Tip of the Week
Play Both Weaker and Stronger Players.
Weekend Coaching - Navin and Stanley
The junior program starts again next weekend, so no group sessions this past weekend. I did my usual session with Navin Kumar, and it was one of our best. He blocks with long pips on the backhand (no sponge), and has gotten pretty good at it. About a year ago I'd worked with him on chopping down on the ball slightly at contact, a chop block, but due to Parkinson's, it didn't work out well - it requires a fine touch. So since the we've focused since then on meeting the ball more straight on.
Coach Gary Fraiman (from Florida) saw a video of one of our sessions and suggested he chop block more. (Gary is highly experienced coaching Para players, and as a player is a long pips chopper, so he knows about long pips.) He and I discussed it via Facebook messenger, and I decided to introduce it again - and this time Navin picked up on it quickly!!! When you meet a topspin ball straight on with long pips, you get much of your spin back as backspin. But if you chop block it with the pips, it returns nearly all of the spin, especially if there is no sponge under the pips. Plus, since the ball isn't sinking directly into the wood, it bounces out softer, giving more control, especially depth control. This allows Navin and other players with long pips to block loops back with heavy backspin, both deep and short on the table. (You can't really block a power loop back short, but you can against softer loops or ones that land short.)