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    Posted: 01/30/2017 at 9:08pm
There has been some discussion recently on which fingers should be applying the pressure when holding a racket, and I wanted to get some more opinions on this.

There seems to be 2 different ways to hold the racket.

1. Using your thumb and index finger to hold the racket, and the other three fingers are mainly just for support.
2. Using your ring and pinky fingers to hold the racket, while the rest provide stability only (though still applying pressure on your index at point of contact).

What are the advantages and disadvantages of the two? Is one incorrect? Is one favoured in the modern game? Any explanations?

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote 808ponger Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01/30/2017 at 11:19pm
https://youtu.be/pSHQYbz6UBw

This guy made a 3 part video on this question.  Basically says holding with the thumb and index finger allows for more wrist action. 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote shaolinTT Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01/30/2017 at 11:25pm
This will be an interesting "poll question".
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TwiddleDee Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01/30/2017 at 11:49pm
Glad this issue is being raised. I have always preferred the 2nd grip method. I found that one easier to keep a more relaxed grip for both forehand and backhand. Slight pressure with the thumb keeps the blade in place. I prefer the anatomic handle to utilize this grip. I tried the 1st grip method years ago, but couldn't seem to relax my grip as much while still maintaining control of the blade. When I started using the 2nd grip method, I found it much easier to backhand loop under spin. It also helped me brush loop with my forehand more consistently. 

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote BMonkey Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01/31/2017 at 12:44am
I was coached to use the first method. Works well enough that my grip is never the weak link of my game anymore.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote NextLevel Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01/31/2017 at 3:43am
Originally posted by mickd mickd wrote:

There has been some discussion recently on which fingers should be applying the pressure when holding a racket, and I wanted to get some more opinions on this.

There seems to be 2 different ways to hold the racket.

1. Using your thumb and index finger to hold the racket, and the other three fingers are mainly just for support.
2. Using your ring and pinky fingers to hold the racket, while the rest provide stability only (though still applying pressure on your index at point of contact).

What are the advantages and disadvantages of the two? Is one incorrect? Is one favoured in the modern game? Any explanations?



Here is my answer. Experiment with your grip and your ball quality. Beware of anyone who tells you that they know precisely what they are doing with their fingers on every shot when it comes to grip pressure. The most important thing is to have a grip that is relaxed enough to facilitate sufficient whip in the stroke. Beyond that, just about everything is individual preference and coaching. If someone tellspecial you something, try it out. As long as it is within reasonable bounds of how you want to play, you will learn something from it.

As an amateur, my focus has been on getting a grip that I can play as many strokes as I can out of with minimal switches. The main compromise for me has to have more sidespin on the forehand than I would prefer but it is still a topspin shot. I also have to take my wrist back and forth for certain strokes but on the whole, I don't have radical changes in my grip.

But if you asked me what the fingers were doing precisely on every single shot, I would be lying if I told you. Sometimes they are tighter to block, sometimes they are looser to let the blade shake more. Sometimes the focus is in the lower fingers, sometimes it is in the upper fingers and thumb.

What usually happens is that if you train a variety of shots and transitions with a grip, the body starts figuring out how to get to that grip if it reads the play ahead of time and realizes that the grip will make the shot a quality shot. But if the transition is too deliberate or insufficiently practiced, it will tax your ability to read the play more and more. In fact, I think on days I play badly, it is often because for one reason or another, I am using a grip that is sure try different from the one I really want to use. That said, ever since I accepted the mild hook on my forehand as being what it is, things have gotten a little easier. I know how to fix it, it's just a matter of whether I read the play in time and whether it is worth it since hook strokes counterspin better anyways.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote zeio Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01/31/2017 at 5:31am
Originally posted by mickd mickd wrote:

There has been some discussion recently on which fingers should be applying the pressure when holding a racket, and I wanted to get some more opinions on this.

There seems to be 2 different ways to hold the racket.

1. Using your thumb and index finger to hold the racket, and the other three fingers are mainly just for support.
2. Using your ring and pinky fingers to hold the racket, while the rest provide stability only (though still applying pressure on your index at point of contact).

What are the advantages and disadvantages of the two? Is one incorrect? Is one favoured in the modern game? Any explanations?


For deep grip, 1 would afford higher stability and precision.

For shallow grip, 2 would give more flexibility in the wrist and power away from the table.

Edited by zeio - 01/31/2017 at 5:36am
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Purett Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01/31/2017 at 5:37am
like nextlevel said you should experiment 

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Baal Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01/31/2017 at 7:59am
Just know that experimenting with your grip can mess with your head (and body).  At some point that is something you simply can't be thinking about.  Whatever you do it has to be automatic.  I've been in that little corner of table tennis hell more than once.

What you are doing now, whatever it is, may not be entirely optimal but (1) changing my make some things better and other things worse as there is always a trade-off (2) and the thing that comes natural for you now has the advantage of, well, being natural. 

Also, know this.  Grip changes may introduce repetitive use injuries you never had before because when you change your grip, you begin to put strain in different tendons in your forearm.

I wrote this on a thread at TT Daily, but even the world's elite players over the last two decades have used markedly different shakehands grips.  WLQ held the racket unusually low on the grip (as did Cheng Yinhua).  Persson and Karakasevic (and Bengtsson before that) wrap their forefinger around the wing.  KLH used a grip that favors their backhand (ZJK does too but to a lesser extent, certainly compared to what Ma Long uses).  Ovtcharov seems to change his grip between forehand and backhand more than most players do.  Timo Boll returns serve with his forefinger very high on the back of the blade and then slides it back down.  Kreanga moves his thumb way up the back of his blade to stabilize his backhand.  If there is one guy who seems to not change his grip much from side to side it might be Schlager, but I am sure there is subtle stuff we can't see. 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote kindof99 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01/31/2017 at 9:23am
Changing grips for different shots makes sense, but it definitely requires a lot of training and practice.

ML used to make little change starting from service. But I think he changes grip more now to have a more powerful backhand.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote IanMcg Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01/31/2017 at 6:56pm
Japanese players like Mizutani like having their thumb pointing up against the handle and the rubber, I think this helps with backhand stability.

Gao Ning chokes very high up on his paddle, moreso than a lot of players I've seen


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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Baal Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01/31/2017 at 7:03pm
Every grip has some tradeoffs.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote fatt Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01/31/2017 at 10:51pm
I like a loose 3 fingers (thumb, index, middle) grip for touch shots and hard bananas (e.g v. heavy backspin, short & low balls), in general when the topsheet does almost all the job and power is not required; the pinky and ring fingers are just there to watch, away from the handle; that grip rewards faster, more often, during the learning of a stroke, especially the banana, and then confidence may add tightness without loss of control. Basically that grip is (a variation of) the Swedish serving grip for fh pendulum, where the middle finger tip rests on wood at the corner of the top of the handle, in that little triangle of wood; the index is right above it; on the other side the thumb is on the top of the handle (most of the time) or on the rubber right above it (which I like only in fast long serves for additional tightness). 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote MLfan Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01/31/2017 at 11:13pm
Grip is mainly with the first 2 fingers (although some chinese pros like applying force with the middle finger as well for forehand stability), and the reason is simple: those 2 fingers are the ones gripping the racket head. If those 2 fingers aren't firm at moment of contact, you lose a lot of power/spin to the ball, and control. It's just like using a knife when cutting meat or when you're stir-frying food. When you hold further down, you have better control. I can't even imagine not using the first 2 fingers as the primary fingers. All the Chinese players will tell you that for shake hand, the first 2 fingers are most important. 

if i remember correctly, Ma Long actually mentions index and thumb in one of his "instructional" videos. 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote mickd Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02/01/2017 at 4:00am
Thanks everyone.

This actually isn't for me, but I am interested in what people think the pros and cons of each are. I've been using the ring and pinky fingers for my grip for the longest time, but I decided to change that to the thumb and index finger grip awhile back. It's a work in progress, and I should be able to have it fully changed over in a couple of months.

I'm asking because what I noticed is that if I don't teach the grip that way by specifically mentioning it, my students seem to default to using their ring and pinky fingers. But I'm planning to teach it the other way starting with the new students coming in April.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Baal Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02/01/2017 at 10:41am
Originally posted by MLfan MLfan wrote:

Grip is mainly with the first 2 fingers (although some chinese pros like applying force with the middle finger as well for forehand stability), and the reason is simple: those 2 fingers are the ones gripping the racket head. If those 2 fingers aren't firm at moment of contact, you lose a lot of power/spin to the ball, and control. It's just like using a knife when cutting meat or when you're stir-frying food. When you hold further down, you have better control. I can't even imagine not using the first 2 fingers as the primary fingers. All the Chinese players will tell you that for shake hand, the first 2 fingers are most important. 

if i remember correctly, Ma Long actually mentions index and thumb in one of his "instructional" videos. 


For sure this is true.  I like the knife analogy.  Thumbs Up 

Anoth way to think about this is that the main pressure points have to be higher rather than lower if you think of the blade + hand as a lever moving around a pivot point or fulcrum.  You get finer control if your moving points are pivoting around a point closer to the striking surface.

But even with that, there are a lot of permutations and different ways you see among top players, mainly about where the thumb and forefinger should be on the racket.  Where on the blade?  How tight?  How high up or down the handle?  Forehand dominant, neutral or even slightly towards the BH side (KLH)?  How much of a switch should you attempt to make from FH to BH (see Ovtcharov for extreme example).  Where should your thumb be on a BH (see Kreanga)?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote NextLevel Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02/01/2017 at 11:15am
The way a coach described it (Richard McAfee) was that you should always feel like you are holding the blade/head, not the handle.  As long as you maintain that caveat with control over the center of gravity of the blade, lots of possibilities abound depending on the stroke you are trying to hit, and the pressure is not always in the first two fingers.

In any case, this is something that many people figure out over time, no matter what route they take to get there.  Starting with thumb and index finger as the pressure points is as good as any, as even using the lower two fingers is still going to require you to apply some pressure with the index finger and or thumb (for me, the latter approximates what I realistically do closer) and is why I think the instruction is put more pressure in the thumb and index finger is more a learning tool than an actual claim that this is where the bulk of the control exists.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote BMonkey Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02/01/2017 at 12:34pm
Originally posted by NextLevel NextLevel wrote:

The way a coach described it (Richard McAfee) was that you should always feel like you are holding the blade/head, not the handle.  As long as you maintain that caveat with control over the center of gravity of the blade, lots of possibilities abound depending on the stroke you are trying to hit, and the pressure is not always in the first two fingers.

In any case, this is something that many people figure out over time, no matter what route they take to get there.  Starting with thumb and index finger as the pressure points is as good as any, as even using the lower two fingers is still going to require you to apply some pressure with the index finger and or thumb (for me, the latter approximates what I realistically do closer) and is why I think the instruction is put more pressure in the thumb and index finger is more a learning tool than an actual claim that this is where the bulk of the control exists.
I think an argument could be made that some actual merit is there.

Your fingertips are the most touch sensitive parts of the body. Vibrations in the blade are going to be strongest closest to the point of contact with the ball. Optimizing the contact of those fingertips closest to the contact point should maximize the information you're receiving about the ball aka give the most "feeling".
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Baal Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02/01/2017 at 12:44pm
For sure.  The index finger also has the finest motor control.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Baal Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02/01/2017 at 12:50pm
Since I was a kid, I have used this grip.  Lots of coaches have tried to change it.  Each time it messes me up.  This is how I know that experimenting with your grip can mess with your head. I am closer to Fang Bo, but I am not holding it like a hammer.  My index finger is in firm contact with the wing, so I feel just fine.  Actually on the FH side Fang Bo moves his forehand into a more orthodox position.  For me it depends on the shot but mostly it stays around the wing.




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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote NextLevel Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02/01/2017 at 12:56pm
Originally posted by BMonkey BMonkey wrote:

Originally posted by NextLevel NextLevel wrote:

The way a coach described it (Richard McAfee) was that you should always feel like you are holding the blade/head, not the handle.  As long as you maintain that caveat with control over the center of gravity of the blade, lots of possibilities abound depending on the stroke you are trying to hit, and the pressure is not always in the first two fingers.

In any case, this is something that many people figure out over time, no matter what route they take to get there.  Starting with thumb and index finger as the pressure points is as good as any, as even using the lower two fingers is still going to require you to apply some pressure with the index finger and or thumb (for me, the latter approximates what I realistically do closer) and is why I think the instruction is put more pressure in the thumb and index finger is more a learning tool than an actual claim that this is where the bulk of the control exists.
I think an argument could be made that some actual merit is there.

Your fingertips are the most touch sensitive parts of the body. Vibrations in the blade are going to be strongest closest to the point of contact with the ball. Optimizing the contact of those fingertips closest to the contact point should maximize the information you're receiving about the ball aka give the most "feeling".

There are high level players who sometimes barely put their fingers on the blade face (just look at the Seemiller or Persson/Bengsston grips).  Just like being in a room with a loud music doesn't mean you will be able to discern the lyrics better by being in the room vs being in the next room (handle/wing/thumb rest), it's not a given that proximity to the contact point maximizes information.  Depends on the individual.


Edited by NextLevel - 02/01/2017 at 12:57pm
I like putting heavy topspin on the ball...
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote BMonkey Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02/01/2017 at 3:32pm
Originally posted by NextLevel NextLevel wrote:

Originally posted by BMonkey BMonkey wrote:

Originally posted by NextLevel NextLevel wrote:

The way a coach described it (Richard McAfee) was that you should always feel like you are holding the blade/head, not the handle.  As long as you maintain that caveat with control over the center of gravity of the blade, lots of possibilities abound depending on the stroke you are trying to hit, and the pressure is not always in the first two fingers.

In any case, this is something that many people figure out over time, no matter what route they take to get there.  Starting with thumb and index finger as the pressure points is as good as any, as even using the lower two fingers is still going to require you to apply some pressure with the index finger and or thumb (for me, the latter approximates what I realistically do closer) and is why I think the instruction is put more pressure in the thumb and index finger is more a learning tool than an actual claim that this is where the bulk of the control exists.
I think an argument could be made that some actual merit is there.

Your fingertips are the most touch sensitive parts of the body. Vibrations in the blade are going to be strongest closest to the point of contact with the ball. Optimizing the contact of those fingertips closest to the contact point should maximize the information you're receiving about the ball aka give the most "feeling".

There are high level players who sometimes barely put their fingers on the blade face (just look at the Seemiller or Persson/Bengsston grips).  Just like being in a room with a loud music doesn't mean you will be able to discern the lyrics better by being in the room vs being in the next room (handle/wing/thumb rest), it's not a given that proximity to the contact point maximizes information.  Depends on the individual.
I think you are talking about the big picture and I am talking about just one sub-component of it. "Information" in the way I was thinking, was just at the neurophysiological level; stimulus at the skin surface, piped as input to the brain via the nervous system. How the brain chooses to interpret that information is as you said, dependent on the individual.

Edited by BMonkey - 02/01/2017 at 4:42pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote king_pong Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 03/19/2017 at 2:14pm
I tend to resonate with what Nextlevel said. I play with a very, very elastic set-up, and I've begun to notice over the years that my grip changes depending on many factors -- my distance from the table, opponents relation to the table, ball-height, incoming spin, etc. -- depending on what I'm trying to do to the ball in that particular moment, my grip pressure may change (blade angle controlled more so w/the wrist). So I'm trying to make the blade play a particular way based on the present conditions within the point. Whether I'm trying to achieve a faster flex when I'm at the table, or longer dwell with more flex away while I'm away from the table, I notice that the pressure of the fingers changes. softer shot, harde It's not something that I've consciously worked on, just something I've become aware of after hours and hours of practice, play and rallying. (this all coming from a guy playing with outdated allround equipment, so take it with a grain of salt, if you play with the newest, stiffest set-up available ).

I don't usually experiment trying out rigid/stiff blades. It would be interesting to see if grip pressure affects different blades in different ways (e.g. Stiffer blade = less the hand dictates the way the blade plays).

Just some thoughts.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Baal Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 03/19/2017 at 7:22pm
Originally posted by BMonkey BMonkey wrote:

Originally posted by NextLevel NextLevel wrote:

The way a coach described it (Richard McAfee) was that you should always feel like you are holding the blade/head, not the handle.  As long as you maintain that caveat with control over the center of gravity of the blade, lots of possibilities abound depending on the stroke you are trying to hit, and the pressure is not always in the first two fingers.

In any case, this is something that many people figure out over time, no matter what route they take to get there.  Starting with thumb and index finger as the pressure points is as good as any, as even using the lower two fingers is still going to require you to apply some pressure with the index finger and or thumb (for me, the latter approximates what I realistically do closer) and is why I think the instruction is put more pressure in the thumb and index finger is more a learning tool than an actual claim that this is where the bulk of the control exists.
I think an argument could be made that some actual merit is there.

Your fingertips are the most touch sensitive parts of the body. Vibrations in the blade are going to be strongest closest to the point of contact with the ball. Optimizing the contact of those fingertips closest to the contact point should maximize the information you're receiving about the ball aka give the most "feeling".


One thing to keep in mind is tbat if there is too much pressure on the finger the phasic cutaneous mechanoreceptors wont respond well.  So there is an optimim grip tightness. And you need to be able to use your wrist properly. Grip is a very important thing. 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote CoachMcAfee Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 03/19/2017 at 8:32pm
Hello, the lack of pressure between the forefinger and the thumb is often the reason the ball seems to "jump" off the racket with a resulting loss of control.  Coaches see this all the time with beginners.  You can do a simple experiment to see how important this pressure is.  Try to make some short spin serves with little pressure between the thumb and forefinger when contacting the ball.  Now try to make the same serves and when contacting the ball apply some pressure with the same two fingers.  I think you will quickly see the difference in the amount of spin produced and the overall control you have over the serve's placement.  

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote WIELDER Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 03/21/2017 at 12:18am
I've been playing table tennis for 40 years and recently I found out that I've been playing the wrong way all my life.
Down to the very basic of playing... THE GRIP... 

Originally posted by mickd mickd wrote:

There seems to be 2 different ways to hold the racket.

1. Using your thumb and index finger to hold the racket, and the other three fingers are mainly just for support.
2. Using your ring and pinky fingers to hold the racket, while the rest provide stability only (though still applying pressure on your index at point of contact).

What are the advantages and disadvantages of the two? Is one incorrect? Is one favoured in the modern game? Any explanations?

I used to hold the racket like 'number 2' - the hammer hold. 
As a FH dominant close to table attacker I love to hammer down the ball hard.
This grip style uses a group of muscle which contracting common flexor tendons on the upper arm. With extensive intense practice this can lead to 'golfer's elbow'(medial epicondylitis)!
Oh, man... I couldn't play for months last year due to this painful injury.

Try clenching the 3 fingers hard (leaving index and thumb open)... you can feel you arm muscles become hard and stiff. In a way this is a waste of energy. Those ring and little fingers are weak fingers, thus you need more muscle effort to use them... when the muscles get tired, your playing becomes inconsistent. 



Now let's compare to 'number 1' - the pinch hold.
It's like you hold a key, or like you hold a drum stick... a drummer beats the snare drum fast and precise using these muscle group.
Let the power comes from your body swing; and allow the fingers handle the precision.

I also found that it is better not to hold the racket snugly at the base of thumb and index finger. Let it loose a bit around that curve.  Let the knuckle of the index finger rest on the wooden area and not on the rubber. That way you can feel the feedback better. Your thumb should rest at the handle base where it is the most sensitive to feel.
Focus on the neck area... That's where you get most feedback and doing minor adjustments in movements.
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