May 13, 2019 - First Block and First Counterloop

Do you often have trouble blocking or counterlooping against your opponent's opening loop against backspin? If you are like most players, of course you do - and there's a simple reason for it. Most players practice blocking and counterlooping in rallies where they start the rally by serving topspin. And so they are conditioned to block and counterloop against loops against topspin.  

But a loop against backspin has a different trajectory (starting closer to the table, so more arc) and more topspin (since it adds to the incoming backspin), and so you need to practice against that. In fact, if you mostly practice against loops in topspin-topspin rallies, you are conditioning yourself to react correctly in such rallies - but since that's likely how you'll react in a game when the opponent loops against backspin, you are also conditioning yourself to miss against that!

Get a partner and a bucket of balls. Server serves backspin, receiver pushes back long, server loops, receiver blocks or counterloops - but don't play out the point. As soon as the server loops, he should be reaching for the next ball. One player gets to practice his loop against backspin, over and over, while the other practices reacting to a loop against backspin, over and over. This is how you isolate individual shots and techniques to develop them. It's a version of multiball that far too few players use.

So, next time you have trouble dealing with an opponent's loop against backspin, are you going to do the above, or are you going to just practice against loops against topspin?