(by Brian Pace)
Butterfly Training Tips With Brian Pace: How To Loop Underspin
The forehand loop is the skill that can trump any other skill because you can loop a block, serve, push, smash, chop, high ball, as well as another loop. The forehand loop from underspin is the number pathway into the point, and it plays a major role in how rallies will play out. I will breakdown the components of looping underspin. The goal is to have a fully developed forehand loop from underspin that transitions you into extended rallies.
Establishing the Major Components
The forehand loop from underspin is made up of 3 major components to ensure that you make it into extended rallies:
- TYPE OF CONTACT: The first component is “Type of Contact”, and it is in reference to what you should do to the ball. The type of contact should be 80% friction, and 20% force, and this has two benefits. The first benefit is contacting the ball with 80% friction is likely to produce a ball that has a high degree of spin. This will prevent your opponent from being able to make forceful contact. The second benefit is 80% contact on the ball will clear the net by a safe margin. This will secure that your loop will land on the table. The goal is not to win the point with the opening loop, as well as not missing it.
- 45 DEGREES: The second component is in reference to how your stroke should travel, and the forehand loop stroke should travel at 45 degrees. This is the ideal degree in which your arm should travel, because 45 degrees gives the ball the most height, as well as the most distance. What is more common is a player making a stroke at 50-55 degree, and that shot normally lands safely in the middle of the table. This type of travel path is problematic for two reasons. The first reason is because it lands in the middle of the court, it is easily to block because there is to much clearance over the net. The second reason is because this ball will travel high as well as short, which makes for a loop that can be easily attacked. There are some players that stroke the ball at a degree that is less than 45 degrees, and this poses problems as well. If the degree is less than 45 degrees is won’t have as much spin on the ball and will travel more like a flat hit or smash. This will make it easier to block because there is less spin on the ball. The other problem is the ball will have a serious problem clearing the net because the trajectory of any loop less than 45 degrees is really sharp and low. With underspin being the first pathway into the point, there will be a lot of unforced error created.
- Technical Component- The Alpha Component: The last component is in reference to when you hit the ball, and the timing for the forehand loop should be at the top of the bounce. This component is what I call the “Alpha Component”, because it is the only component you can’t modify. You can modify how much spin you put on the ball or what angle you make your stroke at, but you can’t modify the timing at all. The ball is going to hit the table, reach its peak, and then descend. Your job is put your body in position, make the proper type of contact, as well as the stroke trajectory, and make contact at the top of the bounce. This is the component that can drastically affect the quality of the other components because it is so dependent on making sure that you are in proper position. If you are looking for a pathway to having a fundamentally sound forehand loop from underspin, then you need to master these 3 components.
I have made an attempt to breakdown how this shot is done, so you can identify and hyper focus on training them in a way that allow you to compartmentalize each component. When training with a coach, training partner, or robot, focus on each component by itself. This will allow you to monitor the quality of your attempt of that component without worrying about the impact of that shot. A robot feeding balls or training partner or coach using multi-ball is most ideal. You don’t want to see the return come back because it will deflect from you analyzing your attempt. The goal is to create some quality stroke production through training that will transform into muscle memory. This is the transitional period that needs to be created so you can learn to trust this shot in competition without watching if you are doing it correct.
This training phase should consist of at least 600 shots for each component you need to train. The most ideal is 30 shots for 20 sets while you are building up your fitness. You want to make sure you are fatigue between finishing 20 to 30 balls of each set, but not exhausted. When you are exhausted the first thing that you will lose is muscle memory. You want to create a period where you are able to work through developing the components without hitting your endurance ceiling. Once you become more fit, the most you will need to do is 60 shots for 10 sets.
This training period should last 4-6 weeks of at least twice a week. Your muscles don’t articulate as fast as you mind, so they need to slowly come around to what you are finessing them to do. They will listen to you over time and this process of how you communicate your approach will become effortless. Your job is to make sure you have given them the space to develop in an environment that is carefree and mechanical. Your mental job is forcing this very aspect of training to transition into competing using this very same shot. This is an important period as well, because you need to learn how to let go of making sure you are doing it correct, and just COMPETE. There is a reason that you don’t look at your feet while walking, and this because you trust it. Learn to trust this shot by implementing quality training.
I’m Brian at Butterfly’s Training Tips, and I want you to be your best.