Table Tennis Dilemma: Strengthening Backhand or Changing Playstyle?

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Hey everyone,

I come to you looking for advice or general reflection. I have a technical issue with my backhand which causes me to drop a lot of points.

Background:
I reintroduced in table tennis 3 years ago after a 15-year break.
Currently playing Nittaku Latika with Factive on both sides and the idea was to develop a standard all-round attacking playstyle.

Strengths and weaknesses
So, with this set-up, and relative to players in my league, my qualities, and weaknesses:

  • Very good forehand topspin attack away from the table and close to the table.
  • Good forehand smash, drive.
  • Ok forehand push, block and over the table, I hardly ever flick on this side.

  • Good backhand push, block and play over the table.
  • Ok backhand, drive, and flick.
  • Ok backhand chop if away from table.
  • Very poor back hand topspin attack, smash.

  • Good serves from both sides.
  • Good footwork
  • Good strategy
  • Ok mentally.

Analysis
So I cannot attack from my backhand side but I’m also not fast enough to cover ¾ of the table with my forehand.
My opponents pin me down on my backhand playing deep low balls and I've got nothing
My forehand is good enough to compensate against players that beat me easily 1 year ago.

Solutions
Accept that my backhand is a weaker side, downgrade to a beginner rubber to max out the control and reduce any sensitivity.
Do the grind, re-devellop a backhand stroke accept the loss of points in the process (this is what I'm doing at the moment but it is taking too long)
Devellop an alternative playing-style, pips? anti?

And this is where I would like your input,

  • What type of player profile corresponds best to my strengths and weaknesses?
  • What do you think of my current set-up in relation to that profile?
  • What type of strategies could I Implement to get most out of my strengths?
 
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after watching India v China, I think you should go for long pips on BH, and perhaps short pips on FH
Some unlucky B-teamer from the Chinese National Team is going to wake up tomorrow and find out that they've been converted into a Team India clone, once they reach into their locker and notice that pips and anti-spin has been glued to their racket where it was double inverted before.
 
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This is a very common issue and there most probably isn't a simple a solution. You'll just need to work harder on your backhand, change your mindset and believe that it can improve. Redefine winning to being that which happens when you used to your backhand at the right times with confidence.
 
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This is a very common issue and there most probably isn't a simple a solution. You'll just need to work harder on your backhand, change your mindset and believe that it can improve. Redefine winning to being that which happens when you used to your backhand at the right times with confidence.
Yes, that's the choice I made a year ago. A leg fracture set me back quite a few months, but now I'm getting close to where I want to be. Against players with a weaker BH it's now good enough to be a weapon, but I aim to make it as strong as my FH so still has some ways to go. I'm now developing a loop drive game on the BH side, first focused on cross table and then down the line. Once that's done I'll try to develop a loop drive against backspin game as right now it's somewhat limited to an opening loop.
 
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Thank for your input, you seem to all agree that it is more or less a normal developpement problem. Whelp I'll do the grind then.
Yea, just be patient. If your FH is already good then your BH needs to improve to near your FH's level to see significant results, so that could take a while.
 
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Thank for your input, you seem to all agree that it is more or less a normal developpement problem. Whelp I'll do the grind then.
This thread may be too long, but it might give you some ideas about why it takes so long.


Just remember, if you are still going to be playing in 1, 2 , 3 or 4 years time, any work you put into your backhand will add up over that time. Vs if you try to rush it and do it wrong, then you will not have gained much over that time.
 
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Hey everyone,

I come to you looking for advice or general reflection. I have a technical issue with my backhand which causes me to drop a lot of points.

Background:
I reintroduced in table tennis 3 years ago after a 15-year break.
Currently playing Nittaku Latika with Factive on both sides and the idea was to develop a standard all-round attacking playstyle.

Strengths and weaknesses
So, with this set-up, and relative to players in my league, my qualities, and weaknesses:

  • Very good forehand topspin attack away from the table and close to the table.
  • Good forehand smash, drive.
  • Ok forehand push, block and over the table, I hardly ever flick on this side.

  • Good backhand push, block and play over the table.
  • Ok backhand, drive, and flick.
  • Ok backhand chop if away from table.
  • Very poor back hand topspin attack, smash.

  • Good serves from both sides.
  • Good footwork
  • Good strategy
  • Ok mentally.

Analysis
So I cannot attack from my backhand side but I’m also not fast enough to cover ¾ of the table with my forehand.
My opponents pin me down on my backhand playing deep low balls and I've got nothing
My forehand is good enough to compensate against players that beat me easily 1 year ago.

Solutions
Accept that my backhand is a weaker side, downgrade to a beginner rubber to max out the control and reduce any sensitivity.
Do the grind, re-devellop a backhand stroke accept the loss of points in the process (this is what I'm doing at the moment but it is taking too long)
Devellop an alternative playing-style, pips? anti?

And this is where I would like your input,

  • What type of player profile corresponds best to my strengths and weaknesses?
  • What do you think of my current set-up in relation to that profile?
  • What type of strategies could I Implement to get most out of my strengths?
Definitely just practice your backhand non-stop. There was a season where I felt like my backhand would just never work. After hitting 10000 backhands shots, it feels normal to me now.
 
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It really depends on what you want to play like, and what you think would be easier to improve on short and long term.

Would it be easier for you to get an even better forehand. And with a little bit of dedicated footwork, cover most of the table with it?

Or would it be easier for you to get your backhand up to a decent level. It might still be weaker then your forehand, but not necessarily a weakness. If you feel like you lack control you could try a slower softer rubber that allows you to have more time on the ball.

I have played a few times against this player in local league who doesn’t have a backhand attack at all. He even has short pimples on the backhand or else he cant recieve a serve to save his life.

But his forehand is so good. All he does is keep the ball on the table, but as soon as the ball comes slightly long to his forehand he will just whip it right past the opponent. He also covers the entire table with his forehand.

What honestly amazes me the most about this player is that he plays so obvious. You know what his gameplan is, you know whats coming, but yet you cant do anything to stop it. He is one of the top players in my league.

So you definitely don’t need a good backhand to be a good player. But you will have to compensate for that with something else.
 
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Inverted Bh is very hard to develop. There's a lot of pitfalls and the strongest shots (for eg chiquita, BH down the line loop/switching etc...) are not trivial at all. And to integrate it with an existing strong FH, it's even harder.

I second @Takkyu_wa_inochi - just slap LPs or anti on your BH and play like the Indian women team, disgust your opponent like hell to win opportunities for your strong FH loop. This is the easiest and most effective route. I tried LPs with my offhand and I could already do most of the strokes within like 3 sessions lol.
 
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I will share with you my conversation with a senior / veteran player who is of much higher skill than I am over tea a couple of weeks ago. Some background: He was watching me play during one of my regular session.

1. He said I have a workable FH but a meh BH.
2. I told him I have this problem, if I concentrate on my BH, my FH falters and vice-versa. My mind in very one track. It is not flexible.
3. He said this issue is common amongst hobby players as we only play ( not train ) twice or thrice a week. It is not easy to build that kind of muscle memory with such limited table time.
4. If this is the circumstances, he told me to focus on FH as that is a more stronger shot than BH. He is being a realist, knowing that hobby players cannot devote the time to do everything.
5. Just use your BH as a defend / support stroke.
6. Some suggestion as using a crutch like LP or Anti is very feasible.
7. Or use a control-oriented rubber like Rozena, Bluefire M3 or Donic Baracuda for BH.
8. Pay particular attention to Note Nos. 4
9. I chose option Nos. 7 as I want to have the option to attack from BH.
 
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Definitely progress with working on your backhand topspin. The time you spend on improving it will be beneficial in the long run I'd hope. You have on paper a nice rounded game. With the introduction of an extra backhand stroke(s) things will hopefully gel and you will be able to play the game you want.

Pips/anti are always an option but might impact how you enjoy your current playing style. Pips/anti also aren't the magic bullet to fix everything. Good pips/anti players are generally the exception to the rule in lower levels and to be fair the upper as well. It would be interesting to know the number of "pips/anti" players in larger events compared to normal rubbers.

At the lower level it tends to be because others players dont understand how to play against pips/anti correctly due to occasional contact.
 
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Yes so I won’t change my game mid-season anyway, and I plan on having 2 or 3 sessions with a coach to get me back on track.

However for the sake of discussion and also at some point I will try alternative rubbers just for the fun of it and maybe to help the young players develop against them.

So bearing in mind the profile of strengths and weaknesses, what type of alternative rubbers would work best?
 
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Hey everyone,

I come to you looking for advice or general reflection. I have a technical issue with my backhand which causes me to drop a lot of points.

Background:
I reintroduced in table tennis 3 years ago after a 15-year break.
Currently playing Nittaku Latika with Factive on both sides and the idea was to develop a standard all-round attacking playstyle.

Strengths and weaknesses
So, with this set-up, and relative to players in my league, my qualities, and weaknesses:

  • Very good forehand topspin attack away from the table and close to the table.
  • Good forehand smash, drive.
  • Ok forehand push, block and over the table, I hardly ever flick on this side.

  • Good backhand push, block and play over the table.
  • Ok backhand, drive, and flick.
  • Ok backhand chop if away from table.
  • Very poor back hand topspin attack, smash.

  • Good serves from both sides.
  • Good footwork
  • Good strategy
  • Ok mentally.

Analysis
So I cannot attack from my backhand side but I’m also not fast enough to cover ¾ of the table with my forehand.
My opponents pin me down on my backhand playing deep low balls and I've got nothing
My forehand is good enough to compensate against players that beat me easily 1 year ago.

Solutions
Accept that my backhand is a weaker side, downgrade to a beginner rubber to max out the control and reduce any sensitivity.
Do the grind, re-devellop a backhand stroke accept the loss of points in the process (this is what I'm doing at the moment but it is taking too long)
Devellop an alternative playing-style, pips? anti?

And this is where I would like your input,

  • What type of player profile corresponds best to my strengths and weaknesses?
  • What do you think of my current set-up in relation to that profile?
  • What type of strategies could I Implement to get most out of my strengths?
HI Youmay
I confess I don't see a problem for your game as it is, going on your description.
you say your footwork is ok so you should be able to execute fh kills from bh corner as necessary.
My best shot for the last many years has been my bh block and counter which provides the good placement to set up my fh which does the job when necessary.
In tt it's completely normal to have a small quick bh to support yr powerful fh. However if you are saying your bh side breaks down if opponents attack it, then your need to work on yr bh block and so that you can reflect your opponents power back to them.
Things that would improve your bh would be ability to vary depth, pace and direction of blocks and counters and learn to place these at opponents weakness.
My bh got strong because I was willing to give big attackers plenty of practice trying to penetrate it.
The above should help with your third question.
As far as changing your rubber on BH. If you accept that your blocking is sound just play with what's comfortable and effective eg returning the ball to pressure opp and set up yr fh. Successful players don't spend a lot of time 2nd guessing your rubber. Your racket should be a natural extension of your hand in executing the shots you have learned.
You sound like an alllround player who needs to think about tactics. more
good luck
 
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Yes so I won’t change my game mid-season anyway, and I plan on having 2 or 3 sessions with a coach to get me back on track.

However for the sake of discussion and also at some point I will try alternative rubbers just for the fun of it and maybe to help the young players develop against them.

So bearing in mind the profile of strengths and weaknesses, what type of alternative rubbers would work best?
I tried Dawei 388D-1 and it was bonkers how easy it is to do all the LP shots even just using my offhand.
 
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I tried Dawei 388D-1 and it was bonkers how easy it is to do all the LP shots even just using my offhand.
I think for LP it's easy to get to a decent level, but very difficult to get to a high level. When you get to a level where opponents can push without popping the ball up and attack everything long, it becomes extremely difficult.
 
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I think for LP it's easy to get to a decent level, but very difficult to get to a high level. When you get to a level where opponents can push without popping the ball up and attack everything long, it becomes extremely difficult.
Contrary to popular opinion, it is in fact not that difficult to attack with LP, especially against underspin balls. Those LP ppl who can't attack are just handicapped and it's relatively easy to deal with them imo.

I had an experiment where I tried penhold LP on my offhand and attacking backspin was one of the easiest strokes lol. The real difficult part is defending against powerloops, but if you disgust the opponent sufficiently from the get go (ie from serve and receive), the opponent never gets to reliably enter this stage of the game.
 
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Contrary to popular opinion, it is in fact not that difficult to attack with LP, especially against underspin balls. Those LP ppl who can't attack are just handicapped and it's relatively easy to deal with them imo.

I had an experiment where I tried penhold LP on my offhand and attacking backspin was one of the easiest strokes lol. The real difficult part is defending against powerloops, but if you disgust the opponent sufficiently from the get go (ie from serve and receive), the opponent never gets to reliably enter this stage of the game.
You can't attack backspins strongly though, there's not enough arc to attack a low backspin. A good player would be able to loop that attack back, and then it'll take some skills to keep the return short to avoid a power loop.
 
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