Hirano was recognized by Ito and Hayata to be hardworking and always the last to leave the training hall. Former Japanese coach, the Korean national 呉光憲(Oh Kwanghun) even labeled Ito as "天才肌(innate talent)" and Hirano as "努力家(hard worker)" in an interview. Ito and Ishikawa have stated on TV that they don't like multi-ball training but have picked it up after witnessing what Hirano achieved.
 
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Well i thought I was bad at the high bh float ball, so I had my partner feed me these balls in multiball training. But in multiball, I could loop all these balls just fine.

It seems that Im just bad at this ball in middle of a game when im not expecting it.
Now make the multiball drill random! :D
 
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