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The Tipping Point

Two Minute Table Tennis Tips

By

Table Tennis player - Scott Houston

Get to the Point!

© 2006 Greg Letts, licensed to About.com, Inc.
This is a quick tip on pointing the tip of your racket when playing forehands that I gave to one of my fellow club members the other night, which solved a long standing problem in a few minutes.

He was having problems with his forehand loop - in particular with generating a good wrist snap, and with hitting the ball hard while landing it on the table as the ball bounced higher. Against higher balls he kept coming across the ball, performing an inside-out type of contact, resulting in a ball that would curve to his right, but which wouldn't dip as fast as he wanted. He couldn't make his forehand loop attack against a high ball go straight and dip fast.

Upon closer examination of his setup, I noticed that he was holding his bat with the wrist already cocked, so that the tip of the racket pointed up at around a 45 degree angle. This was the key to fixing his problem.

Problems with Pointing Your Racket Tip Up

When you hold the tip of the racket up in this manner throughout your stroke, you end up with a few problems:
  • Because your wrist is already partially cocked, it's tough to get good power into your wrist snap.
  • Your forearm muscles need to be under tension to hold the bat in this position, which reduces your touch.
  • In order to adjust your racket angle, you have to use a combination of rotating your wrist, and moving your hand forwards and backwards (as if you were waving goodbye). It is difficult to accurately adjust racket angles using both of these techniques at once, since they work in different directions.
  • As the ball bounces higher, you have to lift your arm up reach the ball, and your racket tip starts to point straight up. When this happens, it is now virtually impossible to get on top of the ball using wrist rotation, and you have to adjust your racket angle by either tilting your hand forward at the wrist, or by raising your elbow up in comparison to your hand. This makes you hit around the side of the ball more, causing you to reduce the amount of topspin and power generated, while increasing the amount of sidespin. The lifting of the elbow also changes your basic loop mechanics, making it more likely that you will make a mistake when hitting the ball.

A Quick Fix - Point the Racket Tip Sideways

I helped solve his problem by telling him to relax his wrist, so that the tip of the racket head pointed sideways, instead of at a 45 degree angle upwards.

This simple tip fixes the above problems in a flash. Why?

  • It allows you to use wrist rotation as virtually the sole means of adjusting the forward tilt of your racket. There is only one thing to keep track of when tilting your racket, making it easier to get the racket angle correct.
  • As the ball gets higher, the wrist can be relaxed a little more, keeping the tip of the racket relatively horizontal. So even fairly high balls can be hit forwards with almost only topspin. You can still use sidespin if you want, but now you have the choice.
  • There is no longer a need to lift the elbow or tilt the hand in order to make contact, so basic technique is not compromised, and fewer mistakes will be made.
  • Finally, because the muscles of the wrist and forearm are relaxed, not tense, and because the racket is not partially cocked, your wrist snap will be more powerful, so you will hit harder and with more topspin.
Although the relaxing of his wrist and pointing of the racket tip horizontally felt strange at first, the improvement in this player's stroke was immediate, and within a few minutes he was hitting high bouncing balls hard,fast, and on the table, with virtually no unwanted sidespin. I saw the player again on our next club night two days later, and he was having no problem in maintaining this change for the better.

Conclusion

Holding the racket so that the racket tip is pointing up can have several detrimental consequences, including a lack of a powerful wrist snap, unwanted sidespin, and difficulty in dealing with high balls. Relaxing the wrist so that the forehand attacking stroke is played with the racket tip pointing out to the side is an easy way to fix most of these problems.

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