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The Inside Forehand Loop Against Backspin

by Richard McAfee

This column discusses the use of a table tennis robot in learning ping pong strokes, styles, and techniques. Richard McAfee is one of America's most active and recognized coaches. Certified as an International Coach by USA Table Tennis, he was selected as a USOC (US Olympic Committee) Developmental Coach of the Year. He organized and directed the Eastern Table Tennis Training Center and the Anderson College Table Tennis Team. He served as the Table Tennis Competition Manager for the 1996 Summer Olympics and recently was selected as an ITTF (International Table Tennis Federation) Pro Tour Director. Currently he is Head Table Tennis Coach at the prestigious Sporting Club At Windy Hill in Atlanta, GA.

This stroke gets its name from the fact that the tip of the racket travels around the inside surface of the ball. This is the side of the ball nearest to you as the ball approaches. On the traditional forehand loop stroke, the tip of the racket passes around the outside surface (side farthest away from you).

When executed properly, the inside loop makes a right-hander's loop curve sideways in the opposite direction from its normal path. The inside loop is often used when using the forehand loop from your backhand corner and attacking your opponent's backhand side. However, it can be used from any position.

When the forehand inside loop is used crosscourt from your backhand side, it curves away from your opponent's backhand and forces him/her to move more to their left. If not a sure winner, this stroke often opens up the whole table so that a simple placement to their forehand side can often win the point.

INSIDE LOOP DESCRIPITION

The best way to describe this stroke is that it looks like you are washing a window. To best understand this, get in front of a wall, facing it. Now imagining that the wall is a large clock, place your racket on the wall facing outward at about the 3 o'clock position. Now without lifting the racket from the wall, rotate it to the 9 o'clock position. Notice the arm first moves up to 12 and then over to 9. You should also notice that it is hard to keep a normal grip while doing this. This is important, as a grip change while making this stroke is necessary to produce a really powerful stroke.

INSIDE LOOP GRIP CHANGE

To find the correct grip, place the racket in a neutral position in front of you. Now with your free hand, twist the top of the blade to your left. This should open up some space between your racket-hand's forefinger and the blade with only the tip of the forefinger now touching the blade. The bottom edge of the racket's head is now contacting the thumb close to its first joint (instead of being in the fleshy “V” part of the hand between the thumb and forefinger).

ROBOT-DRILLS

Drill #1
Set your Newgy to deliver a deep backspin ball to your backhand side. Push two backhands then step-a-round and make an inside forehand loop to your opponent's wide backhand. Aim to cut the angle between the end line and the net if possible. Repeat.

Drill #2
Same as above but alternate inside loops with your normal loops. Be sure to practice a down-the-line loop occasionally when executing the normal loop.

REVIEW
  • Change to inside grip
  • The stroke travels first up then around the inside edge of the ball
  • Contact the ball as it is descending
  • Make a lot of friction (spin) contact on the ball
  • Most errors with this stroke happen because the player is not concentrating enough on the upward (first) movement of the stroke.

When you add the inside forehand loop to your arsenal, you will be making life much more difficult for your opponent. He/she will not know until the last moment of your stroke which way your ball will curve. Many of my students love executing this stroke. In fact, one of our favorite sayings is, “When in doubt, Inside-Out”.

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