May 22, 2017 - Looping to the Forehand, Backhand, and Middle

Looping to the different placements can get very different results. A type of loop to one part of the table might not work so well somewhere else. No two players are alike, so early on in any match you need to find out what type of looping works to the three main locations – wide forehand, wide backhand, and middle (roughly the opponent’s playing elbow). But there are certain types that generally work best – or not – to given locations.

Most players block more quickly and effectively on the backhand. However, because their body is in the way, they may get jammed and have trouble with deep, spinny loops. The downside is that you have the ball control to consistently keep it deep – a spinny loop that goes deep on the table might be highly effective, but the same loop a foot shorter may be killed or blocked aggressively.  

While most players aren’t as quick or effective on the forehand block, the body isn’t in the way. This means they are better against deeper loops than on the backhand, and may especially be good at attacking spinny loops, even if they go deep. But they don’t have as much control as on the backhand, and don’t cover the wide angle as well. Slow, spinny loops that land short to the forehand (where they react too slowly), mixed in with more aggressive ones to the wide forehand, will often throw off their timing. So variation and angle is often more effective here.

If a player has time, they can use their best shot against loops to the middle, often a backhand block or forehand counter-attack. And so when looping to the middle you want to be aggressive, rushing the opponent into mistakes. This doesn’t mean you have to rip the ball, but it needs to be fast enough to rush the opponent. Slow, spinny loops might not be as effective as the opponent has time to react and use his best shot. On the other hand, going to the middle takes away any extreme blocking angles.

To summarize:

  • Looping to backhand: Focus on depth and heavy topspin.
  • Looping to forehand: Focus on variation and angle.
  • Looping to middle: Focus on aggressiveness, but don't overdo it.