May 20, 2024 - Smother the Table When Blocking

The best advice I ever received about blocking was to think of it as “Smothering the table.” I don’t remember who told me this, but the advice really works. The point is that blocking should be a quick shot, and to do that, you have to stay close to the table, i.e. “smother it.”

A key part here is on shots to the wide corners. It’s common for players to move sideways to get to these. As they move, the ball angles away from them, and so they are late on getting to the ball. This means either they can’t get to the ball, or they take it late, giving the opponent more time to react. It also means that since you are moving sideways, it’s difficult to give the ball a good, firm block, and so end up just getting the ball back weakly. It also leaves you wide to that corner, out of position and unlikely to cover a strong attack to the other corner.

Worse, when covering the wide backhand, many players twist or rotate their body and end up facing sideways as they flail at the ball, leaving them in an impossible position to make a good block.

So, how should you cover those wide corners? You should move both sideways and in at the ball, cutting it off before it has a chance to bounce out wide. Remember that idea of smothering the table? If you think of yourself as smothering the table, you can move quickly toward the ball and make a quick, effective return, without moving out of position.

So, next time you are forced to defend against an opponent’s wide attacks, smother the table . . . and you’ll end up smothering your opponent with firm and consistent blocks!