Getting thrashed during office games?

says Must...rotate... torso...
says Must...rotate... torso...
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Hi everyone!

First post. Decided after my 5th loss I needed to take emergency steps!

Ive been playing table tennis on and off for years. I'm playing much more now as I recently purchased a practice-partner robot. I play on leagues but Im fairly low ranked.

I try to focus on spinny serves in my game and flicks for 3rd ball attacks. I don't know my blade model as it was a second hand custom I purchased from the coach but my rubbers are XIOM Vega Elite 79-013. The bat is pretty speedy (likely too quick for my level but I'm slowly adjusting to it).

The issue I have is. We have a table at work. The bats have next to no spin, it is possible but a heavy spin serve comes as light spin.

So with this being said. The guys who play a lot at the office all have a very aggressive flat hitting style. I can't adjust to it at all. I know I practice more so I feel I should win at least half my games but this isn't the case.

Specifically they play very low flat balls. Often to my backhand. When using the office bats. I often send it to the net. Or overcompensate and go high, to which they aggressively attack.

Is this a case of simply better natural ability or is there something I can do here?

Cheers for the advice!
 
says Spin and more spin.
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Some of this is about learning to handle what they are throwing at you. Playing vs that flat style till you get used to approaches that allow you to handle those dead shots and sort out what makes it harder for those guys to give those easy returns would be important. But, since what you are facing when you face them is different from what you would face when you are facing a club player who spins the ball, it is in part a matter of learning how to handle the style that they are forced into with those rackets.

The rackets you are talking about that they are using at the office, it sounds like the rubbers, the topsheet of the rubbers are not grippy to an extent that they sort of act like certain kinds of antispin.

What kind of serves are you giving them? Are you giving them backspin serves? If yes, those serves help them attack. Try dead serves and heavy topspin serves to see how they respond. Of course mix up what you give them. But it is also import to know that:

1) You don't want to win on just your serves. This won't help you improve your level.
2) If they are throwing things at you in rallies that you are not able to handle, think of this as an opportunity to improve on a skill you are not so good at as of now. Those fast dead balls are not so different than stuff you might receive from someone playing with Short Pips. So, acquiring the skill to handle those fast deadballs will be a useful tool to have when you start playing certain kinds of club and tournament players.
3) Any time you lose consistently to someone, rather than thinking it is some gimmick, it is always worth looking at it as a learning opportunity and it is always worth thinking that, if they are beating you, then they must be doing something better than you. You have chosen the equipment you are using. They are using what they are using. Don't let yourself getting into a head game about the equipment. Just learn how to handle what they are giving you that is causing you trouble.
 
says Must...rotate... torso...
says Must...rotate... torso...
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Thanks for the amazing in-depth feedback! Yes the office bats come across as anti spin.
I guess the killer question is, on your point:

"Just learn how to handle what they are giving you that is causing you trouble."

Its not just them, but switching between my bat and the office no-spin bat.

Do I keep using the same bat, or bring in my own bat?

At least that way I can identify between "bat changing issues" and "opponent" issues. Obviously there is not much satisfaction in beating someone with a proper bat vs an office bat. Or in your opinion, would I learn more from using the office bat? Using the office bat just feels like too many variable changes in one go personally.
 
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if you play with crappy paddle against crappy paddle, keep ball low with more pushes/flat shots and play wide angles, consistency in the face of wild slap shots. serve long flat ball to backhand/middle, hard to return well with crappy paddle. slowly get better at the flip/flat drives to bring in more offense over time

- 1 x cruise ship plastic paddle champion
 
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I've had this exact problem before. Playing a pick up game at a rec center or office with crap equipment I get thrashed because I cannot adjust to the different game. On one hand I think I should force myself to adjust and learn how to play with various equipment. Then on the other hand it does corrupt my more "professional" game because I'm not spinning or looping at all because the equipment just isn't capable. My strokes and strategies in a casual game is never going to be used in a real TT match so I don't get anything out of playing. The only benefit is maybe some hand eye practice. Other than that it's basically useless.

So if you want bragging rights in the office then learn to play their game or bring your own equipment. If they don't have any issue with your professional bat you will destroy them with heavy spin and loops. I brought my own equipment to the office before and no one could return any serves but then it ignited an arms war when other people started getting better bats.
 
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Personally, I refuse to play with crap equipment. And i cant see that playing with crap bats/rubbers regularly will do anything significant for you and may create bad habits. So i vote bring your own bat. Additionally, bring a couple of good spares if you have them so your spin will be more effective on your opponents.

ime, anyone decent with a modern bat/rubbers can destroy almost any crap equipment level player.
 

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Yeah, definitely use your own bat. It may feel like a disadvantage in the beginning and it can be very frustrating to get beaten by a guy without any proper coaching. But in lower level local leagues you will face quite many such players, you just need some experience to go past them.
 
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I know this problem all too well -- you try to learn how to play table tennis proper, but their style works into a ceiling that is above your level. I would say stop playing players that dont have grip on their rackets, or dont take the practice you do with these players so seriously.

Honestly, I would think playing these players would cause you to create bad habits as a new player, but if you allready have some experience in adapting to different styles, then just have fun with it, play with a wood that is stable and powerful (not too flexible), vary your serves in length, speed and position with as similar movement as possible, dont overthink it with spin, get some power into your balls and work on keeping the ball low to the net, work on anticipating what position your opponent is hitting the ball to and move your feet quickly from this anticipation.

Everyone plays table tennis differently -- the art of table tennis is being able to adapt to your opponent.
 
says Spin and more spin.
says Spin and more spin.
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Thanks for the amazing in-depth feedback! Yes the office bats come across as anti spin.
I guess the killer question is, on your point:

"Just learn how to handle what they are giving you that is causing you trouble."

Its not just them, but switching between my bat and the office no-spin bat.

Do I keep using the same bat, or bring in my own bat?

At least that way I can identify between "bat changing issues" and "opponent" issues. Obviously there is not much satisfaction in beating someone with a proper bat vs an office bat. Or in your opinion, would I learn more from using the office bat? Using the office bat just feels like too many variable changes in one go personally.

If you practice with YOUR RACKET, and you train with your racket, and you do what you can do with your racket, why would you compare how you play against them while using something you only use when you play them.

If you are using a crappy office racket while playing them and all of your training is with a racket that is TOTALLY DIFFERENT, then none of your training applies to what you are doing when you play with them. If you wanted to play them with the same crappy office racket as they are using, then:

Acknowledge that you have handicapped yourself because you don't train with that racket and they don't play with anything else aside from that racket so they are doing what they always do and you cannot do any of what you train and do with a good racket because you have to make contact totally differently to use one of those things.

Then, after acknowledging how you are handicapping yourself you should decide if you should:

a) Take a few weeks (or months) to only play with a racket that you would never consider using otherwise so you can actually learn how to use that racket to actually play.....
or.....
b) Use your actual racket.

And if you are using what you might consider a $5 toy when you play these guys, and you are not used to using that, then, you should realize that the only way for you to be on equal footing with them is if you use something you are competent at using: whether that is because you take time to train with the children's toy that they call a Ping Pong Paddle. Or whether it is that you use your own Table Tennis Racket that you have been training with.

It does not really matter which approach you choose from the standpoint of playing these guys. But think about whether there is something you would gain from learning how to play with one of those rackets.....or if there is more for you to learn from playing them with the equipment you already use to see how you handle what they send towards you while playing with equipment you already have adapted your game around.
 
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I have played high level rec players who hit good balls and are very consistent and would arubaly be USATT 1400 or 1500 even with crappy paddles. Even when I was already 1500 USATT, I would occasionally struggle with someone who came in with a spinless paddle because I didn't know how to adapt my strokes to spinless balls.

There are many solutions but the main two things are to understand the problem and if one is not happy with the situation, develop a realistic attitude and solution.

So no, it isn't a case of better natural ability, it is a case of table tennis being played at a level that you might not be sufficiently advanced to diagnose and understand. I mean now, I can almost never lose to such players but there was a time when I had no clue why I was losing to such players.

Keeping the ball relatively low and being able to put sufficient levels of backspin on the ball tend to be the most accessible solutions for getting better results. But if you have an opponent who still plays great shots despite this, then being able to adapt your strokes to both spinny and spinless balls is inevitable. One way to think of your struggles with such players is to realize that this is what pips players bring to the game in club play - they hit spinless balls and take advantage of the fact that some players have adapted solely to the topspin exchanges common club inverted play.

There isn't a quick solution to this, even a coach who is helping you work on it would still need go train you to be able to read and adapt to the situation. But it does have solutions, some that make you a better all round player, others not so much, but in the end, it all depends on what you want. But the bottom line is that if you are using a spinny racket, you need to learn how to really take advantage of it, not just use it because it is a spinny racket. That usually takes a decent amount of training.
 
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says Must...rotate... torso...
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Thanks everyone for the great responses.

I think the general advice seems to be, use my bat based on the reasons:
  • I am not a high enough level to switch between drastically different bats
  • I may learn bad habits "forcing" techniques.
  • It will be good to practise against "no spin"/ "short pip" players with my league bat anyway
  • I can't diagnose and understand issues from my opponent vs poor bat adjustments
  • I'm not developing my own style of play.
  • I don't think I would gain anything from practising this way, as any genuine flaws I have in my game, would be second-guessed by the racket.
So... in general. Honestly I would take losing as a learning experience, although it would sting losing to a toy bat! But at least I'd know my reasons for losing are related to my game and that is something I can work on.

(If) I win every time and they complain its because of my bat... thats just the price to pay I suppose. Maybe I'll bring in a spare "good" bat to dispel any hard feelings.
 
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When we got a table at work, about 2.5 gears ago, I talked the CEO into buying a set cheap 729 "2020 Sports" bats. These have 729 Super FX on both sides.

Something like $70 for a set of 4.

No idea what the equivalent is now, but let me tell you, it was the single best thing I've done for my own game, bar none.

To start with, only those who have basically never played before thought the catapult was crazy (funny, I know), but EVERYONE is now better for it. I've even been teaching some of those people, and they can actually play top spin drives and backhand flicks now. Plenty of less regular players have come out of the woodwork, and they all enjoy playing (no one, not ever, use the bats that came with the net).

Yes, these bats get abused horribly, to the point where I've reglued 2 of them (albeit, badly), but 2 years later, with glitter and food/oil and all manner of filth impregnated into the rubbers surface, they still play infinitely better than the vast, vast majority of premade bats you get from a major sporting goods retailer. I can give them a good clean and they're even a little tacky still! Incredibly durable.

For at least 18 months, this was great fun. Then 6 months ago, I wanted to seriously upgrade my own set up, so I did... I let some of the better players try my bat, and they absolutely loved it, so much so that several wanted there own! Needless to say, Ali Express got a thrashing this year (I've put 7 different setups together thus far, each a little different for each person).

Today, 3 - 4 of us play regularly with our own bats. One colleague is my main training partner now, and is becoming like a brick wall. He steps back and I can basically send 70 - 85% effort missiles across the table and most of them come back! In fact, in the last few weeks, only >80% power loops are giving him any trouble, otherwise, everything else is coming back with interest! It's fantastic!

TL;DR
Buy a set of 4 cheap bats with cheap Chinese rubbers (729 Super FX have turned out to be amazing training rubbers). You could claim it on tax to make it cheaper still, and within a few weeks, you'll have yourself a little work TT club!
 
says Succumbed to fiber
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I try to help the office players use the best bats we have (Joola "Carbon" premades with Vizon on it) and I use my own bat most of the time. There's still this one guy that manages to hit through basically any ball I play without conviction and tbh it keeps me on my toes! It's his only skill, so if I give enough of a crap I can play a very annoying game just for him and completely disable his efforts with strong backspin shots, and hidden topspin as soon as he misses one or two balls and starts to lose confidence in his shots.
Basically I can play a draw just by service alone if I *really* want to. (and yes, sometimes I do want to)

More often than not, I use office play time to focus on taking high risk shots, extreme angles in placement and, of course, just having a bit of fun and banter.

Placement will usually get rid of those who don't want to play with the better bats. Any kind of looping or pushing game is lost on them and will just come back to bite me so why would I? I say fight fire with fire and make them run like hell.
 
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I try to help the office players use the best bats we have (Joola "Carbon" premades with Vizon on it) and I use my own bat most of the time. There's still this one guy that manages to hit through basically any ball I play without conviction and tbh it keeps me on my toes! It's his only skill, so if I give enough of a crap I can play a very annoying game just for him and completely disable his efforts with strong backspin shots, and hidden topspin as soon as he misses one or two balls and starts to lose confidence in his shots.
Basically I can play a draw just by service alone if I *really* want to. (and yes, sometimes I do want to)

More often than not, I use office play time to focus on taking high risk shots, extreme angles in placement and, of course, just having a bit of fun and banter.

Placement will usually get rid of those who don't want to play with the better bats. Any kind of looping or pushing game is lost on them and will just come back to bite me so why would I? I say fight fire with fire and make them run like hell.

We have a couple of guys like that, one of them I made a B2P 38 + Focus 3 snipe on an N10S blade. He stands too close and somehow manages to get behind the ball enough to hit these low, fast returns with little top spin. Shots come back that most good players would miss.

But he can't attack, basically at all, so we're working on that now. The way he's becoming a brick wall of a defender is as impressive as it is annoying, though! Requires a completely different style to get used to.

The guy I play with the most, however, is similar to me, in that he just wants to hit nukes. So we take a few steps back and lay into it... That's my happy place 🤣
 
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I think everyone who has played with crap bats has had this problem. I think you should just try to practice being consistent by getting every ball back in play and working on your pushing and chopping. It can be frustrating but trying to play an aggressive topspin game is nearly impossible.
 
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