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When you push a backspin ball to your opponent, she can do a strong topspin loop which is extremely spinny. At Sydney table tennis club I notice that not many players can block the return effectively. Learn to play the shot and reap the benefits.

First, let's view a normal topspin backhand to backhand rally as a comparison. Your bat angle is around 9-10 o'clock and you finish the shot at shoulder height. Notice that the bat angle is quite open.


The video below shows the player doing a backhand block or drive off a normal topspin between 2:15 - 6:00 minutes.


Secondly, during the rest of the video the coach demonstrates how to block a ball which you've initially pushed and your opponent has looped it with a high amount of topspin. Notice that the angle of the bat is now very closed, and your contact angle is around 11-11:30. A loop off a backspin ball is usually much lower than a topspin drive because a push is looped off low balls (otherwise your opponent would have smashed a high ball) and the looped topspin makes the ball spin off the table instead of bouncing up.


From this backswing position, the bat goes forward very quickly and finishes only at elbow height. The ball is taken off the bounce or at net height in comparison to a normal topspin ball which is taken much higher. Initially, relax your grip of the bat and ensure that you're able to block the ball back onto the table. It's a very short stroke. Think of it as a foreward and very closed flick.

As you get better, you can step back a little and start hitting the ball strongly to obtain a clear winner. But during a game, your opponent is the aggressor and will land the ball at your most inconvenient location, so you should be happy to just get to the ball. Unless you've got the available practice time and ability of professional players, be content to block the ball safely onto the table. Your safe return usually ends up a winner anyway because your opponent has spent a lot energy looping the ball, has finished off balance onto his front foot and doesn't expect his loop to be blocked back (at the average club level).

View the attached video and practise this shot which will stop you losing many points in a game. It will restrict your opponent from being so dominant if he is a good looper of underspin balls from either his forehand or backhand sides. The Youtube video below is called How to win against log pimples easily


Thirdly, let's discuss probabilities and expected outcomes by mastering this shot. Let's say both of you push underspin balls regularly in a game and both of you serve short underspin balls because you both can attack topspin balls. If you can't block any of the opponent's loops off your pushes, he will win 4 out of 5 times because let's say his accuracy is around 80% for this shot. If you yourself can't initiate looping as many backspin balls, (eg, due to poor footwork or weakness in your backhand), your opponent will certainly win the game everything else being equal. 

However, if you're able to block one of his 4 successful loops, he wins only 3 times out of every 5 loops that he attempts. But a funny thing happens. His previously uninhibited confidence is rocked. He now has to shorten his follow through because you can block some of the balls back and his error rate climbs up. Subsequently he can loop only 3 out of 5 balls consistently, you block one back for a winner and the nett result is he wins only 2 out of 5 loops that he attempts. YOU will now win the game!




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