How Did I Win or Lose a Match?

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Thanks NL, I appreciate the explanation.

In short, am I correct in summarising that if I learn to trigger the larger muscle groups in sequence, then the need to over use the smaller ones reduces?

Is there any other, complementary approach that helps, such as actually relaxing the smaller muscles? (lighten grip, ease up on pace of shots etc)

I can visualise what you say for FH, but given the relative lack of larger muscle movement on BH vs relatively higher use of smaller muscles (forearm/wrist) then how do I attack this one when shadow practicing - this is at least as problematic for me as FH as I tend to jab at the ball and use shorter unfinished strokes as a result of being tight.

Yes, there are things that help, but everything takes time. Getting stronger fingers (which most people coincidentally do from gripping TT rackets) helps, as being able to grip the racket with the fingers as opposed to building tension in the arm muscles allows you to relax and whip the racket better.

Wrist flexibility helps, as the whip is the last part of the kinetic change. Don't make the mistake of trying to do too much there other than to be able to increase or reduce the range over which the acceleration happens. Sometimes, it is a relaxed result, but sometimes, you need to actively practice the feel of hammering a nail or whipping a hankerchief or towel to get a feel for the motion.

A relaxed snapping at elbow helps, but it should largely be the relaxed result of stopping your body motion and letting your lower arm go forward into the ball as the angle reduces from straight to almost right (and there are smaller degrees of this).

At a high level, this is a relaxed throwing motion. Look at sports like tennis or golf which have similar motions but may have slightly different technical uses of the body. You might be able to find an athlete you know who you can study and uhderstand and then think about how it would make sense for you.

None of this above is science, it is just to stimulate ideas that may help you get on the right path. The biggest thing is to experiment, take time, get feedback and be patient. You may not get a perfect relaxation (I certainly don't), but my forehand today is lightyears ahead of when I started this in 2015 even with all the deficits it has because of arthritis.

 
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The way the backhand works, it is hard for even beginners to play it without some use of the body and many people have thrown frisbees before. On the forehand side, using the arm without the upper body is easier because most people who are not athletes don't do the throw the way the forehand works - the golf swing and the tennis swing are probably the closest thing I can think of. The leg work and core requirement for the forehand is much more pronounced.

That said, for *optimally* playing any stroke, the body use is critical. At the risk of inciting criticism from my high level coaching buddies or better players than myself on this site, there are many options to use the body, some are better than others, but something is usually better than nothing as long as it doesn't cause any injuries by going for more power and consistency than can be produced. This is why anything that can be done by the squatting, twisting and lunging with the hips/legs/calves is always optimal and easiest to sustain. They are the strongest muscles in the body and can handle strong motions.
 
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The way the backhand works, it is hard for even beginners to play it without some use of the body and many people have thrown frisbees before. On the forehand side, using the arm without the upper body is easier because most people who are not athletes don't do the throw the way the forehand works - the golf swing and the tennis swing are probably the closest thing I can think of. The leg work and core requirement for the forehand is much more pronounced.

That said, for *optimally* playing any stroke, the body use is critical. At the risk of inciting criticism from my high level coaching buddies or better players than myself on this site, there are many options to use the body, some are better than others, but something is usually better than nothing as long as it doesn't cause any injuries by going for more power and consistency than can be produced. This is why anything that can be done by the squatting, twisting and lunging with the hips/legs/calves is always optimal and easiest to sustain. They are the strongest muscles in the body and can handle strong motions.

Thanks - lots to digest here.

One more question if I may - part of what drives my shorter / sharper bh stroke is a desire to whip through the ball at impact and create spin, so it appears to be a double edged sword because I seem to stop short. My coach is driving toward smoother less jerky strokes, but this would seem to generate less spin. If that makes sense then I’d welcome thoughts on that.

 
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Thanks - lots to digest here.

One more question if I may - part of what drives my shorter / sharper bh stroke is a desire to whip through the ball at impact and create spin, so it appears to be a double edged sword because I seem to stop short. My coach is driving toward smoother less jerky strokes, but this would seem to generate less spin. If that makes sense then I’d welcome thoughts on that.

There are a lot of misconceptions around spin, and I might not be the right person to address them all. But hopefully, I can save you from some of the bad posts I have read on the subject (I will not reference them here out of respect for the posters, who I sometimes revered while learning TT).

There are two key components of spin, the obvious one is the racket head speed, but the one that people notoriously mess up or make sound cryptic through bad use of physics is the turning effect of the stroke. If your stroke has a relatively slow impact speed into the ball speed but high turning effect, it can have a lot of spin (when people say a lot of spin, they usually mean spin to speed ratio - more revolutions and less forward motion, creating more arc). That is what you might be getting through the jerky strokes but you can have a high turning effect in many ways, and even jerky strokes can be speed oriented (a short punch can be, for example).

Some rubbers have a greater turning effect than others (which is often termed the "throw angle") which is tied to both pip configuration and grip. This might result in their turning the ball more than other rubbers which can lead to higher arcs for forwards strokes or more spin for forward strokes, all things being equal (T05 is the notorious example). The offset is usually in their blocks, because the blocking is less intuitive the higher the arc/spin that the rubber naturally generates - blocks will tend to pop up and may need contact point adjustments of various kinds to compensate (I recently saw a high level coach on WRM-TV teach a blocking concept that I have preached for a long time but never practiced consistently because I lacked confidence in it so I will go all out with it).

So the key to getting spin with any stroke isn't to be jerky per se, or to use more wrist per se, but is to swing in curves that turn the ball more than drive the ball forward. In fact, some players just drive the ball with good spinny rubbers and get similar effects.

The simplest way to swing in curves is to just swing through a path, don't to actively shape the stroke too much, but just focus on where the racket starts, where it touches the ball and where it finishes. If that path is a curve and you are using inverted rubber, the ball will spin, whether you want it to or not. The rest will depend on how thick your contact is vs how much turning effect your contact created. It isn't about the jerk as much as it is easy to turn the ball with short strokes because your are putting more into turning with how you use the wrist/arm than you are putting into forward speed. But you can do this with a big stroke as well, nothing really prevents that other than your intent and practice. If you look at modern Chinese backhands, you will see that there is a supination/up and down around the ball component in many of the strokes, even the smaller ones and the larger ones. Those are all part of generating the turning effect. But if you generate a larger turning effect with effective use of the body, it will show up in more spin, even if you only think you are using the wrist.
 
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BTW, since I forgot to mention this, having a short and whippy backhand that is deceptively spinny is an incredibly good and effective thing. In TT very often, it is better to have a stroke that is deceptively spinny than to have a stroke that is absolutely spinny - people not adjusting for your spin will get you more errors than powerful spin that they can find the angle for (of course, if you have have point ending spin/power, then this might not hold). But my main point here is that getting an absolutely great level of spin with a larger stroke or just getting less spin and driving the ball has its place as well.
 
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To make spin, you need to get the ball into the topsheet and sponge, impact off center, a little or a lot off center, and have fast bat speed measured at the bat, not the arm. You need loose muscles to generate the kinetic energy, you need effective biomechanics to continue and amplify and finger control to deliver the power to the ball. Sometimes you do this with a medium long stroke, sometimes with a very compact stroke. What is on the ball will affect how the ball goes into topsheet and rubber.
 
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There are a lot of misconceptions around spin, and I might not be the right person to address them all. But hopefully, I can save you from some of the bad posts I have read on the subject (I will not reference them here out of respect for the posters, who I sometimes revered while learning TT).

There are two key components of spin, the obvious one is the racket head speed, but the one that people notoriously mess up or make sound cryptic through bad use of physics is the turning effect of the stroke. If your stroke has a relatively slow impact speed into the ball speed but high turning effect, it can have a lot of spin (when people say a lot of spin, they usually mean spin to speed ratio - more revolutions and less forward motion, creating more arc). That is what you might be getting through the jerky strokes but you can have a high turning effect in many ways, and even jerky strokes can be speed oriented (a short punch can be, for example).

Some rubbers have a greater turning effect than others (which is often termed the "throw angle") which is tied to both pip configuration and grip. This might result in their turning the ball more than other rubbers which can lead to higher arcs for forwards strokes or more spin for forward strokes, all things being equal (T05 is the notorious example). The offset is usually in their blocks, because the blocking is less intuitive the higher the arc/spin that the rubber naturally generates - blocks will tend to pop up and may need contact point adjustments of various kinds to compensate (I recently saw a high level coach on WRM-TV teach a blocking concept that I have preached for a long time but never practiced consistently because I lacked confidence in it so I will go all out with it).

So the key to getting spin with any stroke isn't to be jerky per se, or to use more wrist per se, but is to swing in curves that turn the ball more than drive the ball forward. In fact, some players just drive the ball with good spinny rubbers and get similar effects.

The simplest way to swing in curves is to just swing through a path, don't to actively shape the stroke too much, but just focus on where the racket starts, where it touches the ball and where it finishes. If that path is a curve and you are using inverted rubber, the ball will spin, whether you want it to or not. The rest will depend on how thick your contact is vs how much turning effect your contact created. It isn't about the jerk as much as it is easy to turn the ball with short strokes because your are putting more into turning with how you use the wrist/arm than you are putting into forward speed. But you can do this with a big stroke as well, nothing really prevents that other than your intent and practice. If you look at modern Chinese backhands, you will see that there is a supination/up and down around the ball component in many of the strokes, even the smaller ones and the larger ones. Those are all part of generating the turning effect. But if you generate a larger turning effect with effective use of the body, it will show up in more spin, even if you only think you are using the wrist.

Thanks NL for the helpful explanation - for me right now I think that achieving the correct swing plane is top priority so as to add consistency to both sides, which is my biggest downfall in point scoring.

The drive for swift generation of spin has cost me here and so often the ball will fly long on both sides - my arc/shape of stroke is not where it needs to be and is too angular.

I will do some work on this - a start point, today..

 
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One thing that is common place with a lot of players, is lack of Loosening / Stretching the wrists, fingers. I watched a few good warm up’s by coaches, before the actual training starts, but it’s really rare to see the hands fingers wrists warmed up.
I have pretty flexible strong wrists, thru years of playing Badminton, I usually do some wrist rolls, finger stretches, shake outs, so my hands are nice and warm, relaxed and it also helps with sensitivity, gets the blood flowing into your fingers.
Considering that we use our hands a hell of a lot, i think it gets overlooked. Familiarity breeds contempt!!!
We warm up before play, stretch out after play (……….eeeerrrr!!!!!) Well maybe I should, but my hands and wrists ALWAYS DO. Too lazy to do the rest of my body!!!! Especially as the old knees are touchy at the best of times now.
 
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BTW, since I forgot to mention this, having a short and whippy backhand that is deceptively spinny is an incredibly good and effective thing. In TT very often, it is better to have a stroke that is deceptively spinny than to have a stroke that is absolutely spinny - people not adjusting for your spin will get you more errors than powerful spin that they can find the angle for (of course, if you have have point ending spin/power, then this might not hold). But my main point here is that getting an absolutely great level of spin with a larger stroke or just getting less spin and driving the ball has its place as well.

This is been my goal with the BH for some time after seeing how effective my teammates BH has been . He doesn't hit the ball very hard, just rolls into the ball and creates more spin than you'd think just seeing the motion. I've liked hitting hard backhands, it's probably the most satisfying shot for me but for winning points, having the variation of spin with the BH with a small motion is really effective and more consistent

Even if it's not a straight point, if it's low enough the opponent might not be able to counter, just make a weak block and then ideally it should be a FH after to finish the point. With a slower spinny shot there's more time to prepare for the next stroke.

I remember discussing this with another teammate when we jumped in to play in the second highest league in England, one of the British guys who played with us kept doing this shot and we wondered why his opponents kept missing "such easy balls" and that it looked like he didn't need to do anything. Well, that was one of the reasons.

 
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Thanks NL for the helpful explanation - for me right now I think that achieving the correct swing plane is top priority so as to add consistency to both sides, which is my biggest downfall in point scoring.

The drive for swift generation of spin has cost me here and so often the ball will fly long on both sides - my arc/shape of stroke is not where it needs to be and is too angular.

I will do some work on this - a start point, today..

The pain of missing the table holds lots of learners at all ages back. My instructions are always the same.

1. Think broadly in stoke paths defined by where you start your racket and the relative angle, where you contact the balm and the relative angle and when you finish your stroke and the relative angle, and the speed of the swing/thickness as well. A lot of this becomes intuitive when you hit the ball enough.

2. Apply it to the ball and see what happens. Think bigger circle or smaller circle. I never think up, I always think bigger circle because there has to be an effect go curve the ball onto the table so to speak. Or smaller circle to keep the ball lower.

3. Contacting using the sweet spot is critical for consistent spin. The turning effect on the ball is just different when the vall is consistently hit right.

The sooner you get a feel for how your stroke path affects the results and you use that to read and adjust to the ball, the better your TT mindset gets.

 
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Hey Wrighty, I don't disagree with anything NL or others posted for you. That sort of info never helped me though. This is most likely a personal defect on my part, but mentioning in case it is true for someone else.

I can't think about what my body is doing in what order and not get completely knotted up. So I like to do feeling exercises outside of match play. Here are a few.

Hit a ball straight up two meters or more and as it falls catch it on your rubber so it rolls to a stop.

Or put a ball on the forehand rubber and try to roll it over the edge to the backhand and back without dropping it.

Stand up behind the table and serve the ball so it bounces back to you as fast as you can make it.
​​​​​​
stand way behind the table and try to hit a fh ball drop with enough sidespin that it crosses both sidelines on the opposite side of the table with only one bounce.

Put a box or anything tall behind the net and do ball drop loops over the obstacle so they land on the table.

If you have a partner, have them roll a ball slowly to you and as it falls off the end of the table loop it over the net (no obstacles)

Partner loops at you and try the block so it bounces twice on the table. Or block with sidespin. Or chop block.

The common thread in all of these is if you are tensed up and smack the ball hard you will fail at all of them every time.

They are not directly relevant to games. But your body needs to get very comfortable touching the ball gently without tension. Also your brain, maybe even more your brain.
 

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Forgot to mention these exercises work by steering you towards sensing and away from thinking. Try thinking during a match against a chopper, or antispin - you will die.
 
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Hey Wrighty, I don't disagree with anything NL or others posted for you. That sort of info never helped me though. This is most likely a personal defect on my part, but mentioning in case it is true for someone else.

I can't think about what my body is doing in what order and not get completely knotted up. So I like to do feeling exercises outside of match play. Here are a few.

Hit a ball straight up two meters or more and as it falls catch it on your rubber so it rolls to a stop.

Or put a ball on the forehand rubber and try to roll it over the edge to the backhand and back without dropping it.

Stand up behind the table and serve the ball so it bounces back to you as fast as you can make it.
​​​​​​
stand way behind the table and try to hit a fh ball drop with enough sidespin that it crosses both sidelines on the opposite side of the table with only one bounce.

Put a box or anything tall behind the net and do ball drop loops over the obstacle so they land on the table.

If you have a partner, have them roll a ball slowly to you and as it falls off the end of the table loop it over the net (no obstacles)

Partner loops at you and try the block so it bounces twice on the table. Or block with sidespin. Or chop block.

The common thread in all of these is if you are tensed up and smack the ball hard you will fail at all of them every time.

They are not directly relevant to games. But your body needs to get very comfortable touching the ball gently without tension. Also your brain, maybe even more your brain.

Thanks Brs, those a great ideas and I can see the logic.

Can you pls explain this one further as I cant visualise it?

stand way behind the table and try to hit a fh ball drop with enough sidespin that it crosses both sidelines on the opposite side of the table with only one bounce.

 
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Forgot to mention these exercises work by steering you towards sensing and away from thinking. Try thinking during a match against a chopper, or antispin - you will die.

I agree, the main thing I try to do is get people to stop focusing on putting the ball on the table and try them to get into the habit of adapting in practice. I detail too many instructions, but they aren't really instructions, they are just ways to tell you that you don't have to hit the ball one way all the time, and you can vary how you hit the ball and see what happens. You are expanding it to more shots, while I like to stick within the somewhat narrow range of topspin strokes to incoming balls since those are the strokes you need to adapt most of the time.

I learned to adapt after realizing that naturally happened whether I thought about doing it or not, but that I often self-destructed myself despite my adaptations by putting pressure on myself in contexts other than what I was naturally adapting to, usually serve return.

 
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Thanks Brs, those a great ideas and I can see the logic.

Can you pls explain this one further as I cant visualise it?

stand way behind the table and try to hit a fh ball drop with enough sidespin that it crosses both sidelines on the opposite side of the table with only one bounce.

There are at least a couple of options, one is a hook (which is very difficult) and the other is similar to a snake shot by Bobrow/Gauzy but has a more violent trajectory.

 
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Can you pls explain this one further as I cant visualise it?

stand way behind the table and try to hit a fh ball drop with enough sidespin that it crosses both sidelines on the opposite side of the table with only one bounce.

This one is specially for you. 😀 You almost always have your wrist cocked up (in the upwards direction, I don't know the right word) because your forearm muscles are tensed. To make sidespin you will have to let your wrist drop and flop all the way back in the other direction.

Stand somewhere around two meters back behind your forehand sideline so your body is mostly outside the table. Drop a ball and play a sidespin forehand loop (NOT a tomahawk overhand stroke). Try to make the ball curve so much that it goes over your opponents backhand sideline, bounces once, and goes off his forehand sideline (of right-handed opponent).

It doesn't matter if you do exactly this thing, or whether you succeed at it. The value here is that you judge your shot by how much it curves and not how much power it has. But you still have to generate a lot of bat speed to make that much spin, and touch the ball gently. Which it's next to impossible to both swing fast and touch gently unless your body is quite relaxed. And you will have to let your forearm go so your wrist can drop and touch the side of the ball. Plus, a big sidespin curved ball flight is incredibly useful in very many match situations. I think it would be an interesting exercise and good in play.

 
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I was waiting for LDM7 to make some comments about today here. LDM7 did not have his best day of energy or timing on some shots, but encountered, wrestled with, and achieved understanding and progress about how a shorter compact stroke with firming right at impact can make the ball move out.

There are some moments where a long swing is not desirable, optimal or helpful, but you still need some pace... FIRMING at impact is a thing.

LDM7 can do it well now on a FH pick hit, a smash, or a real hard drive from a block, but the timing to do it on BH wing was zero to start the day, and 20-30 by the end of the session. He sees several real life match rally scenarios where a short arm small wrist big firm would finish the point. before today, he would take way too long a back swing, then a way too long big swing and be basically flailing at it off time out of position. He is now getting the position, sometimes the shortness of stroke, and some of the timing of the firming. it will take some time, but this one can be developed pretty quickly. There is good hope here. For many players, it is more difficult to overcome the tendency to go for too long back swing and too long swing, instead of short power.

LDM7 also saw how sometimes at the table, he is rotating his hips some (which takes his target to the middle, instead of the BH cross court corner... and saw he can simply get down a little while getting the bat down some, then go up and forward... shorter path to impact the ball and less moving parts to wreck the timing of it. later, when he learns how to be relaxed more and how to make some more explosion, his BH openers will be really loaded. later, with a more open bat and forward swing, more power topspin on that wing.

Speaking of open bat impact, he is learning there is a good place for that impact when he wants to make a finish or real strong pressure from a block, so instead of crush hitting it, he hits solid with open bat angle, but a little off center and drives through ball to make spin for it to land when he really goes for that shot... and there are PLENTY of times in TT to go for that shot. You attack, opponent blocks, you power drive or fast loop. when he gets more consistent at this, he will have another reliable open/finish sequence on FH... but this can be done also on BH wing with an even shorter stroke and big firming.

These are all shots that have worth at his level and many levels above his level. Several times a game you get loose shots from opponents... you simply have to recognize them, realize what happened, be calm, and break out a step to the ball and a short firm and bingo, fertig is that point.

There is also of course a progression from practice success to good off success to league success to tournament competition success.

Even though LDM7 was wore the heck out, he insisted on going heavy on Falkenberg drill. of course after so much energy used in moving and hitting, you make a miss from being tired... but the value I see is LDM7 effectively moves his body with his toes and ankles and decent bounces... he gets the job done on time without waste of motion. This is sometimes unusual for a player, to get the feet moving right before they get the shots going right.

I always emphasize that reading the opponent's impact, knowing what happened and where/when/how the ball will go before it moves one foot, AND moving to the spot you correctly choose to set the strike zone with leverage and impact the ball in the effective strike zone... I always say THAT counts more than anything to get that right first, since failing to get that right usually wrecks your chances when you attack strong.

Even though LDM7 was taxed and a little weary today, I think he got a lot more value out of today than many other days.
 
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This one is specially for you. 😀 You almost always have your wrist cocked up (in the upwards direction, I don't know the right word) because your forearm muscles are tensed. To make sidespin you will have to let your wrist drop and flop all the way back in the other direction.

Stand somewhere around two meters back behind your forehand sideline so your body is mostly outside the table. Drop a ball and play a sidespin forehand loop (NOT a tomahawk overhand stroke). Try to make the ball curve so much that it goes over your opponents backhand sideline, bounces once, and goes off his forehand sideline (of right-handed opponent).

It doesn't matter if you do exactly this thing, or whether you succeed at it. The value here is that you judge your shot by how much it curves and not how much power it has. But you still have to generate a lot of bat speed to make that much spin, and touch the ball gently. Which it's next to impossible to both swing fast and touch gently unless your body is quite relaxed. And you will have to let your forearm go so your wrist can drop and touch the side of the ball. Plus, a big sidespin curved ball flight is incredibly useful in very many match situations. I think it would be an interesting exercise and good in play.

Ok, now I see it - that’s a lot of curve! You’re spot on re my wrist position, which is why I hook the ball a lot and also why I struggle returning reverse spin serves short into my FH…

Thanks, going to try some of those today in the shed and will report back :)

 
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And you will have to let your forearm go so your wrist can drop and touch the side of the ball. Plus, a big sidespin curved ball flight is incredibly useful in very many match situations.



YES. So many ways the hookshot BH topspin is useful.

It is FUN !!!

You can control incoming heavy spin EASILY and put your own nasty spin on it.

This "KICK" of the ball after it bounces is also pure nastiness and can trouble opponent if opponent did not see it coming.

This "Hookshot" is very natural to perform and makes it more useable under pressure in a match.
 
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How do @Wrighty67

it's funny when you reference your pinga ponga facility as the "shed," kind'a have a back to the drawing board, put your nose to the grindstone tonality - I like it

i've been dedicating myself improving different parts of my game, in time, i am confident each will be more friendlier to another, pulling all the pieces together

i've also been thinking about your earlier post (about a week or two ago) on playing relaxed - none strike more of a chord than at my lesson today ... the difference in seeing balls early (anticipate better), moving towards the ball path, establish strike zone & ball quality (pace, spin, location, timing)

unfortunately when i only focus on that "relaxed" feeling, quality dwindles

one reason = i am trying to get another ball back to repeat that "relaxed" feeling, @Der_Echte calls it patty cake :mad:

to capture that relaxed sensation and remember what it feels like executing a different sort of hand/eye activity, i've started juggling (3 ball cascade) as one of my off-the-table training routines

so how's it going with being able to play more relaxed? are you able to play more relaxed and less tight over the past few sessions?
 
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