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Inconsistent grip and its mental tolls

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FinalFight View Drop Down
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    Posted: 11/15/2019 at 1:29pm
Like a lot of folks here, I started mostly playing the game as an adult and have been self-taught with the exception of a few lessons here and there. Lately I've been playing pretty well at times and have match wins against some of the best in the area up to 2100. On really confident days there are times when I won't lose to anyone below 1900 or so.

However, a dilemma I've often faced is an inconsistent grip. I never really had a solid foundation on how to hold the paddle and so it's one of those things that I just kind of 'end up' with and tend to remember through muscle memory for a time when one is working well. But then I can tend to overthink to the point that it ruins my game at times and I'll revert back to another grip or change it to something new. For example, with certain people or styles I'll sometimes revert back to a familiar grip that I remember was successful with the person or playing style in the past. It's often successful for that scenario until I play someone else. And then I end up stuck with that grip and mentally 'forget' how I normally hold the paddle and the stability/consistency of the shots rapidly declines. Some players have said something to degree of 'you never seem to play the same style' and I kind of agree - sometimes I'll play a loop game, other days I'll be a pure chopper, sometimes I'll mostly only lob/fish and other days I'll do the oldschool hitting/driving game.

And sometimes it's something that I'll slightly fidget with to the point that my shots seem to change and just aren't consistent at all. For example, the other night I was up 2:0 against a player I normally beat and the thought of grip kind of randomly came to mind and then I ended up overhitting shots, missing blocks, or just getting clean contact with the sponge on contact and the ball would stop short of the net. I ended up losing three games in a row for the loss and the rest of the matches for the day were similar.

This happens every so often and I can go from days of beating 2000+ players to losing to players as low as like 1400-1500. And with the grip variations, each may have its own pros/cons. Recently I've been able to chop and push really well but not loop and other days I over-loop to compensate for a poor short game. When I feel confident with the grip, I can often challenge players in the 2000 range. But when I have concerns with the grip even the lower level players can pose a threat and/or win.

What do you guys do in these situations and how do you keep from reverting back to 'alternate' grips or rather maintain a sense of balance in your game in this regard?


Edited by FinalFight - 11/15/2019 at 2:11pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Baal Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11/15/2019 at 8:11pm
messing with your grip is the ninth circle of table tennis hell, and once you start it is hard to stop.  Try to find something neutral and comfortable and stick with it.  Easy advice to give and hard to follow but it is still the right advice.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote abdeen Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11/15/2019 at 9:46pm
Originally posted by Baal Baal wrote:

messing with your grip is the ninth circle of table tennis hell, and once you start it is hard to stop.  Try to find something neutral and comfortable and stick with it.  Easy advice to give and hard to follow but it is still the right advice.

You mean find something "natural"

For a minute I thought the topic of this thread talked about "mental trolls"  LMAO just like the phrase I have heard "spin(e)less cowards".

Anyhayhoo I read something about grips at  http://4ctt.com/adv/bestgrip.htm

 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Baal Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11/15/2019 at 10:33pm
No.  I meant neutral.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote blahness Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11/16/2019 at 7:20am
Originally posted by FinalFight FinalFight wrote:

Like a lot of folks here, I started mostly playing the game as an adult and have been self-taught with the exception of a few lessons here and there. Lately I've been playing pretty well at times and have match wins against some of the best in the area up to 2100. On really confident days there are times when I won't lose to anyone below 1900 or so.

However, a dilemma I've often faced is an inconsistent grip. I never really had a solid foundation on how to hold the paddle and so it's one of those things that I just kind of 'end up' with and tend to remember through muscle memory for a time when one is working well. But then I can tend to overthink to the point that it ruins my game at times and I'll revert back to another grip or change it to something new. For example, with certain people or styles I'll sometimes revert back to a familiar grip that I remember was successful with the person or playing style in the past. It's often successful for that scenario until I play someone else. And then I end up stuck with that grip and mentally 'forget' how I normally hold the paddle and the stability/consistency of the shots rapidly declines. Some players have said something to degree of 'you never seem to play the same style' and I kind of agree - sometimes I'll play a loop game, other days I'll be a pure chopper, sometimes I'll mostly only lob/fish and other days I'll do the oldschool hitting/driving game.

And sometimes it's something that I'll slightly fidget with to the point that my shots seem to change and just aren't consistent at all. For example, the other night I was up 2:0 against a player I normally beat and the thought of grip kind of randomly came to mind and then I ended up overhitting shots, missing blocks, or just getting clean contact with the sponge on contact and the ball would stop short of the net. I ended up losing three games in a row for the loss and the rest of the matches for the day were similar.

This happens every so often and I can go from days of beating 2000+ players to losing to players as low as like 1400-1500. And with the grip variations, each may have its own pros/cons. Recently I've been able to chop and push really well but not loop and other days I over-loop to compensate for a poor short game. When I feel confident with the grip, I can often challenge players in the 2000 range. But when I have concerns with the grip even the lower level players can pose a threat and/or win.

What do you guys do in these situations and how do you keep from reverting back to 'alternate' grips or rather maintain a sense of balance in your game in this regard?

Don't..... just don't mess with your grip....I've been there before and it's definitely a bad place to be in...
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote ericd937 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11/16/2019 at 7:31am
I guess I'm around your same level. My official rating is 1815. I've been in Vietnam about 5 years, so I haven't had a chance to play a USATT tournament since I came here. I guess I'm around 2000 or 2100 on a good day if I'm playing regularly and can stay healthy/uninjured. On my worst day, even sick/injured, I'd still beat most 1600-1700 players. I also started as an adult and my first rating 6 years ago was 1064. lol. 

I've taken lessons from about 6 different coaches over the years. Every coach has trained me a little bit differently regarding technique and grip. Many coaches have told me stick with one grip and not to change my grip during play, but my most recent coach told me that sticking with one grip for every stroke is old fashioned. He says that in modern table tennis you need to adjust your grip depending upon your stroke. For instance, he told me to hold the paddle a little lower on the handle when I want to smash a high ball and try to finish a point. He also told me to move pointer finger up to the middle of the paddle when i want to flip a forehand down the line. A bunch of stuff like that for every stroke. It was all so strange to me at first, but it does actually make sense and its working. You just need to get with a good coach and work out what is best for you. Everyone's grip varies a little depending upon their paddle handle, body type, playing style, equipment, etc... I don't think anyone one on the forum could say do exactly a certain grip without watching you play and knowing a bunch of information about your game. 


Edited by ericd937 - 11/16/2019 at 7:35am
Current Setup: TBS FH T80/BH D80
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote FinalFight Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11/17/2019 at 11:53pm
Interesting perspectives. It's probably best to 'not think about,' but it's one of those nervous ticks that can tend to happen. For some reason it always seems to happen when I'm closing out a win and then people come back to win when it's on my mind. It actually happened again today as I was up big 2:0 and suddenly I started overhitting everything or hitting weird shots like blocking a normal topspin ball and my bat angle's completely off kilter to the point where the ball flies completely sideways into another playing court. I've noticed that keeping a loose grip is pretty key and is something I've read about for quite a while. Also, I think I tend to prefer a lower hanging grip since it's a lot easier for me to keep a consistent short game and backhand. But for some reason it's kind of taken the power away from my forehand. However, I'm generally OK with having great touch + a strong backhand at the expense of a forehand I can keep on the table without much put away power. Most of my best wins have been in matches with a lot of bh to bh rallies. However, when the grip woes are there almost all elements of the game disappear and it's a fight for survival to stay in the rally.

Edited by FinalFight - 11/18/2019 at 12:02am
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote ericd937 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11/18/2019 at 2:18am
You mentioned something about the lose grip, my most recent coach also told me something about that. You need to loosen and tighten your grip at certain times. In addition, he told me that most of the pressure should come from your thumb and pointer finger (depending on stroke), while the remaining three fingers should be semi relaxed. He actually spent a lot of time talking to me about grip. So, maybe it is worth thinking about. lol
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote BRS Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11/18/2019 at 2:25am
Originally posted by FinalFight FinalFight wrote:

Interesting perspectives. It's probably best to 'not think about,' but it's one of those nervous ticks that can tend to happen. For some reason it always seems to happen when I'm closing out a win and then people come back to win when it's on my mind. It actually happened again today as I was up big 2:0 and suddenly I started overhitting everything or hitting weird shots like blocking a normal topspin ball and my bat angle's completely off kilter to the point where the ball flies completely sideways into another playing court. I've noticed that keeping a loose grip is pretty key and is something I've read about for quite a while. Also, I think I tend to prefer a lower hanging grip since it's a lot easier for me to keep a consistent short game and backhand. But for some reason it's kind of taken the power away from my forehand. However, I'm generally OK with having great touch + a strong backhand at the expense of a forehand I can keep on the table without much put away power. Most of my best wins have been in matches with a lot of bh to bh rallies. However, when the grip woes are there almost all elements of the game disappear and it's a fight for survival to stay in the rally.

This is a mental problem not a grip problem.  You will not fix it with your hand.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote FinalFight Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11/18/2019 at 3:40am
Originally posted by BRS BRS wrote:

Originally posted by FinalFight FinalFight wrote:

Interesting perspectives. It's probably best to 'not think about,' but it's one of those nervous ticks that can tend to happen. For some reason it always seems to happen when I'm closing out a win and then people come back to win when it's on my mind. It actually happened again today as I was up big 2:0 and suddenly I started overhitting everything or hitting weird shots like blocking a normal topspin ball and my bat angle's completely off kilter to the point where the ball flies completely sideways into another playing court. I've noticed that keeping a loose grip is pretty key and is something I've read about for quite a while. Also, I think I tend to prefer a lower hanging grip since it's a lot easier for me to keep a consistent short game and backhand. But for some reason it's kind of taken the power away from my forehand. However, I'm generally OK with having great touch + a strong backhand at the expense of a forehand I can keep on the table without much put away power. Most of my best wins have been in matches with a lot of bh to bh rallies. However, when the grip woes are there almost all elements of the game disappear and it's a fight for survival to stay in the rally.

This is a mental problem not a grip problem.  You will not fix it with your hand.

Perhaps it's both. I've seen videos of me where my grip is wildly different match by match and I already know my grip tends to change a lot because as I mentioned I never had any foundation in that regard. Sometimes I've had periods of a low grip and others with my playing hand as high up the handle as I can get and various changes of the positioning of the fingers on the handle and/or rubber. And I've noticed my grip's always tended to move around when I play long pips players, perhaps to stabilize the constant pushing in between loops and to make sure I don't dump them into the net. My brain seems to be overloaded with too many variations on how to hold the paddle without a 'default' setting. Muscle memory kind of fades at times and then I slip back into bad playing habits. It could possibly be a form of 'the yips' where you find yourself in moments where you just can't perform simple routine tasks like hitting a basic forehand drive. It's reasonably common in sports. In my case it's often in match play, but I also have plenty of times where I can't get a stabilized grip even with extensive warmup while practicing and then have to scramble to win in matches with higher percentage shots when games begin. As I mentioned, I've been playing the best when having a strong bh along with excellent touch but a pretty weak forehand, albeit consistent and one that i can keep in play. I've noticed that when my forehand loop's really 'on the money' and is the shot I'm depending on most in a given day, my bh is usually suffering during that time and people will often beat me during bh exchanges since I'll have trouble keeping a simple block on the table or executing a backhand stroke in general.


Edited by FinalFight - 11/18/2019 at 4:15am
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote ericd937 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11/18/2019 at 4:16am
Again, get a good coach. It really helps. 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote stancuzi Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11/20/2019 at 9:03pm
Hi, from my point of view, you might have to try different shape of handles. I had the same problem within years until I played some old blade and then realized it had perfect handle shape for me. 

Edited by stancuzi - 11/20/2019 at 9:13pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote stancuzi Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11/20/2019 at 9:12pm
The main problem, that I thought through  was that all handles I played with before were just too big for me. Then there happens the need to find better position for all the fingers and hence the grip you are looking for.
My 2 cents. :-)
Cheers, Stan


Edited by stancuzi - 11/20/2019 at 9:14pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote FinalFight Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12/02/2019 at 3:33am
Probably going to need a good coaching session at the very least. This issue is still bothering me lately to the point that I've nearly become a full time chopper and fisher. Oddly enough, I usually hate chopping but it's been a very reliable stroke lately since I can't seem to get anywhere with driving and looping recently. The weird exception is there's a particular long pips player who can often get me 'fine tuned' to playing decently well since his consistency and style often gets me in a really good rhythm where I can work things out. If he's not around lately, then I'm usually back in my slump and struggling to keep the ball in play unless I'm chopping or fishing, as mentioned. For instance, I lost to a 1500s player this weekend that I normally beat 3:0 and went to five games with some similar level players as I was having trouble blocking or really creating any offense. A lot of my blocks were going long or even sideways and these were just basic loops and smashes that I normally have absolutely no problem with when I'm dialed in and confident. And it seemed like whenever I could get my forehand working, then my backhand would be erratic and not find the table or vice versa with my backhand doing fine and I was catching my forehands at the wrong angle and either hitting them into the net or with minimal power. For a few months I was among the best in the league/club and getting wins over 2000-2100 players and now even 1500-1600 players are giving me some trouble lately.

Edited by FinalFight - 12/02/2019 at 3:48am
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Stavros Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12/02/2019 at 4:22am
In 1992 I attented an international table tennis seminar . A Swedish coach named , Glen Osth , analysed  how different grips affects performance. It's very complicated issue ... 

I should say to you :

1. Don't think about your grip, during matches. DON'T, DON'T. It's not so important as you think.
2. Stay with one particular blade. Your brain must learn every mm of your handle. 
3. Stay with ONE coach.
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Edited by DonnOlsen - 12/03/2019 at 11:42am
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Edited by DonnOlsen - 12/03/2019 at 11:43am
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote DonnOlsen Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12/03/2019 at 8:36am
Originally posted by DonnOlsen DonnOlsen wrote:

Originally posted by Stavros Stavros wrote:

In 1992 I attented an international table tennis seminar . A Swedish coach named , Glen Osth , analysed  how different grips affects performance. It's very complicated issue ... 

I should say to you :

1. Don't think about your grip, during matches. DON'T, DON'T. It's not so important as you think.
2. Stay with one particular blade. Your brain must learn every mm of your handle. 
3. Stay with ONE coach.

Glen Osth is a former head coach of the Swedish National team.  He is one of several international coaches that has generously mentored me.  He is an exceptional teacher. 

On these matters:

1. Don't think about your grip, during matches. DON'T, DON'T. It's not so important as you think.
Of primary importance is not the grip, but the resulting racket angle needed to respond to the on-coming ball.  This is the basis of the applicable principles used in the Chinese system.  There is much confusion on this topic, as exemplified in the erroneous elevation of grips in Timo Boll's latest book.

2. Stay with one particular blade. Your brain must learn every mm of your handle. 
This may be broadened to include the composite racket.  The Chinese system maxim is that a player must have an "intimate" relationship with her racket, a state only attained by a very stable equipment set and much playing time with the racket.

3. Stay with ONE coach.
Glen was expressing with precision here.  He means a coach, not a training partner that one pays for in a lesson format.  Coaches of the type Glen is referring to are in the minority of those offering coaching services.

Thanks.


Edited by DonnOlsen - 12/03/2019 at 8:38am
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote 2winged Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12/03/2019 at 9:22am
Thanks for this post.  I visit the "ninth circle of hell" from time to time.  The tenth circle of hell is experimenting with different setups while settling on a grip.  One consistent thing that has helped me is to RELAX.. and loosen the grip.  Sometimes my grip will unconsciously adjust based on my opponent and the shots I make.  
Ever been down 4-6 game points and start acting indifferent about the outcome only to find that your shots start landing.  All of a sudden it's deuce.  You start to think about it and then lose.  I try to get in that "zen" state before the first point but that isn't consistent.  I have read, viewed and debated on my shakehand grip for years, do I grip to handle to favor the backhand or forehand or neutral?  If in the neutral grip how do I adjust the stroke, and on and on and on....

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote FinalFight Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05/22/2024 at 8:43am
This is still my biggest problem with the game. I'm probably our club player with the highest highs and lowest lows in terms of wins and losses. When I'm confident I can beat up to around the 2100s range. But when I get self-critical I can start losing to people in the 1400 or so range. The other day I beat multiple players in the 1900 to 2000s range in the same night, for example, and was trouncing players below 1700 or so with relative ease.

It just seems too regularly where my grip will change a bit and then it's on my mind. I can't totally pinpoint it, but it seems like I alter the grip and perhaps the stance a bit as well when I play against people who push a lot to the backhand. Over the years I have had a lot of different grips and styles. Some days I am forehand dominant, others backhand dominant, and I have gone through phases of lob/fish, as well as doing a lot of of chopping and push. All this with two sheets of classic Tenergy 05 type rubber.

I just seem to slip back into unstable grips so often and once it starts, my night is pretty much over. Like last night I was easily beating higher level players 3-0 and then suddenly I couldn't keep the ball on the table and starter losing 0-3 in multiple matches. It was extremely frustrating. My shots suddenly lacked power, I was hitting my finger a lot and some of my backhand drives and blocks were flying many feet sideways several tables over like a bad slice or hook in golf. Sometimes I'll just start inverted chopping or slowly brushing the ball with fairly passive counters and completely avoid looping or hitting when I get really frustrated in these situations and just have to grind out matches with athleticism.










Edited by FinalFight - 05/22/2024 at 5:01pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote stiltt Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05/22/2024 at 10:33am
Sometimes, people are seen as geniuses because their environment put pressure on them and they had to find a solution to their problem that oddly please to a bunch of people who did not have the issue.

I practiced years of fencing in my teen years. The epees and foils generally had a straight handle but some handles were ergonomic, it was impossible to hold them another way that it was designed for, maybe that is your solution.

Look at those pictures, they come in many flavors. My point is there is maybe a way to adapt the idea to a table tennis blade.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote notfound123 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05/22/2024 at 12:20pm
It's nearly impossible to give any advice "over the phone," but one thing that makes all the difference is making sure your blade/handle is comfortable to hold. It should be comfortable for YOU, not just for some guy who reviewed the blade on a table tennis forum. Back in the day, I had some pain in my knuckles and found most handles to be too thin. I switched to straight handles and never looked back. This preference is very personal. For example, my son plays exclusively with FL handles and couldn't care less about other types. I know someone (2200-2300 level) who played exclusively with AN handles just because they felt good.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TwiddleDee Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05/22/2024 at 5:29pm
Using an incorrect grip has been a bane to many a player. Many beginner players have an incorrect backhand dominant grip because it is much easier to learn than a forehand. I know, because I once was like that until I was coached otherwise. Without proper coaching, backhand players will rarely switch to a neutral grip for fear of losing their comfort zone. Some players think that by choking up high on the handle and raising their index finger, that they will have more control. Other players won't give up their death grip on the handle, and wonder why they can't learn to brush loop. I have down these roads until I was properly coached. The very first thing that I do when coaching someone is to look at their grip. I generally give up on coaching those who are too stubborn to change to a neutral, relaxed grip where the blade falls in a natural drop with the top edge of the blade being aligned with the top of their forearm. The only times that a grip change is allowed is during a serve or a banana flip. A proper grip is the very first building block to a sound foundation.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote FinalFight Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05/23/2024 at 2:15am
It's one of those things that was never observed or discussed when I took lessons in the past. But it's definitely a big deal. When grip is really on point, pretty much every gear of the game just seems to click. I can loop with both forehand and backhand with power and the placement I'm visualizing, blocks are returning to where I'm aiming, pushes aren't being popped up too high every time, and there's a general sense of confidence.

It seems that I fidget with grip at times when I am attempting to really sharpen my finesse with high quality pushes or playing against unorthodox styles. And from years of various trial and error, I actually have no idea what my standard "baseline" grip is. I'll often naturally revert back to it if I don't play for several weeks or months, but once the grip is altered, I may be "stuck" with one that is only great for say backhand looping or pushing and virtually nothing else. I can't seem to revert back to the preferred grip when it's on my mind and I'm looking at the paddle. It's gotten bad enough that after beating 1900+ level players, later in the same night I may just end up chopping or fishing in long rallies against a 1300 since all of my loops are missing and blocks may be erratic and miss the table even against basic shots.


Edited by FinalFight - 05/23/2024 at 2:21am
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote stiltt Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05/23/2024 at 11:13am
When it's about grip, we cannot decide for anybody but ourselves and it's all about finding our own way.


Edited by stiltt - 05/23/2024 at 2:23pm
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