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Tricks to understanding SPIN in table tennis, and applying it

September 16, 2016 by Lina

Table tennis is a really nice sport in the beginning. You hit the ball back and forth, it moves and bounces as expected, and it’s all fun and games. But unlike a lot of a sports, table tennis has a steep learning curve. You get really good at it really fast, and that is when things get HARD. This is the moment you discover SPIN.

Why we use spin in table tennis

Spin is the essential part of the game, and probably what makes it so interesting. The addition of spin makes the ball seem to defy the laws of physics, which is where the real beauty of ping-pong lies. Topspin allows balls that look like they'll never stop flying to land on the table. If not countered, sidespin makes balls leave the opponent's paddle in astonishing ways. And backspin makes balls seem to slide on the table top like it's made of ice.

There are many different opinions when it comes to spin. You’d be surprised to learn that not everyone likes it. Some people don’t like that fact that technology has influenced the game so much, while others just hate it because it's so effective!

We all know that the most important part of your table tennis equipment, that has the biggest influence on the spin, is the paddle's rubber (or the combination of the rubber and sponge). Going back just a couple of decades ago, when hard bats were all the rage, the game was a lot different. Spin, while still possible, was much less pronounced and took a back seat to speed and ball placement. This all changed with the introduction of sponge and new high tension rubbers. But if you’re not one of those people who like to mope about the good ol’ times, it's time to learn some new tricks and see why people say that playing table tennis is like playing chess on steroids!

For a beginner it might seem daunting and very confusing at first, but before you start learning how to impart spin, you have to learn how to read it first!

Backhand

Understand the principles of returning spin

There are many different types of spin, but they can all be divided into topspin, sidespin and backspin.

Returning spin can require some time to perfect, but once you get a grip on how it’s done you’ll notice how you’re able to hit the ball almost automatically. It’s all about muscle memory!

Ask the best table tennis player among your friends/co-workers to do the best serve they can, over and over again, and then just do your best to return it. Pay attention on the bounce of the ball, and then adjust the angle of your paddle accordingly. If the ball bounces off the side of your paddle, that is side spin, and all you have to do is adjust the angle of your paddle when returning the ball.

After a few shots, you’ll find the best angle and then just repeat that until it comes naturally. Same works for topspin and backspin. If the ball bounces straight to down to the table from your paddle, it must be a backspin. In that case, open up your paddle so that it’s facing upwards, and then just fine tune it until you’re happy with the shot.

If it’s topspin, the ball will bounce up from your paddle. All you have to do is close the angle so that is facing down.

So, it all seems pretty easy when we put it like this, but it’s actually not. It requires hours of practice, and a lot of focus. Of course, there are numerous ways how you can make that practice fun. You can play with your friends, family members, but when they get tired of serving for hours, it is time to upgrade!

In cases like these, a Robot comes in really handy! It will always give you the exact shot, and it won’t complain along the way.

Serve

Master the game of spin!

Even though there are several types of spin, forehand topspin is probably one of the most used. And for good reasons. You can see many players just eyeing for situations where they can apply this.

When done properly, forehand topspin can be very powerful. Doing a forehand topspin can allow you to hit the balls with a lot of power and to still generate a lot of spin. There’s nothing better than a high-speed topspin.

Everyone knows that you cannot compete in modern day table tennis without previously mastering the forehand topspin.

Here are a couple of tips:

  • Always look at the paddle as an extension of your arm
  • Stay one forearm away from the end line of the table
  • Keep your core low
  • Keep your arm straight, and move it forward and upward
  • Move your hips in the same direction as your hitting arm

Another great spin shot is backhand topspin, and it has gained a lot of popularity over the last couple of years. Since the game is getting faster every day, players sometimes don’t have enough time to get in the position for certain shots, like like the long but powerful forehand topspin, so having a good arsenal of shots in your sleeve can be an advantage. A shot like backhand topspin requires less space and time to fire and therefore it is very usable when it comes to those situations where you have to react fast.

Table tennis competitive play

When to use each spin shot in table tennis

There are many different reasons why using spin would improve your game. Without spin, table tennis would be just a basic game where two or four people bounce the ball back to each other. But there are some situations that just require spin. For example: topspin causes the ball to drop faster and bounce aggressively forward when it hits the table, while backspin lifts the ball up and slows it down when it bounces off the table.

Study the trajectory of the ball and use spin wisely. Here are a few situations that you can recognize:

  • If you want to hit the ball hard, and the ball is only a little higher that the net, or even lower, use topspin. It will naturally arch the ball up and over the net.
  • If you want to confuse the opponent, use sidespin. It’ll make it harder for the person you’re playing against to tell how much topspin or backspin you put on the ball.
  • If you don’t have enough time or room to swing for the topspin, use backspin. Your opponent will have to return the ball more slowly, therefore allowing you the time to make an aggressive shot.

Whatever you prefer, smashing or spinning, always keep in mind that this is just a game, and that the sole purpose is to have fun while playing! Don’t be afraid to experiment with different shots, and you’ll eventually find yourself doing shots you never thought you could! #UnPlugNPlay

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