A Time to Chop

It’s a little tougher to succeed as a chopper in 2018. The 40 plus ball doesn’t spin as much. The best players are gravitating towards fast attacks, and are staying close to the table. I don’t think this means that chopping is going away completely. It may mean that good defensive choppers will be harder to find. At a recent Atlanta tournament there was one, out of the over one hundred players. It’s worth noting that his matches were by far the most interesting, and that he had learned to play decades ago, when chopping was more common.
There are some things we can learn from this dying breed of player. Even if you primarily play a topspin game, there might be a place for some good underspin shots in your game. I’m not referring to over the table backhand and forehand pushes. All players need to be competent pushers. Being able to push well is essential for serve returns, and playing against heavy backspin. If you ever try to play out some points trying to impersonate your favorite defensive chopper, you will quickly realize how difficult this can be. It will help if your in good physical condition. Eventually you might be able to execute some quality chops, but the real challenge is being in the right position to make those shots. 
Like any other shot, good positioning and footwork enable you to be in the best position for each stroke. Players tend to learn and recognize patterns that they use in matches and train for. The patterns and skills for playing back from the table as a chopper are quite different than the skills that topspin players are used to. The key to knowing how chopping might fit into a topspin players game can be seen by observing modern defenders. The modern defender chops and attacks. This style always has two options. It is far easier to stay in the point if chopping and looping are both viable possibilities.
A true modern defender might be chopping fifty percent of their shots. An offensive player might never feel the need to chop, but there could be some reasons to practice it anyway. There are some times when you are in a better position to chop than loop. A strong chop from off the table could keep you in the point, or surprise an opponent enough that they end up making a mistake. Practicing chopping is fun and challenging. Being proficient at chopping builds confidence, and helps you understand how to play against defensive players. It is possible to chop with an offensive paddle. It might not work well for a true chopper, but is adequate for the occasional chop, or practicing far from the table. Chopping is becoming a lost art. Players are seeing it less often. That’s another reason to learn when, it’s time to chop.   

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