Coach Samson Dubina US National Team Coach 4x USATT Coach of the Year

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Coaching Article by Samson Dubina

-By Samson Dubina
In table tennis, spinning the racket in the hand is called twiddling.  For certain playing styles, this skill is an absolute necessity.  In this article, I’m going to briefly describe who should twiddle, when to twiddle, technique for twiddling, twiddling equipment, twiddle training, and twiddle tricks.
Who Should Twiddle
Anyone who has a combination racket should learn to twiddle.  If you have smooth inverted rubber on one side and long pips on the other side, it is great to twiddle (spin the racket) so that you can play long pips from forehand and backhand and you can play inverted rubber with your forehand and backhand.  If you don’t twiddle, then your opponent will know that he will get a long pips ball from your backhand side and an inverted ball from your forehand side.  Twiddling keeps your opponent off balance, always having to adjust to various types of balls coming from both sides.
When to Twiddle
As a general rule, inverted rubber is better for attacking and spinning and unorthodox rubber (like long pips and anti rubbers) are better for defending.  For example, you are a blocker and your opponent loops with good spin to your backhand, you will likely want to flip to long pips to block or chop with your backhand.  Next, your opponent gives you a weak push deep to your backhand.  You might choose to flip to the inverted side of your racket and backhand loop.  There are literally dozens of situations like this that require twiddling. 
Technique for Twiddling
If you haven’t twiddled before, or have learned incorrectly, this will be a challenge.  Please be patient and persistent.  Patient realizing that it will take many weeks to perfect and persistent at trying to practice it.  To twiddle, losen your grip and slide your hand down the handle slightly.  Next, lift your index finger out of the way.  Next, lift your thumb back toward your face a few inches.  Next, put your thumb on the backhand side of your racket.  Next, push with your thumb toward the left moving your racket counterclockwise.  When looking at the base of the handle, the racket should move counterclockwise.  If you started with red on your forehand and finished with red on your backhand (or vice versa with black), you have done it correctly.  Congratulations!  If you need to see a video demonstration, go to to watch the video.
Twiddling Equipment
Before you begin twiddle training, you should purchase a blade that is easy to twiddle.  Choose a straight handle blade that has a fairly thin round handle.  Square handles are the most difficult to twiddle.  I highly recommend the Nittaku Violin blade for twiddling, it is medium fast, has amazing touch, and features a sleek round handle.  (Additional Note: Do not use a rubber grip on your handle, this will slow down the twiddle significantly.)
Twiddle Training
When training this new skill, you should obviously have your racket, but you should be away from the training room.  Many players try to sink the twiddle together with hitting the ball and quickly get discouraged.  You should sit down in a comfortable chair and just try it for 10 minutes/day.  Eventually, it will become a natural movement and you will be able to do it subconsciously without thinking.  Once the movement is developed, I recommend doing it while watching the morning news on TV.  Once you are focusing on TV and you can do it subconsciously, then you a ready to use it in practice.  When you first use it at the table, start with something slow like pushing.  Have you training partner or robot give you slow backspin balls to your backhand, just do a slow backhand push, then twiddle and do another slow backhand push.  Fast balls come about every 0.5 seconds.  With practice, you should be able to flip in 0.25 seconds so that you have 0.25 to prepare for the ball.  There is nothing worse than being half-way twiddled when making contact with the ball!  Over time, you should be able to play either rubber surface from either forehand or backhand whenever your choose.  This takes much time and practice, but it is worth the effort! To speed up your twiddling, you can use the weighted racket called TT-Flex™.  TT-Flex™ is my newest training device designed to strengthen your game.  Use TT-Flex™ without the bands and just practice getting more speed with the weighted racket.  After a few days of twiddling TT-Flex™ your lighter racket will be much much easier!  You can also do weightlifting for the wrist to develop more speed in the wrists and forearms.  Just make sure that you do very light weights.  For twiddling, you are looking to develop wrist speed, not muscle mass.
Twiddle Tricks
There are two primary tricks that you should master.  The first trick is the double-spin.  Let’s say for example that you are in a backhand to backhand pushing war.  You push the first three balls with your inverted side, then you flip your racket in the counterclockwise direction two turns (360 degrees) so that you are still using inverted.  When your opponent is used to seeing you flip to long pips, it will be a surprise when you are still using inverted.  The second trick is to hide your racket under the table, this is especially important when receiving serve.  If your racket is under the table, it becomes much more difficult for him to see if a pips ball or inverted ball is coming.  When your opponent has less time to react, this makes him less consistent, giving you the advantage, the rating points, the trophies, the prize money, and the titles! 
Happy Twiddling!

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