Often people are mistaken when they claim that there are no specific drills for improving your blocking. This statement is quite incorrect. There are 4 key areas to improve and develop your block around and I have given one drill with each for you to practice though there are many variations on exercises which will aid your blocking practice.
A consistent block is a powerful weapon. Being able to return a great number of balls by blocking reduces the use of energy in your game and on occasions ends up wearing your opponent out if they are not as fit or consistent.
Blocking consistency is also important for training. Simple exercises where you block all balls and your training partner hit anywhere are a good opportunity to build your consistency over the whole table. your aim should be not to miss, making sure you move for each ball and keep your block simple.
Placement is one of the more significant weapons for blocking players as it presents openings and takes your opponent out of their playing zone or off balance. A good drill for practicing placement is blocking from your backhand side free to the table.
You should focus on making it as difficult as possible, using placement, for your training partner to be able to move into position or hit a comfortable shot. This means targeting the body and wide frequently and avoiding the main forehand and backhand zones.
Adjusting your block is also very important. If you are a blocking player mainly, then opponent’s tactics usually involve changing the spin and pace on the ball. Your job is to keep on top of each change and adjust accordingly.
A ball with more spin requires a more closed bat angle, the slower spinny loops need your bat to be brought up to cover the ball. These loops can be the hardest to control as keeping the return low and control is difficult.
Adjusting for pace is a bit easier, a slower attack often requires a firmer grip on your bat when blocking, a faster attack is easier to block with ‘softer hands’. This, however, becomes variable when you get more experienced with blocking and are able to interchange both.
A great drill for practicing this is to have your training partner first begin alternating between a slow spinny loop and a more forward faster loop. You can practice this to either fixed forehand or backhand. This develops into your partner looping free varied loops and potentially to unfixed points on the table including the crossover for extra practice.
Variation of Pace
Varying the pace of a block is sometimes the method by which more passive players are able to control the table or open up a rare opportunity to attack. Combining slow and fast blocks is a weapon for a blocker. Slow blocks serve the purpose of disrupting rhythm.
They force an opponent to come back into the table in order to be in the position or having forced an opponent back far enough, a soft block can potentially end a point.
Exercises for this include blocking to your partner’s forehand and blocking one soft and one hard. You can also combine this with the middle-wide exercise by blocking soft to the body, hard wide, hard to the body, soft wide, etc.
So as you can see, there are 4 key aspects to blocking and they need to be practiced. As with any aspect of the game, there are drills which can be used to develop your blocking skills.
To practice these skills in match play you can simply play a few sets where you only block and not play full attacking strokes.
If you are seeking more advanced blocking techniques, you can also practice the variation of spin on your blocking. Topspin blocking is becoming more and more popular. This simply involves brushing the ball on your blocking contact to add topspin. This provides a little more pace and kicks on the ball.
You can add this as a variation into any of your drills, perhaps choosing to topspin block every 4-5 balls as an example. Learning to topspin block is mainly down to timing and is really the first step you need to take when you are developing a short-swing counter-loop stroke.
As always, I hope this is something a little different for you. Consistency is something we all need in our games and we are not always able to be in the attacking position, so it is important to devise skills that will help us re-position ourselves to attack or to bring down those who should attack against us. Sounds awfully heroic! Good luck training your blocking!
Is Blocking Stroke Good For You?
In the world of table tennis, the blocking technique which is one of the strokes in this sport, tends to under-rated. Especially at lower levels, many players are so busy trying to emulate the top players, but most of them forget that actually simple blocks can win them matches too.
The upside of a block is that it does not require any stroke production, so it is easy for a lower level player to do consistently. The downside is that it can be a rather negative tactic, and ultimately a players downfall if overused. It is an important part of most players games tough if used in conjunction with an all-round game.
Many blocks, if used correctly can get your opponent out of position. When practicing your block, you need to also practice placement. You need to be able to hit the corners and the middle and you need to do that from different positions on your end of the table with different paces. And, of course, practice blocking. It is an important skill.
Who Should Avoid Playing Blocking Stroke?
For most people who don’t do any physical training besides playing table tennis and who don’t play more than 10 hours per week, try to avoid blocking as much as possible because unless you are dead tired, one should not block simply because you want to win.
Your focus should be on more offensive strokes for exercise and your health first. This will lead to good productivity. For those who are more competitive and trains a lot, blocking is a sure way to victory.
Your Focus Should Be On Offensive Strokes
Generally, it is better to be an attacker rather than a defensive player. A counter-attack puts your opponent under pressure. And yes, a block can also lead you to a point if you know how to use it well. Not just blocking your opponent’s attack, it should have a good placement to put your opponent off-balance and become defensive rather than offensive. Thus, if you are an offensive player in nature, it’s best to learn active strokes than passive ones.
Nonetheless, one should use the blocks occasionally either to neutralize the opponent’s stroke by the placement of the return or as a counter-offensive stroke.
As long as you practice frequently, you are going to master the blocking strokes and make it your own defensive weapon and can even counterattack your opponent to win the game.