Coach Cornerhow-to-deal-with-deep-heavy-topspin-balls
Nomad asked 2 weeks ago

Hi Guys
Hope you both had a good New Year.
I just had another look at your videos on ‘How to get more spin with your forehand drive’ and ‘Taking the ball early’.  I generally play close to the table and block any fast topspin balls from the opponent to either their backhand or forehand side. Any loose balls I can play a fast forehand or backhand drive using my wrist to increase the power.
However, I recently came up against an opponent who played about a metre from the table and used high, heavy topspin to any balls which were half long or long.  Coming from below table height his return usually ended very close to the end of the table. The difficulty I had in blocking these balls (especially on my backhand) was that fact that the slightly slower speed (but increaed spin) caused the ball to ‘jump high’ as it contacted my side of the table.  This made it difficult to be consistent with blocking as many of my returns just cleared the end of the table.
I tried closing the angle of the bat to ‘smother’ the heavy spin (without the slight follow through of the wrist) but this slowed down my return and set the ball up for my opponent to come in with a smash or fast drive.  Stepping back from the table worked to a certain extent as it gave me more time to recover and play a counter topspin but this took me out of my comfort zone.
I wondered if keepin a more closed bat angle using a more positive follow through for this type of topspin would have been more successful in maintaining my attack and making it more difficult for my opponent to be consistent or should I experiment with moving back slightly from the table to counteract the heavy spin before moving back to the table?
Any ideas would be appreciated.

1 Answers
TomTom Academy Coach answered 2 weeks ago

Hi Alex, yes it was good Thanks. Happy new year to you too!

Ok yes so I know this problem well with players I work with and them finding it more difficult when the opponent drops back and plays a slower deepbspin to them.

You can still stay close to the table and return these shots for sure, but as you said you will need a more closed bat angle and more of a positive follow through. The best way to think about it is that you need to press down over the ball more to stop the spin kicking it off the end of the table. So focus on the feeling of squashing the ball downwards more, and because of the high amounts of spin you can be quite positive and firm with this type of shot. It may take a bit of time getting used to getting the right feeling and timing the ball before it jumps up too high but with practice it will come.

I feel this option is much better than dropping back from the table because really that’s what the opponent wants and it forces you away form your natural game. Let us know how it goes. Cheers, Tom

replied 2 weeks ago

Hi Tom
As it happens I played the same opponent again the next day after I had posted my question (before your reply) and more or less adopted the advice you just gave.
I found that, by extending my follow through, with a faster, more positve stroke and more closed bat angle just after the ball had bounced, I could control the heavy topspin and still remain close to the table. This put the opponent under a great deal of pressure as the ball was returned to him with added speed.
As a result I won the match.
Thanks again…As usual your advice was spot on.

Academy Coach replied 1 week ago

Hi Alex, oh that’s great to hear! Great that you won the match and were able to adjust to these type of shots too. Glad you’re finding the feedback and advice useful, keep up the good work! 🙂

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