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    Posted: 10/27/2020 at 9:11pm
... is a super skilled blocker?
Yes, I play against a player who blocks everything. He is a traditional J-Penholder and uses a tactic to block topspins from side to side, always looking for an opportunity to kill with forehand.
Should I try to kill before or continue to topspin until he misses (but this is where he plays his best)?
When I try to kill, or play more aggressively, my errors increase a lot. And third ball attacks also do not work because he is a master when receiving serves.
The only "advantage" I have, if I can say this, is the fact he is not an aggressive attacker like most penholders. His game is basically block everything and attack only he has an big chance.

How would you play against a player like this?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote vik2000 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10/27/2020 at 9:26pm
slow spinny loop
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote Chairman Meow Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10/27/2020 at 9:29pm
Since he's a Jpen player, you could try slowing down your loops and increasing topspin to his far backhand side. It's hard to block those sorts of shots well, especially as a penholder. There's a good chance that you could get him to give back a few weaker returns, which would allow you to open up and hit to opposite sides of the table or just kill it past him. Changing the pace by hitting some faster and some slower is also useful, because your opponent will have to change his timing and pay a bit more attention.

Basically if you can't get it past him without making lots of errors, keep it on the table make it harder for him to keep his returns low/well placed.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote blahness Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10/27/2020 at 9:46pm
Originally posted by TT newbie TT newbie wrote:

... is a super skilled blocker?
Yes, I play against a player who blocks everything. He is a traditional J-Penholder and uses a tactic to block topspins from side to side, always looking for an opportunity to kill with forehand.
Should I try to kill before or continue to topspin until he misses (but this is where he plays his best)?
When I try to kill, or play more aggressively, my errors increase a lot. And third ball attacks also do not work because he is a master when receiving serves.
The only "advantage" I have, if I can say this, is the fact he is not an aggressive attacker like most penholders. His game is basically block everything and attack only he has an big chance.

How would you play against a player like this?

increase your spin and lower your trajectory, loop deeper. Also a lot of penholders have very good defence on the BH but are quite poor on the deep FH, so aim more attacks towards the FH side. Sometimes it's easier to extract errors from the opponent rather than trying to loop the ball past them.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote blahness Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10/27/2020 at 9:49pm
Originally posted by Chairman Meow Chairman Meow wrote:

Since he's a Jpen player, you could try slowing down your loops and increasing topspin to his far backhand side. It's hard to block those sorts of shots well, especially as a penholder. There's a good chance that you could get him to give back a few weaker returns, which would allow you to open up and hit to opposite sides of the table or just kill it past him. Changing the pace by hitting some faster and some slower is also useful, because your opponent will have to change his timing and pay a bit more attention.

Basically if you can't get it past him without making lots of errors, keep it on the table make it harder for him to keep his returns low/well placed.

I found that they hate deep high arcing loops to the BH with huge amounts of spin because of how hard it is to angle the bat downwards, but these can be dismantled if the guy knows how to pivot and use his FH loopkill against them....
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (2) Thanks(2)   Quote mjamja Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10/28/2020 at 12:57am
Agree with above.   Hit deep is easy to say but hard to do if you have not practiced it.  Something that goes with this, but may not be obvious, is not trying for wide angles.  Because these players block close to the bounce, the ball never really gets wide on them.  And since wide angled shots have to land closer to the net the blocker gets the benefit of a short ball without the penalty of having to move wide like a looper would.  Confine your angles to the corners until they are out of position or you get an easy ball you know you can get past them.

You can not really block a push so take them out of their comfort zone by serving underspin and exchanging a few pushes with them.  I have noticed that many lower level pen hold player (C or J) push short underspin back extremely well but are not nearly so good pushing back deep underspin.  So serve and open can be hard, but serve,push, open can be easy.  Of course better blockers have faced this tactic and some developed really good pushes so you just need to test your opponent on this tactic.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote smackman Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10/29/2020 at 12:10am
keep a medium pace attack and train for hours
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote bes Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10/29/2020 at 10:50am
How you play against good steady blockers is a very interesting question.  I battled a couple of them and learned a lot in the process.  I lost way more than I won at first, but eventually learned to win, then win fairly comfortably.  Note that, irrespective of tactics, in most cases the relative playing level/quality of the blocker and non-blocker will determine the outcome.  Like with long-pippers most players disregard or underestimate the skill and difficulty required to be a good blocker.  I see many players lose badly to blockers over and over, yet still insist they "should have won" or that the other player "always gets lucky".  This mindset is poison - unless you respect and recognize the skill of your oppoonent, it is unlikely that you will learn to beat them any time soon.

There has been a lot of good advice given, and there are certainly general tactics that will help.  Unfortunately, trying to play in a way that is uncomfortable, and not something you train to do is unlikely to succeed even against similarly skilled players.

The best advice I ever got for playing blockers - especially relatively passive ones (block pace and placement not too nasty, and only occasional FH smashes) - is to be very patient and get ready to play a LOT of balls.  I know this is unspecific, but it is an excellent "starting mindset".  If you are patient and persistent, you will have a chance to find something - could be a shot from a certain area on a certain ball, or a combination of shots that give your oppoonent trouble - that can tip the odds in your favor.

Things that will make the blockers life tougher in almost all cases:
1) Keep the ball deep - or at least "deeper" if you don't specifically train to hit deep.  (Note that you should train to hit the ball deeper - put that on your list!).  Deeper balls have several benefits, but three seem to help most. 
  • Minimize the available angles for the blocker.  Depending on their placement skills and your footwork, this can be fairly important or absolutely critical.
  • More time! Deeper balls give you a bit more time to get ready and watch your opponent and his blade.  This makes you "less rushed" and hopefully gets you surprised less.
  • Longer blocks.  If you are a looper, deeper balls will be blocked "comfortably long" more often, which will give you more chances to open with comfortable loops.
2) Vary your spin and speed often and, if you can, be sneaky about it.  Variation makes it tougher for the blocker by making them focus on what YOU are doing rather than entirely on what THEY want to do to you.  The better the blocker, the tougher it is to trick them.  Really strong ones read what you do with a tiny percentage of their focus, so have plenty left to be mean.  These guys are really good and really, really difficult to play.  But blockers near your level SHOULD be affected by extra variation.  Note that variation is spin, speed, and placement.  Blockers, like everyone else, are individuals.  Not all of them are good at the same facets of blocking.  Make sure you test them, and do it more than once.  They may have a weakness that only pops up, for example, 35% of the time.  They may handle certain shots comfortably a couple times, then miss the next one badly (like everyone else!).  Watch how they move (if they do!) and pay attention to their racket preparations/ready position.  If they have good touch, but don't move well, try to make them move and see how that goes,  If they move well, see if you can move them out of position and look to go the other way.

3) For traditional penholders (no RPB) make sure you test their forehand!  Some of them will obliterate weak balls to their FH, but will be far less comfortable when dealing with decent quality balls.  Some will handle the BH-FH transition really well, but some will struggle against balls to certain locations.  Some handle wide balls comfortably, while others reach.  Some deal with elbow/transition zone balls great, but some get caught.  The only way to sort this out is to play balls to different spots and vary the location.  Going to their wide forehand may open up their BH corner (or it could expose your wide forehand!).  Attacking their transition zone is always worth a try.  Sometimes it is best to go to their BH then transition, but frequently it is better to go wide FH then transition zone.  See how they react.  If you get them off balance, hit the transition zone a second or third time next time.  Treat this as a "fun challenge" rather than "annoying" or "life and death".  Even if you lose this time, you should come out smarter and with some ideas for next time.

4) You can TRY to overpower them, but don't be a fool about it.  If your strongest "somewhat consistent" loops are blocked back comfortably, it might be best to use them sparingly.  Good blockers like to have spin and speed to work with - against you.  If it turns out you CAN overpower them (with reasonably consistent shots), you should win.  I react differently as a coach when I see students doing this.  It also depends on whether it is in a tournament, league, or just a fun match.  
  • During league or normal matches, with younger players I will do minimal correction.  If a fast improving youth loses 11-7 (or so) when trying to power through a blocker, I usually let them keep at it. They will usually improve soon and won't lose for long.  The NEED to get used to keeping up the attack when good shots come back, so this is good training. I will usually suggest they keep the ball deeper and pay attention to their placement - but I don't generally tell them to play slower.  I do (rather frequently - see below) have to tell them not to try to play faster than they can, i.e. don't miss too frequently.)
  • When the same situation happens to an adult student, I usually advise them to change their strategy.  Some adults can be treated like the youths above, but most can't.  These players - even pretty good ones - have a "more established" arsenal of shots and a fairly clear "comfort zone".  They aren't likely to learn to handle quick, well placed blocks off their "best" loops - at least not for quite a while.  Examples of what often happens:
    • They are often caught "posing" in their finish position rather than ready and balanced.  (This was a specialty of mine!) This results in either clean misses on the next shot or poor quality "reaction" shots.
    • They often struggle with the footwork and balance required to maintain the attack.  Some good adults can do this, but even they often run out of gas. (I was good at running out of gas too!)
    • When their 80% to 85% shots come back, they often start hitting 90% (and missing more), then 95% (missing even more!), 100% (mising a lot!), then ~120% (essentially missing everything!)  (NOTE that kids will do this as well and this must be discussed and corrected)
  • During tournaments, it really depends on the player and their skill set - regardless (mostly) of age.  If they have a varied arsenal, I will often try to get them to try some different things.  If they don't, I treat it as a "run what ya brung" situation - and let them play their game.  I will try to keep them positive and as patient as possible, but trying to learn new skills under tournament pressure is tough.  If they lose, but learn (the hard way) some things they need to work on, it is still a useful if not positive experience.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote blahness Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10/30/2020 at 8:42am
Yes bes is right, it depends on relative skill.  Against lower skilled players, it doesn't matter how consistent they are at their loop, they're never gonna get it past me. And I will comfortably counterloop whenever they run out of gas and I'll kill it past them easily. Against higher skilled loopers, just blocking one loop is so difficult because it's so fast and spinny and accelerates so much. It's all about spin and power levels.  

Just for eg against weaker players, they won't even be able to loop my pushes or serves because they're going to be so heavy that they don't have the strength to overpower the spin on the ball. Same goes when I go against higher skilled players, the spin levels are just so much higher that I struggle to even make an opening loop. 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Valiantsin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10/31/2020 at 11:54pm
before I learned standard game via bh, bh + fh from bh side, had some tactics - just added much more sidespin on loops -as a rule blockers try to make the ball more straight and it requires making the ball slower. It gives a good chance to attack.
After you learn standards, you just not have troubles against  blockers.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote blahness Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11/01/2020 at 3:15am
Originally posted by Valiantsin Valiantsin wrote:

before I learned standard game via bh, bh + fh from bh side, had some tactics - just added much more sidespin on loops -as a rule blockers try to make the ball more straight and it requires making the ball slower. It gives a good chance to attack.
After you learn standards, you just not have troubles against  blockers.

Tell that to players who still lose to guys like Richard Dewitt despite having solid looping strokes on both wings.... It's like saying oh you shouldn't have problems vs choppers or vs long pips blockers if you have good technique. There's plenty of unique styles out there. Heck there are even some ppl who fish and lob ppl down just by sheer consistency and spin variation. 

Blocking is a very valid way to approach the game of TT, especially when it's accompanied by an effective FH topspin. 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TT newbie Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11/01/2020 at 7:12pm
First, I want to thank you for the tips here, instead of just clicking thanks button.
There are valuable advices and I will comment some.

Originally posted by bes bes wrote:

Note that, irrespective of tactics, in most cases the relative playing level/quality of the blocker and non-blocker will determine the outcome.
For sure. But in my case my opponent has similar level. He is much younger and faster than me while I am more experienced and more powerful. Today I managed to beat him, making very few unforced errors. I didn´t used any of the tactics given here, just played with high consistency.

Quote The best advice I ever got for playing blockers - especially relatively passive ones (block pace and placement not too nasty, and only occasional FH smashes) - is to be very patient and get ready to play a LOT of balls.
That´s what I did today, I played looking to put the ball on the table. And without rushing things. I took some time to serve, to get ready for receive and even to pick the ball on the floor. But usually my opponent is more patient then me, and he definitely was in a bad day.

Quote Things that will make the blockers life tougher in almost all cases:
1) Keep the ball deep
This is something I need to train. My style of looping was always safety with balls landing in the middle of table.

Quote More time! Deeper balls give you a bit more time to get ready and watch your opponent and his blade.
Since I´m not trained to do this, the way I use to get more time to recover is looping high with lots of topspin. But there always the danger of him pivoting and hitting a winner with FH.

Quote Make sure you test them, and do it more than once.  They may have a weakness that only pops up, for example, 35% of the time.
One of the few weakness my opponent has is anticipating his move to block over the table. So, when I have a FH shot sometimes I try to feint him, making the take back of a diagonal shot but directing the ball parallel. But this does not work all the time.

Quote For traditional penholders (no RPB) make sure you test their forehand!  Some of them will obliterate weak balls to their FH, but will be far less comfortable when dealing with decent quality balls.  Some will handle the BH-FH transition really well, but some will struggle against balls to certain locations.  Some handle wide balls comfortably, while others reach.
This does not work against this guy. As I said, he is very fast (skinny type). He can reach almost every shot and return with quality. Only when he is unbalanced with feints balls return easy for me.

Quote You can TRY to overpower them, but don't be a fool about it.  If your strongest "somewhat consistent" loops are blocked back comfortably, it might be best to use them sparingly.  Good blockers like to have spin and speed to work with - against you.
  
Exactly. The faster I play, the easier he blocks. Then I have less time to react.

Quote They are often caught "posing" in their finish position rather than ready and balanced.  (This was a specialty of mine!) This results in either clean misses on the next shot or poor quality "reaction" shots.
This is funny. LOL



Edited by TT newbie - 11/01/2020 at 7:13pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Valiantsin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11/01/2020 at 11:35pm
Originally posted by blahness blahness wrote:

Originally posted by Valiantsin Valiantsin wrote:

before I learned standard game via bh, bh + fh from bh side, had some tactics - just added much more sidespin on loops -as a rule blockers try to make the ball more straight and it requires making the ball slower. It gives a good chance to attack.
After you learn standards, you just not have troubles against  blockers.

Tell that to players who still lose to guys like Richard Dewitt despite having solid looping strokes on both wings.... It's like saying oh you shouldn't have problems vs choppers or vs long pips blockers if you have good technique. There's plenty of unique styles out there. Heck there are even some ppl who fish and lob ppl down just by sheer consistency and spin variation. 

Blocking is a very valid way to approach the game of TT, especially when it's accompanied by an effective FH topspin. 
There are standards, and if you are trained enough - blocking only does not work. 
Even Vladi attacks from bh and fh though he has the best touch/block in the world right now.
So if standards do not work, you either not trained enough, or ... Nothing)))

If you are inventing something against blocking in the game and this is not trained then you are either Waldner, or you loose or your opponent does not want to win.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote obesechopper Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11/02/2020 at 12:09am
He zhi wen... block and smash!

The level at which blocking + a decent fh attack fails to work is so high... not even worth worrying about for us!

I've seen plenty of old school pip players doing nothing but block, push and smash. Not a loop in sight!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote blahness Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11/02/2020 at 2:19am
Originally posted by obesechopper obesechopper wrote:

He zhi wen... block and smash!

The level at which blocking + a decent fh attack fails to work is so high... not even worth worrying about for us!

I've seen plenty of old school pip players doing nothing but block, push and smash. Not a loop in sight!

Yeah I think Valiantsin hasn't really played many very high level pips players, many of whom don't loop. Most Jpen players don't loop on the BH and they do quite fine too. 

It's only at the super high levels (world top 20) that you really see dominance of the two wing looping style.

There's also a lot of variety of blocks you can use to really jam attackers. There's the plain Jane block which I don't use much tbh, there's the active block which adds topspin to the block, reduced energy block which sucks out the spin and speed from the loop, sidespin block (my fav) which kicks sideways (both the hook and fade sidespin), chopblock (best used against slower loops or blocks). 

It's no guarantee that a looper (even a well trained one) will win the point against a competent blocker. 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Valiantsin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11/02/2020 at 9:48am
Originally posted by blahness blahness wrote:

Originally posted by obesechopper obesechopper wrote:

He zhi wen... block and smash!

The level at which blocking + a decent fh attack fails to work is so high... not even worth worrying about for us!

I've seen plenty of old school pip players doing nothing but block, push and smash. Not a loop in sight!

Yeah I think Valiantsin hasn't really played many very high level pips players, many of whom don't loop. Most Jpen players don't loop on the BH and they do quite fine too. 

It's only at the super high levels (world top 20) that you really see dominance of the two wing looping style.

There's also a lot of variety of blocks you can use to really jam attackers. There's the plain Jane block which I don't use much tbh, there's the active block which adds topspin to the block, reduced energy block which sucks out the spin and speed from the loop, sidespin block (my fav) which kicks sideways (both the hook and fade sidespin), chopblock (best used against slower loops or blocks). 

It's no guarantee that a looper (even a well trained one) will win the point against a competent blocker. 
Mb ))


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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote ghostzen Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11/02/2020 at 12:57pm
Depending on level of course and your opponents. 

I would try and go wide forehand or backhand early on in the rally. Try and keep it out of the hitting zone if you can. Either with spin or pace as a start.. keeps them busy and vary things so there isn't too much of a set pattern. In boxing terms it's better for you to hold the ring and make them move if you can.

Try and not get pushed back too far off the table as being too far pack gives the blocker time. 

Try to win the point but not at the cost of keeping the ball on the table with lots of giveaway cheap points.

Focus is another thing to be wary of. Keep it. It's like breaking down a wall. There are weak points that you need to find and try to exploit.

A good blocker will also vary things so be prepared to get on your bike and work hard with lots of balls coming back.

Don't panic.

When you get the chance and you will. make it pay. once you work out their patterns out and most blockers have patterns and the odd trick block there's no surprises unless they are better than you of course.

It's hard work but also a good challenge Smile






Edited by ghostzen - 11/02/2020 at 4:02pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote stiltt Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11/02/2020 at 5:06pm
Before all, be proud to have a guy like that to play with, they are the best to train yourself so you can impose your pace, whether you win or not.

In addition to the variations of spin, I would insist on deep and short: slow spinny loops will have a tendency to fall in the middle of the table while a drive carrying less spin will generally land further down for example (of course you can have a topspin loaded deep ball too...). Do that at slow pace because the value is in keeping the ball on the table, you want him at ease and you want him to enjoy too. 

Left, right, short, deep! 


Edited by stiltt - 11/02/2020 at 5:36pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote blahness Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11/02/2020 at 7:11pm
One thing I noticed is that many loopers like to take the ball late, it gives the blocker way too much time to read the stroke and prepare for the block. 

Agree with ghostzen that you need to be in the driver's seat in terms of moving your opponent, which means staying closer to the table. If you can't, that means your topspin strokes are way too big and complicated. Your strokes should be as simplified as possible without compromising on shot quality (you can test it yourself without the table, how many strokes would you be able to get in in say 5 seconds), and another thing is the BH-FH transition, if you take too long to switch between FH and BH postures you might want to rethink your stroke structure. 

The other thing to consider is to follow up a loop with a weird shot. One of my favourite combinations is a powerloop, and then chopblock the blocked ball, a lot of blockers go wtf when they see that and just dump it in the net or pop it up for an easy put away. 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote obesechopper Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11/02/2020 at 8:45pm
Also depends on your style. Maybe you dont have quick attack smack smack skills... so you play the patience game until an opportunity for a big hit arises. Then you do some suicide stroke, winning or losing the point there. Position them out wide and go for a body kill or do body setup with wide angle kill etc. Trying to out rally a blocker may not bode well for many either... 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote ghostzen Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11/03/2020 at 3:33am
Good point. Its horses for courses. A smash /smack can be a great weapon. A flat hard ball can cause blockers a nightmare. Consistency is key agreed mind. I can be a point winner in itself. 
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