“Un”controlling your long-pips for “hacker” defense
Have you watched in amazement the dazzling footwork like a ballet dancer and the perfect racket angling & positioning displayed by world – class defenders ? It seems as if they are always moving like a cat using perfect foot-work with the racket in perfect horizontal or so position to execute that perfect next chop …………no reaching , no klutzy awkward last minute strokes . Well that is what makes them 2800 + and rest of us are just hackers.
I used to “try” play orthodox defence (somewhat sub-consciously imitating world class choppers) using long-pips on my backhand and reached 2100 level with a 2300 defence and a 1700 offense (my long-pips backhand was mostly closed for business for opponents with a traditional defense and I rarely missed) . As I got older of course it gets harder . So when I wanted to diversify, learning to use long-pips a lot more on my forehand (and inverted lot more on my backhand), I discovered something accidentally. I found that it was easier to play forehand with a near vertical racket (with the tip of the racket head closer to the floor, instead of the orthodox stroke with a horizontal racket) , pulling my racket from right to left ( I am a right-hander) , executing sort of a sidespin push-lob against serves. I noticed that the opponents were able to attack it with good success if my return is low with a flatter trajectory. But if I return with a lob portion higher about (two or three feet above the net) with an arcing trajectory , the success rate of opponent’s return (smash or loop-kill) was about 10% or less. If the sidespin was stronger, the success rate of opponent drops closer to 0%, with mostly long returns ( or into bottom the net if the opponent starts to compensate…as this is the somewhat inherently inexplicable component of long-pips generated spins and can be extremely frustrating to a mentally weak attack-style player below elite level, obviously with incorrect strokes) . But as a defensive player , you have every right to maximally exploit the limited power (by repeated unwarranted excessive castrations by the ITTF) of your long pips, just as a glue-cheating materially far superior inverted rubber using looper as repeatedly endowed by the ITTF politicians even as of today despite the fake glue testing etc. My return is in fact somewhat casual and lazy, standing straight up and is actually a side-top spin return. But if I return the ball low and flat with my racket parallel to the floor with a traditional push with fine positioning and foot-work like a world-class defender , a 1600 opponent loop kills or flat kills the hell out of my return.
I tried to do the same on backhand, that is , execute a sidespin lob-push on my backhand pulling the racket from left to right with a near vertical blade. Though it can be done effectively, I think it is harder than on the forehand as one naturally tends to play a traditional push with flat to the floor racket on the backhand.
The moral of the story is that unless you are at 2800 level, if you learn to play these easier , rather casual “un” controlled high arcing sidespin lob-pushes (especially against spinny serves) even over the table, you can thoroughly frustrate the mid-level glue-abusing legends-in-their-own-mind loopers and give them irrational suicidal tendencies that they richly deserve. Even if you cannot execute a sidespin lob push like this, you may want to keep all your long-pips returns higher (& deep) not lower, as ridiculous and negatively logical as it may sound, but this is true if you are playing a below elite level (inverted rubber using, illegally glued up) loopers (though not as effective against pips out hitters unless your side spin component is very strong) , who lack the proper strokes to loop-kill such high arcing balls consistently. More importantly don’t attempt to execute a beautiful push or a chop with superb footwork imitating a world-class defender. Just throw the ball up there (as a frustrated attackers would refer to it) as high as possible aimed towards the right shoulder of the attacker to maximize the anger of the attackers. At best it adds great diversity to your game if you can do this both on your backhand and forehand. At the very least you need to consciously practice to avoid the tendency to keep the ball low with a perfect pretty stroke (straight push) like a world class defender, with maximum control, because your maximized control also results in maximum control for your opponent with a low ball at the right height and just enough but not too much spin (between little straight backspin or topspin) waiting to be mercilessly slaughtered. But a deep higher bouncing ball with even minimum sidespin tends to wobble a lot more compared to a low controlled return and is awkwardly difficult to attack for a player unless he has the good footwork and strokes of an elite player.
This technique especially effective against those attackers who roll the ball back against a chop against their serve and then loop kill the return, as it contains just enough spin for the attacker to operate. Instead of returning their slightly top-spun roll returns with a straight chop (which is what they want) , use this side-spin lob push to frustrate them.
This side spin push lob can also be executed with other rubbers as well but since your spinny inverted rubber for example will react violently to the heavy incoming spin, it is harder unless you adjust for side-spins (usually adding to the sidespin, not reversing it) . The long-pips are the most effective in most situations.