Vary Your Stroke Timing When Practicing


Ken Szeto 
North York, Ontario, Canada

Timing for hitting the ball is one of the most important elements for stroke consistency. If your technique is sound but you keep hitting the ball into the net or off the table, you should pay attention to the timing of your strokes. Here is a diagram showing the ball going from left to right: 
The ball can be struck before, at, or after top of bounce (TOB), depending on the spin of the oncoming ball.

The best timing for stroking the ball in general:

  1. Pushing against backspin: Any time on or before TOB; off the bounce for fast return (more risky yet very effective) or more towards/at TOB for better safety margin.
  2. Looping against backspin: TOB for maximum power (loop-kill), or on-the-drop for looping with heavy topspin. Note - Only the best players can consistently loop against underspin on-the-rise in game situation. You should master looping at TOB, on-the-drop, and then work on on-the-rise.
  3. Hitting against backspin: TOB, with more open (90-150 degrees) racket angle and a lifting racket motion upon impact. Tip-the heavier the backspin, the more open the angle.
  4. Smashing/looping against no-spin or topspin: TOB is the best for maximum power and consistency. Once mastered hitting at TOB, you can try hit it on-the-rise for a speedy return. It often catches your opponent off guard.
  5. Re-looping against heavy topspin: Best timing is on-the-drop, with very closed racket angle and longer stroke.
  6. Counter-hitting against topspin: TOB, with smooth but short stroke to catch the ball and convert the oncoming topspin into a fast speedy return. More advanced players can counter-hit on-the-rise but you should master the basics before trying this.
  7. Blocking against topspin: On-the-rise for a fast return. Redirect your return to difficult to attack places like the playing elbow and far/wide angles.

In conclusion, hit TOB for power; on-the-rise for quick return; and on-the-drop for more spin.

With the Newgy's consistency, you should practice your strokes using the best timing; e.g., hitting against topspin at TOB. Once you can consistently execute it in good form, then you should learn to vary the timing for different desired results. Keep your opponent guessing while you pile up points against him.

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