Special Program

Q: Why is Boll strong?

A: Forehand Loop with Heavy Spin
Forehand Topspin Loop

Timo Boll (GER) ascended to the World no. 1 spot in March 2018.
Young players have distinguished themselves one after another recently.
Table tennis has continuously experienced various rule changes but despite all the changes
why does his strength not fade away in this age of intense rivalry, even at the age of 37?
We will unravel his strengths with the help of his former teammate Seiya Kishikawa (JPN)
with whom Timo Boll both practiced and faced in matches many times in the past.
Also we asked Timo Boll for self-analysis.

Witness by Seiya Kishikawa

“The topspin loop is Timo’s greatest strength.”

“He is superb in every single technique but I think the heavy topspin
from both wings is the greatest strength of all.”

“Especially his topspin loop (the stroke imparted with heavy rotation on the ball)
is so strong, something Japanese players seem unable to do. In addition, his ball travels quite low and short.
It is difficult to counter attack; you need to respond with blocking play. It enables him to make series of relentless fierce attacks;
you are at a disadvantage.”

“It is very difficult to deal with his topspin loop; it takes time to adapt.
A player competing against Timo for the first time can lose the game quickly
because they cannot adjust used to his heavy spin.”

Self-analysis by Timo Boll
“ The short low topspin works quite well. ”


“I analyze every ball. When I have the feeling this will work out,
I repeat it. I think a short low topspin works quite often. So that’s why I use it very often.”

“I mean now (after the introduction of plastic balls) there is not so much spin on the ball so it has to be low and flat.”

Boll’s Forehand Topspin Loop
Point 1: Make a backswing with a low body position, the left foot stepping forward

The topspin loop with heavy spin from both wings is the core technique that formulates his strength.
Let us introduce the points to which attention needs to be paid and include his comments:
the topspin loop from the forehand against the ball returned long.

Boll says, “It is important to be low putting the left foot (the right foot for right handers)
under the table,” but it is also essential to make a backswing in a low position. In so doing,
it becomes easier to lift the ball, imparting spin on the ball as you can swing the racket upwards.
In addition, the eye level becomes closer to the ball by lowering the body;
the advantage is that this makes a more precise stroke possible.

When lowering the body on the backswing, bend both knees,
paying attention not to make the upper body upright.


Point 2: Swing upwards and stroke the ball with a light touch

Let us look at the points on the swing.

Boll strokes the ball by swinging obliquely upwards from the low position
with his left foot stepping forward, after waiting for the ball so he can make right timing.
Use his image as a guide; “I try to touch the ball very lightly, not too hard.
I try to play really soft with good spin and a good placement.”

What we cannot ignore in his swing is the compact follow-through
(the movement of the racket after impact). This compact follow-through
makes consecutive attacking play possible.