Critique my game [Shakehand FH SP BH Inv]

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I could write a book, but you would be lucky to remember two things.

1. You stand upright like a statue. Easy to say get hips down some, not as easy to develop the habit.

2. vs this opponent, when you hit fast shots, they all seem to come back. Slow down the pace and make it real heavy spin. The few times you did that (mostly on BH) you got an easy point from opponent blocking it out.
 
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Yes, everything that forces you to do sidesteps (later cross steps) and coordinate them with the strokes. You see, it's not that you don't have it, just look at how you hit the smashes: you get an opportunity, you approach, you hammer it. Very well played. But when you hit normal drives, there's apparently not enough incentive/motivation and you lean/reach, whereas your second nature must be sidestep-and-hit, or more generally "bring your sweet spot to the ball and hit".

Well, it's a common problem, isn't it?

Frankly, it didn't look to me that you need to get much lower. Staying too low will stress you and reduce your mobility. At the same time you don't need too much of a foot leverage to hammer loop kills, since you're playing pips with shorter strokes. I'd watch good FH pips players, but on the highest level there's only Falck and he's much taller than you. Probably He Zhiwen?


I don't think he stays low.

I'd say if you can hit within your sweet spot with the current stance, you don't need to change it then.

Yes, you should hit with your body/waist/feet. The forearm is mostly to hold the racket :)) and should be relaxed.

I should've said in addition that FH drives don't need much backswing because the ball is light and the pips stress the speed rather than power (you can't really spin the ball anyway): you counter hit your opponent while he's looping at you and you're faster because of the shorter strokes.
I agree that he doesn't need to get so low, the height in the 1st video is fine. Shorter players have the advantage of not needing to squat down so low + he is using pips so going too low will actually cost him time. If we look at Koki Niwa he doesn't stay that low either.

I agree that he is not using his body well on FH except during full power smashes. Now that i looked a bit more he is initiating the movement with the arm and not the body. So there is no body involvement actually which is the biggest problem and why the followthrough looks weird (the problem is with the backswing - the arm should stay still for the most part during backswing and only use body). But it is strange because on smashes he does use it well. So there is some disconnect between the 2 techniques. I think most probably the disconnect is that OP is attempting to "loop" with pips instead of just hitting through the ball. But tbh those loops are mostly weak spin and imo are all opportunity balls for the opponent.

To OP i would say, it is probably better to treat all balls as smashable (because his smash technique is the more correct version), and then just go through them. Just hit less hard (but still with the same movement and body involvement) if you want higher success rates.
 
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On the advice of longrange, blahness and the others I dedicated one of my recent sessions to working executing the right forehand technique while incorporating lateral movement. Obviously my technique isn't the best but I honestly can't figure out what's wrong exactly. The only thing I know is that lateral movement, front-back movement, (elimination of) backswing and incorporation of the waist/legs all need to improve.


I start doing loops/lifts against backspin at 4:18.

Things that I'm really uncomfortable with:
  • Balls that come to the middle. Obviously every shakehand player is uncomfortable with this, but I should be having less problems compared to others because short pips requires a shorter stroke. I've seen Ito take some balls to her middle very well, even returning the ball with a quality hit. Right now I feel like I'm leaning over to my left too much to compensate.
  • Against backspin, I often can't decide between lifting or outright smashing. Results in tons of errors/low-quality openings. I suppose this is always going to be a weakness of my style, but I want to play out the pips quality as much as possible with flat-hits/disruptive lifts as much as possible. I've been told that some of my lifts are really awkward to deal with, sometimes the ball goes over floaty, with a bit of sidespin, and has no power for the opponent to borrow. I want to learn how to do this more deliberately, and spin/smash with quality on cue.
  • Always stretching/leaning over on shorter balls or wider balls to the forehand. Definitely a problem with footwork, more specifically finding the ball with my arms rather than legs + COG.


Yes, everything that forces you to do sidesteps (later cross steps) and coordinate them with the strokes. You see, it's not that you don't have it, just look at how you hit the smashes: you get an opportunity, you approach, you hammer it. Very well played. But when you hit normal drives, there's apparently not enough incentive/motivation and you lean/reach, whereas your second nature must be sidestep-and-hit, or more generally "bring your sweet spot to the ball and hit".

Well, it's a common problem, isn't it?

Frankly, it didn't look to me that you need to get much lower. Staying too low will stress you and reduce your mobility. At the same time you don't need too much of a foot leverage to hammer loop kills, since you're playing pips with shorter strokes. I'd watch good FH pips players, but on the highest level there's only Falck and he's much taller than you. Probably He Zhiwen?


I don't think he stays low.

I'd say if you can hit within your sweet spot with the current stance, you don't need to change it then.

Yes, you should hit with your body/waist/feet. The forearm is mostly to hold the racket :)) and should be relaxed.

I should've said in addition that FH drives don't need much backswing because the ball is light and the pips stress the speed rather than power (you can't really spin the ball anyway): you counter hit your opponent while he's looping at you and you're faster because of the shorter strokes.
 
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On the advice of longrange, blahness and the others I dedicated one of my recent sessions to working executing the right forehand technique while incorporating lateral movement. Obviously my technique isn't the best but I honestly can't figure out what's wrong exactly. The only thing I know is that lateral movement, front-back movement, (elimination of) backswing and incorporation of the waist/legs all need to improve.
Great you are doing this, just don't expect instant improvement. In TT progress can be rather slow. I'd suggest doing regular practice first: one FH from the middle, one from the FH, another from the middle, etc. just to taste the sidesteps.

From my point of view, the blocker's placement was adequate from 3:53 onwards, and you can see immediately how the exercise crumbles up: you're out of position, resort to backhands and so on. You should've played all these with your FH. This is exhausting, but you'll get the idea where you're going. The advantage of the regular practice is that you know where the next ball is coming and can start moving there in advance.

Btw, the basket should be next to the blocker, so that when one of you fails he can continue giving you the next ball without interrupting the exercise.
I start doing loops/lifts against backspin at 4:18.
I'll just note again that as far as I understand short pips, you should try flat driving these balls. Just like you flicked and smashed in the original video. I won't be able to say anything on how to loop with SP. Look at Falck, or there is a guy from Sweden here, @Lula I believe, he can advise more on the topic. He posted a video quite some time ago doing exactly this.

Regarding the practice itself, I think your serve-recovery is too complicated for the practice. Look at how advanced players do this: simple chopped ball served, then return with long push, then the first player loops. And you begin with a full blown match service.

I think, I'll add that if the loop with inverted rubber was concerned, then I'd say: "You gotta stay wider and lower, the backswing should be larger, etc."
Things that I'm really uncomfortable with:
  • Balls that come to the middle. Obviously every shakehand player is uncomfortable with this, but I should be having less problems compared to others because short pips requires a shorter stroke. I've seen Ito take some balls to her middle very well, even returning the ball with a quality hit. Right now I feel like I'm leaning over to my left too much to compensate.
Do a sidestep 🙃 just like that.
  • Against backspin, I often can't decide between lifting or outright smashing. Results in tons of errors/low-quality openings.
I don't think there could be a high quality opening from SP. When Falck does this, his loop is not about quality, it's about confusion: opponents don't know what ball to expect.
  • I suppose this is always going to be a weakness of my style, but I want to play out the pips quality as much as possible with flat-hits/disruptive lifts as much as possible. I've been told that some of my lifts are really awkward to deal with, sometimes the ball goes over floaty, with a bit of sidespin, and has no power for the opponent to borrow. I want to learn how to do this more deliberately, and spin/smash with quality on cue.
Yes, exactly. But it goes without saying that it's better to have options, whereas your openings will always be like that.
 
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Had a chance to apply what I've been practicing at a weekly club tournament this week. This club is a bit far from where I live but worth the travel because they have an ELO ranking system plus you get to play against new players nearly every single time. Games are best of three until semifinals, which is the best result I've ever gotten here, but I didn't manage to progress out of the group stage in the last two outings (top three in the group progress, groups usually have five or six players).


First match was against an RPB double inverted player who was also the top ranked player of the group, and for good reason. I think I only managed 4 points in 2 games. She was capable of attacking every single one of my openings no matter where I tried to place them. Increasingly quality might be the only way out in this situation so back to the drawing board for me. Her quick style is basically what I should aspire to be even though we use different grips and rubbers. Could have been closer if I landed a couple of smashes, but wouldn't have made a difference in the end result.


Second match was against a backhand shortpips shakehander. His pips didn't give me too much trouble and I was already trying to play with more spin at this point because I think I messed up a gluejob on my backhand rubber the night before, so everything was dropping off my bat really quick, although this is also due to a major flaw in my backhand stroke. Some improvements in covering the wide forehand that I would have airballed completely in the past, but still need to find a way to take these with initiative.



Third match was against a conventional double inverted shakehander. Completely winnable match but once again I did not have the stability nor confidence in my backhand openings to land shots when it mattered. Towards the end I started playing really passive when I realised that I couldn't comfortably put away anything. The right strategy would have been to try and outrally my opponent especially since he was showing obvious nerves too. Probably the worst mental game out of all my matches today which led to a breakdown of what little rallying and defense capabilities I had.


Fourth match and third loss of the day which sealed my fate. Opponent was an inverted penholder who occasionally twiddles to receive with long pips. I fought really hard this match from 10-7 down in the first only to get a net dribbler at 10-9. Also saved a matchpoint in the second game but it wasn't enough to make up for not having a strong enough backhand loop/chiquita to receive his awkward sidespin/backspin tomahawk-ish serve. I feel that I was marginally favoured in the rallies especially if I can get my backhand into play, but some forehand misses + poor adjustments to spin changes made the difference.


Fifth and final match against a tricky penholder who uses short pips on both sides. I knew that I was most probably going home but didn't want to end the day on a bad note. First game was hard fought at 15-13 in my favour after I saved a couple of netcords and used backhand topspins to force errors from him. He still managed to successfully smash a couple of shots though and by the second game he had already found his grove against topspins that were rapidly diminishing in quality. In the third game I just told myself to trust the backhand spin game, especially when it's really tempting to try and match such opponents in speed. I managed to play a good point with consecutive forehands towards the end as well. It feels much easier to swing freely against the dead balls coming from short pips, so I'll need to find a way to be as aggressive and stable against inverted rubbers.


Overall I'll give myself 65 points for today's performance. I was happy that I kept fighting despite being drawn into a tough group + quite a number of unlucky balls / distractions not work out in my favour. But looking back at the video clips I'm still making tons of unforced errors which could have made the difference in the two close matches.
 
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