September 1, 2011

Sidespin loops

Do you loop with sidespin? If not, why not? There's a common misconception that a loop should be 100% topspin. It's often more natural to loop with some sidespin, as the shoulder is normally higher than ball contact, and so the arm is naturally tilted slightly down at contact, meaning contact would be a bit on the far side of the ball, thereby creating some sidespin. (Some coaches recommend loops have about 15% sidespin.) Or you can create sidespin intentionally by simply dropping the wrist to hook the ball so it breaks left, or raising the wrist so it breaks right. (Lefties should reverse.)

It's not only more natural to loop with some sidespin, it's probably more effective. The sidespin makes the ball curve in the air, jump on the table, and jump sideways off the opponent's racket, giving him great difficulty. Plus the very curving of the ball over the table means it stays over the table a split second longer, giving it more time to drop and actually hit the table, thereby increasing consistency. (At least that's the theory I've been told; more sidespin means less topspin pulling the ball down, so it's a tradeoff.)

When looping from the wide forehand it's especially natural to loop with sidespin as you drop the wrist and hook the ball back to the table, with the ball curving to the left (if looped by a right-hander). When looping from the backhand corner with the forehand you might use less, as you are now contacting the ball on the near side - and now, in fact, may sidespin the other way, so the ball jumps away to the right (if looped by a right-hander). This latter type of sidespin is generally more difficult.

You should generally loop either with whatever sidespin is most natural (without forcing it), or intentionally use sidespin to mess up the opponent (which is why many top players learn to sidespin either way, usually so that the ball breaks away from the opponent).

Here's a nice video from PingSkills (3:08) on looping with sidespin.

And now a little history. At the most extreme end of the sidespin spectrum might have been Istvan Jonyer of Hungary, the 1975 World Men's Singles Champion. He often looped with almost pure sidespin, dropping his racket tip down so as to contact the ball of the far side of the ball and hooking it onto the table. It was his ability to loop around the net, so the ball would often just roll on the table, that caused the ITTF to add the rule that the net must extend six inches past the table. Otherwise, players like Jonyer could take nearly any ball on their forehand side and go around the net.

Here's a short video (0:22) of Jonyer against Chinese star Xie Saike at the 1981 World Champions. The quality isn't good, but in the first four seconds you get to see Jonyer serve and loop two forehands, with the second one a vintage sidespin loop from the wide forehand.

And while we're at it, here's a nice 31-second clip of Jonyer against soon-to-be World Champion Guo Yuehua of China in 1979, with Jonyer looping and smashing over and over while Guo (usually an all-out attacker) lobs.

Another increase in ball size??? (And more on the celluloid ban.)

Read what ITTF President Adham Sharara said in an interview that went up yesterday. The article said, "With regards to the size, Adam Sharara said that the new ball size would be increased. This is to give a chance to defensive players to overcome offensive players. If the ball is bigger, rallies will become slower so defensive players will have more chances to win points." Uh oh.

Regarding the upcoming ban on celluloid balls, he said, "The current plan of the ITTF is to prohibit the use of celluloid ball. Such move is because of two reasons. One is that celluloids are toxic and it will have an impact towards the factory workers. The second is that it is quite dangerous to transport since it highly flammable. The new ball will be seamless and China already counts with two factories that are working in the new ball, one owned by DHS, and the by Double Fish. It will be operational as soon as the London Olympics is over."

He also said, "I need to cut the legs off the Chinese players!" He was joking here. But he wasn't joking about the ball size. Prepare for bowling ball table tennis. surprise

Here's a 53 second video of Sharara talking about the celluloid ban. (He talks the first 19 seconds, the rest is someone talking in Chinese.)

SmartPong table tennis videos

SmartPong has 24 videos on the various strokes and techniques. I just added them to our video library.

ITTF Coaching Seminar in New Jersey

Here's an article on the ITTF page about the ITTF Coaching Seminar being run by Richard McAfee in New Jersey, which includes mention of their battles with Hurricane Irene.

Disney table tennis cartoons

Go to INDUCKS, the worldwide database of Disney cartoons, and in the Keywords/title field put in either "table tennis," "ping pong," or "ping-pong," and watch as zillions of Disney cartoons featuring table tennis come up! Enjoy.


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I have the opposite problem frown

My top-spins always have side-spin in them. Last week, one player told me that he wanted to block against my top-spins only because he wanted to deal with side-spin laden top-spins.

So this week I am trying to work on not having any side-spin on my top-spin. If I can mix the two top-spins during a rally (with and without side-spin) I am sure I will be more effective.

And IF I can learn to use the two different side-spins that you mention, along with the top-spin-only one, I will be able to beat your clipboard......hooray !!!


In reply to by ttc

And IF I can learn to use the two different side-spins that you mention, along with the top-spin-only one, I will be able to beat your clipboard......hooray !!!

Beat my clipboard? Can't be done. Not even a member of the Chinese National Team has ever done that. (But I welcome the challenge from anyone under 2100!)

In reply to by Larry Hodges

I'm definitely doing it this year at Nationals. Then, I want to be able to sign the clipboard so that it will never forget the day it was bested by a mediocre player U2100.

I don't think anything short of national junior training programs will ever stop the chinese dominance. I would rather them leave the size of the ball alone.

In reply to by PipProdigy

Completely agree. I said this (about competing with the Chinese or other countries) at the USATT Board meeting in Dec. 2006 while trying to convince them to make a goal of 100 successful junior programs in five years. (That's where top players come from, though some don't seem to understand that.) They declined, and that was a primary reason I resigned as editor and programs director for USATT. At the time, there were at most 5-10 junior programs in the country that could be called "successful." Now full-time training centers are popping up all over on their own, and we probably have maybe 30 successful junior programs now. Each time they have to essentially re-invent the wheel, since there's no guidance or real help on this from USATT. Imagine if USATT had agreed to my proposal to recruit and train coaches to set up full-time training centers and junior programs, as they did in other countries and in other sports. (You can probably tell this is still a sore spot for me - USATT really had an opportunity - and still does - to really help our sport, but simply doesn't; they are busy creating new logos.)

Sidespin looping is great variation on plain topspin, I'm lefthanded and find it opens up a lot more space on the table if I can hook it out wide a bit ;)