Winning with Backspin for the Non-Chopper
By Larry Hodges
You don't need to be a chopper to win with backspin, even in this modern age of topspin. Backspin will always have its place, when used properly. Of course, even attackers often serve backspin, hoping for a pushed return (backspin) that they can loop. However, when should an attacking player use backspin in a rally?
- Backspin Against Topspin: Chopping (which is backspin against an incoming topspin) can be tricky, especially with a fast attacking racket, and so usually an attacker will use backspin against an incoming backspin. There is one main exception. If you are forced off the table, and attack from the wide forehand, an opponent may quick-block to your backhand. Ideally, you can attack this as well, either backhand hitting or looping. However, if you are out of position and have to reach for the ball, a better answer might be a backhand chop. This keeps you in the rally, gives you time to get back into the point, and it may throw off the opponent's timing.
- Short Pushes: If you push short (so the ball would bounce twice on opponent's side of the table if given the chance), then your opponent can't loop it. If you keep it low, it's very difficult to attack effectively, and will usually result in a pushed return that you can attack.
- Long Pushes
- They slow down play, thereby throwing off an opponent's timing.
- They force an opponent to drop their racket and shoulder to lift the ball, throwing off their timing not only on that shot, but on the next shot.
- Heavy backspin gives many opponents trouble, forcing mistakes and weak shots.
- A quick push rushes an opponent, forcing mistakes and weak shots.
- If an opponent attacks a push to the backhand with the forehand, you can quick-block to the often open wide forehand. If the opponent moves quickly to cover that side, you can quick-block to the wide backhand, catching them going the wrong way.
- If an opponent attacks with the backhand against a push to the very wide backhand, you can quick-block to the wide forehand before they are in position. If the opponent moves quickly to cover that side, you can quick-block to the wide backhand, catching them going the wrong way.
- A quick push to the wide forehand can catch an opponent off guard, and if he does attack it, you can then quick-block to the wide backhand. If he moves quickly to cover that, a second quick-block to the wide forehand can catch him moving the wrong way.
- Against an opponent who doesn't attack backspin well and often pushes (such as many choppers or blockers), pushing allows you to pick and choose which shot you want to attack.