Coaching with Carrington

Jack Carrington(1960’s)


In match-play a ‘good chopper’ spells certain death to –

  • The beginner and intermediate player
  • The unskilled player
  • The lazy player
  • The impatient player
  • The gambling player (at least the bad gambler)
  • The unfit player

Techniques against chop –You cannot be content with just ‘not losing points’, you must win some points by your own actions. There are a number of different methods of tackling the good defender.

  1. Drive two or three 80% balls, push or drop one
  2. Same as 1 but switch to different targets (bear in mind the body is always a good target)
  3. Play a selection of slow push shots all over the table, then attack hard
  4. Vary loop (slow more spin) and loop-drives (faster more speed) interspersed with drop shots and hard hits
  5. Use BH or FH depending on the situation and your own capabilities

Situation Assessment

  1. At this moment, in this rally, what is my situation? Am I ready for this next ball? With a plan? Balance good? Strength good? Eye clear? Touch good? Confident?
  2. At this stage of the match what is my situation? Could this be classified as – dominating, advantage, neutral, disadvantage, desperate? Have I a lead in games, or on points in this game? Am I on the upgrade physically and mentally or on the downgrade?

NB. On your answers to the above will depend the degree of risk or enterprise which you can afford for the next ball/points. ‘Dominating’ or ‘Desperate’ are large, dramatic canvasses, painted in bold colours for all to see. It is in the ‘neutral’ situation that most mistakes are made. The ‘neutral’ situation is one in which neither player has any automatic advantage and neither can reach an ‘advantage’ position unless he shows successful enterprise, or his opponent tries to show enterprise but loses. If you are foiled by a superb defensive return or an acute angle, stabilise the situation with neutral play. Another neutral situation occurs when both players are driving fast and it’s difficult to secure an advantage because the rapidity of play prevents you from doing anything clever. In this situation can you angle or slow the ball suddenly or even step back and use the extra space and time to feed in more power or spin? In practice situations train to progress from neutral to advantage. Remember neutral play is only a pause in the main design. Too many ‘top’ young players seem ashamed to resort to neutral play, when even the greatest of champions are seen to accept the necessity of using it from time to time.


  1. If a ball gives you an advantage – take it
  2. If a ball puts you at a disadvantage – play for safety
  3. If a ball is ‘neutral’, play ‘neutral’ or ‘enterprising’
  4. If a ball puzzles you, play ‘neutral’
  5. If a ball surprises you – relax body and grip and play light
  6. If you are desperate – play bold


  1. Long-distance chopped balls
  2. Long-distance floats
  3. Close-distance chops/pushes or block/stop-block defence
  4. Deep topspin defence – long and low (not too fast, use more topspin) or high-lob defence
  5. Hard counter-drive
  6. Sidespin returns
  7. Serve and 3rd ball
  8. 2nd ball flick/attack

Topspin Timing Points

Of the 5 timing points for topspin only one, E, is below table level. It is necessary to learn to contact the ball at differing stages in the trajectory.

  • Against chop in order of – C, D, B, E, A.
  • Against topspin (using FH) – C, B, D, A, E.
  • Against topspin (using BH) – B, A, C, D, E.

Steady topspin is one you can repeat 100 times with only 5 mistakes or less. When you can spin consistently from each individual timing point the next stage (in 20’s with no mistakes) is to switch from one timing point to another without losing consistency. Use the knees, hips and shoulders to adjust the contact height. Use variation in power with consistency.Use variation in direction with consistency.

Remember fast explosive situations create excitement – excitement creates body tension – body tension is the enemy of soft touch and block strokes and change of pace. Keep body and knees relaxed whenever possible. The coach’s aim is to increase the desirable speed in any of the skills. What is desirable? To the extent that you have control. Control speed is the maximum speed at which you can operate at 85% consistency and still select targets on the table.


  • Speed of thinking – early recognition of ball or situation
  • Speed of thinking – early decision on your action
  • Speed of feet – early arrival at good position
  • Speed of feet – quick recovery to alert position
  • Speed of arm
    • controlled speed of arm
    • controlled speed of rotation and body weight
    • controlled recovery of arm and body

Work on the areas where you are weak.