The Dark Side is getting more and more tempting...

says ESN 42 hardness is my magic number
says ESN 42 hardness is my magic number
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Darth Sideous: "Anakin, the dark side of the Force is a pathway to many abilities some consider to be unnatural."

Why god oh why god! Why can't I read spin? My mates said to me, Gozo, the spin is as clear as day and yet I struggle to identify the type of spin.

I suspect I may be a total spin idiot or have some latent undiagnosed medical condition, perhaps similar to those who have trouble identifying faces (Prosopagnosia aka face-blindness). Read: I struggle immensely with serve return.

Then, a veteran player mockingly told me to go the way of anti aka the DARK SIDE. He further said, with these anti on your BH, you eliminate the need to have BH and you can concentrate on your FH which is your strong side.

It may be a mock / jest on his part, but with my struggle at reading spin on serve return, this path seems very tempting, very very tempting indeed.

Browsing Shopee / Lazada web page even now, looking at their anti-rubber offering as I type....
IMG_8225.png
 
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says ESN 42 hardness is my magic number
says ESN 42 hardness is my magic number
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Are you better at service receives with your FH? Can't your opponents just serve to your FH instead? Maybe anti on both sides? You can still smash just fine with anti!
  • No friend, I am not better at service with my FH.
  • However, in my uneducated opinion, if I can eliminate one side of the unknown, I can concentrate only on one side. This makes me more comfortable with my stance, ready position, my grip etc.
  • If I have to worry to wings; FH & BH side, this is where my primitive brain gets confused and vexed.
  • My opponent can and will serve long and fast to BH or he will serve short and soft to my FH or top with side spin hurling at speed of sound towards my elbow.
  • I am trying to eliminate his options so that I can concentrate on my strong side.
 

NDH

says Spin to win!
Hey @Gozo Aruna, I'll reply here rather than in the DM :)

There's a few things I can say about this.

1. Your set up is too fast.

You know this, I know this, the entire forum knows this..... But as we've discussed before, if you get that warm fuzzy feeling when you use it, that can be just as important as the "right" equipment.

However, if your preference is now performance over the 1 in a million YouTube shots..... You'll want to change your set up.

2. Despite your 2279 posts on TTD, you have not been playing TT for very long at all, and you are an adult learner......

Give yourself a break, you've done very well up until now, and the only way you'll improve is with much more coaching.

3. You play in a country that seem to have a lot of old timers who have very tricky serves.

It's just part of the game, and you'll improve if you forget about winning, and focus more on the shot.

Spend an entire summer trying to backhand flick serve returns (even better if you can do it in practice).

4. On the fast serves, give yourself a bit of room.

Serve return comes with experience as well as coaching and knowledge. I've seen people who have played for 30 years and yet they STILL can't read the spin on the serve.

But for fast serves, just drop back a little and you'll have more time.

5. Age catches up to us all

Adult learner, inexperienced...... slightly..... more "mature" gentleman.... 😅 - That's a combination for a poor serve returner I'm afraid.

I think you have to ask yourself what you really want here.

Do you want to win? Or do you want to play attacking table tennis?

If your only goal is to win, I would put pimps or anti spin on your backhand.

Spend a summer learning how to use it, and then you'll have lots of opportunities to attack on your forehand.

If you want to keep attacking, I would slow your entire set up down, and accept that whilst you'll lose some power, you'll gain from touch, control and consistency.
 
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  • No friend, I am not better at service with my FH.
  • However, in my uneducated opinion, if I can eliminate one side of the unknown, I can concentrate only on one side. This makes me more comfortable with my stance, ready position, my grip etc.
  • If I have to worry to wings; FH & BH side, this is where my primitive brain gets confused and vexed.
  • My opponent can and will serve long and fast to BH or he will serve short and soft to my FH or top with side spin hurling at speed of sound towards my elbow.
  • I am trying to eliminate his options so that I can concentrate on my strong side.
Would be interesting, I just ordered a 0X and a 0.5mm LP to play around with. I've invested a lot of time and have made a lot of progress in my BH game so I won't switch to this, but it'd be fun to try it out. I've had good success against LP players, so I'm wondering if they're just doing it wrong or what. Seems to me like if all else fails you can always just push to the LP side and they can't really do anything to you. It's either a push back or a weak hit, so if you get used to those 2 shots against the push you should be OK.
 
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Hey @Gozo Aruna, I'll reply here rather than in the DM :)

There's a few things I can say about this.

1. Your set up is too fast.

You know this, I know this, the entire forum knows this..... But as we've discussed before, if you get that warm fuzzy feeling when you use it, that can be just as important as the "right" equipment.

However, if your preference is now performance over the 1 in a million YouTube shots..... You'll want to change your set up.

2. Despite your 2279 posts on TTD, you have not been playing TT for very long at all, and you are an adult learner......

Give yourself a break, you've done very well up until now, and the only way you'll improve is with much more coaching.

3. You play in a country that seem to have a lot of old timers who have very tricky serves.

It's just part of the game, and you'll improve if you forget about winning, and focus more on the shot.

Spend an entire summer trying to backhand flick serve returns (even better if you can do it in practice).

4. On the fast serves, give yourself a bit of room.

Serve return comes with experience as well as coaching and knowledge. I've seen people who have played for 30 years and yet they STILL can't read the spin on the serve.

But for fast serves, just drop back a little and you'll have more time.

5. Age catches up to us all

Adult learner, inexperienced...... slightly..... more "mature" gentleman.... 😅 - That's a combination for a poor serve returner I'm afraid.

I think you have to ask yourself what you really want here.

Do you want to win? Or do you want to play attacking table tennis?

If your only goal is to win, I would put pimps or anti spin on your backhand.

Spend a summer learning how to use it, and then you'll have lots of opportunities to attack on your forehand.

If you want to keep attacking, I would slow your entire set up down, and accept that whilst you'll lose some power, you'll gain from touch, control and consistency.
I agree. Gozo, your current set-up is too fast!

At the minimum, the game of table tennis is who can keep the ball on the table the longest without fail. So control and spin (especially top spin) has to be a part of your strategy.

I could see the appeal of having 10.5mm custom made-in-Taiwan one-ply hinoki with Tenergy causes you to feel when you smack the ball: the ball really shoots out! It is satifying.

However, most players at your level and above rely on control and steady top spin to score the point. I don't see how Tenergy plus 10.5mm one-ply hinoki is going to accomplish that for you.

In addition, recently you switched from Tenergy to Rozena which I think is a great choice. But that also means your previous set-up was too fast and your current set-up might still be too fast for you.

Returning serve is about touch. The less you hit at the ball coming at you, the better (at least in the beginning until you learn to read spin accurately). If you want to put anti-spin on your backhand side, I support that idea. It is true what you said. You might use the anti-spin to return the ball and then take a position where you maximize your forehand attacks anyway. Maybe by putting an anti-spin rubber on your backhand side, you will remind yourself to use your forehand more! That certainly happened to me when I switched my backband rubber to short pips. I know short pips has limitation and I don't want to get pinned down on that side. So now I am consciously looking for any opportunities to move my feet and start my forehand loops earlier in the rally. So far, I like the transition a lot.
 
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says ESN 42 hardness is my magic number
says ESN 42 hardness is my magic number
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I agree. Gozo, your current set-up is too fast!

At the minimum, the game of table tennis is who can keep the ball on the table the longest without fail. So control and spin (especially top spin) has to be a part of your strategy.

I could see the appeal of having 10.5mm custom made in Taiwan one-ply hinoki with tenergy cause when you smack the ball, the ball really shoots out.

However, most players at your level and above rely on control and steady top spin to score the point. I don't see how Tenergy plus 10.5mm one-ply hinoki is going to be accomplish that for you.

In addition, recently you switched from Tenergy to Rozena which I think is a great choice. But that also means your previous set-up was too fast and your current set-up might still be too fast for you.

Returning serve is about touch. The less you hit at the ball coming at you, the better (at least in the beginning until you learn to read spin accurately). If you want to put anti-spin on your backhand side, I support it. It is true what you said. You might use the anti-spin to return the ball and then take a position where you maximize your forehand attacks anyway. Maybe by putting an anti-spin rubber on your backhand side, you will remind yourself to use your forehand more! that certainly happened to me when I switched my backband rubber to short pips. I know short pips has limitation and I don't want to get pinned down on that side. So now I am consciously looking for any opportunities to move my feet and start my forehand loops earlier in the rally. So far, I like the transition a lot.
You have put a very compelling for argument. I like it a lot, I like it very much.
 
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You have put a very compelling for argument. I like it a lot, I like it very much.

NDH explained the exact problem to you. Serve return is the most difficult part of the game and I remember when I was around your level and I was miserable about how many players would just serve me off the table and one of them just told me exactly what NDH said - it is the part of the game that responds the most to experience and that the short cuts are not as straight forward as people think they are at the level that you want to play at. Just learning some tricks about how the ball drifts short or long can improve your serve return a lot.

The truth is that because your equipment is so fast and you don't practice trying to slow down the ball (think trap like a soccer player), you don't have a feel for serve return. But the main reason why people don't go as fast as they can equipment wise is that the table size makes keeping the ball short just as important as hitting the ball hard.

Yes, going to less spinny rubber (and it doesn't even have to be anti, even Mark V can help a little) will improve your serve return, but what helps the most is finding a good player to work with you on whatever you are not seeing, seeing it better, and then learning how to relax the hand and use the fingers to guide some spins or add some spin to the ball.

The main good thing of switching rubber is that It will just remind you that everything has tradeoffs. But the real problem is the speed of yout equipment and the fact that you haven't played long enough to learn a lot about reading and controlling the ball on serve return.

Get some coaching and work on it. Try another rubber if you want but I suspect in the end, it won't get you quite what you are looking for. The funny thing is that if you are okay with using pips or anti, you could use a slower blade and easier to use rubber and get the same benefit.
 
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says ESN 42 hardness is my magic number
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So I have two camps with opposing views:

1. Team Proponent: Go ahead. This is gonna help you win. The Sith part is a path that leads to abilities many deemed unnatural.

2. Team Dissident: Use slower inverted rubber and blade. Continue on the path of the Jedi. Bitter result now, sweet result in the future.

What do I want? What do I want?
 
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So I have two camps with opposing views:

1. Team Proponent: Go ahead. This is gonna help you win. The Sith part is a path that leads to abilities many deemed unnatural.

2. Team Dissident: Use slower inverted rubber and blade. Continue on the path of the Jedi. Bitter result now, sweet result in the future.

What do I want? What do I want?

My vision is clear now. There is no other camp for you, you are in SIDJ TABR. (Tabor = camp). No ANTI for you!
 
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So I have two camps with opposing views:

1. Team Proponent: Go ahead. This is gonna help you win. The Sith part is a path that leads to abilities many deemed unnatural.

2. Team Dissident: Use slower inverted rubber and blade. Continue on the path of the Jedi. Bitter result now, sweet result in the future.

What do I want? What do I want?
I am In both camps to be honest. Just telling you that path 2 is just like path 1, but you don't think it is.
 
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says ESN 42 hardness is my magic number
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What do I want?
1. I noticed empirically that I always perform better in doubles than in singles. Upon careful consideration, I realized it is because in doubles, the serving area is halved and my opponent cannot use tricky or placement to trick me. I could continue on to the rallying part and this is where my odds goes up.

2. It is because of point Nos. 1, I come to realization, I need assistance / tech-support / crutch.

3. I have a good workable FH and I wish to capitalize on my strength while not letting my weaker BH hinder me. In another word, I do not have to think both side which my brain has difficulty switching back and forth. I can focus on one side and be much better off.

4. The anti on my BH will serve as support or insurance.

5. Some side note: I am also trying to incorporate more pivot FH attack and more brushing, that is, looping FH rather than flattish drive. It is work-in-progress.

6. In future I also wish to incorporate over the table FH flick ( on my wish list )

7. I have restarted taking coaching lesson again.
 
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I'll speak from my personal experience, and that isn't much, just two seasons in a league, but I like to think I'm progressing quickly in that time - last year win 56% was , this year 87% and hopefully a league promotion to top division next year. I've put a lot of focus on my development and on analysing my tactics against player types.
In my first season there were a few opponents with some really tricky serves, I was given loads of advice about how to watch the spin, how to counter it and the direction to hit it back, hit with really relaxed wrist etc but against these players nothing seemed to work. I ended up buying a new bat with pips out to neutralise the spin off their serves. I had a few games against these players with my new set up and it helped dramatically, I won some sets off them but I didn't stick with the pips out. For me it was two things, 1) I found the style of play using pips out boring, whilst I was able to get more serves back I didn't like using pips in rallies and 2) I had this underlying feeling that I was just masking a weakness and I wanted to eliminate the weakness rather than cover it up.
From advice on this forum I've listened to the type of blade and rubbers I should use and have ended up with a combo of Xiom Vega Europe DF and Vega Pro rubbers on an offensive wooden blade. Not too fast, no huge trampoline effect off the rubbers and also rubbers that can generate a decent amount of spin for me but don't react too greatly when returning spin.
One of the best pieces of advice I've had so far on here about returning spin is to watch youtube videos of pros doing a certain type of spin serve and to look at how their opponents are returning them. I struggled a lot against one of the premier players in my club having a ridiculously spinny windshield wiper serve, so I analysed videos on how to do the serve so i could understand it better, then found videos showing people doing that serve in competitions so I could see it being returned. Am still not perfect at returning them but last time I had a match against that player I still got all bar one of his serves back.....
 
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One way to not be bothered by thinking that my serve return is poor is to simply be consumed by focus on something else, something that you realize is so much more important... E.g. the recovery step after every single hit and the in and out movement. Then I'm bothered when I don't do that, or even when I find it's not been on my mind, because I forgot and instead I focused on something as stupid as winning the point ;-)

Apart from that, it is amazing to watch you transitioning to the more spin oriented play, the new Gozo (TM) play...
 
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The reason why Gozo is not really suited to the inverted BH because he is very far away from getting the true benefits of the modern inverted BH (safe, heavy spin opening loops, topspin rallying and chiquita), but is suffering from all of its cons especially on service return.

He could probably go to a slower setup to learn, but again it's a very tough path especially at his age.

LP/anti is simply the shortcut and everyone here knows it...

But Gozo should also be mindful that such fast blades are very bad for LP/anti imo, it makes absorbing incoming momentum really hard.
 
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Don't get LP because they have other Pitfalls in the Receive, especially no spin serves. An anti slows the backhand down very much, I think it takes alot of training to get uses to it.
From personal experience with all types of rubbers I think short or medium pips are King if you want an easier Receive, while still being able to play offense from the bh. Counters and smashes are still easy if you need them.
To name some that I think could work:
Yinhe uranus poly
Yinhe pluto
Friendship 802 Mystery iii
Friendship 563
Dawei 388c
 
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Haha sounds like you have a similar problem as me, with the difference that I don’t suffer at serve receiving. But because my forehand increased in quality and speed way faster than my backhand I could not control the returning ball. So I slowed down my backhand.

You should realise that changing rubber also means changing tactics and techniques. That would also take time. I tried short pips but it didn’t help me at all. I then put a Mark V gps (very slow and soft rubber but inverted) and now I’m working on redeveloping my confidence in my backhand and it’s working!
 
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