Spin Is the Answer. What’s the Question?

Spin – verb turn or cause to turn or whirl around quickly

It would be interesting to count how many times a table tennis coach says the word spin in an average day. We would also include terms like anti spin, Killerspin, topspin, underspin, backspin, sidespin, no spin, Megaspin, Spintech, heavy spin, light spin, light topspin, etc. I think you get the point. The reason even experienced players sometimes don’t fully appreciate the significance of spin, is because the idea of anything rotating over one hundred times a second is more than our brains can process. How different would a ball with ninety revolutions look from one with one hundred?

Most of the players that I coach, once they get beyond the beginning stages of training, find that their mistakes are not from misreading the spin. They tend to recognize the spin, and might even be able to describe what the proper stroke should be. The issue is that their body is not on board with this new approach for contacting ping pong balls. Self taught players often feel that their racket has to move forward on every shot. This seems to work against them on slow loops and some blocks. It takes some understanding of spin to realize that every ball, even seemingly identical shots, are all subtly different.

I’ve found myself constantly preaching, “If in doubt, spin it.” Sometimes I just go with, “Spin all of them.” “Respect the spin” has become a favorite. To a relatively new player it seems that they should never miss a high ball, and when they hit it off the table, they usually feel like they missed an easy shot. Only seeing it as a high ball, and failing to account for the spin, usually explains these “easy shots” gone wrong. Learning to play against spin, or creating, or countering spin does take time. The real key seems to be watching the rotation on every single ball that you play. Even when a player doesn’t know what they are looking for, it is still essential for them to observe the rotation on their opponents shots, if only to get in the habit of doing so.

Eventually loopers begin to realize how much spin helps control their shots, and is a weapon that may or may not include speed. Choppers can feel when they’ve added just the right amount of backspin to keep their opponents off balance. Even a ball that is purposely hit with very little or no spin can be effective. It is not always how much spin, but how spin is used. A well looped or chopped forty mm ball can rotate over one hundred times a second. The secret to playing well is knowing how to deal with this fact, and not underestimating it’s importance. The answer is spin. Next question.

One Reply to “Spin Is the Answer. What’s the Question?”

  1. I am interested in taking coaching lessons .I am 77yrs old. i am playing here in club for 10yrs .what type of coaching available .
    thanks .

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