October 1, 2014

Forehand Accuracy

One of my favorite tricks for new players is demonstrating forehand accuracy. (You can also do this with the backhand.) It's a simple trick - I put a bottle on one side of the table (typically a 16oz Gatorade or water bottle), and standing at the other end, I drop a ball on the table and smash it against the bottle. I hit it easily over 80% of the time, and over 90% once I get warmed up. It looks impressive, even to advanced players. When they try it, they often miss. But there's a simple reason for that. They don't know how to aim.

Here's what you do. Assuming you are a righty, put the bottle on the far left side, perhaps a foot from the sideline. You stand on the same side (your wide backhand), so you are next to your left sideline. Practice dropping the ball a few times and note where your contact point would be. Now here's the secret: put your racket up against where contact would be made, and simply make sure it's aimed directly at the bottle at that point. You should be able to keep the racket aimed exactly at the bottle for at least a foot during your forward swing - about six inches before and after contact. Practice this a few times without the ball, making sure the racket is aimed directly at the bottle whenever the racket is near where the ball would be.

Then drop the ball and smack the bottle. You might mess up a few times at first, but with practice you'll be surprised at how consistent you can be with this. I'm guessing that the large majority of the readers of this blog will be able to hit the bottle at least half the time. If you can't, there's a simple answer - practice! You can also do this looping, though hitting is probably more accurate.

Here's the late great Marty Reisman demonstrating in this hilarious video (1:14) - except instead of a bottle, he's smacking (and breaking) a cigarette! (He's doing it from right by the net. With a bottle, I do this from near my end of the table.)

Here's the shocker. Once you can hit the bottle pretty consistently, it will likely help with your smashing accuracy in a game.

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