|How to Deal with Heavy Topspin Opponents|
If heavy topspin balls are out of your comfort zone, your first step is to try and stop your opponent from being able to make that play. There are a number of options there (combinations of the three are ideal):
Play Heavy Backspin: Make the opening ball as difficult as possible, the heavier and deeper on the table you can play the better. If they want to play heavy topspin then make it as difficult as possible for them, if you do this effectively then you may cause some of those opening balls to land in the net.
Play No Spin: A heavy topspin opponent is usually generating a lot of topspin to counter heavy backspin. So what if there is no spin on the ball? The ball will be high or go over the end of the table. Mixing heavy spin and no spin can help work against a heavy topspin player, especially if they struggle to read the oncoming ball. Even half long no spin serves can be effective especially when they break the side of the table.
Place the Ball Strongly: Heavy topspin often relies on good weight transfer from the legs, which means good balance is necessary and a solid base and centre of gravity to work with. Strong placement can take your opponent out of position, aim to make them less comfortable, play to the body or wide or into space on the table. If they aren't able to keep stable then generating spin and power becomes more challenging.
Open First: Making the first attack often presents a good advantage for any player. If you are calling the shots then your opponent has a little more added pressure on them. If you open with good topspin then it may force your opponent to use more defensive or passive options.
Dealing with Heavy Topspin:
Heavy topspin can cause a lot of trouble for a lot of players, that's why table tennis is so difficult, it's high speed and lots of ball rotations per minute. So how can you deal with the spin?
Angle Adjustment: Learning to read a ball and adjust to it can be a long process and requires a lot of practice. Whether blocking or countering a heavy topspin ball it is important to close the bat angle to cover the ball more. An open angle will fail to control a high amount of topspin. The best way to improve is to practice against the technique more, so practice more against heavy topspin balls, some fast, some slow, because pace also affects your options and reaction.
Don't Overplay: Often heavy topspin balls can cause errors when the receiving player overplays their stroke. Topspin actually gives you something to work with. When blocking ensure your weight creates a stable base and have a firm grip on your bat and a closed angle to cover the spin. Players sometimes feel the need to punch at or drive through their blocking strokes when dealing with heavier topspin balls, while this can work sometimes it increases the risk level of the return and can cause a loss of control. This is the same with countering shots, be careful not to overswing or apply too much power to the ball.
Counterloop: Precise timing can result in very effective counterloop shots. You can play the ball early in the bounce which requires a strong idea of the required timing and angle, or you can counterloop top or later in the bounce and play a loop to loop style instead. Both have their merits. Again important not to overplay strokes here.
So I hope that has given you some more ideas on how to deal with heavy topspin opponents and I hope the answer was satisfactory Ruth! :)