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Eat your heart out Forrest Gump
December 20, 2011 10:01 PM   Subscribe

The top 10 table tennis shots of 2011. (SLYT)
posted by beepbeepboopboop (40 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite

 
A couple of those, like the behind the back shot at 1:35, really should have ended with a Mortal Kombat-style humiliation/dismemberment.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:11 PM on December 20, 2011 [8 favorites]


The guy in the red shirt in the last one must be all kinds of stupid. Green dude is way across the room! Lob it lightly and it's an easy point; this bozo slams it as hard as he can, bouncing it right back way across the room to green, who easily (amazingly?) volleys it back.
posted by Sys Rq at 10:14 PM on December 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


I honestly can't tell who won #3. The blue shirt reacts like he won but don't you have to hit the ball over the net?
posted by mullacc at 10:19 PM on December 20, 2011


"The blue shirt reacts like he won but don't you have to hit the ball over the net?"

A good return is over or around the net assembly.
posted by madajb at 10:26 PM on December 20, 2011 [3 favorites]


5 is my favourite, only for the fact that the guy in green turns his celebratory fist pump into the agony of defeat fist clench without even a pause.
posted by madajb at 10:28 PM on December 20, 2011 [4 favorites]


5 was suave as shit - definitely my favorite.
posted by facetious at 10:42 PM on December 20, 2011


Hah. I knew before watching exactly what sort of music would be running in the background.

Nice shots.
posted by Anything at 10:47 PM on December 20, 2011


#5 was mental, but I most liked #6 and #9 for sheer "without a teleporter, you are not getting this back"-ness.
posted by pompomtom at 10:48 PM on December 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


I have pretty fast reflexes, in the sense that if I drop something at least half the time I catch it before it hits the floor, I was a competent second baseman on the high school baseball team, knocked down short hops, never took one in the teeth, you'd want me at the net playing doubles type of thing, these people make me look like I was in a vat of maple syrup on my best day, wow.
posted by Divine_Wino at 10:52 PM on December 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


I don't understand what happens in 7 or 8.

Also, in the one where she pops it back up and it hits on the opponent's side then bounces back on the other side... I take it the ball has to be hit back?
posted by cmoj at 11:14 PM on December 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


#6 went backwards! Backwards!
posted by kjs4 at 11:24 PM on December 20, 2011


For an ordinary, you know, basement rec-room type player like me, it's just bizarre seeing how far away from the table they spend most of their time. It's like they're not even really playing ping pong — like they're playing squash or something, but someone left a ping pong table in the middle of the court and they were like "Fuck it, we'll just play through."
posted by nebulawindphone at 11:43 PM on December 20, 2011 [16 favorites]


these people make me look like I was in a vat of maple syrup on my best day

Yeah, ping-pong sits up near the top of the spectrum of 'amount of neuro-muscular input for sports'. The output of required hand/eye coordination combined with speed and agility is ridiculous.
posted by P.o.B. at 12:09 AM on December 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


Extraordinary. I love sports that show talents other than just pure strength.
posted by MT at 1:14 AM on December 21, 2011


#5 was awesome.
posted by flippant at 1:31 AM on December 21, 2011


Once when I was in college I was studying in this lounge area of a dorm, that was open for two stories. I was upstairs and saw these two guys come in downstairs with a step ladder. They went up to these two lights hanging down and changed the bulbs to these large powerful ones. Then they went out and brought in a ping-pong table, and each side was lit up by one of the bulbs as if the area was meant for this. Then they proceeded to play.

It was just like these guys. I had never seen anything like it. For most shots they were 1/2 to a full table's length away from the table hitting the ball so fast I couldn't even see it.

I didn't get any studying done.
posted by eye of newt at 1:34 AM on December 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


I always thought the ball had to go between the posts and over the net in order to be a valid point. But I could be thinking about the rules of real tennis, not – you know – fake tennis.*

*I kid. Table tennis is great.
posted by quadog at 1:36 AM on December 21, 2011


I'm a little surprised to learn that the ball doesn't actually have to go over the net, but the rule is "over or around the net assembly and touches the opponent's court".
posted by Chuckles at 1:36 AM on December 21, 2011


Green dude is way across the room!

I am no expert, but I think this situation is a little more complex than you give 'bozo' credit for. Red has just played a slow, high and very predictable shot (because he was forced to, to stay in the point), and that's the classic opportunity for green to smash - because averaged out across all opportunities, I'm pretty sure odds will show that it's normally very hard to recover from the smash, because it travels so far and so fast.

Because red knows that's point is likely to be smashed, he moves wide in order to give himself *some* chance of recovering. But you get into a very hard double situation, if you think, well, red shouldn't move wide, because if he does, green will just tap it across the table. And equally if you think green shouldn't smash, because red will stay close to the table (because red's going to gamble that green won't smash), I'd suggest that's not going to be statistically a very effective strategy. So it all plays out rather as it should - until red's highly against the odds and completely awesome return...
posted by Hartham's Hugging Robots at 1:58 AM on December 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


gah that's = that, double situation = double bluff situation. need more tea
posted by Hartham's Hugging Robots at 1:59 AM on December 21, 2011


Man, this is awesome. I hope there's plenty of coverage for the 2012 games.
posted by disillusioned at 2:09 AM on December 21, 2011


oh and also: awesome vid. thanks for posting.
posted by Hartham's Hugging Robots at 2:21 AM on December 21, 2011


Where's Forrest Gump?
posted by flapjax at midnite at 2:36 AM on December 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


I watch a lot of YouTube table tennis, so I'd already seen most of these. #6 and #9 got a lot of attention in TT blogs, but I just noticed this: in #6, you can see (in the side view) the umpire incorrectly awarding the point to the purple side. (That's a pretty nice match. You can see more of it here.)

Here's more from 2011.
posted by MtDewd at 3:35 AM on December 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


Xmas-Edition? Were all the players elves?
posted by orme at 4:56 AM on December 21, 2011


#5 is difficult unless you're sure you can get your bat back around in time to return your opponent's return. It was a nice last-ditch move in the moment that worked, and hats off to him for execution, but I doubt that's in his standard repertoire. You can see what is more likely to happen with Green in #8. If his opponent had been ready instead of punching his fist in victory, it might not have been so easy.

The guy in the red shirt in the last one must be all kinds of stupid. Green dude is way across the room! Lob it lightly and it's an easy point

Two things: one, applying a light touch to a high-bouncing mid-table shot is fairly difficult, given the speed and power of professional bats. He could maybe have blocked it back right off the bounce, but once it is on descent the safer shot is a smash. If you want to fault him for anything, it's not waiting half a second to drive and reduce the return angle, but he was going for opposite-bounce high to prevent any return and didn't quite do that. Two, the best drop-shots require backspin in order to prevent the following return smash; otherwise, it's not as hard as it looks to lunge forward and apply a topspin touch to the back corner, because moving forward is easier than moving back and the closer the flat ball is to the net, the easier it is to hit the edges with less power. But both backspin and sidespin will cause the ball to float, and because the bat is powerful and those spins impart lift, there's an extraordinary chance of punching the ball beyond the table and gifting your opponent a point. Even if you land it on the table, the nature of the backspin which makes a good drop-shot also causes the ball to bounce high, gifting an easy smash. Slicing this return is a pretty bad idea.

By far the best option against a high bounce is a smash, which is also a high-percentage play. It happened not to work this time, but it will work 12 other times, so that's ok. The mid-percentage play would be to smash down the line, which he had time and space for, but that can be difficult given his body position and the speed of return.

There should be more love for #4. A running backhand block to the far corner, off-balance and by a forehand driver? That's a fantastic reaction shot.

I don't understand what happens in 7 or 8.


#7: Blue topspins to ad court (left-hand side of opponent) and moves to his own ad court. Most of the time, like almost all the time, his opponent will backhand and either whiff or send the ball back along its angle to the reverse ad, which is where Blue has moved. Instead, Red pulls out a backhand topspin down the line, which drops the ball just in front of the net and in the "opposite" court from his opponent's anticipation. The problem with driving down the line is that you have less margin of area, so if you're not dead on you will likely fuck up. This is easier to do with a forehand shot, because topspin drops the ball down earlier than flat trajectory. Backhand topspin is very difficult, because you have to move your arm across your body and up with speed and wrist angle in order to produce sufficient spin and power. Backhand topspins from baseline are extra hard, because you have to turn your wrist away from your body, cross your arm over your torso, and then push up and out. Performing a backhand power topspin that drops right in front of the net is also extra hard. So basically Red in #7 pulls out a shot that looks simple but that most players couldn't do with any consistency or confidence. Note the frozen expression of red's opponent: he can't believe Red managed to pull that out.

#8 is a little esoteric. Red has just accomplished a backhand return to ad court (and note that this return is crosscourt vs. down the line), but in doing so, his bat is on the left side of his body. Green goes for a kill by striking topspin to ad court. Let's remember two things: backhands are harder, and ad court is the left side, meaning the natural return is a backhand. Red's bat is in the "crossover", the area of indecision between backhand side and forehand side, or the middle of the chest, and so is the well-placed ball from Green. What Green expects will happen is that Red will either get stuck in the decision loop and lose the point, or that Red, already shifting to forehand, will have to reverse back to backhand and return without power or much spin, giving Green an easy setup at worst and the point at best. Instead, Red "walks around" his backhand and strikes forehand, a move that is rarely recommended, especially because the reversal means he is off-balance. Still, off-balance and including reversal, Red strikes well enough to send a topspin forehand into the body of Green, who was absolutely not expecting that to happen.

Both of these points illustrate that table tennis is not as much about reaction as it is about anticipation. In striking, you're already thinking ahead to where their return must be because of how you've struck. When your opponent manages to return, unusually, contrary to your expectation of ability or placement, you get stuck in reevaluation of your decision cycle, and that's usually all that's required to score a point in a game as fast as this.
posted by Errant at 6:51 AM on December 21, 2011 [13 favorites]


and furthermore...
I don't understand what happens in 7 or 8.
In those points, the loser positioned himself where he thought the ball was coming and it went somewhere else. (In #8 the ball hit the edge at the end there and that put the ball even further out.) Not necessarily Top Ten material, but nicely placed shots.

The guy in the red shirt in the last one must be all kinds of stupid. Green dude is way across the room! Lob it lightly and it's an easy point;
This is correct to the extent that one of the players was wearing a red shirt and one was wearing green.
I think you mean a drop shot, not a lob. Lobbing is what green dude (ranked #8 in the world at the time) was doing, and he is very, very good at it. That lob had a lot of topspin and sidespin. It bounced about a foot over red shirt's head. The only thing wrong with it was that it landed fairly close to the net. It's possible to get in a good drop shot when the ball's close to the net, but it's not that easy to do, and red shirt didn't get there fast enough. First of all, Qi has a very fast blade and rubber which is not well suited for defensive shots (Note the blue sponge. I think you have to be on the Chinese team to get that). Second, a drop shot has to bounce twice on the table to be effective. Hard to do when the ball has that much bounce. These guys just come in and return long drops, even from way back. The percentage shot is to keep pounding away until one guy misses, and it's better to be on the offensive side of it. Tutorial. (also, at 5:42 in that same clip there's a similar ending to #10- the pounder isn't expecting the fast, well-placed return he gets) BTW- red shirt won the match.

#5 behind the back is not that unusual (lots of it on YouTube) although this might be the best one I've seen, and maybe the only penholder. The reaction from the winner turned loser is great. (Table tennis players have fast reaction times)

My favorite, though is #6. I've never seen anyone do this, and I don't know anyone else who has seen it. They used a crappy clip of it for this video, and you can hardly see what he did. Better clip.
posted by MtDewd at 6:53 AM on December 21, 2011 [4 favorites]


... or what Errant said.
BTW, #6 is leading in the voting. (And #4 is getting little love)
posted by MtDewd at 7:01 AM on December 21, 2011


I always thought the ball had to go between the posts and over the net in order to be a valid point. But I could be thinking about the rules of real tennis

You don't have to hit the ball between the posts and over the net in real tennis either.
posted by digsrus at 7:04 AM on December 21, 2011


The ball between the posts rule is volleyball.
posted by msittig at 7:10 AM on December 21, 2011


BTW, #6 is leading in the voting.

If they wanted unbiased voting, they shouldn't have used footage of #6 for the lead-in video! But it really is incredible.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 7:19 AM on December 21, 2011


Ugh. #6 is an impressive display of sidespin during forward motion, but it's sidespin, meaning that he's almost across the midline when he strikes. I couldn't do it at speed and neither could most other people, which is fair enough, but almost anyone could find a sidespin shot to go that way from his position, and the only reason he gains the point is that he manages to avoid the net. It's excellent stretch and reaction time, but it can be practiced.

#4 is still the best, until someone convinces me otherwise. Please convince me, I don't get to talk about table tennis with almost anyone.

#6 is pretty good too. Actually it's really good. Shut up.
posted by Errant at 7:20 AM on December 21, 2011


Goddammit, #5, not #6. I'm not upvoting #6 after I finished slagging off this stupid, totally incredible shot.
posted by Errant at 7:21 AM on December 21, 2011


Hi, hi I used to be pretty into Table Tennis and could probably watch games for hours.

Is there some place I can go on the INTERNETS so I can accomplish this?

Games on Youtube are edited to hell, which makes them hard to watch if you didn't already know the score before hand.
posted by pmv at 7:38 AM on December 21, 2011


it's like - if table tennis had announcers it'd have to be John Moschitta.
posted by symbioid at 7:50 AM on December 21, 2011


I knew a guy in college who was easily the best table tennis player I'll ever meet. I don't think he could go professional or anything, but he knew the difference between the two sides of the bat, he understood how to manage spin, he could do that thing where you're playing like ten feet away from the table because you're hitting the ball so goddam hard. He was incredible to watch. He had bats that cost more than I've ever spent on any sorts of sports equipment. But his favorite one to play with he called the Norwegian Oar, which was one of those cheap plywood paddles you can find at your local Baptist youth group rec room with the thin pebbled red rubber on either side, and he could only use one side because the rubber was peeling off on the other. Chris would play against guys who took table tennis Very Seriously and also had Expensive Bats with the grippy sides and knew how to manage spin and would serve from across the room and stuff and Chris would demolish them with a paddle that it looked like he found in the garbage outside a Goodwill.
posted by shakespeherian at 9:15 AM on December 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


...watch games for hours. Is there some place I can go on the INTERNETS so I can accomplish this?
There are a lot of MegaUpload videos here, but there's a lot to watch on YouTube.
I'd suggest looking for individual players, and videos 5 or more minutes long.
Those sometimes show whole matches, but more often they will cut out the breaks and stupid points. Most of it is not in English, but usually the score is up.
As for individual players, I'd first suggest Joo Se Hyuk. He's the best defensive player in the world, and you get to see offense against defense. Try this one.
Others: Timo Boll, Ma Lin, Ma Long, Michael Maze, Wang Liqin or anybody in the top 25.
And don't forget the women: Ding Ning, Li Xiaoxia. Here's an entire match in HD, including the warmup.


...a paddle that it looked like he found in the garbage outside a Goodwill.
The good ones don't always need a paddle.
posted by MtDewd at 9:32 AM on December 21, 2011


Ugh, I so need to forward this to my dad, but I don't think he can watch it in China.
posted by of strange foe at 9:46 AM on December 21, 2011


#7 reminded me of cupcake dog.
posted by funkiwan at 2:30 PM on December 21, 2011


OK fine, those are impressive, but I'd like to see them try some of that fancy stuff when beer cups are on the table! (i.e the real beerpong)
posted by OHenryPacey at 4:34 PM on December 21, 2011


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