FH Loop Free Arm Movement - Elbow back or Hand form triangle

ZFT

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ZFT

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I’ve been noticing the free arm movement on forehand loop between the mens and womens game.

In the mens game, there seems more of the current top players with the technique of pushing back their free elbow directly behind or near their non playing hip. Especially Hugo. Can also can be seen in ML, FZD, LJK, Gauzy techniques.

For the women, they are more likely to finish their stroke with a triangle forming with their non playing and playing hand around head height. See CM, LSW, CXT, Hirano, Miwa.
There are a few men with this technique - Dynas and to a more extreme extent Aruna. Primorac had this from the previous generation.
Apolonia seems to be making a change where his non playing hand stops at chest height, closer to Samsonov, WCQ, Pitchford’s.

Anyone able to comment on the pros/cons? Triangle perhaps gives more arc and faster recovery time? Elbow digging back = more power?

On a side note, the more elegant forehand loops (in my opinion) keep their free arm relatively relaxed along the rotation of their body unless they fully go for it - ZJK, Waldner, KTS.
 
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The free arm is often a secondary thought and is something that most of us don't consciously think about, so it is an interesting topic to bring up. I think it is hard to say definitively, as it is a complex and subtle thing. I think the main point to what the free arm does is how heavy the *weight transfer* is in your stroke and whether you have neutral or over rotation of the body.

If you execute a heavy body rotation stroke with weight transfer from the right to left leg, it is natural to have your left hand start with your paddle arm on the right side. After you execute the stroke with the weight transfer and over rotation of the shoulders, the left arm ends on the left side naturally.

If you execute a stroke with a minimal body rotation and weight transfer, you need a "counter weight" to counteract the momentum of your swinging arm. Thus, the left arm naturally swings out and back in to balance the right paddle arm.

An analogy: swinging a big ball from your right to left side vs throwing two small balls together like clapping your hands. In the big ball example, both hands start on right and end on left, and you need weight transfer from the right to left leg and will over rotate to the left past neutral. In the two small balls example, both hands start apart and meet in front of you (forming the "triangle" referred to) and you have less weight transfer ending in a more neutral, head on stance.

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The neutral swing it is faster to execute because you don't have to set your right foot and execute the relatively slower weight transfer and body over rotation. On the other hand, the weight transfer swing can be more powerful and more power efficient.

Although the neutral swing is more common in women technique and over rotation swing used in men technique, then Chinese philosophy of table tennis heavily emphasizes getting power from weight transfer between the right and left legs with generous body rotation, so both men and women use each depending on the situation. For the neutral stroke, one famous example is Ma Long or FZD when doing a fast reactionary counter topspin close to the table with no body rotation and just a small arm snap. Actually, many CNT female players now do use a full over rotation stroke with the left arm ending on the left side of the body.

As for why over rotation stroke is more common in men and neutral stroke is more comment in women here is a guess: men have faster bodies, so they can execute the slower weight transfer and over rotation quicker. Women have slower bodies and must execute faster more compact strokes with faster recovery time. But again, you have CNT women with over rotation strokes and Euro men with "triangle left arm counter swing" strokes, so it is mostly up to what technique you train and develop.
 
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ZFT

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ZFT

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Yes I have noticed some Asian women now performing the over rotation stroke - SYS, WMY, DHK and CIC. These women are playing slightly further from the table and hence it makes sense they need this extra time to perform this stroke in counterloop phase.

For Aruna, if he doesn’t hold his left arm up to balance, his OP loop drive would severely over rotate and he would literally tip over!

Great explanation 😀
 
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ZFT

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ZFT

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Look for videos on Primorac vs Kreanga on YouTube.

Example ETTC 2002 Semi Final: https://youtu.be/-LfJEj7i-K0

It’s a nice case study as they both used similar equipment during this period. Tamca 5000+Hinoki (nominally Primorac Carbon) + speed glued Bryce both sides.

The neutral swing of Primorac keeps him closer to the table and is very efficient in the shorter, faster rallies.

Kreanga gets or prefers to be pushed back until he has time to perform his over rotation stroke in which the longer the rally goes the more he seemingly out powers Primorac.

The further Primorac goes away from the table the more off balance he gets > notice how stable his FH is when close to the table.

So with the explanation above can we conclude the free hand movement has some correlation on where the optimal distance one should be from the table?

Neutral = close to mid distance
Over rotation = mid to far

?
 
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