Help make aerial a better player

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Your forehand topspin finishing position is the lowest hanging fruit. You swing too low and shallow and the inconsistency leads you to not trust it when swinging hard except on very easy balls.

If you finish in the salute position consistently (you do the underspin salute decently, but have no topspin/no spin salute), your stroke will be better calibrated and will improve rapidly. You don't need to do the exercise in the video below - just swing and finish in that position. If the ball is going long, close your paddle more or come round the side more but always finish at your forehead like in the video. Once you fix the path, you will be surprised how easily it will change and improve on its own. I have been doing this for six months and now play forehands that make me want to kiss myself. The height of the finish means that your shot will always have a topspin orientation that will keep it safe. The path also means that you would have offered a good swing path to contact the ball and you will whiff less because you will swing forward and not upward if you consistently try to play over the ball. Sometimes, your swing is currently much too vertical. Finishing properly at the eyes/forehand should fix that.

 
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I know it seems like a tip but consider it a major technical fix that even you incorporate into some of your better shots. It's a common seperator of amateur and pro technique. To accommodate it with a smooth swing, your stroke might need other changes. Post some video of your early attempts so I can guide you through it. In person, it would take 10 mins but you never know remotely.
 
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Ariel, you don't trust me?

Is your first opponent using pips?

BTW, if you had told me that you were going to Westchester, I could have met you there or at least agreed to meet on Sunday. How did you do?

NL
I don't think either of my first opponents at either tournament were using pips--most likely dead-ish inverted rubber.

I didn't know I was going to play in that tournament myself haha--was in the neighborhood and ended up playing. I lost a close match in the semi-finals, couldn't read the tomahawk serve to be back-side or top-side and that really hurt me. I called a timeout down 5-0 in the fifth and made a comeback but it was too little too late. Good experience all in all though.
 
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You seems to know some of the basics. It is good you toss the ball but when you toss the ball when serving, it looks like on some serves, you are contacting the ball a bit too high. For my suggestion, you should practice serving short. Not only is it easier to control when the ball is in the air, but its easier to make the serve shorter as well. I know this as i used to have a high toss serve too, but changed to a smaller toss as it made my game better. As for your forehand topspin, you seem to have the stroke correctly, but you're not moving in with the stroke. It looks like when the ball comes to your forehand, you sort of stand still a bit and just swing. If you want more forward momentum and to have the ball land on the table more, move your body forward with the stroke. The more forward and spin you have, the more likely the ball will go in the table.
 
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I don't think either of my first opponents at either tournament were using pips--most likely dead-ish inverted rubber.

I didn't know I was going to play in that tournament myself haha--was in the neighborhood and ended up playing. I lost a close match in the semi-finals, couldn't read the tomahawk serve to be back-side or top-side and that really hurt me. I called a timeout down 5-0 in the fifth and made a comeback but it was too little too late. Good experience all in all though.

The pirate is not the player he once was, but that was a good win regardless. Like I said, your stroke technique on both sides is sufficiently poor and your movement sufficiently good that you could be 1800 very easily with fixes that seem minor but are major.

On your backhand, your elbow is trailing the stroke not leading the stroke. To fix your backhand, you need to think of yourself pulling a sword out of the sheath either on your belly or your left hip to the point it straightens out. That pulling feeling is the right way to play a backhand, not the waving you do which I admit to being guilty of at one time myself.
 
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I don't think either of my first opponents at either tournament were using pips--most likely dead-ish inverted rubber.

I didn't know I was going to play in that tournament myself haha--was in the neighborhood and ended up playing. I lost a close match in the semi-finals, couldn't read the tomahawk serve to be back-side or top-side and that really hurt me. I called a timeout down 5-0 in the fifth and made a comeback but it was too little too late. Good experience all in all though.


The tomahawk was blatantly illegal and the difficulty of reading that kind of tomahawk is one of the reasons why a ball toss became necessary to add to the rules. I tell people that it is too easy to control the ball height when no toss is done. If I were you, I would have called an ump, but I don't know how confident you are in the legality of your serves.
 
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I want to talk strategy. I watched the first 2 and then parts of the third and last videos.

What are you thinking you want to accomplish with your serves? If you were to say where you think you serve to most, where would that be? Is there a reason why you serve to almost the same place, the same speed, the same hight, so frequently? Are your serves long serves or short?

What got me thinking about this is that, in that second video, you are playing a guy, Ed, who, obviously, from body language, you can tell, did not want to have to receive a serve with his forehand. And in that match, you served every single serve right to his backhand. Not long, not short, not half long. Long enough and high enough for a good player to loop the serve into next week. But not long or fast enough to be considered a real long serve. And definitely not short enough to double bounce or make an opponent have to think if he wanted to wait for it to come off the edge or take the ball over the table. All your serves are actually in the classic area that you never want to serve in. The bounce on the opponent's side is not near the net and it is not near the edge. In fact it is pretty close to half way between the net and the edge.

Now every once in a while you do a different serve. But almost all of your serves are telegraphed. If your opponent is paying attention, he should know exactly where your serve is going to go almost all the time. In the first three matches, in the parts that I watched fully, I only saw ONE serve go to the FH side.

It would be worth it for you to learn to use short serves to set yourself up. It would be worth it for you to learn to vary your serve placement better. To have a plan of what you are trying to force your opponent to give you so that you can take control of the point with your serve and third ball. If you do serve long you should make the ball bounce as close to the white line on your side and on your opponent's side as you can. And if you are going to serve long, your long serves should be much faster. But, faster from wrist, not from shoulder. In the match with the guy with the illegal tomahawk toss, you start trying harder with your serves. The result is more arm and a higher serve. Not what you want.
 
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thanks for the long post and analysis of my match play

I probably shouldn't piggyback too much on a good post, but one thing that you will realize as you get better is the importance of serve and receive. So what Carl is telling you is not a small thing. What he is telling you has the potential to give you the biggest improvements to your game when facing better players as serve quality and location is what determines whether you will even stay in the point or not. Lower level players just give you the ball back, but better players learn that he who gets to shoot second almost never shoots, so they try to jump on anything loose.

If you have a strong third ball mindset (and I think you do, but you need to execute it with better spin oriented technique), you need to be able to serve with different levels of spin to different points on the table with similar looking serves. I would recommend you work harder on your pendulum and watch the ITTF Serving Basic Skills video where they explain how to get spin variation on the serve and the basic ideas for keeping it short. I would also recommend you develop a good backspin serve and a nospin variation. These serves are enough for anyone with your mobility and you can add one more serve with reverse sidespin (either the backhand, tomahawk or reverse pendulum) for variation in case an opponent hates that sidespin.

When you practice, you should practice looping long serves even if your partner is a lousy server. Have him serve you 20 long serves and loop them - the forehand serve looping stroke is usually shorter than the full rally loop and intended to give the return a low and well placed trajectory over the net, sometimes spin, sometimes drive. The backhand strokes are usually fairly similar.
 
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Having the attitude that you want constructive feedback is really great and gives you an advantage in getting better.

From the technical side of things NextLevel's feedback is really great and worth trying to work on.

To me, from the technical side, I think it is interesting how, when facing a long push your FH loop is pretty decent and then, often, when facing a fairly easy topspin ball that you are ready for, and have the ball lined up, it seems strange how often you take very tentative 1/4 strokes. I can't even call them half strokes because it is much less than half. And yet, your stroke when facing a long push is pretty high quality: so the issue is not your stroke but your comfort with looping topspin.

Also, as NextLevel noted, how, often when you are taking a fuller swing vs a topspin ball, your stroke ends up not following through over the ball (and up towards your forehead) but instead you end up going across your body towards the opposite shoulder at about shoulder height.

I think you need to practice looping vs block and then counterlooping vs moderate topspin loops. Because you don't seem to want to hit topspin vs topspin. Even when you get a high ball to crush you are hitting it more flat rather than spinning it.

But the idea of wanting help in learning what to work on and improve means you have a real good attitude that will help your skills progress.


Sent from Godric'sHollow using the ResurrectionStone
 
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you know I always considered my loop against backspin to be a weakness of mine because I wasn't putting enough pace and going very vertical for a slow safe high arcing spinny loop that let my opponent kill the ball, which made me to really focus on that stroke. I suppose my loop against topspin needs more work nowadays..
 
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My opinion is that this guy has the potential to be a massive 3rd ball attacker, just as soon as he gets more comfortable with his FH and learns to LET GO. His serves are promising in the sense that he already has the ability to bounce the ball close to his endline and still keep the ball short on the receiver's side, which is a pretty high level concept.

But serves like the one at 23 seconds in the first video need to be punished. Start doing it right away, even if you miss. Please do not get in the habit of being soft against long, slow serves.
 
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you know I always considered my loop against backspin to be a weakness of mine because I wasn't putting enough pace and going very vertical for a slow safe high arcing spinny loop that let my opponent kill the ball, which made me to really focus on that stroke. I suppose my loop against topspin needs more work nowadays..

Both strokes are relative weaknesses in terms of consistency and technique but your backspin form and kill is much better than your topspin form and kill from an ideal perspective. I had similar issues. In my experience, looping backspin competently if at all requires you to learn to finish on the same side as where the stroke started from unless the ball is really easy. Looping topspin properly has a similar but more complicated requirement. But most lower rated players don't need to learn to loop topspin properly because they mostly deal with easy balls. So unless they have coaching, they can get away with bad form. So your topspin form is bad, but it is adequate for the easy topspin balls you play against. If you played against 2000 level topspin strokes, then the limitations would be more apparent. The same for the backspin stroke, but I can see you making more of those.

Most lower rated players learn to loop properly first against backspin and to some degree against block, but loops against blocks are not tests of proper looping as I explained above. Loops against backspin are the first real tests of looping most lower rated players get. The two other real tests are looping no-spin/dead balls (not light topspin but real dead balls that barely have any spin at all as the looper needs to generate it all and can't drive the ball using the existing spin) and looping heavy topspin balls/counterlooping (especially close to the table) as controlling heavy topspin can be a nightmare until you get used to it.

I would only work on the topspin looping just for the experience and to get you ready for the higher levels as you won't see it often and may struggle to find it unless you have the right level of practice partner - what you need to focus on are loops against blocks and loops against backspin and then throw in some loops against topspin to round things out, but not as a focus. But if you can counterloop topspin, you will break 2000 pretty fast - because you will never feel in danger when your opponent loops at the lower levels - when I loop, most players block so a counter topspin is pretty scary if I see a player U2000 doing it close to the table.

But if you focus on the right finishing position for the loop being played and try to finish at the 90 degree shoulder/elbow for all your loops with the right racket angle for the loop, everything will naturally fall into place as the loop will naturally calibrate it self. For countertopspin, the racket tends fold forward or more flat over the forehead for that stroke. For backspin, it tends to look more open at finish, but still a little forward. But in any case, there are all kinds of looping positions defending on how you contact the ball. Just try to finish with the right snap, start with the right backswing and you can figure lots of things out using different contact positions.
 
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My opinion is that this guy has the potential to be a massive 3rd ball attacker, just as soon as he gets more comfortable with his FH and learns to LET GO. His serves are promising in the sense that he already has the ability to bounce the ball close to his endline and still keep the ball short on the receiver's side, which is a pretty high level concept.

But serves like the one at 23 seconds in the first video need to be punished. Start doing it right away, even if you miss. Please do not get in the habit of being soft against long, slow serves.

He is going to be a good player - he just needs someone to show him how to spin the ball properly.
 
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Also, please do not underestimate the importance of the "unsheathing the sword" comment that Nextlevel made above. Take a look at this backhand that you played versus Gary:

http://www.infinitelooper.com/?v=iwLhuUNrzlM&p=n#/181;184

If you look closely at your elbow and your elbow only, you will notice that your elbow remains perfectly stationary throughout the stroke. You are generating absolutely zero snap from the elbow. Do not be afraid to experiment with each of the following 2 things:

1) On the forward part of the swing, allow your elbow to move out laterally (to the right hand side from your perspective). Your elbow can have a bit of freedom to move outwards. Watch the Henzell video.

and

2)To make your backswing, press the elbow forward just a bit in order to allow the forearm and wrist to retract in a relaxed manner.

What you are doing is sticking your elbow out and then consciously thinking about waving your wrist and forearm at the ball. Relax your wrist and forearm. At this stage, It's going to be nearly impossible for you to relax your wrist too much. Your wrist should be extremely active on the backhand, but it is active due to the relaxation and proper usage of the elbow... not by you consciously trying to wave at the ball with with it.

NL made a video for me about "Unsheathing the Sword" that was quite useful. Maybe he will share it with you either through PM or this thread,
 
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