Modern Loopers in Table Tennis

Jena Newgarden
(Definition of loop in table tennis: a stroke that has extremely heavy topspin, which causes the ping pong ball to dip rapidly towards the playing surface of the table.)

Modern table tennis is predominantly characterized by looping – looping backspin balls, looping topspin balls, looping serves, looping over-the-table, looping blocks, and re-looping loops.  The Chinese national table tennis team did a study on various loops.  The study showed that the spiniest loop against backspin tested had about 120 rotations per second.  The spiniest loop against topspin tested had about 130 rotations per second.

These modern statistics are drastically different from what was seen several decades ago in table tennis.  What you saw several decades ago were excellent loops against backspin.  However, many table tennis players used blocking, counterdriving, and smashing when it came to the topspin ball.  I feel that this is still the case in the US.  Many club table tennis players understand the importance of having excellent spin when looping backspin but then resort to blocking, counterdriving, and smashing when it comes to topspin because they don’t understand the importance of spinning the topspin ball.

So what is the lesson that you need to learn?  You need to follow the example of the modern players and loop the backspin then follow-up with a strong loops against the topspin ball.  Here are several reasons why you should learn to produce as much spin as possible when looping topspin:

#1. More spin will give you more control…  control not only to clear the net, but also the spin will bring the ball down making your loop more consistent.

#2. More spin will make it harder for your opponent.  By maximizing your spin, your opponent will need to block more defensively and can’t be so aggressive with his placement.

#3. More spin will allow you to hit harder from a lower position.  Smashing the ball is quite easy if it bounces about 12-18” high.  However, modern table tennis players are able to return your loop quite low.  In order to maximize your control on your power shot, add spin to bring the ball down.

#4. More spin will allow you to place the ball more accurately, making it much easier to use the sharp angles.

#5. More spin will give you more flexibility in distance from the table.  With excellent spin, you can loop from near the table, off the table, or at the court barriers with great consistency.

#6. More spin will allow you to overcome your opponent’s ball.  If you are often bothered with “weird” blocks, it is likely due to timing and lack of spin.  If you add more spin to your ball, then your opponent’s spin will affect you less.

#7. More spin will allow you to vary your shots.  If you have 130 rotations per second on your loop, then your light spin or no spin or sidespin loop will be very easy to execute giving more depth to your game.

Final thought:  There are 2 aspects to playing well in table tennis – you being consistent and you making your opponent inconsistent.  As you can see in the seven points that I have listed above, giving more spin on your loop against topspin will allow you to be extremely consistent against any ball from any distance while making it tough on your opponent to handle your speed, spin and placement variations.  So how do you produce more spin? Check back soon for a future article on that topic.

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