Facing off against an opponent with long pips in table tennis can feel like you’re trying to solve a complex puzzle. It’s a unique challenge that requires a shift in your usual strategy. There are a lot of times that my friends or teammates ask me: How to play against long pips players in the game?
As someone who is a chopper using long pips, I sometimes understand the frustration and helplessness of my opponents. Therefore, I have decided to combine my own experiences with the characteristics of playing with long pips to analyze and share some strategies for dealing with long pips players in matches.、
Understanding Long Pips
What are Long Pips?
When I first got my hands on a racket with long pips when I was a little boy, I was intrigued by its unique characteristics. Long pips are a type of rubber on a table tennis paddle that have elongated, thin projections on their surface. This design impacts the spin and speed of the ball in distinctive ways, setting it apart from the more common smooth rubbers.
In our previous article, we introduced the specific techniques for playing with long pips. If you want to try using long pips, you can click the link to read the article on how to master long pips techniques.
Strengths of Long Pips
- Spin reversal: This is the bread and butter of long pips. When I hit a ball that’s spun towards me, the long pips can reverse that spin back to my opponent. This creates confusion and forces errors. So even though I am also a long pips player, I still really dislike encountering other long pips players in matches; actually, my feelings are the same as yours.
- Variability: The unpredictability of the bounce and spin can disrupt my opponent’s rhythm. It’s fascinating how changing the angle slightly or altering my swing speed can produce wildly different outcomes.
- Defensive play: These rubbers excel in defensive strategies. I find them exceptionally useful for chopping away from the table, adding backspin to the ball that can be challenging for opponents to attack.
Weaknesses of Long Pips
- Limited aggression: Generating my spin or powerful shots is more difficult with long pips. I’ve had to adapt my game to focus more on precision and timing rather than outright aggressiveness.
- Steep learning curve: Mastering the use of long pips took me considerable time and patience. Understanding how to utilize their strengths without being hindered by their weaknesses is a delicate balance.
- Predictability in high levels: At advanced levels of play, opponents who are familiar with long pips can anticipate and counter the effects, diminishing their advantage.
How Do Long Pips Affect the Game?
Playing with long pips has fundamentally altered my approach to table tennis. The game is no longer just about force or spin—it’s about strategy, psychology, and finesse.
One of the main effects of long pips is spin reversal. This means that when a ball with topspin is played to a long pips rubber, it may return with backspin, and vice versa. This can be particularly confusing for opponents who expect the ball to behave consistently based on their spin input.
Furthermore, the unpredictable nature of the ball’s bounce and spin when coming off long pips can be highly disruptive to an opponent’s playing rhythm. Players may struggle with timing and may produce errors or less aggressive returns, which the long pips player can then exploit. The variation in shots that long pips enable—such as different types of blocks, chops, and pushes—adds to this disruption, as each shot can behave differently compared to those executed with smooth rubbers.
Additionally, long pips can deceive opponents concerning the speed of the ball. The pips can absorb energy from incoming shots, often returning the ball with less speed and potentially upsetting the opponent’s timing. This slower return can be difficult to attack, especially if the opponent is anticipating a faster rebound.
Lastly, long pips are particularly advantageous for defensive strategies. They excel in chopping, especially from a distance away from the table, allowing players to generate significant backspin while neutralizing the opponent’s spin. This makes long pips a favored choice among players who specialize in strategic and defensive styles of play. Opponents who are not familiar with playing against long pips may find it hard to adjust their strategy and technique, which can give the long pips player a tactical edge.
When you’re facing off against long pips players in table tennis, it’s crucial to have a strong game plan. My experience on both sides of the table has taught me a lot about what works and what doesn’t. Let’s dive into some strategies that have proven effective.
Understanding Spin Reversal
One of the key characteristics of long pips is their ability to reverse the spin that is sent their way. I’ve learned that this can throw off many players, especially if they’re not expecting it. The trick to overcoming this challenge is to remember the spin you send is not likely what you’ll receive back. This knowledge is powerful.
For example, if I serve with a heavy topspin, a long pips player can use the pips to send that topspin right back at me, but as a backspin. Initially, this can be disorienting, but with practice, I’ve learned to anticipate the spin reversal. This means I can plan my next move accordingly, often opting for a shot that’s easier to manage or one that puts me in a position to dictate the rally.
However, many people still find it quite troublesome. Here, I will reveal an unknown secret to judging the incoming spin. The movements of long pips players are generally unconventional, so a very effective way to judge the rotation of the incoming ball is to watch the direction of the opponent’s racket swing.
If the stroke is vertical, from top to bottom, then it is usually backspin. If the stroke is horizontal, from left to right, then the incoming ball is generally topspin or has no spin. Remembering this pattern can help you effectively deal with issues of spin judgment.
Changing Your Shot Selection
Adapting your shot selection is paramount when playing against someone with long pips. Variety is your best friend in these matchups, and here’s why:
- Flat Hits: These are less affected by spin and can reduce the unpredictability of the ball’s return.
- Short Pushes: Remember to avoid short pushes when faced with a long-pip player. They have a great advantage with short balls.
- Topspin Loops with Varying Intensity: By altering the speed and spin of your loops, you can keep your opponent guessing, making it more difficult for them to control the ball with their pips.
It’s taken me a lot of practice to get comfortable with these adjustments, but they’ve made a significant difference in my ability to handle matches against long pips players.
Mastering these strategies doesn’t happen overnight. It’s about persistence, patience, and a willingness to adapt your playstyle. Understanding spin reversal and having the ability to tell the spin undoubtedly enhance your performance against long pip opponents. Remember, every player has weaknesses; it’s all about finding and exploiting them.
Analyzing Your Opponent
As someone who’s spent countless hours mastering the art of playing with long pips in table tennis, I’ve faced a variety of opponents. Through these encounters, I’ve learned the importance of analyzing my opponents to strategize effectively. Let’s dive into two common types of long pips players you might encounter: the blocker and the chopper. Understanding their strategies and adapting your gameplay is key to outmaneuvering them.
Long Pips Blocker
Long pips blockers are players who use their pips to absorb and redirect the speed and spin of the ball with minimal effort. When I’m up against a blocker, the first thing I would do is observe how they position themselves and react to different shots. They’re usually close to the table, ready to bounce on short balls to disrupt my rhythm. Their strength lies in their ability to create unpredictable bounces, making it hard for me to execute my game plan.
The best long pips blocker in the world right now, in my personal opinion, should be Ni Xialian from the Luxembourg national team, who was once a player for the Shanghai team in China. Ni Xialian is now 60 years old, but she can still win against many excellent young athletes in their 20s with her rich experience in world competitions.
It is worth noting that at her age, Ni Xialian does not possess strong running ability, so we find that she basically stands in place, close to the table, relying on blocking and a good touch to maneuver her opponents, creating opportunities to win matches.
Long Pips Chopper
Choppers are a different beast. They thrive on defense, using their long pips to return balls with heavy backspin from a distance.
Nowadays, choppers generally don’t use inverted rubber on both sides of their rackets, and such players are becoming increasingly rare. Most ones will pair a long pips or short pips rubber on their backhand. This setup makes chopping easier and helps in generating more spin.
When facing skilled choppers, the balls they chop with long pips have both spin and float, making them particularly difficult to handle. If your fundamental skills in looping are not solid, you might not be able to lift the ball over the net, leading to many shots going into the net. This is one of the reasons why many excellent choppers can hold their ground among a field of strong offensive players.
My personal favorite chopper is the world’s number one chopper, Joo Sae-Hyuk, whose backhand standard equipment, the Butterfly Feint II rubber, is also particularly classic. In our previous blog, we talked about how to play against with a chopper.
Practicing Against Long Pips
Wide Angle to Inverted Rubber Side
One of the strategies I’ve found effective while facing opponents with long pips is to exploit the wide angle towards their inverted rubber side. This requires precision and an understanding of how long pips behave. Long pips can absorb and reverse spin, which makes direct attacks less effective.
Instead, by aiming for the wide angles, I force my opponent to move and stretch, making it difficult for them to use the long pips effectively or return with precision. It’s not just about hitting the ball hard; it’s about placing it smartly. I tell my students to practice this by setting up drills that focus on placement rather than power, working on the ability to control the ball and send it where the opponent least expects it.
Applying heavy topspin against long pips players can be a double-edged sword, but when done correctly, it’s highly effective. The key here is consistency and variation. heavy topspin shots are challenging for long pips players to handle because the pips invert the spin, turning it into backspin which can be tricky for them to control.
I’ve spent countless hours perfecting my topspin technique, ensuring that I can deliver heavy spin with reliability when I am faced with someone like me, using long pips. This not only helps in keeping the ball on the table but also in creating awkward returns that I can capitalize on.
Practicing with a robot or a training partner who can reliably return the ball with different levels of spin and speed has been invaluable. By mastering heavy topspin, I’ve given myself a powerful tool against opponents who rely on long pips for their defensive game.
We will find that there is no shield that is unbreakable, only spears that are sharper. A strong offensive capability is the root solution to all problems.
In fact, when we look at top players, whether it be Ni Xialian or Joo Se-Hyuk, when facing super attackers like Ma Long and Fan Zhendong, they often find themselves without the ability to defend effectively. Therefore, the fundamental solution is still to improve one’s own offensive quality, to strengthen practice in speed and power, and at the same time to reduce errors.
Playing Strategies against long pips
When tackling opponents with long pips, I’ve developed a set of strategies crucial for maintaining an upper hand. My approach hinges on two core principles: control and placement, and the balance between attacking and defensive play. These methods have not only enhanced my game but also enabled me to throw my opponents off their rhythm.
Focus on Placement—Starting from the Serves
My initial strategy always revolves around gaining control of the ball and dictating the placement. This requires a keen eye and the ability to read the game several moves ahead, similar to a chess match. One key aspect I’ve learned is that being overly aggressive against long pips players can backfire due to the unpredictable nature of the ball’s return. Thus, my focus shifts to precision and strategic placement.
When serving, be sure not to serve short balls. Skilled long pips players possess attacking abilities, and the short ball is their most comfortable position, where they can leave you with no room for resistance.
My advice is, if the opponent has long pips, make sure to serve fast and long balls, either to the backhand or forehand, and then be ready for the next offensive shot. It’s crucial to accurately assess the spin; when you confirm that the ball has less spin, you can apply more force to increase the threat to your opponent.
By maintaining control and thoughtful placement, you can effectively disrupt the defensive strategies commonly employed by long pips players.
Attacking vs. Defensive Play
Balancing aggressive attacks with smart defense has been a cornerstone of my strategy against long pips players. It’s tempting to go all-out attack but understanding when to switch gears makes a huge difference.
I believe that the majority of players with a long pips teammate would engage in this type of training: execute a backhand loop with topspin, and then the opponent will block it back, turning the ball into backspin. At this point, we choose to push the ball, and the opponent will push it back. Due to the spin reversal, the ball will turn into a topspin.
This way, the offensive player practices pushing the ball, along with another topspin ball, getting accustomed to the rhythm of playing against long pips. Typically, such drills should be done for at least half an hour in training.
Similarly, in a match, it’s unlikely that we’ll always be on the offensive. A predictable rhythm without changes is comfortable for long pips players because they don’t need to move much; they just need to position their racket.
Therefore, we must disrupt the opponent’s rhythm by continuously switching between pushes and topspins, incorporating changes in ball placement. This way, when the opponent makes a slight mistake, our opportunity arises. A well-executed heavy topspin can directly end the match and secure victory.
The switch between attacking and defensive play needs to be fluid, based on the flow of the match and the specific opponent. It’s not just about what I can do with the ball, but also about making the opponent play a game they’re not comfortable with. Carefully choosing when to attack and when to lay back is key in outmaneuvering an opponent with long pips.
Mastering the game against long pips players boils down to a mix of strategy, control, and adaptability. Remember, it’s not just about what you play but how you play it. Short pushes, spin variation, and strategic attacks can dismantle the defense of a long pips opponent.
Yet, it’s the relentless practice and the ability to adapt your strategy mid-game that will truly set you apart. Embrace the challenge, refine your techniques, and you’ll find yourself more than capable of turning the tables on long pips players. Keep pushing your limits, and you’ll see your game reach new heights.