TT Technician: Defying gravity

The defensive player is a rare breed. Some of us love playing them. Some of us hate it. And unless your a defender yourself, one thing is for sure, you’re going to be looping. A lot.

When it comes to looping against heavy backspin there are a lot of ideas out there. But there is one piece of advice that needs to be put out to pasture.

Common table tennis folklore says that you should let the ball drop, taking it late so the spin drops off the ball. This is often preached by well meaning players with years of experience.

But think about it. How much will the spin actually reduce in that short moment? The percentage will be negligible. If you want to test this, get a ball, let it rip with backspin on to the floor, and watch how long it maintains its spin, even with the friction of the floor fighting against it.

So if there is no difference in spin then can’t you still let the ball drop? No.

As soon as you let the ball drop then you don’t only have spin working against you but gravity as well. Gravity is going to be your constant enemy. It is egging the ball to go in to the net. It wants to embarrass you.

So what should you do?

The best thing about balls? They bounce! So why not use that to your advantage.

Before the ball starts to drop it has a lot of upward momentum from jumping off the table.

Hit the ball as it approaches the top of the bounce. This way you will be using the upwards momentum of the ball to carry the ball over the net. You can then use more of your energy swinging forward rather than directing the ball up.

This will also translate in to your third ball attack against the good old “normal” attacking player.

Checkout Zhang Jike against Panagiotis Gionis, to see how the Grand Slam Champion uses perfect timing to defy gravity.