Playing Against Hardbat Users

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Hey everyone, are there any tips that you guys can give for playing as an inverted user against hardbat users (more specifically, someone who doesn't use rubber or sponge at all, just bare wood).

More details: I have watched some videos on Youtube and read some articles and the majority of them tell me to loop with lots of spin, but whenever I do this, my opponent will just smash. Also, on the short serves that many of us use, he is able to flick and dominate the point.

P.S. I'm new here and I'm not sure if this is the correct category to post in. Sorry!
 
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Hey Panda, great first post. I don't know your playing level and the things you can do vs a harbat payer are different for one level and different again for a much higher level player.

In general, the higher level player you are, the more consistent you can land your shots, and probably can keep that consistency with more difficult shots and with higher quality shots.

That is a general condition true for any style of player.

It is real important that you understand what you can and cannot do with an acceptable level of consistency and quality. Trying to work outside this will certainly cause you to miss shots and lose points needlessly. On the other hand, you have to try tactics and shots uncomfortable to you and FAIL at them (repeatedly) in order for you to learn and grow.

There are two schools of though on a subject like this.

1) Play to win and use whatever tactic and shot you can do to pull out the win.

2) Learn sound tactics (or discover them by trying different things out) and tryout your tactics/shots in the match with the expectation that you will not yet have perfected the timing and technical things needed to do what you intend. However, the match vs that player or playing style is used as TRAINING and experimentation.

#2 has the benefits of

A) Practicing without the stress or pressure of having to win
B) Practicing thinking in the point
C) Thinking more about your placement and quality of shot
D) Paying more attention to reading the spin (or lack) (that leads to overall improvement vs anyone)
E) Thinking about what makes a tactic and shot effective
F) Practicing things that already trouble you (which you perform better with time and overall will improve your level)

As you can see, #2 has a lot more things to it that will help you grow as a player and get better. All #1 does is get you to win a match (hopefully) and it doesn't do a lot to grow your overall level, except that you got a repetition vs a player whose style troubles you. That counts for something, but doesn't grow your game like #2

Having said that, you got some things to consider. This approach can be used vs any player.

You have to look at what your opponent can and cannot do.

SPIN - In theory, a hardbat cannot generate overwhelming amounts of spin. In a match, they play without creating heavy spin. They can make some, but not a lot, like inverted rubbers produce.

Pace - Hardbats are not nearly as fast as any inverted bat on top end

This makes the hardbat player use other weapons vs you... PLACEMENT, DEPTH, SUDDENESS, DECEPTION

Placement - A hardbat player can win a lot of points by either hitting right at your armpit and make you move (player often fails to make a good attack having to move much or off balance) (or player DOESNT move and tries to attack for an EPIC FAIL vid) A hardbat layer also uses your shallow shots against you by using wide angles. Once he gets you at a wide angle, all he has to do is keep going opposite direction and run you around until he is sick of cat/mouse game or you miss.

Depth - A hardbat player is really good at landing the ball deep to take away your angles.this also troubles you for blocking and attacking. You would tend to either be passive, or make a mistake attacking. Even if you attack, your possible angles are greatly reduced and hardbat player can cover the entire table by standing there or with just one step.

Suddenness - Hardbat players take the ball early and rush you into a failure.

Deception - Some hardbat players are really good at making a last instant change of wrist position to make the ball go the other way once they sold you and the direction.

SO... how do you cope with that?

Placement - You need to control the placement game first. try placing the ball at THEIR armpit for a dose of their own medicine. Whatever you do, place the ball DEEP. There is nothing me=ore troublesome to a hardbat player who gets a ball deep to their armpit, which he often chicken wing blocks, thhen you make a loopdrive away from him for a winner! He also hates it if he messes up and gives you a short ball that YOU start the side to side cat/mouse game. All in all, you do better by placing the ball deep, and also at his weak zone. Sometimes a hardbat player is weak in one zone, find out what it is.

Depth - keep the ball deep as much as you can

Deception - if you can keep the ball deep, his last instant change of direction will not be that severe and you can cope with it.

Suddeness - if you keep the ball deep, the hardbat player cannot rush you by taking the ball off the bounce. If you ball is shallow, hardbat player rushes you with off the bounce block/counter and has a lot of angles to work with. That can be a lot to cope with. KEEP THE BALL DEEP and you will minimize that damage a lot.

I said nothing about your SPIN advantage. Spin will help the control of your topspin attacks or control shots, but can you consistently spin the ball and still land it without a mistake? If the answer is yes, you are a higher level player and use that advantage for control. Hardbat players HATE really heavy topsin balls slow that land deep. those are hard to block. hardbat players are very good at pick hitting and will kill any high shallow topspin, so land it heavy and deep and watch the hardbat player really struggle vs you. If you cannot spin heavy, you can change spin and still keep it deep.

These are few things to consider. Use your common sense and discover what works for you.
 
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The thing with hardbat is that it's reaction spin isn't linear like normal rubber. Thus it's hard to control your game if your opponent knows what he's doing. The easiest way I found is chopping. Don't bother with the spin/strength variations of your chops. Just chop away with long and heavy backspin, while keeping the ball low.
Now, I'm not too sure if your skill level is enough to execute this play since it sounds like you're somehow playing against hardwood blades and having trouble against it on a regular basis....
 
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I've been playing against a hard batter at least once a week for about 2 months now. At first it was really tough but once you figure out how much spin comes at you, it'll get easier. Just play smart and safe in the beginning until you learn what your opponents do.

Keep the ball short and low or long and low. If you give them too high a ball they can re-direct the ball super fast and hard and you wont be able to lift it over the net.

Stay close to medium range from the table because the ball will die off faster than you expect. Once you're more comfortable you can attack more often and overpower them. Also good chopper or hard batters will be ready for your 3rd ball attack so it best to hold off until the 4th or 5th returns and you will notice the back spins are much less.

Ball placement is more important than power ( unless you're the to 10 of the world lol). Don't allow them to force you to play their game, you have to force them to play yours.
 
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JHB

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This is an interesting one and I'm wondering if I've missed something here. The Laws of Table Tennis state that "A side of the blade used for striking the ball shall be covered with either ordinary pimpled rubber, with pimples outwards having a total thickness including adhesive of not more than 2.0mm, or sandwich rubber, with pimples inwards or outwards, having a total thickness including adhesive of not more than 4.0mm." My understanding is that Hardbat is a separate game. So, why is a normal inverted rubber user playing against a Hardbat player ? Not sure I'd want any part of that, but if I was forced to then I'd make sure the Hardbat player supplied the balls !!
 
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This is an interesting one and I'm wondering if I've missed something here. The Laws of Table Tennis state that "A side of the blade used for striking the ball shall be covered with either ordinary pimpled rubber, with pimples outwards having a total thickness including adhesive of not more than 2.0mm, or sandwich rubber, with pimples inwards or outwards, having a total thickness including adhesive of not more than 4.0mm." My understanding is that Hardbat is a separate game. So, why is a normal inverted rubber user playing against a Hardbat player ? Not sure I'd want any part of that, but if I was forced to then I'd make sure the Hardbat player supplied the balls !!
Haha! I feel the same way! This is for when I play at school where some people are unwilling to buy new paddles after the cheap rubber comes off.
 
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The thing with hardbat is that it's reaction spin isn't linear like normal rubber. Thus it's hard to control your game if your opponent knows what he's doing. The easiest way I found is chopping. Don't bother with the spin/strength variations of your chops. Just chop away with long and heavy backspin, while keeping the ball low.
Now, I'm not too sure if your skill level is enough to execute this play since it sounds like you're somehow playing against hardwood blades and having trouble against it on a regular basis....

hey Cake dude, that works with some really low level hardbat players who are afraid to attack. that is a simple and effective tactic vs that kind of player.

However, a hardbat player who is at LEAST US average club level can attack underspin shots. In fact, the more underspin there is, the more topspin they can hit with, which means they can attack faster and still land the shot safely with good placement. There is nothing more an average club player hates more than having his "safe" and "un-attackable" underspin ball slap-shoot right back at his crossover armpit. Attacker tries to bend like Gumby and hit, usually a fail. Attacker tries to move and hit, there just isn't enough time and it is a fail.

If someone isn't confident or for some reason chooses to NOT make a topspin shot for a few balls, I would say try changing your spin from heavy to light and back to heavy all using the same stroke and what appears to be the same impact. Hardbat players still have to read spin and adjust their blade angles. However, their equipment has a lot more margin for error on a medium paced drive they choose to make than an inverted bat on the same kind of stroke.

Another thing to try out is to give the hardbat guy an attackable ball, but place it kinda slow and only a little high, but at their armpit. They might want to try to attack that ball, but you will likely see where they are attacking (usually down your FH line, since they are out of position moving to attack this ball) you are ready and do a block or soft counter away from them and the point is yours. The better players will track this down, but not be able to pressure you as much as if they had inverted, in this case you counter again to the other side they are not and watch the fun.

I better player is a better player regardless if he has a hardbat or a bazooka. The responses will be limited and measured by the level of both players.
 
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I would suggest serving fast low no spin serves. If your opponent is using wood and smashes much of your shots they are too high. If you're spinning the ball then you're not spinning deep enough on the table. Remember that he's not giving you much to work with so you need to be focused on controlling the point and getting into a topspin ball asap. You can do this by serving topspin and having him block it back or you can feed him slow spin ball for him to smash and lift it from there. Remember that the further away from the table you are the more you'll have to lift the ball because he isn't giving you a lot of spin. The other option would be to chop his balls and then you'd be able to give him some trouble.

If you can produce nice underspin balls from a push try pushing deep into his backhand or middle (elbow) and this will make him uncomfortable. Not sure if this helps, but hopefully you'll understand the tactics.
 
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This is an interesting one and I'm wondering if I've missed something here. The Laws of Table Tennis state that "A side of the blade used for striking the ball shall be covered with either ordinary pimpled rubber, with pimples outwards having a total thickness including adhesive of not more than 2.0mm, or sandwich rubber, with pimples inwards or outwards, having a total thickness including adhesive of not more than 4.0mm." My understanding is that Hardbat is a separate game. So, why is a normal inverted rubber user playing against a Hardbat player ? Not sure I'd want any part of that, but if I was forced to then I'd make sure the Hardbat player supplied the balls !!

In international events, I never ever heard of anyone playing with a hardbat vs the pros. That would be the equivalent of bringing a BB Gun to a Machine Gun battle.

In USA, there are a number of players who like to play using such a "Hardbat". In USA sanctioned tourneys, a player can use his Hardbat vs you in a match. Some Hardbat players are pretty good players, some are 2000 USATT level which is 4 levels above average club player level. There is a separate movement and organization for Hardbat players and there are in some tourneys a separate "Hardbat" event, but all in all, you don't play vs a Hardbat player in a sanctioned tourney so often, unless there is one in your region near you level who signs up for the same events.

In the rec center, or even in the "club", you will face players who play Hardbat more often. These are opportunities for good practice.
 
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One thing to consider is when getting into a pushing rally with a hardbat player, the hardbat player has a much easier ability to cancel out your spin and give you back a knuckle ball or a vey light underspin ball that if you look at the stroke "should" be much heavier. You will misread these balls more than your hardbat opponent will. Hardbat players face this tactic a lot and many (even the average club level ones) are pretty good at handling this situation and making the most of it. They also can hit through your ball suddenly if it isn't very deep and surprise you.

Richard's suggestion of using good location if you decide to push is a good tip. So is his suggestion(s) on how to get a more predictable long ball for you to attack strongly. Spinning the ball heavy a deep is always a good thing vs a Hardbat player, but many times, an average US club player will not be able to do this consistently and effective, or at high quality. Depth control and placement are really important things vs a hardbat player.
 
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Just to clarify, in USA a "Hardbat" is a blade with Short Pips OX (no sponge) on both sides of a wood bat. (usually an ALL to ALL+ blade)

Some rec center neighbor hood champs get their own blade and play with it using ZERO rubber. This kind of player who can take the ball off the bonce and invite an attack form a player eager to attack, but clueless on the resultant spin. You see such players in US rec centers sometimes. Even occasionally you will see such a player show up at a US "Club".
 

JHB

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Just to clarify, in USA a "Hardbat" is a blade with Short Pips OX (no sponge) on both sides of a wood bat. (usually an ALL to ALL+ blade)

Some rec center neighbor hood champs get their own blade and play with it using ZERO rubber. This kind of player who can take the ball off the bonce and invite an attack form a player eager to attack, but clueless on the resultant spin. You see such players in US rec centers sometimes. Even occasionally you will see such a player show up at a US "Club".

I sometimes take the ball off or near my bonce, but this is fraught with danger and I have the scars to prove it. :D :D

Thanks for the clarification about a Hardbat being (officially) a bat with pimples and no sponge. So the guys who just buy a blade and use it naked ( oooh Matron ! ) are really trying to make up their own rules as they go along. Lovely !!

Just to show there is nothing new under the sun - last week I examined the bat used by my friend who like me, plays only social TT at the moment. This is a bat bought comparatively recently in a sports store, I think it is from Cornilleau but don't quote me. Anyway I discovered that a) it has the same black rubber on both sides and b) the entire bat is made of plastic so it boasts 0% wood. Not too many rules being broken there then !!
 
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JHB, a recreational player from the US who would normally "play" at a community rec center, a church, or at a military camp rec center, or especially the "basement", maybe a beer bar, these players do not give a HOOT about rules for equipment. The do not give a care for official sanction playing rules, like how to serve. They do not care for rules of dress.

It is not surprising to find such a player show up at the basement, bar or rec center wearing ragged cut everywhere faded blue jeans with a totally white undershirt worn as an outer garment. You will see this player serve by sticking the bat and hand holding the ball a full 40 cm over the table and serve suddenly right out of his hand without ball toss. You will see this player demand to play games to 21. You will this player "ping" the ball to decide who serves. You will see this player bring an ancient $3 bat with green short pips no sponge, or if he spent a whole heap of money, bring a bare wood bat with no rubber, maybe bring a bat you described, plastic or fiberglass blade with crappy rubbers that wouldn't get a sanction even with a 100,000 EURO bribe to the equipment chief official of ITTF.

Heck such a dude doesn't know nor care what ITTF is. (Good on him !!)

These kind of players have ZERO clue about rules or etiquette. They totally dominate the basement or beer bar scene with some work, but then such a player shows up at a TT "Club". This player is utterly shocked to learn there are real rules to the sport. He is usually flabbergasted that he actually has to show the ball, actually toss it up (and swing at it awkwardly) and serve it when opponent is ready. He is surprised that a player can actually spin the ball and hit a fast rally that he cannot keep up with. He is shocked that there is accepted etiquette involved in many things like waiting for the player, good shot, etc.

Basically, to the rec player champ, EVERYTHING is wrong with basic low level TT Club play. Even the worst player who might be 80 yrs old and cannot move gives this rec champ fits he cannot handle. There is usually NO ONE who plays a similar (low) level to the rec champ and even if the rec champ wants to come back and learn how to play nice and proper, he will be discouraged since no one wants to spend any time with him, everyone is already waiting a LONG time for a table and there is no personal benefit to play vs a player several levels below them.

SOOOOO... the rec champ gets discouraged, leaves, and never comes back. He has a forever bad attitude (rightfully) against organized TT club play.

This scenario happens all the time in a US club, even with the most understanding, respectful and gentle explanations to the rec champ.

The problem is there are no players similar in level to the rec champ (and no pretty female players near his level) and there is no incentive for him to come back and learn TT. Only the most determined who took their losses as a personal challenge who have determination to the absolute finish come back and take the time and struggle to learn and overcome.

USA has a HUGE potential playing field of players who already love Ping Pong. It is just that they are not organized, it isn't fun for them (if they go to USA TT club), there is no one at there level to play with, they are destined to lose (not fun). Such a situation isn't very exciting to them.

The challenge is to find a way to make organized play for these large USA segment to make it interesting and fun for them to play in an organized league, even if it isn't close to a club level. Whatever Table Tennis company can figure out a way to attract and retain players in such leagues (and equip them when the discover the Joy of EJ or fashion)... such a company will be in a good position to grow the sport later with more clubs (these leagues lead to players wanting to learn more and get lessons at a club) and also grow the revenues of the TT company that gets such an early foothold.
 
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There are still some players who show up to the community center with a bare wood blade and compete in whatever monthly tourney (with a small cash prize sometimes). Since low level players do not really understand the effects of spin, how to read or how to time the returned balls, the attacking low level player will lose big time to the bare wood wielding player who is skilled at good wrist pressure control, bat angle, and timing to take the ball off the bounce to be able to send it anywhere, usually to an uncomfortable zone. It is a pushblocker's game and many at the rec level are very effective playing such a style. Heck, even at the intermediate levels you see a lot of thee players.

Even an intermediate level TT player who is a little too reckless in shot selection or stance/balance/position will make too many errors vs a consistent pushblocker and sometimes lose vs a pushblocker a full level or such below them!

The OP's questions and request for suggestions is totally valid at any level you see such a player.

I failed to recognize the "bare" wood bat aspect of his question.

VS a bare wood bat player, obviously all your shots will come back as "reversed" (actually continued) spin. Often, it is almost the same degree of spin you get back. this can be tricky for you if you haven't paid attention to the spin you imparted.

The two biggest tips I can say are to:

1) Keep the ball deep (This will make the pushblocker return long, (or high trying to get it short) even if he ha good touch and wrist pressure control)

2) Use only light spin shots as your connecting shots. You get a ball you like to your power zone long or high, THEN you use pace and spin to finish.

Richard's suggestion of a fast and deep no spin serve or return can set you up very nicely for an opportunity to powerloop a ball for a winner. A fast/deep no spin ball comes back at fastest as a medium speed ball long... a perfect ball to hit hard away from bare abt player for a winner! be careful as some of these bare bat players can read your inability to move into position and will bait you to attack all day and you end up losing the match thinking you BARELY missed out by one attack... but the bare bat pushblocker was actually pulling your strings all along.

By all means... DO NOT

1) Do not serve slow and short, only if you can catch bare bat player off guard.

If he sees this serve, he will dink it opposite side short and away from you. Now you have to wonder what spin is on the ball as you race around the other side of the table and try to get to it. Even if you get to it and return it, all he has to do is bump it back to where you are not and you watch it land as you are crashing into the wall or the adjacent court barriers.

2) Do not try to use heavy spin for opening shot or connecting shot. Use spin/pace only for a finishing shot.

All bare blade player has to do is vs a heavy slow loop is hold the bat loose and wait for it to take it off the bounce. You get all your spin back and are not in a position to continue attacking. You attack and 90% of time you lose the point. bare bat player giggles inside while he says too bad. You try a heavy underspin, bare bat player holds bat vertical, and punches through the ball when it rises to net level. He now just made a topspin drive medium speed form a weird un-natural looking position. You are simply watching ti go by you. Maybe you try to counter, but the weirdness of the shot will wreck your timing.

Maybe later, you can get used to this timing and give bare bat dude such a shot and wait for him to punch drive it and you are ready, but it takes a lot of practice to get accustomed to this timing, I mean a LOT of practice. It can be done, but there is a lot of reps you need to do.

3) Do not hit high and slow, especially shallow.

Bare bat player will crush those with high percentage and it is point over dude.
 
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