October 11, 2011

How's your backhand?

You need to dominate with your backhand as well as your forehand, and you can't do that unless you have a (drum roll please) dominating backhand. There are basically five ways you can do this. Which are you? Or which are you striving for? You can - and should - be able to threaten your opponent with more than one of these.

  • Backhand block, where you take every ball quick off the bounce and hit at wide angles and to the opponent's middle, rushing him into mistakes. You can do this either as a "wall" who tries to never miss, or as a more aggress "jab-blocker." This requires fast reflexes. 
  • Backhand counter-hitting, where you get into fast counter-hitting rallies and keep hitting hard and consistently until the opponent misses. This requires fast reflexes and timing.
  • Backhand hit and smash, where you mostly take the ball at the top of the bounce and hit most shots very hard, often threatening to kill every shot. This requires great timing.
  • Backhand loop from off the table, where you control play with heavy topspin from a few feet off the table. Some do this very aggressively, others with a slower, spinnier loop. This requires very good positional footwork, both side to side and in and out.
  • Backhand loop over the table, where you take the ball right off the bounce, over the table, with quick backhand loops that the opponent struggles to react to. This requires great timing.

Wang Liqin's forehand and recovery

You can watch this 9-second video of China's Wang Liqin - arguably the greatest player in history (see his Wikipedia entry) - either for the fun of it or to study his forehand technique. He's hitting it inside-out, so the ball has some sidespin breaking to the right. To me the most impressive part is his recovery - see how fast he's ready for the next shot if the ball comes back. This is where most player wannabes fail as they make a great shot, but are not ready for a follow-up. At the higher levels, you have to be able to do multiple power shots.

Throw angle

Throw angle is one of those lesser understood terms in table tennis, but is basically how high an angle the ball comes off the racket. Here's a good explanation.

Greatest backhand loop in history?

Jan-Ove Waldner says it's Jorg Roskopf's, and here's why. Includes a 7:44 video.

Real table tennis robots

A lab in Zhejiang University in China has designed robots that can rally in ping-pong, tracking the ball and stroking it back and forth. Here's a more extended article about it that doesn't have pictures.

Marty Reisman monologue

Here's Marty talking to the crowd before his Hardbat Doubles Open semifinal match at the 2004 USA Nationals (1:07). Hilarious.

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Re: October 11, 2011

I didn't notice this until it was pointed out, but he is contacting the ball with his backhand.

Re: October 11, 2011

Maybe you'll see better if you take your glasses off Larry.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FOxGhZps1PY

Re: October 11, 2011

I do see the ball hit the server side at 31second time mark. so I think it is a legal serve.

 

Re: October 11, 2011

Hey Larry check out this wicked serve:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gfDVXPrLVkg

Larry Hodges's picture

Re: October 11, 2011

It happens so fast I can barely see what's happening, even in the slow motion one at the end. However, when I did some start and stop in the slow motion, I think I figured out what was happening - the ball isn't hitting on the server's side. I think he's hitting it directly at the receiver's side of the table, like a tennis serve. That's why he can serve it so fast. 

Re: October 11, 2011

Your robot link isn't working for me.

Larry Hodges's picture

Re: October 11, 2011

Fixed! Sorry about that. I also added a link to a more extensive article that doesn't have pictures.