Better Simulation of Loops and Chops

Newgy Robo-Pong

I found out that the fast loop thrown by the robot is very good since it has a lot of spin but is not like a real fast loop thrown by a player in real competition. This is because in real competition when a player strikes with a powerful topspin the ball usually comes from under the table, up over the net and down to your side of the table. The robot throws you the topspin from above the table (since it's mounted on the top of the table) directly down onto your side of the table. I achieved a very good and accurate topspin by dismounting the Robot from the table and putting it on top of a box about 10 inches from the floor and about a meter and a half from the table. You would'nt believe the accuracy of the topspin compared to the one in real competition. This way the ball comes from a position lower than the table so the loop is accurate, then it goes over the net to your side of the table, just like in real competition. If you put the oscillator on it's even better. You get the same effect for backspin simulating a game against a chopping player.


Tech note: This is a very good tip and shows the versatility of robot and how it can be adapted to simulate many different shots in the game. Of course, when you use the robot in this manner, the recycling net feature is of little use, but you still get a hundred or so high quality shots to practice against before you have to stop and pick up the balls. Another suggestion to make this idea work better is to buy an extra Connector Cable (part# 2000-220) and two 5-pin Connectors (#2000-218). Solder the leads on one 5-Pin Connector to the corresponding leads on the other 5-Pin Connector to form a connector for linking two Connector Cables together. Now with this longer cable you can place the robot in numerous positions in back of the table and still have the Remote Control Box handy at the player's end of the table.

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Attacking Chopper

Newgy Robo-Pong

Constant changes in equipment, gluing methods, and training methods have had a large effect on the evolution of styles within our sport. The decade of the nineties has seen the decline of two styles, the passive chopper and the passive half-distance topspin player. In their place, a stronger more balanced attacking style has emerged, the All-Round Attacker. This can be seen in both shakehands and penholder versions, with the penholder version incorporating the new reverse penholder backhand loop technique. Recently, the switch to the 40mm ball has changed both stroke techniques and tactics; and even now, playing styles are evolving quickly to take full advantage of the new ball's playing characteristics. Table Tennis is an ever-evolving sport that requires both coaches and players to constantly update their knowledge.

The purpose of this article is to examine the eight styles currently in use at the World Class Level. If you are uncertain of your style or wish to better identify which style is best for you, then please read What Style Should You Play. These styles include:

  1. The Attacker, Pips-Out Penholder, Traditional Style
  2. The Attacker, Shakehands Hitter
  3. The Attacker, Inverted Looper
  4. The Attacker, All-Round
  5. The Counter Driver
  6. The Mid-Distance Aggressive Looper
  7. The Attacking Chopper
  8. The Close-to-the-Table Defender

This series of articles will provide you with the strengths and weaknesses of each style, along with some suggested robot drills to help you develop your game. In reading the descriptions you may find that your personal style will have attributes from more than one. However, you should be able to recognize your dominant style (“A” style) and your secondary style (“B” style). Each article will also give you some suggestions on tactics to use against the other styles of play. Hopefully the style descriptions will serve as a guide in analyzing your own.

Attacking Chopper
Description:

This style can be best thought of as an attacker who uses underspin to set up their attacking shots. Players of this style most often use two different racket surfaces and will flip the racket to produce great variations in their defense and their attack.

Attacking Choppers usually have powerful forehand loops or kills. They will strongly attack any weak return by their opponent, as well as any third ball opportunity. Placing less backspin on a return than the previous return will often result in a pop-up that can be killed. A heavier than normal backspin return often results in a safe push return that can be looped. For players of this style, patience and footwork are the keys for advancing to a high level.

Strengths:
  • Great variation of strokes and spin puts opponents under a lot of pressure.
  • Strong forehand drives or kills.
  • Strong 3rd ball attacks.
  • Good movement and physical ability.
Weaknesses:
  • Can become impatient and attack the wrong ball.
  • Footwork when switching from chopping to topspin attack shots.
  • Defense may not stand up under pressure.
  • Too many options may result in some indecisiveness under pressure.
Suggested Robot Drills
Tactics Against Other Styles
Against the Attacker — Pips-Out Penholder

When serving keep most serves short and always look to third ball attack if the opportunity is there. Your first chop should be directed deep to a corner to force your opponent to move and thus execute a weaker first attack. Then vary your chops trying to force the opponent into errors. Attack any high slow moving ball or long drop shot.

Against the Attacker — Pips-Out Shakehands

Same general tactics except you can direct more first chops wide to the forehand of the shakehands hitter.

Against the Attacker — Inverted Looper

Same general tactics as above but be even more careful to stay out of the middle with the first chop. No spin chops will be effective against this style.

Against the Attacker All-Round

You will need a higher degree of attack against this style, as they are the most consistent of the attackers. Also use some mid-distance serves. If their return is slow, look to third ball attack. Make this style play a lot out of their wide forehand corner.

Against the Counter Driver

Your style matches up well against the Counter-Driver. This style prefers topspin returns and your constant diet of varying backspin often befuddles this style. Nonetheless, you will need to be very patient against this style. Do not take chances with your defense or attack. Wait for a high ball then finish with a kill shot rather than a loop.

Against the Mid-Distance Aggressive Looper

Same general tactics as playing the Inverted Looper. You must be ready for their strong backhand loop as well. When you get an opportunity to attack, attack the middle.

Against the Close to the Table Defender

Same general tactics as playing against the counter driver. Placing your set-up chops to the center of the table reduces the angles that the Close to the Table Defender can use against you to prevent your attack. You may get more opportunities to step around and use your forehand attack from the backhand corner.

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Turn Your Newgy Robo-Pong Into A World Class Chopper

Newgy Robo-Pong

Too often in today's table tennis clubs, there is a lack of quality choppers available to train with. This is especially a problem when training the young developing topspin player. As a full-time professional coach, I am always on the lookout to find ways to simulate training against styles or individual shots that don't exist in my own backyard.

Often I can accomplish this through the use of multi-ball feeding techniques. However, I have found a creative solution that works even better by using my Newgy Robo-Pong

First of all, I remove the unit completely from the table and set it on a low table or even the floor itself. The distance back from the table should be similar to the distance that a chopper would actually be working from to return hard hit balls (8 – 12 feet behind the table). 

By setting up the Newgy Robo-Pong in this fashion, your students gain several advantages over the conventional multi-ball set-up. First and most importantly, the correct timing for the stroke can be developed. Secondly, the student can get the feel of training at full power and observing the results of his/her own strokes. 

(Editor's Note: When using the robot "off table" in this fashion, it will help to use the Pong-Master scoreboard to help start, time, and end each drill. Plug the scoreboard into the control box, but do not plug any targets in. Set the robot for the proper trajectory angle, ball feed, ball speed, and sweep range. Turn on the scoreboard and set the number of minutes for the drill. When you're ready, hit the start button and the scoreboard will give you 3 seconds to get ready before it starts delivering balls. The scoreboard will also stop ball delivery when time runs out.

Also, since many of your returns will not be captured by the net for recycling, use lots of balls or have an assistant pick up balls and place them back into the robot's trays. This will permit you to continue doing the drill for the allotted time.)

Here is a set of six attack drills that my students often do against chop. Each set of drills should run from 5–7 minutes, remember to stress quality not quantity. If your students are having less than a 70–80% success rate, than the drill should be modified. 

Normally, I set up the Newgy to oscillate from the middle of the table to the wide forehand of my player. After finishing the six drills, I reset the Newgy to oscillate from the middle of table to my player's wide backhand and repeat the six drills again. In all cases, forehand attacks are being used. 

  1. Loop consistently to opponent's forehand. The student should focus on consistency as well as producing as much spin as possible. 
  2. Loop consistently to opponent's backhand. Like the above drill, consistency and spin are the keys to work on. 
  3. Loop consistently, alternating between opponent's forehand and backhand side. Have your student pay special attention to their footwork when changing the direction of the ball. 
  4. Loop to one corner, then push to the other corner. 
  5. Loop consistently to opponent's wide forehand corner, then hard attack to the middle. Have student concentrate on contacting the ball at the top of the bounce for the hard attack, as well as the explosion of the hips and the feeling of being "un-weighted" at the moment of the hard attack. 
  6. Loop consistently to opponent's middle, then hard attack opponent's wide forehand corner. Same focus as previous drill.
Advanced Options: 

You can mix the above drills with some limited multi-ball. A coach can randomly feed a single attacking shot between the Newgy's chops, just to keep the player ready to defend at all times. The coach can also mix in a short drop shot, timed to force the player to work hard to get back into position to loop the next ball. 

Throughout the United States, there are very few clubs that have strong players of every style to train against. I hope these chop suggestions, along with the idea of pulling the Newgy Robo-Pong away from the table will strike a creative cord on just how it is possible to overcome any training weakness.

By the way, the basic six drills against chop that I have suggested come mostly from my several years as acting coach of America's finest chopper, Derek May.

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Train Your Chopping Game

Newgy Robo-Pong

 

The best description for the modern chopping style of play is "an attacker who uses an aggressive backspin game to set up his/her own attack." Normally this style of player uses two different surfaces on their rackets, usually one is an inverted rubber and one will be pips-out, either long pips or short.

The returns from such different rubbers can cause the straight topspin attacker a lot of confusion. However, it also demands a great deal of training by the chopper to learn to control the many options he/she has for each stroke. This is especially true at the higher l evels where choppers can flip their rackets at will to produce a large variety of returns and attacking strokes.

I consider the Robo-Pong an indispensable tool in training choppers. The very nature of their games makes it hard to find practice partners who can consistently drill against a good chopper.

While every chopper will use a different blend of offense and defense, here are some good basic drills that I have successfully used in training such choppers as Derek May, Pan Am Games Silver Medallist.

Warming Up Drills 

For all styles of players, I recommend that you warm-up the short strokes first, before trying to hit or chop with longer and harder strokes. These are strokes that consist of using only the wrist and elbow joints. This will help you quickly get into the proper timing and allow you to establish ball control early during your warm-up. For the chopper this means starting off with pushing and blocking drills like the ones listed below:

(Editor's Note: You may wish to browse our Coaching Forum Archives for articles on how to execute a push or block.) Push against

Backspin / Inverted Side Whole Table

Set your Newgy for backspin with the oscillator on 3-4. This will sweep the whole table. Practice using only the inverted side to push, regardless if you use a backhand or forehand. This is great practice for footwork, and for flipping the racket. At the higher levels of the game, most choppers will push primarily with the inverted side.

Push against Backspin / Pips-out Side

Set your Newgy as above, but this time only push with the pips-out side. Be sure to work on keeping the ball low.

Backhand Block / Counter Against Topspin

Set your Newgy on a medium topspin with the oscillator set at 3-4. First, warm-up your counters and blocks with the inverted side. After a few minutes flip and warm-up your pips-out counters and blocks. If you use a chop block now is the perfect time to warm up this stroke as it leads naturally into the chopping strokes.

Choppers often find it difficult to find a practice partner who is steady enough to consistently attack their chops. Over the years, I have coached a number of choppers, among them; Derek May a Pan American Silver Medal winner. In setting up their training plans, working with the Newgy Robo Pong 2000 has always been an essential element of their training. The Robot provides the consistent attack that is necessary for the chopper to work on his/her placement and movement. The Robot is so versatile that an almost limitless variety of drills are possible. Here are a few of the basic drills that I have my chopping students do at each workout.

Drill 1 - Forehand In and Out 

Set your Robot for topspin at a ball speed and feed that is about 75% of what you can comfortably return. Direct the Robot's shots to your forehand with no oscillation. Practice chopping from mid-distance and gradually work your way in towards the table. Repeat moving in and out to practice your ability to take your opponent's ball at different distances from the table. Repeat this drill using your backhand.

Stroke Tip: The closer you are to the table the higher your back swing must start and the shorter and more downward your follow-through. Close to the table your contact point on the ball is towards the middle. When back from the table your contact point is towards the bottom of the ball and your follow-through will be longer and more forward.

Drill 2 - Chopping to a Location 

Set your Robot for topspin at a ball speed and feed that is about 80% of what you can return. Set the Robot on full table oscillation. Practice making all your returns towards one of three positions (deep to forehand or backhand corner, or deep to the middle). Repeat this drill until you have practiced making all returns to each location.

Drill 3 - Covering the Middle 

Set your Robot for topspin at a ball speed and feed that is about 80% of what you can return. Set the Robot to oscillate over one half of the table (positions 2 & 5). Practice taking all your returns with either your forehand or backhand. Focus on getting your body out of the way for the return to your middle. Repeat using both forehand and backhand.

Drill 4 - Serve Return Using One Side of the Racket 

This drill is designed for choppers using two different types of rubber on their rackets. Set your Robot to produce short sidespin-backspin serves. Set the Robot to oscillate over the whole table. Practice receiving all serves with your inverted side of the racket. Repeat using the other side of the racket.

Drill 5 - Chop and Loop Drill 

Set your Robot for topspin at a ball speed and feed that is about 80% of what you can return. Set the Robot to oscillate over the forehand half of your table. Practice mixing your chop returns with forehand loops. Repeat setting the Robot to oscillate over the backhand side of your table. Practice mixing backhand chops with step-round forehand loops.

Drill 6 - Chop Reaction Drill 

Set your Robot for topspin at the maximum ball speed that you can handle with full table oscillation. Start on a slow ball feed and have a helper gradually turn up the feed to the highest speed. Practice on getting your racket on as many balls as possible. Object of this drill is to decrease your reaction time. With practice your will find that you can handle even the highest feed rate.

These are just a few of the chopping drills that are possible on your Newgy Robo-Pong 2000. By using your imagination your will be able to come up with many more. Good luck and Good Chopping!

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Kill That Chop!

Newgy Robo-Pong

Hitting against the under spin ball is rapidly becoming a lost art in this country. During the last 30 years the loop-drive has become the stroke of choice in attacking under spin. The result is that you often see loopers who have no ability to "kill" a high chop. While the loop-drive is a safer shot as the ball travels higher over the net and lands in a shorter distance; it does have its weaknesses when dealing with the under spin ball.

First, speed is always a superior weapon over spin. While any spin has the potential of being returned (often being used against you), you can produce speed that your opponent cannot physically return. No matter what your style, everyone should be able to make a kill against an under spin return. Here's how!

  1. Make contact with the ball at the top of its, bounce. Once the ball begins to fall it cannot be hit. It must be spun.
  2. The contact point on the ball is the center or slightly below the center of the ball. The heavier the under spin, the lower the contact point.
  3. Make "force", not friction, when you contact the ball.
  4. The direction of the racket is forward and up (push up at contact).
  5. The heavier the under spin the more you should accelerate your racket through the ball.
  6. Stroke towards your target.

Your Newgy Robot is the perfect practice partner for learning to kill a chop. First set your Newgy to produce a medium high chop to your forehand (no oscillation). Start off by pushing a few balls to get the feel of the spin. Now begin to hit against the under spin using the technique described above.

When you feel comfortable hitting against under spin, try mixing looping and hitting together. Finally, set your Newgy to oscillate under spin over ? of the table. Try to loop several balls in a row and then finish with a forehand kill.

By practicing these basics with your Newgy Robot, you too will know the satisfaction that comes when you "Kill That Chop".

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The Chop Block - A Winning Variation

Newgy Robo-Pong

This handy stroke is just what its name implies, a block that returns the ball with chop (underspin) on it. It has many uses depending on style. For a close to the table defender, like U.S. Women's Champion, Gao Jun, it can be the main stroke of use. Gao uses this stroke to frustrate topspin attackers. The harder they topspin, the more spin she can quickly send back to them. Even topspin attackers find the Chop Block a handy variation of their normal backhand counter, often forcing errors from their opponents. This stroke is especially useful against the mid-distance looper. Using a Chop Block you can move the looper in and out and keep him/her from setting up in their favorite mid-distance location.

Stroke Description:

This stroke starts out looking like a normal block against topspin. The stroke is short and the blade is slightly closed. It is at ball contact where the difference between the normal block and the chop block can be seen. The normal block is made with force contact on the ball (no spin). When using the chop block, friction (spin) contact is made with the wrist chopping down on the ball, producing underspin. This requires a very light touch on the ball and a very relaxed wrist. The timing of this stroke is to contact the ball on the rise.

Practice Suggestions:

Your Robo-Pong 2000 is the perfect practice partner for learning this technique. Set your Robot to produce a medium/fast topspin to your backhand side. Start out using your normal backhand block or counter return. Now try making some chop blocks. At first try to keep your returns short on your opponent's side of the table. As you gain control with your returns, try pushing through the ball a little more and producing a deep chop block return. Finally practice mixing the chop block with your normal backhand counter strokes. The Chop Block is an easy stroke to learn and can pay handsome dividends for your game. It is a great variation from your normal counter drive and can produce many unforced errors from your opponent.

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