Improving Third Ball Play After Service in Table Tennis

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I am hoping to find some help and insights in training for third ball attack in table tennis.

Without a dedicated coach to guide me, I rely on fellow players for practice. However, I'm facing a couple of major challenges.

Firstly, I am trying to focus on refining my basic footwork pattern and practicing the third ball attack to a specific, known location with a comfortable spin and speed. I believe that mastering the basics before moving on to more complex aspects such as varying spins and locations is crucial. Unfortunately, my practice partners often have different training methodologies. Many of them prefer to play as if it's a match situation, offering difficult returns or practicing their chiquita flicks, making it difficult for me to concentrate on the fundamentals.

Secondly, when practicing my serves and third ball attacks regularly with the same players, I've noticed they tend to become familiar with my serve patterns and strategies. This familiarity can potentially disadvantage me in a competitive scenario, as they might predict and counter my moves effectively.

I'm very interested in understanding your current techniques, strategies, and any specific exercises you currently use to enhance this aspect of your game.

How do you train for your third ball attack after service?
What are some challenges you face during this phase of the game?
Do you have any drills or exercises that you find particularly effective?
Do you practice the pattern of serving, executing a third ball attack, and then stopping? Or, do you typically continue with the rally until the ball is no longer in play?
 
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3rd ball attack means you just attack the ball at the 3rd ball.
no matter how the ball comes back, underspin or top spin, you can attack the ball.
this kind of attack is no different to just a normal attack. 3rd ball means, you are opening up or starting the attack the ball after you serve and the ball being returned.

So the question is, how strong is your attack. Can you attack during normal attacking drills?

It is more regular to serve a top spin ball, to allow the ball to come back stronger to start the attack.
then there is underspin ball, and get the opponent to push back and start the attack.

third ball is nothing special, the attack is the key, not 3rd or 5th ball.
So just need to train on regular attack
here is some drills I did yesterday, all can be 3rd ball attack drills.
key is the movement, and getting the foot, body into position, so your arm can execute the attack.


If you don't have the ability to execute training on normal attack, then, 3rd ball attack is really just far reach, as the level in 3rd ball, is a lot more difficult, due to not knowing where the opponent will place the ball.

Lower levels, you can say, serve this, and the ball will come into the sweat spot for you. That is really just lower level and impracticable later on. The practicable part is your attacking ability.
 
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Something that can really help develop your 3rd ball attack is serving serves that limit the amount of returns. This shaves down the possibilities and then you can attack from there. I get what you mean about people recognising what you're going to do though. This is why you don't force an attack from yourself every ball, especially if it is not the right ball to attack. Also, try and vary your placement on the attack, as this makes it harder for the opponent even if they seethe attack coming. Lastly, have many serves in your inventory, then it id likely that your opponent won't remember what you did off a certain serve, as you did many different serves before/after that. If you do the same serve every time, players will figure the best way to return it. Try amd get 5 or 6 different serves(they can be variations off a same serve) and this will keep an opponent guessing
 
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Starting with footwork is good. basics are essential.
So when you serve, by the time of the 2nd bounce you should be in your basic ready playing stance and bouncing on your toes, ready to move. (Fast serve, less time to recover)
Give yourself space, watch the pros and they serve close to the table and then recover away from the table, giving yourself space gives you time. Easier to move forward than backwards.
At the 2nd bounce, you should be maybe 600mm to a meter back from the table, depends on your serve, slow short serve then you don’t need to get back a meter, a short touch receive may be likely. A medium paced long serve, and you will need to recover further back.

When practicing, your practice partner(s) need to be proactive.
Regular routines - such as - serve backspin 1/2 long to their FH, long push receive to wide FH, FH open up v backspin. 10 receives to FH, Then vary receive, long middle 10 receives, long BH 10 receives, So you have 3 serve return positions.
Then go for the same serve but with IRREGULAR receive to the 3 basic positions.
Now you will need to serve, recover and WATCH how they receive, their bat orientation, body position, etc what gives away the position they are going to return to?

You can then do similar routines for different serves and returns. Always try to get the irregular practice in as it best mimics game play situation.
 
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3rd ball attack means you just attack the ball at the 3rd ball.
no matter how the ball comes back, underspin or top spin, you can attack the ball.
this kind of attack is no different to just a normal attack. 3rd ball means, you are opening up or starting the attack the ball after you serve and the ball being returned.

So the question is, how strong is your attack. Can you attack during normal attacking drills?

It is more regular to serve a top spin ball, to allow the ball to come back stronger to start the attack.
then there is underspin ball, and get the opponent to push back and start the attack.

third ball is nothing special, the attack is the key, not 3rd or 5th ball.
So just need to train on regular attack
here is some drills I did yesterday, all can be 3rd ball attack drills.
key is the movement, and getting the foot, body into position, so your arm can execute the attack.


If you don't have the ability to execute training on normal attack, then, 3rd ball attack is really just far reach, as the level in 3rd ball, is a lot more difficult, due to not knowing where the opponent will place the ball.

Lower levels, you can say, serve this, and the ball will come into the sweat spot for you. That is really just lower level and impracticable later on. The practicable part is your attacking ability.
my attack is pretty good, I can do both forehand and backhand attack. The drill you suggested is not good enough for me personally, what I have seen is that doing these kind of drills there is no transition of the stroke so you get used to it pretty fast. In a rally it is easy for me. In a service say a forehand pendulum the serve position is different, the grip changes and then after serve getting into the position and changing the grip back to your regular one is the first thing you have to do before the third ball so the drills that you do does not help *me* personally it might be helpful for others.
 
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Starting with footwork is good. basics are essential.
So when you serve, by the time of the 2nd bounce you should be in your basic ready playing stance and bouncing on your toes, ready to move. (Fast serve, less time to recover)
Give yourself space, watch the pros and they serve close to the table and then recover away from the table, giving yourself space gives you time. Easier to move forward than backwards.
At the 2nd bounce, you should be maybe 600mm to a meter back from the table, depends on your serve, slow short serve then you don’t need to get back a meter, a short touch receive may be likely. A medium paced long serve, and you will need to recover further back.
The recovery footwork after serve (weight transfer during serve and use that to rotate your body into the ready position with both feet landing at the same time by the 2nd bounce of the ball on your opponent's side) is crucial to execute 3rd ball attacks against all returns.

Furthermore, you will need a good chiquita and FH flick for the short balls and the appropriate footwork and recovery.
 
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Furthermore, to execute 5th ball attack, one most always recover and reset back to ready position after the 3rd ball, otherwise you'll most probably be prepared for one scenario and if the other happens - you're pretty much stuck with using arm only power which is a big no no in table tennis.

You can check the recovery reset thread by turbozed for a lot more discussions on this.
 
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my attack is pretty good, I can do both forehand and backhand attack. The drill you suggested is not good enough for me personally, what I have seen is that doing these kind of drills there is no transition of the stroke so you get used to it pretty fast. In a rally it is easy for me. In a service say a forehand pendulum the serve position is different, the grip changes and then after serve getting into the position and changing the grip back to your regular one is the first thing you have to do before the third ball so the drills that you do does not help *me* personally it might be helpful for others.
Wow, the elite do these drills, and I’m talking about World Champions elites. Are you maybe under estimating it or you level is very high?

Video or two would help

If your attack is better than these 2 girls, then salute
Interesting to see then how you struggle with initiating 3rd ball
It should be a breeze, so need video to help further
 
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Wow, the elite do these drills, and I’m talking about World Champions elites. Are you maybe under estimating it or you level is very high?

Video or two would help

If your attack is better than these 2 girls, then salute
Interesting to see then how you struggle with initiating 3rd ball
It should be a breeze, so need video to help further
Just to be clear, I did'nt claim that my attack is better than these two girls, I meant I can attack pretty well at the level I play in. I can actually can train like the elites, I have built a robot myself ;-). Here is my latest video of me practicing backhand topspin.


 
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The recovery footwork after serve (weight transfer during serve and use that to rotate your body into the ready position with both feet landing at the same time by the 2nd bounce of the ball on your opponent's side) is crucial to execute 3rd ball attacks against all returns.

Furthermore, you will need a good chiquita and FH flick for the short balls and the appropriate footwork and recovery.
completely agree, I think this footwork can be developed with targeted practice, first step is to serve get ready and attack the third ball. Once this is done then the next step is to recover after third ball attack and get ready for the fifth ball.
 
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I am hoping to find some help and insights in training for third ball attack in table tennis.

Without a dedicated coach to guide me, I rely on fellow players for practice. However, I'm facing a couple of major challenges.

Firstly, I am trying to focus on refining my basic footwork pattern and practicing the third ball attack to a specific, known location with a comfortable spin and speed. I believe that mastering the basics before moving on to more complex aspects such as varying spins and locations is crucial. Unfortunately, my practice partners often have different training methodologies. Many of them prefer to play as if it's a match situation, offering difficult returns or practicing their chiquita flicks, making it difficult for me to concentrate on the fundamentals.

Secondly, when practicing my serves and third ball attacks regularly with the same players, I've noticed they tend to become familiar with my serve patterns and strategies. This familiarity can potentially disadvantage me in a competitive scenario, as they might predict and counter my moves effectively.

I'm very interested in understanding your current techniques, strategies, and any specific exercises you currently use to enhance this aspect of your game.

How do you train for your third ball attack after service?
What are some challenges you face during this phase of the game?
Do you have any drills or exercises that
you find particularly effective?
Do you practice the pattern of serving, executing a third ball attack, and then stopping? Or, do you typically continue with the rally until the ball is no longer in play?


Serve fast & furious and followed by driving faster & more furious.
 
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completely agree, I think this footwork can be developed with targeted practice, first step is to serve get ready and attack the third ball. Once this is done then the next step is to recover after third ball attack and get ready for the fifth ball.
Yes, in my 3rd ball attack drills with other ppl that I do, these recovery reset footwork patterns led me to be almost in place for all their returns, my winning percentages off serve went from like 60% to 80% against the same partners.

I'm still shadowing a lot of these patterns even now.
 
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Just to be clear, I did'nt claim that my attack is better than these two girls, I meant I can attack pretty well at the level I play in. I can actually can train like the elites, I have built a robot myself ;-). Here is my latest video of me practicing backhand topspin.


I'm not sure if you have other videos on that channel,
but from this video and angle, you may think that you seem to train like the elite, but sorry to say, you are not even half way there. You weight distribution and shifting in that bh shot is not there for starters. So you can go on and on for 1000 hits, you are missing the essence of using your whole body to hit that ball.

A lot of time, when we train players, it is not just doing a good looking shot, but starts from the basics of footwork, and weight shifting.
The first drill I posted, underspin feed, FH topspin everywhere, is a drill that U10 would master earlier on and train the same until....forever.

This is to train the player to be able to see an incoming underspin ball, and to use the FH topspin, not matter if it is pivot or shuffle right.
Now if you can do 100 of these on the trot with full movement. I see no reason why you can do underspin serve , and if opponent push an underspin ball back to you (no matter where on the table), even if it is only half long, you should be able to lift it with a powerful FH topspin and initiate the 3rd ball attack and follow by 5th ball counter attacker.

I see a lot of people talk about recovery after serves.
to me, if you can do footwork in drills, you can do recovery too.
if you can't do footwork in drills, you can't do recovery

Of course having a coach would help.
but if youtube is your coach, then at least get a practice partner and work on fundamental drills. But if these fundamental drills are too easy, then it means, you are not doing it correctly.

PS, cool robot, if you made it yourself
one day when AI takes over, maybe human feeders might not be needed any more. Until then, we still have jobs
 
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Just to be clear, I did'nt claim that my attack is better than these two girls, I meant I can attack pretty well at the level I play in. I can actually can train like the elites, I have built a robot myself ;-). Here is my latest video of me practicing backhand topspin.


It’s great that you built your own robot!!
Can your robot place the ball in random positions, or spread the balls across a defined line?
using the footage as an example, ball is coming to one position. If you can use the robot to spread the balls from wide BH to centre line, randomly, it will really help your footwork.
Also recovery to ready playing position needs to be quicker. Think fast stroke to hit the ball, faster recovery and bounce on your toes ready for next stroke. This should be for ANY stroke you play!!!

This is one of my main goals, I need to move quicker after playing a stroke. Rather than play stroke, watch, move.
it should be play stroke, move and watch simultaneously!!!
 
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It’s great that you built your own robot!!
Can your robot place the ball in random positions, or spread the balls across a defined line?
using the footage as an example, ball is coming to one position. If you can use the robot to spread the balls from wide BH to centre line, randomly, it will really help your footwork.
Also recovery to ready playing position needs to be quicker. Think fast stroke to hit the ball, faster recovery and bounce on your toes ready for next stroke. This should be for ANY stroke you play!!!

This is one of my main goals, I need to move quicker after playing a stroke. Rather than play stroke, watch, move.
it should be play stroke, move and watch simultaneously!!!
yes it an, you can setup different spins say backspin with low spin and heavy spin and randomize it across the table
 
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I'm not sure if you have other videos on that channel,
but from this video and angle, you may think that you seem to train like the elite, but sorry to say, you are not even half way there. You weight distribution and shifting in that bh shot is not there for starters. So you can go on and on for 1000 hits, you are missing the essence of using your whole body to hit that ball.

A lot of time, when we train players, it is not just doing a good looking shot, but starts from the basics of footwork, and weight shifting.
The first drill I posted, underspin feed, FH topspin everywhere, is a drill that U10 would master earlier on and train the same until....forever.

This is to train the player to be able to see an incoming underspin ball, and to use the FH topspin, not matter if it is pivot or shuffle right.
Now if you can do 100 of these on the trot with full movement. I see no reason why you can do underspin serve , and if opponent push an underspin ball back to you (no matter where on the table), even if it is only half long, you should be able to lift it with a powerful FH topspin and initiate the 3rd ball attack and follow by 5th ball counter attacker.

I see a lot of people talk about recovery after serves.
to me, if you can do footwork in drills, you can do recovery too.
if you can't do footwork in drills, you can't do recovery

Of course having a coach would help.
but if youtube is your coach, then at least get a practice partner and work on fundamental drills. But if these fundamental drills are too easy, then it means, you are not doing it correctly.

PS, cool robot, if you made it yourself
one day when AI takes over, maybe human feeders might not be needed any more. Until then, we still have jobs
100 on the trot with full movement , wow even elite players take a break after a few, this attitude is focused more on quantity than quality in my opinion.

The problems are personal for each player and there are different ways to train and I would prefer if coaches can back up their claim with something other than opinions maybe with some research based data.

I have the opportunity to work with elite coaches who have produced national champions in India and around the world the way they think about a robot is not a replacement for the coaches but they see it as a tool which can help them focus on the players movement rather than feeding and yelling out. They actually know which tool to use for which player, and when to use and when not to use.

PS: you seem like a good coach and nothing personal but for me personally I would prefer a coach who understands that there is no one way to learn and they figure it out with the student on what works for them based on the age, time, goals.
 
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100 on the trot with full movement , wow even elite players take a break after a few, this attitude is focused more on quantity than quality in my opinion.

The problems are personal for each player and there are different ways to train and I would prefer if coaches can back up their claim with something other than opinions maybe with some research based data.

I have the opportunity to work with elite coaches who have produced national champions in India and around the world the way they think about a robot is not a replacement for the coaches but they see it as a tool which can help them focus on the players movement rather than feeding and yelling out. They actually know which tool to use for which player, and when to use and when not to use.

PS: you seem like a good coach and nothing personal but for me personally I would prefer a coach who understands that there is no one way to learn and they figure it out with the student on what works for them based on the age, time, goals.
all good. the art of multiball and 100 on the trot is only understandable by experience and not explainable by words. The goal is quality at the end. But yeah, its just one of those things.

I do have a question though, with so much coaching resource available to you (and India is by no means a low level), why are you then seeking "advise" on TTD? Are these people here better than your national coaches??

digital coaching to me still has a huge limitations, I'm sure you must know this by now.

and like many members will say - provide videos. otherwise, how do you expect one to coach you based on "understanding you", or age, or time or goals.

it does seem you are the research based data person, you should meet broken ball. you guys can become good friends.
 
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all good. the art of multiball and 100 on the trot is only understandable by experience and not explainable by words. The goal is quality at the end. But yeah, its just one of those things.

I do have a question though, with so much coaching resource available to you (and India is by no means a low level), why are you then seeking "advise" on TTD? Are these people here better than your national coaches??

digital coaching to me still has a huge limitations, I'm sure you must know this by now.

and like many members will say - provide videos. otherwise, how do you expect one to coach you based on "understanding you", or age, or time or goals.

it does seem you are the research based data person, you should meet broken ball. you guys can become good friends.
Signing off by saying we have completely different perscpectives, my last reply to you

I have posted enough content on our channel on research based training, I generally do not like gatekeeping like it is only understandable by experience.

The point of posting to TTD is to get different perscpectives, unlike some coaches who are set that they don't have to ask at particular places, I prefer to talk to different people to get their views even a beginner can sometimes teach experienced people because they look at things in different ways.

I definitely respect brokenball, did you look at his new video on compression of tt ball and rubber, for the sport to go forward we require people who can actually do something not ones who just show videos of their best students and claim they are a good coach. I think there is enough data for people to make their decision on what they want to follow, there is place in the world for all kind of thoughts
 
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I like semi-random drills. Serve short, partner pushes to one of two locations, open up. Goal is perfect footwork including recovery for the next shot, and consistency with high quality. I think this is useful even as you're first developing your shots; drills where you don't have to move at all tend to produce bad habits.
 
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I have followed most of the big developments and scientific articles that have come out with regards to strength training in the past 15 years or so, so I am well aware of how incomplete and underfunded that much more popular and studied topic is.

I appreciate the idealism but have to laugh at the naivete of anyone who believes that the experienced coaches in the field care any bit about paltry research data is out there and using it to justify their methods to beginner students.

I enjoy talking about TT theory here but I'm under no delusion that it makes a lick of difference to improving my playing ability compared to actual table time and the input of an experienced coach with decades of coaching experience.
 
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