Balloon Defense

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Balloon defence is the name given to a defensive technique in table tennis in which the defending player tries to return the ball hit very hard by his opponent (up to 180 km/h for top players) to the table in an extremely high, balloon-shaped trajectory. This is done from a distance of several (quite possibly 5-7) meters behind the table. The ball is additionally provided with topspin (forward spin) and often also with sidespin. The forward spin makes the ball, which is not flying very slowly and vertically, difficult to hit and when it hits the table it accelerates forward and bounces much flatter than a spinless ball would. This often leads to misjudgement of the ball and the spin also makes the ball difficult to control when trying to hit a hard, straight shot to win points.

The balloon defense is often used by offensive players when they are put on the defensive. The shot is much more effective than an undercut defense, which is often returned with a deadly stop ball. Also, with the thick, high-elastic rubbers of offensive players, it is relatively difficult to return the ball flat and controlled with undercut defense.

The French European Champion of 1976, Jacques Secrétin, not only used this stroke successfully in competition but also in his show with his partner Vincent Purkart. The Chinese World Champion Liang Geliang was known during his time with the Bundesliga team TTC Altena for even occasionally jumping over the boundary of the playing box when defending the balloon.