Coaching Tip of the Week: How to Play a Player Who Attacks With Long Pips
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Coaching Tip of the Week: How to Play a Player Who Attacks With Long Pips

(By Larry Hodges)

One of the most difficult shots to handle is a ball attacked by a player with long pips. You have little time to react to an attacked ball, and so have to rely on your reflexes – except your reflexes usually aren’t tuned to reacting to a ball attacked by long pips. But long pips isn’t designed for attacking, it’s designed for defense, and so its attack is limited. So the primary strength of a long pips attack is the novelty of it – you aren’t used to it. (If the opponent has thick sponge under his long pips, or is using medium-long pips, he may be able to attack a little more, but his attack is still limited.) So how do you handle this? Here are four ways.

  1. Don’t let them attack. Long pips can only attack effectively against backspin, or sometimes against a short and weak topspin or no-spin ball. (They can sometimes do a very “dead” counter with the long pips against a light topspin ball, but not with much pace.) So keep the ball deep, and usually either put no spin on the ball (and so get a no spin ball back) or give topspin (and so usually get a slower backspin ball return).
  2. Take a step off the table, and return with a topspin drive of some sort either offensively or defensively. By backing off the table, you have time to react. By putting topspin on the ball, the ball arcs onto the table, and stops the long-pipped player from attacking with the long pips. But be ready to get back to the table as you’ll likely get a dead, backspin return.
  3. Stay at the table, open your racket, and be willing to lose a number of points as you get used to countering their attacks. Once you get used to it, you have the advantage as your typical inverted sponge (as well as short pips) is better at counter-hitting than long pips.
  4. Play against players who attack with long pips in practice as often as possible until you get used to it.

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