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Larry Hodges: MDTTC Coach & Butterfly Writer

Ask The Experts: Larry Hodges, No. 91

Ask The Experts: Larry Hodges, No. 91
Butterfly Table Tennis Question and Answer

Blade: Stiga Allround Classic
Forehand: Flextra
Backhand: Flextra

Question: Hi,
I often found articles in the website that discuss about table tennis playing style which in modern era is dominated by looping style.

I want to know the reason(s) why a playing style like hitter (two wing-or hardbat) is also decreasing, because i think it still very effective.

Thank you.

Answer: Hi Ryan,

At most levels, a hitting style and even hardbat are still effective. However, as you reach higher levels, looping styles almost completely dominant. There are several reasons for this.

First, a looper’s opening attack is usually stronger, as he has so lots of topspin to pull the ball down. A hitter has less topspin, and so his opening attack is often not as aggressive, and so he not only wins fewer points that way, his opening attack is often counter-attacked, often with a loop.

Second, once into a rally, the heavy topspin on a loop pull the ball down, making aggressive shots more consistent, and allowing consistency at higher speeds. A hitter has less topspin, and so his shots need more precision, and so are less consistent, especially when trying to hit a loop with its heavy topspin.

Third, it’s easier to loop against a hit than to hit against a loop, and so a looper often turns a hitter into a blocker – taking away the hitter’s strength, which is hitting. The hitter is faced with huge amounts of topspin, and it’s difficult to consistently hit against it, especially since the ball has both spin and speed, often with variation, making timing extremely difficult. Hitters can use quickness and placement, but if the opposing looper can loop from both sides – as most top players do these days – there really aren’t any safe places to go.

None of this means you can’t be effective as a hitter, except at perhaps the highest levels. In fact, even at those higher levels, where looping completely dominates, this is partially skewed because few coaches train up-and-coming juniors as hitters, and those who strive to reach the top almost always train as loopers, since it’s by far the most successful style. If as many players were trained as hitters as loopers, the looping style would almost for certain still dominate, especially at the very highest levels (i.e. top ten or twenty), but there would be more high-level hitters than there are today – including many just outside the highest levels.

As to hardbat, it’s great fun to play with, but the lack of sponge quickly turns a hardbat player into a defensive player against a top looper, and the looper can pretty much overpower any hardbat player. You can still reach a pretty high level with a hardbat, but you are handicapped. Of course, overcoming that handicap and beating a sponge player is part of the fun of playing with a hardbat!

Larry Hodges