Fast Backhand Loop Against Backspin

Newgy Robo-Pong

For most players, trying to generate a powerful backhand loop against backspin is the most challenging stroke in the game. Since the stroke is naturally shorter than its forehand counterpart and pulled across the body, it requires very good timing to generate good speed.

Key Elements
  1. The starting position for the racket is low and towards the left hip (for right handers)
  2. Contact the ball at the top of its bounce
  3. Contact the ball slightly below the center of the ball
  4. The racket should make about an equal amount of force (forward) and friction (spin) contact with the ball
  5. Your weight should shift from your left leg (right-handers) to your right leg.
Practice Techniques

Set your Newgy Robot to deliver a deep backspin ball to your backhand side. Start off by simply pushing back a few returns and notice how low on the face of the ball you need to touch the ball to have it clear the net. Now alternate between pushing one ball and fast looping the next. Remember not to let the ball start to descend before you make contact and to contact the ball just below the center.

Read more →

Forehand Loop Against Backspin

Newgy Robo-Pong

The forehand loop against backspin is one of the most powerful strokes in the game. It is also a stroke with which you can produce many variations of speed and spin. Since you are going with the spin already on the ball, this stroke can produce the heaviest topspin in the game.

There are two extremes of the forehand loop against backspin and many variations between the two. The first is the slower and very high spin loop. This stroke produces the highest level of spin, the highest trajectory over the net, the biggest jump forward when the ball strikes the table and the quickest drop towards the floor after it bounces. The second extreme is the fast forehand loop. This stroke produces the most forward speed, a lower trajectory over the net and a ball the travels far from the table after the bounce.

Key Elements
Element Slow Loop Fast Loop
Backswing position Almost straight down Down and back
Timing As ball begins to descend At the top of the bounce
Ball Contact Towards the bottom of ball Center or below
Friction vs Force Contact Almost all friction (Spin) Equal force and friction
Weight Transfer Almost straight up Forward towards target

Practice Techniques

Set your Newgy Robot to deliver a deep backspin ball to the middle of the table. Start off pushing the ball back with your forehand. Now try dropping your forearm below table height and just brushing up on the ball trying to impart maximum spin. When learning a new stroke, it is best to begin by training the wrist and forearm. As you feel more comfortable begin adding more and more of your body into the stroke. When you produce a good slow loop try changing your starting position to more back and down and try for some fast loops.

(Editor's note: One oft-misunderstood principle of looping is that racket speed must be very high to produce heavy topspin. Even though a loop is described as a slow loop or a fast loop, it does not mean that the racket speed or body motion is slower for one than the other. Both have very high racket speeds and quick body motions. What does differentiate the two is the direction of force. The force on a slow loop is primarily up; whereas, on the fast loop, the direction is primarily forward. This can easily be seen in the second video by comparing the direction of the racket's travel in the slow loop versus the fast loop.

Read more →

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".

Read more →

Develop Your Push With Robo-Pong

Newgy Robo-Pong

Perhaps the most overlooked stroke in the game is the simple push. The ability to execute a good quality push stroke is critical for players of any style. The push is used to move your opponent around and for returning underspin serves. If you can't produce good spin on your pushes, your opponent will have many opportunities for an easy attack.

The basic elements of a good push stroke are:
  • Make as much friction (spin) contact as possible.
  • Contact the ball as it is descending.
  • Contact the bottom of the ball.
  • Direct the ball to one of three locations:
    1. Deep to the backhand corner
    2. Deep to the forehand corner
    3. Deep into your opponent's playing elbow.
Stroke description:

The push stroke should actually be thought of as an over-the-table chop. It is a short stroke executed with the forearm and wrist. The most common error is to reach too much for the ball and over extend the arm. This causes a loss of control. You need to catch the ball close to the body. Another common fault is to start the stroke with the arm held too high. This will keep you from contacting the bottom part of the ball and producing good spin.

Suggested Practice Session:
  1. First of all, set your Newgy Robot to produce a deep underspin return to your backhand.
    • Practice making as much spin as possible on your pushes (5 min)
    • Practice directing your push to one of the three prime locations listed above. (5min)
    • Practice changing the amount of spin on your returns. Changing the amount of wrist used does this. (5 min)
  2. Now adjust your Newgy Robot to oscillate backspin returns within in your backhand court (oscillator lever positions 3,6 for right-handers; 1,4 for left-handers).
  3. Next repeat the above sequence directing the ball to your forehand side (oscillator lever positions 1,4 for right-handers; 3,6 for left-handers).
  4. Finally, set your Newgy Robot to full table oscillation (oscillator lever positions 3,4) and Repeat the above exercises.
Important Points to Remember:

Good pushes require good footwork. Reaching for the ball will produce weak shots. Both the amount of spin and the location of your push returns are equally important. Good quality pushes will force errors or weak attacks from your opponent.

Read more →

Fast Push Techniques

Newgy Robo-Pong

The push is not often thought of as an aggressive tool, but rather as a basic keep-the-ball-in-play stroke. The reason for this is simple. Adding speed to a pushed ball is difficult as underspin causes a ball to rise up during flight. Push too fast and the ball will sail off the end of the table. Because of this, most players emphasize producing heavy backspin (as opposed to fast speed) with their pushes if they want to force errors or weak attacks from their opponents.

Rather than only using heavy spin on your pushes to force weak returns, mixing in a fast push can be a great surprise tactic. Often a surprise fast push will force a weak shot from your opponent and enable you to step-around and attack with a strong forehand loop or kill. Here is how to execute a fast push stroke.

First and foremost, contact the ball at the top of the bounce. Your racket should make friction contact with the ball (spin), contacting the middle of the ball and pushing forward and down. This is very different from producing a spin push where the ball is contacted on the way down and more towards the bottom of the ball.

To practice this shot, set your Newgy Robot to produce a push return and have it oscillate over the entire table (Oscillator Lever positions 3 & 4). Now practice mixing spin pushes with a sudden fast push until you can produce both shots with ease. Good luck and good pushing.

Important Notes: Adding sidespin to this stroke can make it even more effective. Also, when you use the fast push in a game situation, look to attack the next return.

Basic Elements of Push Strokes

Stroke Element Spin Push Fast Push
Timing As ball is descending Top of bounce
Ball Contact Location Bottom of ball Middle of ball
Ball Contact Type 
(Friction or Force)
Friction Friction


(Editor's Note: If you have trouble learning this stroke, you may want to start off with having the robot deliver the ball 12 to 18 inches high above your side of the table. This will allow for a greater margin of error. When you gain consistency with your stroke against a high ball, lower the ball delivery angle a little at a time until you can fast push even a ball that is barely over the net.)

Read more →

McAfee's Robot Mechanics: Close to the Table Long Pips Attack and Defense Techniques

Newgy Robo-Pong

Many of my senior (Over 40) students have asked me to do an article on the use of long pips, for close-to-the-table play. This style is very popular with the older table tennis players as it allows them to slow down play and to put the focus on using their hand skills rather than movement and power to win points.

Table tennis robot training is particularly useful when learning and practicing these techniques as few players can consistently attack against this style. In fact, as you are learning this style many players may become frustrated and not want to practice with you at all.

Let's take a look at the six basic strokes that should be in the arsenal of any close-to-the-table long pips player. All of these strokes are described as backhand strokes.

  • Lift against backspin: This stroke is executed with a slightly open paddle. The stroke itself is very simple. At contact, push forward and slightly up. Use mostly the forearm and little or no wrist action. This stroke, when executed with long pips, allows you to use your opponent’s backspin to produce a controlled topspin attack. This is the only stroke in which you can produce enough topspin to hit with speed.
  • Sidespin attack against backspin: This is an unusual looking stroke to most inverted players. The stroke is executed much like the straight lift against backspin, but at contact, the racket is pushed forward and pulled to the right (for right-handed players). Depending on the racket angle this return will produce a wide range of no-spin, sidespin, or light topspin returns, all with some degree of sidespin. This stroke can force many errors from your opponents.
  • Attacking backspin by pushing: Pushing with long pips can be very aggressive. While pushing, if light contact with the ping pong ball is made, the return will be a dead ball (no-spin). If harder racket contact is made (more force), a light topspin can be produced. This leads to a lot of high and very attackable returns from your opponent.
  • Controlled counter attacks: The key to attacking with long pips against topspin is to remember that controlling the speed of your returns is the key to success. Do not over-hit. Your returns will carry some backspin, so there will always be a limit on the amount of speed you can produce. Generally speaking, if you are using long pips without sponge this stroke will be quite slow and carry heavier backspin. If you are using long pips with sponge, this return will be faster but without as much spin. Once again, keep the stroke simple using only a forward pushing motion, with the forearm. Remember, when counter attacking with long pips, let the racket do the work for you. It is the ever-changing spin on your returns that will force errors from your opponent, not the speed of your returns.
  • Defensive chop blocks: This stroke looks just like its name suggests—a block with a downward chopping motion. When used against heavy topspin, this stroke can produce heavy chop returns. Often your opponent will be forced into pushing this return back, which will allow you to attack.
  • Pullback block: Once again, the name says it all. Against a topspin attack, you simply pull your racket slightly back at contact, thereby taking almost all of the pace off the ball. This can be used to produce a very short return making it impossible for your opponent to continue an attack. This technique works best with long pips without sponge.

There you have the major long pips, close-to-the-table techniques. When used properly, these table tennis strokes can make life very difficult for your opponents. Fortunately, your robot will not mind at all while you practice and perfect these techniques.

Read more →

Robot Drills For Long Pips Close-to-the-Table Styles

Newgy Robo-Pong

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:

  1. Lift against backspin
  2. Sidespin attack against backspin
  3. Attacking backspin by pushing
  4. Controlled counter drives
  5. Defensive chop blocks
  6. 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”.

Read more →

The Inside Forehand Loop Against Backspin

Newgy Robo-Pong

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.

This stroke gets its name from the fact that the tip of the racket travels around the inside surface of the ball. This is the side of the ball nearest to you as the ball approaches. On the traditional forehand loop stroke, the tip of the racket passes around the outside surface (side farthest away from you).

When executed properly, the inside loop makes a right-hander's loop curve sideways in the opposite direction from its normal path. The inside loop is often used when using the forehand loop from your backhand corner and attacking your opponent's backhand side. However, it can be used from any position.

When the forehand inside loop is used crosscourt from your backhand side, it curves away from your opponent's backhand and forces him/her to move more to their left. If not a sure winner, this stroke often opens up the whole table so that a simple placement to their forehand side can often win the point.

INSIDE LOOP DESCRIPITION

The best way to describe this stroke is that it looks like you are washing a window. To best understand this, get in front of a wall, facing it. Now imagining that the wall is a large clock, place your racket on the wall facing outward at about the 3 o'clock position. Now without lifting the racket from the wall, rotate it to the 9 o'clock position. Notice the arm first moves up to 12 and then over to 9. You should also notice that it is hard to keep a normal grip while doing this. This is important, as a grip change while making this stroke is necessary to produce a really powerful stroke.

INSIDE LOOP GRIP CHANGE

To find the correct grip, place the racket in a neutral position in front of you. Now with your free hand, twist the top of the blade to your left. This should open up some space between your racket-hand's forefinger and the blade with only the tip of the forefinger now touching the blade. The bottom edge of the racket's head is now contacting the thumb close to its first joint (instead of being in the fleshy “V” part of the hand between the thumb and forefinger).

ROBOT-DRILLS

Drill #1
Set your Newgy to deliver a deep backspin ball to your backhand side. Push two backhands then step-a-round and make an inside forehand loop to your opponent's wide backhand. Aim to cut the angle between the end line and the net if possible. Repeat.

Drill #2
Same as above but alternate inside loops with your normal loops. Be sure to practice a down-the-line loop occasionally when executing the normal loop.

REVIEW
  • Change to inside grip
  • The stroke travels first up then around the inside edge of the ball
  • Contact the ball as it is descending
  • Make a lot of friction (spin) contact on the ball
  • Most errors with this stroke happen because the player is not concentrating enough on the upward (first) movement of the stroke.

When you add the inside forehand loop to your arsenal, you will be making life much more difficult for your opponent. He/she will not know until the last moment of your stroke which way your ball will curve. Many of my students love executing this stroke. In fact, one of our favorite sayings is, “When in doubt, Inside-Out”.

Read more →

Alternative Set-up For Wide Angles and Smashes

Newgy Robo-Pong

1. Set up the robot as usual but leave the side collecting net unattached. Make the robot serve wide so the balls will go off the side line after bouncing on your side of the table. Try returning the balls around (not over) the net. Your real life opponents will find them difficult to handle if you can keep the trajectories as low as possible.

2. The robot can produce realistic lobs for you to practice smashing with, but if you want some realistic smashes so you can practice your lobbing, you might need to place the robot on the table surface so it can shoot balls into your table at a smaller incident angle.

Read more →