Hardbat > Long Pips? Hardbat concept/tips wanted

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Aug 2016
Quick tidbit about my game:

Left handed traditional penholder. Play inverted on the FH side and over a number of years have played sometimes inverted on the RPB. Mostly long pips on the RPB side (1.0 DHS C8) where I'd chop and/or twiddle when necessary.

While I like some of the tricky aspects long pips play brings in, I wasn't crazy about how I can't really vary the spin much on chops. Largely what you give back is based on what comes in. Furthermore, if someone understands long pips, they know what's coming back. Ex: Backspin serve, forward bump, topspin back to them and they 3rd ball. But enough about long pips.

My question or topic is on hardbat style of play. I had a sheet of OX 802 short pips laying around I replaced the long pips with this. There are a number of things I really really like about it. First off everything feels more natural. As in you can somewhat (within reason on your bat angles) hit the same type of stroke as you would a normal rubber and perhaps most importantly, I think my feel is better with this. pushes, short counter attacking shots & chops all feel very easy.

So as a left handed traditional penholder, it has been very common for right handers to serve dead long or backspin long to my TPB basically daring me loop that or push. Yes a penholder with a good RPB would loop this but growing up TPB, RPB just isn't my strength so no inverted. Anyways, I think I have found a very easy fix for this as a changeup (not saying I'd do this return every time but sometimes) which is a slightly open faced bump.

The best example I can find of the shot I'm talking about is in this gif here.
(i can't seem to figure out how to imbed this in the post and get it to work. Sorry about the external image link)

It's chop, he bumps with a slightly open face. A weird ball coming back. On service receive as a left hander I find this ball very easy to place where I want either down the line or crosscourt.

If this were long pips, you can do the same type of stroke vs backspin but that for sure would be a topspin ball going to them. With short pips no sponge, I'm finding that it's sometimes light backspin, most of the time dead, a mix between the two. In short, not predictable and I love it. One time my training partner said today it had some side on it. Probably left over from his serve.

So needless to say I'm excited about this development. Any other pips players or hardbat players have particular strategies they like?

Or thoughts in general? Thanks for listen to me ramble ;)
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Nov 2013
I played hardbat on my backhand for many years, and echo what you have said. You can do most things close to normally, once you get the racket angle adjusted. But the ball returned to your opponent is not quite what they expect, so you get errors, at least up to a certain level. The best shot for me was when faced with an underspin ball on the backhand, I could attack that effectively quite easily, and the opponent was often troubled by either the amount of spin (less than they expected) or the speed (slows down more than with inverted, I think). The limitation was against very spinny or hard shots, as the lack of sponge made returning those shots challenging, and timing or touch needed to be perfect.

Have fun figuring it out.
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