Looping every long serve

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There's a guy I often play with, I think he's like 1800-1850 level player. I typically beat him 80% of times. He's a strange player, because he has a really difficult serve, but isn't too good apart from that. His main serve is a fast, spinny, long pendulum serve. This is usually a sidespin serve with varying levels of underspin.

Usually I play him by just pushing his serve back and accepting the result. His serve is very difficult, so up to now, I just didn't dare to try anything else. When he hits his 3rd ball attack, I'm at his mercy. But if he can't hit his 3rd ball loop, then I usually have the statistical advantage.

But today I decided that our games are fairly predictable. So I decided to totally change my style and loop every long serve. I found that this totally change the dynamic of our games. To my pleasant surprise, I actually executed this strategy moderately well. Considering that it was my first day trying this, I think i did quite well. This is what I noticed changed in our game dynamic:

1) There was a lot more point variance. Sometimes, I would miss the loops and give away 5 or so points in a row. Other times, I would put a lot of pressure on his serve and I would win a lot of points in a row. For example, in one game I started the game executing my all-loop strategy quite well and took a 9-3 lead. I could've just played safely and won the last 2 points more steadily with a push. But I continued my loop strategy and went on to lose that game 12-14.

2) I found that he feared me looping his serve. (no wonder pros rarely do a long serve). I found that he had to go away from his best serve, and started using a much less dangerous short underspin serve.

3) Somehow I felt that even when I was serve, he felt less comfortable and more rushed to "get back" at me. This seemed to work in my favor

I ended up winning 2 matches against him using this strategy. Statistically, I feel I win more points with my old pushing strategy. But like I said, for my very first day trying this, I did it fairly well. If I can get used to the faster rhythm of looping his serves, I feel he will be under a lot more pressure. Any feedback for me? Did I do the right idea?
 
Exactly like my “ nemesis”. No it’s up to the point that I almost never get to return the serve anymore and never on FH…

Once You get used to the serve it’s a breeze to receive.

This is one of the fun parts of the game, the dynamics. Before long he’ll come up with a new serve…

It’s important to this in something different every once in a while so your opponent can’t relax too much…

When I start I game I’m usually in a disadvantage if the server gives me a serve I’m not used to and it takes a few balls to figure it out. After this the advantage is turned around. But if we don’t play again for some time the situation is almost that same next time…

Ohh well…

Cheers
L-zr
 
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There is an underrated movie "The 13th Warrior" starring Antonio Banderas. One of the themes of that movie is the psychology of battle. There is an interesting scene "Battle for prince Wigliff" that you can find on Youtube.
If you switch between the two service return strategies at the appropriate time you can obtain a psychological advantage. "Why the deception?" "He has to calculate what he can't see". That's a big part of table tennis I think.

For me, TT is both like a battle and an interesting conversation; the interesting conversation occurs when both parties engage and new dynamics are discovered (hence why I don't like anti rubbers; its a bit like opting out of the conversation. But that's a different topic). So there is another reason to try different approaches to returning a given serve - it makes for interesting conversation.
Cheers, AOA
 
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Yes, you should attack long services, especially if you know it's likely coming and there's not that much spin variation. The reason you seem to wonder if that's the case is because it sounds like he's not good at punishing a conservative receive, which is a bit of odd. You'd expect an 1800+ level player with just a good long side/under service and not much of a rally game to at least be good at opening loops. How could he get to that rating otherwise? It's also a natural follow-up technique to develop when your best service is a long one.
 
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Statistically, I feel I win more points with my old pushing strategy. But like I said, for my very first day trying this, I did it fairly well. If I can get used to the faster rhythm of looping his serves, I feel he will be under a lot more pressure. Any feedback for me? Did I do the right idea?
Well, the rule of thumb is to try and loop any long serves that you receive but my only advice is don't try to kill the ball right away. If you hit too hard then as you pointed out yourself, you drastically increase your chances of unforced errors and might actually end up losing even more points than playing it safe.

Try and hit with around 60-70% power, that way you can put pressure on him, maintain your aggression but also can avoid making too many unforced errors.
 
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Well, the rule of thumb is to try and loop any long serves that you receive but my only advice is don't try to kill the ball right away. If you hit too hard then as you pointed out yourself, you drastically increase your chances of unforced errors and might actually end up losing even more points than playing it safe.

Try and hit with around 60-70% power, that way you can put pressure on him, maintain your aggression but also can avoid making too many unforced errors.
Agree, trying to loopkill fast long spinny serves with lots of deception and variation is kinda a fool's endeavour.

Borrowing the energy and using it to loop with a lot of spin and taken early is usually a better approach especially if you vary placement and spin. This gives both time pressure as well as spin reading pressure to the opponent while minimising unforced errors. If you are confident on your spin and placement read then go for the loopkill, no problems. But if you're playing someone of equal level, that's rarely possible unless you like gambling.

I use a lot of long, fast, spinny serves and I love the loopkill happy crowd because I know they're gonna miss the majority of them lol.
 
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Usually the difficulty is that our normal topspin drills make us wait for the ball to get off the table.

Which leaves us at the servers whim since he can make it long or half long.

Now i'd make anyone who doesnt use those serves pay because I'm really good at short game.

Receiving is a mix of doing what you should do and what you can do at that moment. Yes I can loop, but i'd rather push and wait to counter by stepping back vice versa.
 
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says ESN 42 hardness is my magic number
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I love looping long fast serve. I get to feel like Doc in OK Corral...
IMG_7534.jpeg

In my mind, I am like "go ahead punk, are you feelin'
lucky? Make my day!" Those anticipation, those tension... oh! So addictive!
 
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It depends on your age, physical conditions, style, techique and maybe some other things.
I've been taught to attack every ball that goes away from the table, you simply cannot miss that clear chance to attack. And it applies to serves too. It gives feeling of control to me. Also it is usually difficult to push long and fast serves without letting your opponent to attack. It is really easier for me to loop them (even if I lose that point at least I tried :) ), I will be punished by my usual opponents if I miss my chance to attack.
But if you are defender, or like blocking, or your opponents doesn't make you regret about missed opportunity to attack or just feel comfortable when your opponent attacks, then there is no need to loop it at all costs, just do what is comfortable for you and according to your current or desired play style and game plan. Table tennis (especially non-pro) allows you to win in many different ways, just choose yours.
 
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you know it's actually more devastating to opponent if you somehow push their long topspin serve than to loop it cuz that's not what they expect.
One of my clubmates likes to do that. It's useful as a variation of your receive like any long push, but it's also no different than any other long push.
 
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you know it's actually more devastating to opponent if you somehow push their long topspin serve than to loop it cuz that's not what they expect.
I have something worse - the BH sideswipe against long FH pendulum serves, it pretty much gives them a weird af extreme sidespin ball which you can vary between sideunderspin and sidetopspin. It can be quite disgusting for them to loop it. But the problem with all of these is that against good players who know how to deal with your sidespin, youre gonna have to deal with a strong attack next ball which usually aint that easy. It really depends on your opponent tho. Some players are a king of defence and block so they're actually more comfortable getting a loop rather than this weird ball. Other players are really good at looping weird stuff but have atrocious blocks.
 
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Today was funny, I chopped a few of the nasty fast long sideunder / sidetopspin balls hard and got the points from my opponents underestimating the spin (it was ridiculously spinny lol). Could work even better than a weak loop (I was pretty much surprised every time and didn't get into a good position, looping would have got me blocked into a bad position). Sometimes some variation is always good rather than trying to loop all the time.
 
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I feel like my game evolved a stage yesterday. I played a 2 wing puncher/blocker. We first played a match that I lost 0-3. Every game was competitive, but he was blocking all my loops.

We played a second match and it was going the same way, I was down 0-2. So I decided to change my style and looped all his serves. His most common serve is a side-under serve from the bh side. With my change, I reversed the match and won 3-2.

We played one final match where I continued my strategy, and won 3-1.

I feel like I am a AI machine that just plays matches until I discover something new about myself. But I felt like I evolved a stage.
 
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This is some hellish long serve hopeless to return. You are most lucky to have very few mastery players able to serve this way 😜😜😜
 
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Today I played a 2000 guy who I have never beaten and have barely ever even taken a game off of.

I tried my loop ever serve style and somehow won 3-0 with the Sanwei 75 inner.

Now I definitely feel I am evolving
Nice! I find it really rattles people when you can pressure them on their own serves. You already have good rally skills, it's no wonder you can win a lot more when you start them on your own terms.
 
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Maybe my next step is to start looping harder.

I have found that for players around the 1800 level, they are equally troubled by a hard loop vs a 70% power loop. Most of the time, especially from the bh, I don't go for a hard loop but just use my 70% to open the point. I usually win a lot of points with this 70% loop, so I have gotten into a habit of not going hard. But against the top players, maybe I need to get into a habit of looping hard.
 
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Maybe my next step is to start looping harder.

I have found that for players around the 1800 level, they are equally troubled by a hard loop vs a 70% power loop. Most of the time, especially from the bh, I don't go for a hard loop but just use my 70% to open the point. I usually win a lot of points with this 70% loop, so I have gotten into a habit of not going hard. But against the top players, maybe I need to get into a habit of looping hard.
Or just train up a "dead" loop on the BH (which is pretty much just lifting the backspin) to really throw them off. I too like hard loops but they aren't always achievable against very tricky serves...
 
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