I recently watched a top-level coaching video explaining why the ball might be slipping off the bat when trying to execute a loop. Mainly this happens when performing a forehand loop.
When making the forehand loops, sometimes it can happen when the ball ends up in the net, often at the net’s bottom.
The coach mentioned in the video that even if your rubbers are in good condition and clean, the ball slipping off the bat can still happen. So what causes the problem?
He said one of the reasons might be that the bat is not brushed fast enough across the ball. The other reason that can cause such an issue is if your arm is stiff and tense. You have to relax your arm and snap the forearm firmly across the ball with a lot of speed.
Two Components Constitute the Outcome
Such speed has two components:
- The strong snap of the forearm.
- Get some wrist into the shot.
I agree with all the above, but I would add another point where given the loop is THIN contact. And when talking about it, one needs to understand the concept of what is meant by THIN.
THIN is deforming the rubber to the extent where the sponge is also deformed, but not down to the wood. It means you have to grab the ball & feel it on your bat dwelling if you like. So I think a reason a ball could slip off your bat and end up in the bottom of the net is that the contact was TOO THIN.
What Other Reasons Else Can it Be?
Another reason is that we don’t contact the ball at the upper half of the paddle but at the bottom half, which is the part of the bat that turns less. It is common for table tennis blades that have a larger sweet spot. But for blades with the smaller sweet spot, the player needs to have the ball in good contact at the upper half and close to the sweet spot to prevent the ball from slipping off the bat.
For thin contact, the optimal way of looping through is to manage to brush the ball as much as possible (the wood + rubber combo) must grip it as much as possible, and that means that if the ball is gripped by the top sheet, the sponge and the wood layers is a good thing.
The optimal loop is that the contact is not too thin (too much rubber) and not too hard (too much wood).
We need a combination of both to achieve spin speed control and placement.
Playing Style of Khaleel Asgarali
Khaleel Asgarali is a famous table tennis player born in 1986 in Spain. His playing style is quite aggressive, especially with his fantastic forehand flip.
Let’s look at how Khaleel Asgarali talked about his playing style, which may benefit those who wish to learn the skills he possesses.
The key to making an effective return of a short ball is to step in. To make a good forehand flip, you want to start off going for more spin and placement than power. First, step all the way in and get your racket a little bit under and to the side of the ball.
Then, bring your racket almost up to your eyebrow while turning your hips and upper body. It’s almost like you are putting on an imaginary hat. Make sure you start slow with good spin and focus on putting the ball where you want it to go. Then you can start hitting flatter with more speed with increased practice.
At first, you will find it rather complex for you to play with such a stroke consistently. But all you need to do is keep on practicing, and after some time, you will be able to do so.
Serving Half Long
A great serve to use is when the second bounce on your opponent’s side bounces on the white line. Your opponent might think it is coming along and try to loop the short serve and make a mistake.
Or, they might think it is short and push high and long to you. It is a highly effective serve, but it requires lots of practice to get the touch. Try to get the bounce on your side to be about 8 inches from the white line.
This serve is a great serve to use in close matches, but you have to have excellent control of the serve to use it in critical situations.
Looping to the Middle
Most players can loop very well to their opponent’s forehand or backhand. When you set up to loop drive to your opponent, they usually try to anticipate whether the ball will go to their forehand or backhand, thinking that it is 50–50 that it will go to either side.
However, one of the most effective places to loop is down the middle. The middle is a smart place to go because there is a moment of indecisive hesitation in that area. When the ball comes to their forehand, they make and forehand, and vice versa for the backhand.
However, when the ball comes to the middle, there is a second to decide what shot to use. So the middle is a wise place to loop, especially in a close match where your opponent is blocking well.