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Backhand Block

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mickd View Drop Down
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    Posted: 09/22/2017 at 1:03am
I see a lot of people talking about the specifics of a good forehand/backhand loop, power drive, smash, etc, but I rarely see people talk about the basic block stroke!

I personally think the block is one of my better strokes, and I definitely use it a lot in practice and matches.

One particular comment that has come up more than once is how I hold my racket when doing the block. As you can see from the video, I like to have the racket head pointed sideways (in my case as a left hander, pointing to the right).

I've had a few people say to me that I should have it pointed more diagonally upwards, or even with the head pointing straight up.

What is the general consensus with this? Is there a preferred way? Or is it more preference?

I feel like having it their way makes it easier to close the racket angle, since you're using your forearm to angle your racket down instead of twisting your wrist. This will probably make it easier to return heavy topspin attacks. That sounds good, but the reason why I have it pointed sideways is that it's closer to the backhand drive, loop, and counter (or what I think they are, hehe). So that means that my block will look more like my other strokes, and all I have to do is use a slightly bigger stroke, more wrist, and/or accelerate faster for a sudden change.

Any comments appreciated! Also, any general comments on my block form, possible improvements, etc, would be greatly appreciated, too.

The one thing I don't like about the way I'm blocking is that I feel like I'm pushing up with my legs too much, so my body is rising and lowering between shots.


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NextLevel View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote NextLevel Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09/22/2017 at 3:23am
Your logic is correct.  Many old school players before the close to the table backhand topspin was invented blocked and hit with move vertical rackets but this as you pointed out makes the transition to other strokes harder and makes changing the racket angle a bit trickier.   Diagonally upwards is fine but what you are doing is fine too - what is more important is to be above the ball if blocking topspin, people facilitate that in different ways.

As for the actual stroke, the one thing that makes a block fail under the pressure of more advanced loops is the lifting motion.  While your hips should be working, the feeling should be more back to front both in the racket arm and in the hips, rather than down to up, even if there is some down to up in our actual motion for whatever reason.  You shouldn't be trying to impart topspin on the ball when doing the standard block - you should be trying to create a flat ball.

Your actual blocks look decent, especially later in the video.    As long as you are not trying to make the ball arc and you sometimes block the ball into the net as a result of this in practice, your block is fine.  Once you see the ball arcing, make deliberate adjustments to reduce or eliminate distinct arc and your technique will re-calibrate itself to the opponent's ball.


Edited by NextLevel - 09/22/2017 at 3:24am
I like putting heavy topspin on the ball...
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BRS View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote BRS Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09/22/2017 at 8:34am
This technique looks fantastic. If this is how you block in matches then improving it should be very low on your to-do list, imo. Somewhere after learning the DN reverse tomahawk, that sort of thing.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote mickd Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09/22/2017 at 10:42am
Thanks NL. Good to know that the basis of why I chose to do my stroke like that isn't wrong! I feel like I might have heard something like that from some instructional video somewhere.

Watching the video again, I notice now that the reason why I am bobbing up and down isn't because I'm pushing up off the ground like I said in the OP. Looks like it's because I'm straightening my back after the stroke, then leaning my back forward again before the stroke. I definitely want to fix that, though! It just looks a little off like that ><

Thanks BRS for the confidence boost! I definitely block like that in practice, and in matches I generally block like that too. I've been getting a lot more points recently because after my opponent does an opening loop, I passively block it back, and they end up out of position since they move too far back (more of the better players they play with counter loop, so they always move back right after their loops). They end up rushing forward a little and opening their racket angle on contact, hitting the ball over, or returning an easy high ball.
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mhnh007 View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote mhnh007 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09/22/2017 at 10:55am
Depending on how flexible your wrist is.  As long as you can close the paddle angle wo shifting your grip to dominant BH grip, then it's fine.  OTH, if you use to shifting grip, and have time to do so, then it really does not matter at all.  Test playing with your FH, then have for partner loops straight to your BH, if you can go from FH to BH to block with no problem then it's all good.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote mjamja Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09/22/2017 at 5:03pm
You do not seem to be going back to a neutral ready position after each block.  This could lead to problems with Bh to Fh transition in the future.   When I practice my blocking I try to pretend I do not know where the next ball is coming and thus get back to ready each time.  When I am blocking for a partner's drill I usually start the same way.  But if I am not consistent with my blocking I will change to just keeping the backhand position so my partner gets a better drill.

Some times you see a pro take a Bh block biased ready position when they hit a weaker shot and expect there is a strong likelihood of an attack to their Bh.  Their arm is in the normal ready position (not across the body) but the wrist is turned to put the Bh side toward the opponent.  This gives them a very quick Bh block of a ball hit to the elbow.

Mark


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Baal View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Baal Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09/22/2017 at 9:32pm
Mark,  OT but are you guys back to being able to play again?  My thoughts are with you.
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mickd View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote mickd Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09/23/2017 at 6:04am
Thanks for the replies!

@mhnh007 My wrist is pretty flexible, I think! I used to have this really weird FH to BH transition, with my grip changing quite drastically. But I think now (at least the recent videos I've been taking), I've managed to keep my grip the same :) Yay! 

@mjamja Hey, thanks Mark! I actually know exactly what you're talking about. I've noticed top players do that before, especially the very top females, or rather, people who play close to the table. I really like how observant you are. I'll see if I can try and add that in too. I think it gets more important the quicker the pace of the rally becomes. One part of the session I had, I was being aggressive with my backhand. I really want to add this more neutral finish position in those cases. Maybe if I can get some more semi random or random FH/BH transition drills in, it'll force me to adjust my racket position after hitting the ball (else I won't make the next shot!!)

By the way, I hope recovery is going well in your area. Hopefully you'll be back to playing regularly soon.
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