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This column discusses the use of a table tennis robot in learning ping pong strokes, styles, and techniques. Richard McAfee is one of America's most active and recognized coaches. Certified as an International Coach by USA Table Tennis, he was selected as a USOC (US Olympic Committee) Developmental Coach of the Year. He organized and directed the Eastern Table Tennis Training Center and the Anderson College Table Tennis Team. He served as the Table Tennis Competition Manager for the 1996 Summer Olympics and recently was selected as an ITTF (International Table Tennis Federation) Pro Tour Director. Currently he is Head Table Tennis Coach at the prestigious Sporting Club At Windy Hill in Atlanta, GA.
In another article, I discussed the six basic table tennis strokes for close to the table Long Pips Styles of play. These strokes included the:
- Lift against backspin
- Sidespin attack against backspin
- Attacking backspin by pushing
- Controlled counter drives
- Defensive chop blocks
- Pull-back block
Once you have learned these basic long pips techniques, it is time to begin assembling these techniques together to form your style. Your table tennis robot can be your best friend as you begin practicing these patterns of play, by giving you the consistent ball feed necessary to develop your skills.
Here are several excellent match drills for the Long Pips Close-to-the-Table Style of play:
Against backspin feed from the robot:
- Mix backhand crosscourt push (short and long) with long sidespin attack stroke deep to the corners.
- Mix backhand pushes with light and heavy contact.
- Steady backhand lift deep to corners and into body.
Against topspin feed from the robot:
- Controlled backhand counter attacks—pay special attention to learn what speed of return works best for you.
- Mixed backhand chop block (short and long) with backhand counter attacks deep to the corners and the middle.
- Mixed backhand pull-back blocks (short) with backhand counter attacks deep to the corners and the middle.
- Once you can control these attacking patterns, try flipping your racket and mixing in attacks using your “live” rubber.
I hope that these last two articles have given everyone who enjoys playing table tennis with long pips some tips that will lead to improvement. They may be even more important to those of you who have problems against this style of play by allowing you to see some of the “tricks of the trade”.