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    Posted: 05/20/2014 at 7:28am
I'm having serious issues with my blocking against heavy topspin and would really appreciate if someone had any tips on fixing it. 

The player puts heavy topspin on the ball and the only option going through my mind is to block. (Both backhand and forehand). However, once I try to block it, it'll go off the table. I'll close my racket angle further, but it's quite hard to adjust to it. Half the time, if I close my racket, it goes hitting off the edge of the racket.

How should I deal with heavy topspin balls from any side of the table?

If I should counter-loop it or to block it differently, how?

Thanks.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote reflecx Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05/20/2014 at 7:47am

See this video from Pingskills

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote BH-Man Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05/20/2014 at 7:51am
Get down close to the ball, take it off the bounce right away, much easier to deal with it that way. You will see the ball better and naturally make a better bat angle.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote NextLevel Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05/20/2014 at 8:02am
Originally posted by TonyL TonyL wrote:

I'm having serious issues with my blocking against heavy topspin and would really appreciate if someone had any tips on fixing it. 

The player puts heavy topspin on the ball and the only option going through my mind is to block. (Both backhand and forehand). However, once I try to block it, it'll go off the table. I'll close my racket angle further, but it's quite hard to adjust to it. Half the time, if I close my racket, it goes hitting off the edge of the racket.

How should I deal with heavy topspin balls from any side of the table?

If I should counter-loop it or to block it differently, how?

Thanks.

http://mytabletennis.net/forum/forum_posts.asp?TID=66169&PN=2&title=topspin-balls-cannot-be-attacked

That has the pingskills video with the three options for countering heavy topspin as well as a good video from Alex Zhang, a forum member.


Another really good video is this one from forum member, xkaboomx.  It's the only time I have ever seen this on video but it sure works if you have the athleticism to execute it!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ozVAt4LT90o


As a general rule, when blocking slow heavy topspin, be aggressive.  Don't let the ball float too high and keep the racket moving forward, not upward.  Don't start below the heavy topspin ball as any upward motion will send it off the table.  Punch blocks as a rule are better than passive statue of liberty blocks - with the punch block, the spin takes less and the racket angle matters less.  Just get behind the ball and hit it rather than reaching for it.  Even the passive blocks require you to take the ball really early and low and are almost always riskier.


Good luck!


Edited by NextLevel - 05/20/2014 at 8:10am
I like putting heavy topspin on the ball...
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote APW46 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05/20/2014 at 8:40am
You can control the topspin by holding your bat steady and not playing a stroke at all, similar to how a return board works, this will certainly make you more consistent, but how effective it will be in matchplay depends on the level of your opponent because you will present him with a passive ball to attack, you can get round this at lower/intermediate levels by placing passive blocks wide or to his crossover point to keep the ball away from his power zones. Each ball on its merits though, deep heavy topspin is far harder to deal with consistently than many players give credit for.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Baal Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05/20/2014 at 9:49am
Make sure you are not dropping you hands to low in your ready position.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote larrytt Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05/20/2014 at 9:55am
Originally posted by NextLevel NextLevel wrote:


As a general rule, when blocking slow heavy topspin, be aggressive.  Don't let the ball float too high and keep the racket moving forward, not upward.  Don't start below the heavy topspin ball as any upward motion will send it off the table.  Punch blocks as a rule are better than passive statue of liberty blocks - with the punch block, the spin takes less and the racket angle matters less.  Just get behind the ball and hit it rather than reaching for it.  Even the passive blocks require you to take the ball really early and low and are almost always riskier.

I was going to respond, but the above is pretty much what I was going to say. This is by far the most common reason players have trouble against slow spinny loops. (This is assuming they are using inverted.) Be aggressive against these balls, whether you are blocking or counterlooping, and if you have a good smash, don't hesitate to use it. At higher levels, players mostly counterloop these balls for winners, but a good backhand punch-block is also pretty effective. 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Skyline Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05/20/2014 at 10:34am
Hmmm be agressive when blocking heavy topspin? Doesn't sound like good advice to me. In fact I'm one of those players that has a hard time blocking heavy spin loops. Like the op i tend to block the ball over the table because I'm overhitting. Like apw46 said it is better to block passively with soft hands always try to block on top of the ball. Ofcourse when the ball is higher and not really deep on the table you can punch smashor loopkill it but this requires good timing and is not so easy if the ball is very heavily spun. It all depends on the quality of the heavy topspin loop but imho the best is to block soft against really heavy topspin.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote larrytt Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05/20/2014 at 10:39am
Originally posted by Skyline Skyline wrote:

Hmmm be agressive when blocking heavy topspin? Doesn't sound like good advice to me. In fact I'm one of those players that has a hard time blocking heavy spin loops. Like the op i tend to block the ball over the table because I'm overhitting. Like apw46 said it is better to block passively with soft hands always try to block on top of the ball. Ofcourse when the ball is higher and not really deep on the table you can punch smashor loopkill it but this requires good timing and is not so easy if the ball is very heavily spun. It all depends on the quality of the heavy topspin loop but imho the best is to block soft against really heavy topspin.

If you block soft against a slow but very spinny loop, the spin takes more on your racket, and it's harder to control. The harder you block against these, the less the spin takes. You have to find a balance, of course. If you block too aggressively you'll also lose control. I think the idea that apw46 was saying is that you can just stick the racket out and pop the ball back with nearly 100% consistency, but the goal of blocking is to keep the ball low, not pop it up softly. If you are trying to block low, then you will be more consistent by being more aggressive. EDIT: Perhaps block firmly might be a better description than block aggressively. 
-Larry Hodges


Edited by larrytt - 05/20/2014 at 12:39pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote geardaddy Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05/20/2014 at 10:49am
The PingSkills vid is good.  It gives the 3 options:
1) Passive block - Easiest to do.  A common mistake (especially if the loop is coming at you slowly) is o push forward into the block, causing it to go long.  Make sure to close that paddle angle, catch it before the top of the bounce, and resist wanting to move the racket forward as you block.
2) Smash return - IMO, this is harder to do correctly.  It is the most aggressive way to respond, but you must come downward and follow through going over the ball, or you will hit it long.  Very satisfying when you do it right, and sometimes makes your opponent think twice about giving you that spinny loop again.
3) Counter loop return.  This is not that hard to do, and you can do it in a slow controlled motion or more aggressively.  You just have to commit to it.  Also, you can still return this way (or might be your only choice other than a chop return) if the ball has traversed past the top of the bounce.

There are other more advanced blocking options too:
4) Chop block.  With your paddle angle pretty much vertical, make a quick downward motion as the ball contacts the paddle.  This is a good skill to have, and oftentimes really throws off the looper because the ball comes back to them short and dead.
5) Sidespin block.  At the point of contact cut across the ball from side to side.  This is really just a different way of doing a passive block, but it can be an effective way to return the ball very short.
6) Cutting-swipe block.  I made this name up, but I'm referring to that advanced funky block that you see Kenta Matsudira doing (I've seen Ma Long and some others do it too).  There's some slow motion video stuff of him doing it.  It's pretty freaky.


Edited by geardaddy - 05/20/2014 at 11:20am
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote NextLevel Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05/20/2014 at 11:07am
Originally posted by larrytt larrytt wrote:

Originally posted by NextLevel NextLevel wrote:


As a general rule, when blocking slow heavy topspin, be aggressive.  Don't let the ball float too high and keep the racket moving forward, not upward.  Don't start below the heavy topspin ball as any upward motion will send it off the table.  Punch blocks as a rule are better than passive statue of liberty blocks - with the punch block, the spin takes less and the racket angle matters less.  Just get behind the ball and hit it rather than reaching for it.  Even the passive blocks require you to take the ball really early and low and are almost always riskier.

I was going to respond, but the above is pretty much what I was going to say. This is by far the most common reason players have trouble against slow spinny loops. (This is assuming they are using inverted.) Be aggressive against these balls, whether you are blocking or counterlooping, and if you have a good smash, don't hesitate to use it. At higher levels, players mostly counterloop these balls for winners, but a good backhand punch-block is also pretty effective. 
-Larry Hodges
I read your blog daily so I can't say I wasn't subconsciously guilty of plaigarism.  On the other hand, this is one of the things I have a lot of experience with because I can't move around well enough to be a mid-distance looper and one of my junior clubmates has an extremely spinny forehand loop.  As he has gotten better, I've had to learn and relearn how to block his loops and it's now at a point where I have to get better at counter looping and kick blocking because blocking over the table is getting too risky and because he is staying closer to the table, the loops are coming in deeper.
 
When I counter a very spinny ball with an aggressive stroke over the table, it looks amazing to the uninitiated, but they don't realize that the seemingly easier shot (passive block) is actually riskier (in my experience at least because it pops up the ball even if it gets it on the table).
I like putting heavy topspin on the ball...
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote geardaddy Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05/20/2014 at 11:30am
Originally posted by NextLevel NextLevel wrote:

Originally posted by larrytt larrytt wrote:

Originally posted by NextLevel NextLevel wrote:


As a general rule, when blocking slow heavy topspin, be aggressive.  Don't let the ball float too high and keep the racket moving forward, not upward.  Don't start below the heavy topspin ball as any upward motion will send it off the table.  Punch blocks as a rule are better than passive statue of liberty blocks - with the punch block, the spin takes less and the racket angle matters less.  Just get behind the ball and hit it rather than reaching for it.  Even the passive blocks require you to take the ball really early and low and are almost always riskier.

I was going to respond, but the above is pretty much what I was going to say. This is by far the most common reason players have trouble against slow spinny loops. (This is assuming they are using inverted.) Be aggressive against these balls, whether you are blocking or counterlooping, and if you have a good smash, don't hesitate to use it. At higher levels, players mostly counterloop these balls for winners, but a good backhand punch-block is also pretty effective. 
-Larry Hodges
I read your blog daily so I can't say I wasn't subconsciously guilty of plaigarism.  On the other hand, this is one of the things I have a lot of experience with because I can't move around well enough to be a mid-distance looper and one of my junior clubmates has an extremely spinny forehand loop.  As he has gotten better, I've had to learn and relearn how to block his loops and it's now at a point where I have to get better at counter looping and kick blocking because blocking over the table is getting too risky and because he is staying closer to the table, the loops are coming in deeper.
 
When I counter a very spinny ball with an aggressive stroke over the table, it looks amazing to the uninitiated, but they don't realize that the seemingly easier shot (passive block) is actually riskier (in my experience at least because it pops up the ball even if it gets it on the table).

I agree that a weak passive block is what the looper is looking for, such that the looper can then easily counter with an even more aggressive loop or smash return.  But, a good passive block doesn't mean that you are popping the ball up.  Rather the idea is to really close that paddle angle and absorb the spin (i.e. don't push forward into the block) so that the block is low and short.  The looper will be forced to move in closer to the table or possibly they won't be able to loop the return at all if you keep it short enough.

Also, if you are limited on movement in your game then learn the chop block.  It is a very effective spin variation return.  I find it to be more natural on the backhand side.


Edited by geardaddy - 05/20/2014 at 11:31am
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote NextLevel Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05/20/2014 at 12:43pm
 
I find the passive block to be more effective against topspin drives or medium spin loops or loops where the looper is far away from the table but it might be my touch. 
 
If I had to guess, the OP is complaining about the spinny third ball opening or similar loops.  In that case, a passive block is trouble.  It's hard to be consistent against this shot without the counterloop, but for a player who is starting out, better active than sorry.


Edited by NextLevel - 05/20/2014 at 12:44pm
I like putting heavy topspin on the ball...
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Baal Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05/20/2014 at 1:13pm
Originally posted by Skyline Skyline wrote:

Hmmm be agressive when blocking heavy topspin? Doesn't sound like good advice to me. In fact I'm one of those players that has a hard time blocking heavy spin loops. Like the op i tend to block the ball over the table because I'm overhitting. Like apw46 said it is better to block passively with soft hands always try to block on top of the ball. Ofcourse when the ball is higher and not really deep on the table you can punch smashor loopkill it but this requires good timing and is not so easy if the ball is very heavily spun. It all depends on the quality of the heavy topspin loop but imho the best is to block soft against really heavy topspin.


It is good advice, and it is obvious when you watch good players blocking.  If you are passive and try to use your blade like a shield you are hosed, and I don't think that is what APW is suggesting (I have played him and see how he blocks).  I know it is counterintuitive, but it is well worth time to try what larry et al suggest.  But perhaps the language we are using is obscuring the fact that people are saying the same thing. 

Perhaps another way to put it is, don't be passive with your feet when you are blocking!!  Too many people block just moving their arms.  You actually need to move your body into the same good position you would be for a loop and counter, not just move your arm/paddle as if it was some sort of shield.   Of course, when you move your feet to get in position to block, you will almost always follow through some, but the ball will be much more likely to go where you want it.  At the same time, you do need soft hands too.  Don't hold the paddle in a death grip.

Edit:  Just read what APW said and this is one of the rare times I disagree with him.  One can do it the way he is suggesting (mimicking a return board) but I don't think it will be as consistent or effective as something a bit more active, and if the ball is not exactly where you want it to be you will be erratic.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote geardaddy Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05/20/2014 at 1:15pm
Originally posted by NextLevel NextLevel wrote:

 
I find the passive block to be more effective against topspin drives or medium spin loops or loops where the looper is far away from the table but it might be my touch. 
 
If I had to guess, the OP is complaining about the spinny third ball opening or similar loops.  In that case, a passive block is trouble.  It's hard to be consistent against this shot without the counterloop, but for a player who is starting out, better active than sorry.

The common problem with the passive block is that one concentrates on just trying to handle the spin and they give a weak block to the middle of the table.  There's nothing particularly wrong with a passive block return though.  Once one understands the touch and paddle angle better then a good short and low block is ok and can diffuse the counterattack.  Even better though is to be able to consciously direct the block to the corners.  A very effective response is simply to direct the block wide to their opponents forehand corner.  Be like Waldner!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Baal Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05/20/2014 at 1:18pm
Also what geardaddy just said.

And of course NL raised a good point too, slow superspinny loops are different from fast loop drives.

But what I wrote, that you really have to make sure to move your feet, is always true.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote larrytt Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05/20/2014 at 1:25pm
Originally posted by Baal Baal wrote:


Perhaps another way to put it is, don't be passive with your feet when you are blocking!!  Too many people block just moving their arms.  You actually need to move your body into the same good position you would be for a loop and counter, not just move your arm/paddle as if it was some sort of shield.   Of course, when you move your feet to get in position to block, you will almost always follow through some, but the ball will be much more likely to go where you want it. 

This is huge, stepping to the ball when blocking. When players reach for the ball instead of stepping, they often open their racket as they do so. I think it's because they are no longer doing a shot they have practiced regularly, and so their subconscious no longer knows what racket angle to reflexively use, and so falls back on beginner habits.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote APW46 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05/20/2014 at 1:31pm
I have to say, being a child of the 38mm ball, I am guilty ( along with many other older players) of treating heavy topspin with too much respect out of habit, especially when under pressure. The top kids who have only ever known 40mm rip through heavy loop like they are shelling peas, its quite disconcerting. 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote koshkin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05/20/2014 at 2:46pm
I am with Larry on this one.

I am a mediocre blocker at best, but I live off of a very heavy opening loop, so I have a good idea what kinds of blocks work against it.

I found that I do my best with people who only adjust their arm for blocking, so rather than trying to loop into wide corners, I usually aim for the body or to a spot that is just within reach, but outside the comfort zone.

At my playing level, people do not hit through my spin with all that much success (higher level people probably can), but I suspect that is partly due to the sidespin component: I get a lot of movement on the bounce.

I get into the most trouble with people who move to the ball and calmly use my pace and spin to re-direct it toward some uncomfortable location.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Skyline Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05/20/2014 at 4:32pm
Well I think a passive block is the basis to deal with a heavy spin loop. If you can block the heavy topspin consistently you can start to be more agressive. Pingskills and geardaddy are saying the same thing. Telling someone who has problems with blocking heavy topspin to be agressive is the same thing as telling a beginner how to counter loop when he can not even counter hit properly.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote NextLevel Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05/20/2014 at 4:42pm
Originally posted by Skyline Skyline wrote:

Well I think a passive block is the basis to deal with a heavy spin loop. If you can block the heavy topspin consistently you can start to be more agressive. Pingskills and geardaddy are saying the same thing. Telling someone who has problems with blocking heavy topspin to be agressive is the same thing as telling a beginner how to counter loop when he can not even counter hit properly.


Not quite true - I cannot passively block heavy topspin but I am a good blocker for my level. No matter how bad a person is at blocking, the best instant advice you can give him if he is playing againat heavy topspin is to be more aggressive with his blocks.
I like putting heavy topspin on the ball...
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote geardaddy Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05/20/2014 at 5:06pm
Behold the awesome blocking!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8zWyHqwufDw

Edited by geardaddy - 05/20/2014 at 5:09pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Skyline Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05/20/2014 at 5:07pm
Originally posted by NextLevel NextLevel wrote:

Originally posted by Skyline Skyline wrote:

Well I think a passive block is the basis to deal with a heavy spin loop. If you can block the heavy topspin consistently you can start to be more agressive. Pingskills and geardaddy are saying the same thing. Telling someone who has problems with blocking heavy topspin to be agressive is the same thing as telling a beginner how to counter loop when he can not even counter hit properly.


Not quite true - I cannot passively block heavy topspin but I am a good blocker for my level. No matter how bad a person is at blocking, the best instant advice you can give him if he is playing againat heavy topspin is to be more aggressive with his blocks.


I'm not saying that you can not be a good blocker if you can not block passively against heavy topspin. But the basis of blocking is to block soft if you can do this properly it's much easier to be more agressive. I actually think Larry will agree with me. Blocking passively doesn't mean that you just stick your racket out and that you don't move towards the ball. You must be active and ready and block on top of the ball with soft hands and point to the direction where you want the ball to go. Every good blocker will tell you this. Ofcourse if you master this you can be more agressive and punch actively or counterloop. The funny thing is that I'm a blocker that always blocks very agressively and likes to hit through spin. But I learned the hard way from losing to some players who have a very heavy topspin that its more sensible to block soft against these players.

Edited by Skyline - 05/20/2014 at 5:12pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote NextLevel Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05/20/2014 at 5:34pm
Originally posted by Skyline Skyline wrote:


I'm not saying that you can not be a good blocker if you can not block passively against heavy topspin. But the basis of blocking is to block soft if you can do this properly it's much easier to be more agressive. I actually think Larry will agree with me. Blocking passively doesn't mean that you just stick your racket out and that you don't move towards the ball. You must be active and ready and block on top of the ball with soft hands and point to the direction where you want the ball to go. Every good blocker will tell you this. Ofcourse if you master this you can be more agressive and punch actively or counterloop. The funny thing is that I'm a blocker that always blocks very agressively and likes to hit through spin. But I learned the hard way from losing to some players who have a very heavy topspin that its more sensible to block soft against these players.
 
I agree that the passive block is the basis of stroke technique with inverted rubbers as it teaches racket angles.  I agree that being able to let the racket absorb more energy is critical to taking pace off the ball (hence the need for "soft hands" and sometimes even pulling the racket backwards while blocking) as well as being steady on contact.  However, slow spinny loops do not come with pace and sometimes, they are loaded with so much counterintuitive energy that even a passive block is ineffective.  Sometimes, you need to knock some of that incoming rotational energy out of the ball and hope it works for you as outgoing pace/spin or it will just grab your rubber and shoot off.
 
Moreover, as Baal pointed out (and I think Larry on his blog too), when you tell someone to block aggressively, what changes isn't only that they hit the ball a bit harder - their attitude to the ball also changes.  Rather than hesitating, they try to get to it faster.  That often means taking it lower and being on top of it and that produces positive results just by itself.  It doesn't mean to smash the ball, but even if someone gets frustrated doing that, if you compare his constency smashing the ball to that with the passive block, you may find that his consistency is higher with the riskier shot.  It's one of those things about passive blocking that some people never realize - blocking softly is better for speed than for spin.  Part of the reason (and this is Larry) is that you aren't going to change your racket angles in 10 seconds, but you can hit harder in 10 seconds, and that gives you a chance to do something.


Edited by NextLevel - 05/20/2014 at 5:37pm
I like putting heavy topspin on the ball...
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Ringer84 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05/20/2014 at 5:38pm
I am a TERRIBLE blocker and have no business giving advice on how to block a heavy topspin, but I'll throw this video into the ring:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aYnXr3n0RT8

Thoughts?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote NextLevel Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05/20/2014 at 5:48pm
Originally posted by Ringer84 Ringer84 wrote:

I am a TERRIBLE blocker and have no business giving advice on how to block a heavy topspin, but I'll throw this video into the ring:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aYnXr3n0RT8

Thoughts?
 
It's a good video that is addressed to the level of the original question.  It's an intro to blocking along the lines of what Skyline is proposing, the only problem, IMO, being that in match situations, it is not as consistent as it is in practice because you never know exactly what is on the ball and in matches, the second ball will get eaten up by most loopers good enough to give you that first ball consistently.
I like putting heavy topspin on the ball...
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Skyline Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05/20/2014 at 5:58pm
Originally posted by NextLevel NextLevel wrote:

Originally posted by Skyline Skyline wrote:


I'm not saying that you can not be a good blocker if you can not block passively against heavy topspin. But the basis of blocking is to block soft if you can do this properly it's much easier to be more agressive. I actually think Larry will agree with me. Blocking passively doesn't mean that you just stick your racket out and that you don't move towards the ball. You must be active and ready and block on top of the ball with soft hands and point to the direction where you want the ball to go. Every good blocker will tell you this. Ofcourse if you master this you can be more agressive and punch actively or counterloop. The funny thing is that I'm a blocker that always blocks very agressively and likes to hit through spin. But I learned the hard way from losing to some players who have a very heavy topspin that its more sensible to block soft against these players.





 

I agree that the passive block is the basis of stroke technique with inverted rubbers as it teaches racket angles.  I agree that being able to let the racket absorb more energy is critical to taking pace off the ball (hence the need for "soft hands" and sometimes even pulling the racket backwards while blocking) as well as being steady on contact.  However, slow spinny loops do not come with pace and sometimes, they are loaded with so much counterintuitive energy that even a passive block is ineffective.  Sometimes, you need to knock some of that incoming rotational energy out of the ball and hope it works for you as outgoing pace/spin or it will just grab your rubber and shoot off.

 

Moreover, as Baal pointed out (and I think Larry on his blog too), when you tell someone to block aggressively, what changes isn't only that they hit the ball a bit harder - their attitude to the ball also changes.  Rather than hesitating, they try to get to it faster.  That often means taking it lower and being on top of it and that produces positive results just by itself.  It doesn't mean to smash the ball, but even if someone gets frustrated doing that, if you compare his constency smashing the ball to that with the passive block, you may find that his consistency is higher with the riskier shot.  It's one of those things about passive blocking that some people never realize - blocking softly is better for speed than for spin.  Part of the reason (and this is Larry) is that you aren't going to change your racket angles in 10 seconds, but you can hit harder in 10 seconds, and that gives you a chance to do something.


Perhaps you have never faced a quality heavy topspin loop. It's not the same as a slow high arcing 'spinny loop'. Against these balls you can hit through the ball and be agressive because you have loads of time before the spin kicks in.

Btw take my opinion with a grain of salt I'm just a mediocre 2300 usatt rating level blocker.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote NextLevel Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05/20/2014 at 6:17pm
Originally posted by Skyline Skyline wrote:


Perhaps you have never faced a quality heavy topspin loop. It's not the same as a slow high arcing 'spinny loop'. Against these balls you can hit through the ball and be agressive because you have loads of time before the spin kicks in.

Btw take my opinion with a grain of salt I'm just a mediocre 2300 usatt rating level blocker.
 
I have - I've hit with 2500 players before.  However, it's quite possible that you (and APW46) are addressing this question at a level that is far removed from the practical experience of most people that would ask it.  I'm addressing it from the level of the player who is frustrated that he is facing this annoying guy who is looping spinny and slow topspins to him and he can't block a single one of them (after I drill him for 5 minutes, he understands that he was being too passive).  I am not addressing it from the perspective of Kenta Matsuidaira, who is blocking the ridiculous topspins of Xu Xin with soft blocks because he would never ask that question.
 


Edited by NextLevel - 05/20/2014 at 6:20pm
I like putting heavy topspin on the ball...
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Skyline Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05/20/2014 at 6:34pm
Originally posted by NextLevel NextLevel wrote:

Originally posted by Skyline Skyline wrote:


Perhaps you have never faced a quality heavy topspin loop. It's not the same as a slow high arcing 'spinny loop'. Against these balls you can hit through the ball and be agressive because you have loads of time before the spin kicks in.

Btw take my opinion with a grain of salt I'm just a mediocre 2300 usatt rating level blocker.


 

I have - I've hit with 2500 players before.  However, it's quite possible that you (and APW46) are addressing this question at a level that is far removed from the practical experience of most people that would ask it.  I'm addressing it from the level of the player who is frustrated that he is facing this annoying guy who is looping spinny and slow topspins to him and he can't block a single one of them (after I drill him for 5 minutes, he understands that he was being too passive).  I am not addressing it from the perspective of Kenta Matsuidaira, who is blocking the ridiculous topspins of Xu Xin with soft blocks because he would never ask that question.

 

Who says the op is being too passive? It's much more common that people who can't control heavy topspin are too agressive.

Edited by Skyline - 05/20/2014 at 6:35pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Baal Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05/20/2014 at 6:37pm
Originally posted by Skyline Skyline wrote:


I'm not saying that you can not be a good blocker if you can not block passively against heavy topspin. But the basis of blocking is to block soft if you can do this properly it's much easier to be more agressive. I actually think Larry will agree with me. Blocking passively doesn't mean that you just stick your racket out and that you don't move towards the ball.


I am pretty sure now that we are pretty much all talking about the same thing and maybe not disagreeing at all.  Obviously you can't be overly aggressive when the ball is coming at you fast and hard, you need soft hands especially against quality loops, but at the same time you can't just stick your racket out and expect to be consistent.  Words are getting in the way, as often happens. 

As for skyline's last post, it is hard to tell without seeing the OP play, but it sounds like he is just trying to use his racket as a shield when he blocks the way he describes it.  I don't know his level, but I see that a lot more at the ~1600 level and below than people being too aggressive.    
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