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Table Tennis 101: Glossary

Table Tennis 101: Glossary
Posted at 10:36 AM, Mar 10, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-17 13:12:37-04

Attacker: This type of player stays close to the table and plays an aggressive smashing style. Often referred to as an "offensive player" or having an "offensive" style.

Blade: The face of the paddle that makes contact with the ball.

Block: In response to the powerful looping game, elite players have mastered a precise response to topspin in the form of a short-hop block executed with a closed racket face, almost parallel to the ground if responding to extreme spin. Blocking tactics are aimed at deflecting the power of the attacker's shot and are conducted close to the table using short strokes to strike difficult angles and unexpected locations on the table.

"Cho!": A Chinese rallying cry resembling the American version of "come on!" or "let's go!" Its actual translation is to signify the player declaring it is their "ball" or point in an excited manner.

Chop: The graceful traditional art of backspin chopping, the chop was a mainstay of world-class players through the 1950s but has been rendered somewhat obsolete by today's elite players because of the technological advantages of modern inverted rubber and topspin attacking techniques.

Chopper: A chopper tries to keep the ball in play and waits for the opponent to make a mistake, not unlike a fast-footed counter-puncher in tennis. This is the style played the farthest from the table. 

Combination racket: Many Olympic competitors take advantage of modern rubber technology by using different surfaces on the forehand and backhand side, some actually spinning the racket between points to confuse the opponent. In the 1980s, regulations were set that implemented a required red and black coloration to opposite sides of the paddle, thereby limiting the effectiveness of this "twiddling" strategy.

Counterloop: A European innovation during the early 1990s, the counterloop allows players to battle for control of the table against strong attacks. By retreating three to five feet from the table, control topspin players have developed an athletic counterlooping stroke that resembles the motion of a discus thrower. These rallies are among the most exciting encounters in today's fast-paced game where players have less than two-tenths of a second to read and react to an attacking shot.

Grip: The style with which a player holds his or her racket. 

High-toss serve: Originally an Asian innovation, the high-toss serve is an extreme variation of the basic legal service. ITTF rules require the ball to be tossed vertically six inches from a flat palm; high tossers often heave the ball 15 to 20 feet in the air, using the speed of the falling ball to create more spin on the serve as it digs into the sticky rubber racket surface.

Loop: A type of stroke, off the forehand or backhand, used by players who base their offensive tactics on an extreme topspin attack. Introduced in the modern form by Hungarian and Czech stars in the late 1970s.

Looper: This type of player stays back from the table and plays an aggressive topspin style. 

No-spin serve: Given the heavy spin and great variation potential of the serves of elite players, the most deadly serve at the Olympic level can often be the serve that doesn't spin at all. With a subtle change in the tension of the server's racket at contact, this "changeup" can force a receiver's return to float weakly back over the net.

Penholder grip: Most penholder players only use one side of the paddle to strike the ball. The player grips the handle of the paddle as if it were a pen. There are two variations of the penholder grip -- the Chinese grip and the Japanese grip. With the Chinese grip, the fingers are curled at the top of the backside of the blade; with the Japanese grip, the fingers are spread on the back of the racket. The penhold grip allows for remarkable spin on serves and explosive forehand attacks. 

Shakehand grip: The most widely used style among world-class players, this grip resembles the Eastern grip in tennis, holding the handle as if to "shake hands" with it. Shakehand players have equal control and power on the forehand and backhand strokes. Most shakehands players concentrate on topspin shots. Some shakehand players use only one side of the racket to strike the ball and play a blocking style, but most play aggressively using both sides of the blade.

Topspin: The combination of  speed and rotation that influences the ball's motion. 

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