Practicing Backhands And Third Ball Attack
Amar Salaj Vattakandy
San Jose University CA
I was a University level player in India, and I was using a Super Anti rubber on my back hand. I used to win lots of games just by pushing with my back hand, and the players used to misjudge the spin very badly. But when I came to US, and started playing seriously, I found that lots of experienced players tend to keep pushing to my back hand because they knew that I could not attack effectively with my anti spin rubber. There was only one way out of this - use attacking rubbers on both sides, and practice well to attack with the back hand. But practice partners were hard to find, most of them getting frustrated and dropping off due to my hopeless back hand. That was when I heard about the Newgy RoboPong 2000. I compared it with the German TTmatic Robots, and your price was at least 1/4th or 1/5th of that. I went ahead and bought it a couple of weeks back, and since then, I have been working on my back hand at least 3 hours a day. After two weeks of practice, now my back hand is just as good as my fore hand. The improvement is just phenomenal, nothing less.
I was primarily working on two aspects - the drive and the loop with the back hand. For improving the reflexes, the key requirement for a good and consistent drive, I set the Robo to sweep 1/4 or 1/2 of the backhand court, and with ball frequency set at 3/4th of maximum, I kept driving the ball for 3 minutes in a row. A medium speed was used for chops, and high speed for topspins. Stay around 1.5 to 2 feet away from the table for this exercise.
For practicing loops, stay farther away from the table, around 3 to 5 feet, and keep using the full swing action to loop the ball back. The main focus was on imparting maximum spin on the ball. The speed would slowly follow. Here, since a high frequency of balls was found to be unnatural, and also a hindrance to practice, I set the ball frequencey to somewhere between 1/2 and 1/3 of the maximum. This would give rise to some very interesting phenomenon, by which the rhythm of the movement is broken, and you learn to start doing the backswing quickly, once the ball is thrown by the robo.
Another interesting exercise I tried was to improve my serve. I usually use a medium toss cross arm forehand pendulum serve. So, I set the sweep constant, with the head pointing towards my back hand, and with the speed set just enough to send the ball across the net, and with the ball frequency set to the minimum value possible, I tried the serves continously. Within some time, I could synchronise my serves and the ball frequency, so that the next ball would be thrown immediately after I finished serving. The Robo was basically being used just as a ball retriever, but it was a very rewarding exercise.
Let me end my small collection of tips here, with the hope that anyone who would like to play the European style game would benefit from that. Well, the fact remains that I am more than captivated by the dexterity and flexibility of the Robo Pong 2000, and would suggest the brand to any of my friends who is serious about the game....
- Jena Newgarden