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Looping Against Backspin and Topspin

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Tom Lodziak
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Larry Hodges has posted an interesting tip on his website about when players should begin to learn topspin vs backspin. He writes...

Many players (and some coaches) feel a player should be able to hit lots and lots of forehands & backhands, and reach a relatively high level of play, before learning to loop. Nothing could be more outdated. By the time a player has reached a relatively high level of play, the player’s strokes and major habits are set. If looping isn’t among those habits, it’ll be more difficult to learn later on. The moral is: it’s rarely too early to learn to loop. 

This doesn’t mean that a beginner should be looping on his first day. However, once a player can hit a moderately good forehand with moderately good technique, he’s ready to begin the process of learning to loop, even as he continues to develop his other basic strokes. A player shouldn’t think of a loop as an advanced shot; it’s simply another shot, one that should be taught shortly after learning the basic forehand and backhand drive (also known as counter or counter-drive) strokes. The shot also adds excitement and variety to a player’s game, turning a basement player into a dedicated table tennis addict.

Worth reading in full.

I completely agree with Larry on this topic. When I am coaching beginners, I will usually work on FH drive and BH drive first, then a BH push. When the player can achieve some basic consistency with these three shots, I will then move to FH topspin vs backspin.

There are many benefits of starting with topspin vs backspin early in a player's development, as mentioned in Larry's article. For me the real benefit is that a beginner player develops a way of countering backspin with an attacking shot (rather than a push). This allows the beginner player to understand spin quicker and the player learns to brush the ball quicker. 

I have used this approach with my daughter too. We started working on FH topspin vs backspin when she was 6. She picked it up very easily. And then we could do exercises where she would play a BH push, then a FH topspin vs backspin, then a FH or BH drive. This sort of exercise helps a beginner learn how to transition between different strokes and adjust to different speeds and spin. I think it's one of the best exercises to do with beginners. 

How about you? When did you learn topspin vs backspin? Did you learn it early or is it a shot you learnt much later in your development?

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IB66
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 IB66
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I was never really ‘taught’ top spin v back spin, back in the day!!! I was coached, but we never ‘learnt’ or did routines v backspin. I played against a few short pips Barna bat players and as far as FH loop v backspin it was just something I picked up!! When I was younger I was better at this. 
Never used BH loop v backspin, just pushed, this stroke I have only really learnt in the last 4 yrs

At a basic level the FH loop v backspin is a bat angle change, more open face, so as a junior I had a good loop and just adjusted bat angle, obviously there is slightly more to it!! 

I think a good basic standard of strokes are required before learning to play topspin v backspin. FH & BH Drive, BH and FH push. 
I would also teach slow high trajectory high spin loop as well as a faster loop. Early and later contact points and perhaps later on a contact point that is more to the side of the ball, towards the axis of spin. The axis of spin is the slowest spinning part of the ball, at the ‘poles’ ie north and south. At the equator the ball is spinning at its fastest and so when playing directly against the spin your bat speed has to accelerate  THROUGH contact so it actually moves faster after contact.

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IB66
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 IB66
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I should add that against pure back spin the axis of spin is horizontal, and what I described as ‘at the equator’ would be at the top and bottom of the ball. Spinning vertically.

little bit confusing!!!

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