Tips and Tricks with Carl Danner: Your Key to Sidespin

Slobodan Grujic

Dealing with sidespin is one of the sport’s deep mysteries for manyplayers, especially when combined with topspin or underspin. Thecombinations can seem daunting, and cause many a lost point.
But here’s a simple way to cope with even the most severe sidespin, andmake your playing life easier. All you need to do is watch for one thing– which direction (right or left) your opponent’s racket moves whenbrushing against the ball. Your key is to move your racket in the oppositesideways direction as you make your shot. That’s all there is to it. Ifyou can do this consistently, you will neutralize the effect of youropponent’s sidespin on your racket. This will let you focus instead on thetopspin or underspin that is also on the ball, which is much easier to dealwith by itself.
Why does this work? Imagine yourself looking down at the table from theceiling as your opponent applies his nasty sidespin. From your vantage,the ball will be rotating in a circular motion. By moving your racket inthe opposite sideways direction, you will go with that motion and therebycontinue the spin that’s already on the ball. This action prevents thespin from grabbing on your rubber and shooting sideways. Notice also thatthis is the opposite of what most players try to cope with sidespin, whichis to fight the spin by aiming the shot in the opposite direction. Thatapproach will work, but it has less of a margin for error, requires you toaim in a predictable direction, and is pretty vulnerable to a misread ofthe spin.
There’s also a little bonus in this technique, if you can pull it off well.By continuing the sidespin instead of fighting it, you send the spin backto your opponent in a way he may not expect. Not only can you win a fewpoints that way, but his look of confusion can be priceless.
Don’t fight the sidespin, continue it. That’s what world class playersoften do, and it’s a tool you can also use.

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