(By Larry Hodges)
Tip of the week: Always Think of a Loop as a Set-up Shot
Many players, when they get a chance to loop hard, think of it as a put-away shot. And often it is. However, this can cause problems since sometimes they do come back, especially when you face stronger players. There’s a simple way of looking at it. If it doesn’t come back, you don’t have to worry about it, so assume it will come back, and prepare for that. So always think of a loop as a set-up shot for the next shot, which is where you might look to put the ball away – and that shot, while often a put-away, should also be thought of as a set-up shot. This doesn’t mean you don’t try to loop a weak ball with enough speed and placement (that’s key) to end the point, but after you loop it away, you should expect it to come back, and be ready to follow up.
Here’s a good exercise. When you play a practice match, when you see a ball you can loop away, take 10% off your speed, but focus 100% on placement – often to the middle (playing elbow, midway between forehand and backhand), or a wide angle if it’s open, where you try to win the point or force a weak return because of the placement. The opponent will have to move out of position to return the shot, and if he does return it – assume he will! – then you end the point to the part of the table he either left open, or leaves open in attempting to cover the part he left open. Or just go at the middle again.
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