Proper Use of the Back Shoulder

By Larry Hodges

A common problem for players who smash a lot is to have trouble lifting the ball against heavy backspin when looping. A common problem for players who loop a lot is to follow their opening loop against backspin by smashing a blocked return off the end. The two problems are related, and have to do with the back shoulder – the right shoulder for a right-hander.

Players who smash a lot often do not drop their back shoulder when looping (or don’t drop it enough), just as they don’t when smashing. This costs them lifting power when looping, and leads to a weak loop against heavy backspin. Players who loop a lot often automatically drop their back shoulder for the next shot, as they do when looping. This causes the player to lift slightly when smashing against a blocked return, and so the smash goes off the end.

So remember this rule: when looping against backspin, drop that shoulder; when smashing the blocked return, keep that shoulder up!